(HA) The Role of The Guest Speaker in an Art History Undergraduate Course

This blog post analyses the role of the guest speaker in an art history undergraduate course context.

Guest Speaker Lecture

The guest speaker starts off the lecture by explaining their practice(s), research and what they do. This one in particular works at the National Gallery which is a rather louse job giving quite a lot of free time to the guest speaker.

What was discussed in the lecture was what she had experienced after finishing their BA which resulted in them exploring and researching topics that had interested them during their BA. When you leave things off during a bachelor’s degree- it gives you time afterwards to consider looking into it more once you graduate.

Anyhow the role of this guest speaker was to encourage students taking a bachelor’s degree in art history about the subjects and areas they can go into after they graduate. What they can do during their degree and what opportunities they can create. The guest speaker had only recently graduated with their Masters’s Degree once and they had written articles for a magazine. Their practice revolves around interception, social activism and how their time studying art history has ended up in those topics. Building upon those topics, writing for magazines has only encouraged them to further develop that practice.

She explained that when you think of the history of art – you usually think of curation and what you’ll do afterwards. This leads to her explaining the stereotype of what people think of art historian students;

Oh, you’re gonna be a curator?

Instead, the speaker explains that you can also go into research- that it’s not all about curation and there’s more than just curating in the art history world. There are also some areas of jobs that you may not be interested in but volunteering or working for a short time on some projects brings you to understand what you like and don’t like. Getting work experience and volunteering is explained as a way to open up avenues and opportunities that you could miss during or after your course.

The opportunities from these also open up your degree- showing that there’s more than the stereotype of what you can do with your degree. Her practice is working as someone who leads the development up to the exhibition staged in a museum while adding an intersectional feminist view on the exhibitions and galleries.

My views on the guest speaker lectures

Analysing the points and ideas explained about where you can go after an art history degree I would like to say that there are much more areas that are being created. Though controversial, there are many meta-verse blockchain exhibitions being taken place on many digital platforms. There is a large market for art historians growing for these platforms to curate the new digital culture that is being created presently. Some are NFT and some not- which curators or other art history-based jobs can fill the roles.

It would really depend on your views on NFTs and meta-verse to which jobs you would take- but you can entirely avoid NFTs if you don’t agree with their concepts through the new digital world of art.

With the digital revolution taking place; I believe that if we merge both what the guest speaker talks about research with this- we are in the prime time of creating primary research on new art forms happening in the meta-space. I describe the word ‘meta-space’ as an art or social space in our present period of meta-modernism; or “post”-post-modernism.

Back to the highlights of the guest speaker lecture!

She explains how people need a job in the art world and that it’s not good. Though doing things you don’t like gives you self-reflection on what you know you won’t do again. You have to sell yourself as something valuable and know yourself to do this. This section of the guest lecture goes into an alphabet activity where we go through every job that we can do.

My analysis and views on the guest speaker’s lecture

I very much disagree with the point about people needing a job in the art world and it not being good- we must have a job in this world to help the economy flow. If there is too much unemployment because people don’t work and don’t want to work then where do people get their money from? We simply cannot take from the government if nobody works as money runs out eventually. Art jobs exist for a reason- if there are no art jobs then artists and art-based practices are not in demand. How do you find out what you like if you don’t experience a job first-hand in a multitude of subjects?

We have jobs and some of them we love because we absolutely love doing them!

The second section of the guest speaker lecture

The guest speaker explains what she does; she feels that with all the experience that she’s gained that she’s quite lucky to be in that position. You don’t have to feel obliged to take any job in the art world as long as you’ve got a job. Just find something that’s relevant to your skill and interests. As long as you’re getting money and financially stable you can go into what you want to do instead of going for the first opportunity.

She does diversity and inclusion and that’s something that she wanted to do and found the job. You’ve got to take your time and wait for a job that comes for you with what you want. She says that different companies have different styles of jobs so what job you didn’t like might be different say if you worked at a different company. As long as you learn something that’s all that matters. You can also do freelance work, especially with blogging- applying creativity to the art historian practice you can do many jobs that you really don’t think about.

Excerpt

Key topics that were covered by the guest speaker were mostly jobs and work experiences or areas that an art historian can delve into after graduating from their course.

I think that this lecturer has well challenged the stereotype of the idea that people think artists and art-based jobs get really terrible jobs. How many different types of jobs you would enjoy if you simply just go out there and explore the world of art jobs. There is just a plethora of all kinds of work you can do as an art historian and their practice shows this.

Check out the interview I did with Dr Emma Roberts on her exhibition!

West Bank (and a bit of Runcorn) (Extra Episode)

This segment is an extra episode for my “A Student’s View on Liverpool” podcast which you can watch here. The extra episode explores West Bank and a small number of its tourist attractions.

On Wednesday, I had visited my parents, though that’s definitely not going to be the highlight of this post! On this March day, there was a sight in the Silver Jubilee bridge while going across it (this is why it’s better to be a pedestrian, so you get to see these things!!).

Silver Jubilee Bridge and Runcorn Graffiti

Crows, lots of them, all nesting on top of the bridge! Using the pedestrian walkway, I was able to take a few photographs of them! However, the bridge itself is a remnant of the industrial period that the surrounding towns (Widnes and Runcorn) have in common, especially West Bank. West Bank used to be an area for the soap industry in the United Kingdom. The local museum, the Catalyst, has catalogued the history of this area in much more detail than I will explain. The museum, however, is more catered to children and as a child, I had visited it quite a lot, so I didn’t really want to go in there while visiting my parents.

