Mia Taylor – Cruising through Art & Science

After a crack of dawn flight I am in Iceland. After checking in to my hostel in Reykjavik I head for an exploratory wander towards the dock, where almost immediately I see the Royal Research Ship Discovery looking very impressive. It’s hard to contain my excitement because it will be ‘home’ for the next three weeks.

IMG_0009I’m in Iceland to join an international group of oceanographer scientists on their UK-OSNAP research cruise on the RRS Discovery, we set sail on the 27th July and will head towards the southern tip of Greenland, stopping at moorings in the North Atlantic along the way, then finally we sail back to Southampton for the 17th August. I am not a scientist, I make art (and other things) and this will be an entirely new experience for me – I’m as green as they come. However, thanks to Principle Scientist, Penny Holliday, from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton I am learning about the project and its aims, which are “to make continuous measurements of the gyre and overturning circulation in the subpolar North Atlantic”. It’s a ten-year project and an international collaboration that will involve taking measurements for the first time ever from moorings in the subpolar North Atlantic from Canada to Greenland to Scotland. Data from the project will help provide a better understanding of ocean circulation and as I understand it, its relation to climate change. The scientists write about it so much better than I can, you can follow their research, its aims and the OSNAP project and journey here – http://www.o-snap.org/news-events/blog/

IMG_0027So, what am I – the ‘fish out of water’ – doing there? I hope to learn more about the project, its methods and the tools that enable it and the people involved, plus the impact their research might have. I am interested in what the lines of communication between our disciplines will be and I’m more than curious about the experience of being on a ship in the middle of the North Atlantic; with little internet, email access and no phone. My practice is often studio based but involves working in response to different environments and subjects; nothing so far will have been quite as extraordinary as this. Whilst on the ship I will be developing new art projects; I’ve packed the watercolours and audio visual equipment but in truth it is hard to imagine what life on board will be like so inevitably I will be responding and nuancing ideas as I go, allowing the journey, physical and metaphorical, to influence what emerges.

So, I’m all packed and ready to go – I’ve borrowed a hard hat, steel toe capped boots and a boiler suit and I’ve got enough layers to keep me warm in a biting wind. I’ve also got Melville’s Moby Dick to keep me company. The only thing I’ve forgotten is a ball of string, which is apparently very important as everything needs to be tied down. However, I do have a roll of masking tape – from studio to ship – perhaps that will do the job.
I’m not sure how much access to internet I will have but I will be writing on here about the journey when I can and also on a blog on my website – miataylor.co.uk

Mia Taylor
Senior Teaching Fellow in Fine Art


Former WSA Student Shortlisted for Jackson´s Open Art Prize

Former WSA Printmaking student, Gonzalo Rodríguez, has been shortlisted for the Jackson’s Open Art Prize.

Gonzalo’s entry: The Cupboard

The Prize describes itself as ‘an international platform for recognising excellence in art’ and Gonzalo is justly proud to have made it to the last 54 out of over 3100 submissions.


More about the prize can be found here.

After hearing about his success, we caught up with Gonzalo to find out what he has been up to since his time at WSA:

“Perhaps the most important turning point in my artistic education was during my stay in the United Kingdom in 2009-2010. The time I spent at the Winchester School of Art was a revelatory year that assumed a fundamental change in my intentions, both creative and personal. As an Erasmus Exchange Student based within the print-pathway programme at level 2 BA (HONS), I focused my reflected journal around still-life in an artistic production with a theorical researching. A soul among found objects was the result of my specialist practice. Thanks to Miss Vera Dieterich Wiltsher I could read some of the relevant philosophers and art critic writers, such as: Roland Barthes, Mathew Biro, Heidegger (The concept of time), or S. Casey (Remembering, A phenomenological study). In those days I often dreamt about the idea of my childhood as a distant object of desire, lost and unreachable. More nightmares than dreams, they repeated incessantly, staining all my creative work a pessimistic black. That is where the idea of memory as a personality modulator, as a premonition of the future, and as a trademark, came from. It was in Winchester where I started to become interested in minimalism and simple elements of daily life.

“The critic groups and subjects as museum & galleries were very important to deep in contemporary art, as well as to meet concepts relating to our relationship with landscape, as Genius Loci, a notion which is normally used in architecture or design with regard to the sense of a place. Gastón Lisak, a designer student from Barcelona was who approached me to this thought, as a matter of fact I began to read about this idea from that moment, being two years after the subject matter of my MA. Some of the talking heads impressed me deeply, I still remember the lectures by Ben Cove, Kjetil Berge or Maria Fusco.

Gonzalo Rodriguez

“WSA was not only fundamental in an academic level for me but also vital to meet other students around the world. The town, however it is small, looked like a confined version of the different countries, and this aspect inspired me to internalize other art practices on myself. I felt I had a great chance being in UK and started to apply in some art competitions. I never expected to be awarded because I was focused at the School but found an art contest, announced on the wall of a gallery closed to the cathedral, and to my surprise I was shortlisted. The prize was a scholarship and a solo show for the winner and it was aimed at artists based in UK. I was given an appointment in the city of Shepton Mallet, in Somerset, and finally won the prize, which was sponsored by the Royal Bath & West of England Society.

“The solo exhibition in Shepton Mallet was opened on June 2011, and after that I went back to Spain and finished a Master of Arts in teaching by the University of Seville. At the same time I was selected in some different art residences, painting not only in Spain but also in different countries as France, Morocco or Serbia.

“In 2012 I enrolled at the MA in Art, Idea and Production, an official master coordinated by the University of Seville, giving to my final essay the title of Genius Loci, the geographical accident on landscape concerning visual arts. Before WSA, I was a very indecisive person but the time I spent there helped me to know myself much better and believe in my decisions and skills as a painter.

“Since 2010, I was lucky winning some art competitions as the 1st International Biennial in Los Santos de Maimona (Badajoz-Spain), the 1st Prize “XIII Casa Castilla y León Art Competition” (Seville-Spain), the 1st Prize on the National Art Competition Ateneo de Sevilla (Sevilla-Spain), the 1st Prize “Alfonso Grosso” (Seville), the 1st Painting Art Prize sponsored by the Real e Ilustre Colegio de Farmacéuticos (Spain), or the 1st Prize “Marqués de Guadalcanal”.

“I was awarded as well by public foundations as BilbaoArte (Bilbao-Spain), Rodríguez-Acosta (Granada-Spain), Fernando Villalón (Morón de la Frontera-Spain), Centre d´Art La Rectoría (Barcelona-Spain), Uncastillo (Zaragoza-Spain) or Tres Culturas del Mediterráneo (Seville-Spain). I also was invited to the International Biennial of watercolor in Brioude (France) and the 10th International Art Festival of Opovo (Serbia). In 2012 I won an Art Scholarship to study at the National Art Academy of Tetouan, in Morocco, few months after being back from UK.

“Relating to the Jackson´s Open Art Prize, in London, I knew the competition when I was spending a few days in Southampton, and thought this year could be a great opportunity to join it. Few months ago I took up again the same daily life themes I was working in Winchester, but choosing it at my grandparent´s home, and finally the result was the cupboard selected by the Jackson´s Open Art Prize. My next purpose is to work on a collective portrait of friends from WSA for the National Portrait BP Competition, in London.”