In the area, there is a rather large amount of graffiti – especially in the West Bank Subway (though if you really want to view it- make sure to stomach the smell of urine and defecation haha!). On the subject of graffiti, a taxi driver had told me of a few iconic graffiti works in Runcorn- one he compared to Banksy’s work was the cow near Runcorn Station. Though, I still- have yet to view that area as I had to catch the train.

Spike Island, West Bank

Flock of birds coming to feed on duck feed.

Apart from graffiti the area also houses quite a nice park, Spike Island. The park is very forested and has a large canal- so duck feeding is common. Though I wouldn’t recommend visiting as there is currently an avian flu outbreak in the area. I personally think that the area is most beautiful in Spring and Winter when it is most quiet. The cold air adds a breadth of freshness to the region.

A historical note here is that Spike Island was the site for the Stone Roses concert in 1990. Subsequently, a movie named “Spike Island” covers this- though it scores low on Rotten tomatoes.

Listen to the Podcast here:

Copyright to the music belongs to;

Pleasant Porridge by Kevin MacLeod Link: incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/7614-plā€¦ant-porridge License: filmmusic.io/standard-license

A Visit to the Garstang Museum

garstang museum
It’s really looking at you! It’s surely dead? R.. right?
The photograph was taken by myself, the subject of the photograph is property of the Garstang Museum.

On Tuesday, I visited the Garstang Museum, its quiet and compact, which is a huge contrast to the World Museum, which is usually really busy and, in my opinion, hard to digest information due to the loudness. Therefore, the Garstang has definitely been a much more pleasant experience!

It contains artefacts excavated by John Garstang from 1902 to 1936, expeditions primarily funded by himself by which he sold artefacts after his returns to fund subsequent expeditions. Usually, expeditions during that time had a lot of colonialist influence. One of the museum workers told me that he had very little of that influence when they were looking to decolonize the museum. Though it’s probably that the mummy who was (supposedly) stuck in an office building for decades is now housed in the museum might disagree!

The items on display range from Greek, Etruscan/Roman, Sudanese, and Egyptian to the Middle East. I was pleased to see that Sudanese artefacts were on display due to the lack of public knowledge of their culture concerning Egyptian history. Most excitingly, a mummified Egyptian was most likely a royal family member due to its crossed arms. This mummy does not relate to the painted coffin box, which I was told by the museum worker. Though the coffin box is around a couple of millennia and still has most of its paint, it reminds me slightly of Mondriaan’s artwork- only a little bit, however, haha!

The rest of the collection contains Roman coinage, Greek pottery- a collection of burnt objects from an Egyptian tomb, a mummified cat inside a child sarcophagus and much more! I suggest anyone reading this should visit the gallery as it offers a lot of insight into the culture and civilizations that were once such mighty states. I say that it shows that any civilization can fall from glory and into a museum collection!

Location

The Garstang Museum is located at 14 Abercromby Square, Liverpool L69 7WZ. You can view it on the map below!

Podcast

Check out the previous post in which I interviewed Dr Emma Roberts on her Jamaica Making exhibition!

(HA) The Idea of the Separation of Artist and Art Institutions with the Idea of Contemporary Art Criticism

This blog post is about a discussion lecture (an assignment task) given in the History of Art and Museum Studies at LJMU. I will reflect on what was lectured in this post. The subject of this one is art criticism.

Art in contemporary times is presently an exchange of artist and the audience; therefore, due to the individualist characteristics of us humans- we will all perceive an artwork differently, whether it is an emotional reaction or literal reaction. I believe this depends on the context of the work and the idea of the audience who views it, especially in a political context. For example, for a climate change work of art, one may have similar views of the work with another audience member if they both believe the same political ideas, unlike one who denies that climate change exists.

Art, however, which has a political undertone that has not been highlighted in popular culture, will likely have a much more varied reaction. I have observed a linear political belief that some have – especially on social media (Twitter). In-depth, we can observe that if an idea does not align with something one individual does not simply see as ideal- it serves as something they would reject. I see it as a possibility of a sign of audiences not being educated on a topic to look at both perspectives and sides and simply absorbing information that they singularly only want to see.

Relating to my practice

I want to use one of my works as an example, especially the more “politically-inclined” work, “The Suffocation Tee“. Suffocation Tee received varied responses, mostly in approval of climate change being a problem plaguing this world. We had received a negative response which shows that audiences are more varied and not linear- though it was a response that I was disappointed to receive. It was a barrage of “facts” (quoted “fact” also known as opinions šŸ˜) that have not been verified by sources, possibly using conspiracy theories and unverified information.

I see this as a problem due to the possibility of disinformation to create uninformed opinions about artworks – especially if there are racist (or any of the nasty isms) undertonesā€”the exchange of artist and audience, based on the audience type with which the work is exchanged.

Coming back to my project, we can see racist undertones in the comment I had received, which I shall highlight; “cheap masks that were manufactured in [a certain country] that were supposed to protect people from the [same country’s] virus are now littered all over the place”. I will admit; that this is now on the Suffocation Tee- but that it is because the work is socially engaging, and I wished to showcase everyone’s view. We should separate the reaction from the artist- sometimes misinformed artwork ideas could help encourage new audiences to share ideas about an artist’s work.

Excerpt of this and how one can use art criticism

In the lecture, what was also discussed was how we write art criticism, we must simply ask; “is it good art or bad art? who is the artist?”. We must ask these questions while understanding who our audience is before writing. We must be descriptive and then proceed to put our personal opinion into it after the audience knows what we’re talking about. That we must also cut blubber and filter out unneeded information and proofread our text.

From this discussion session, I believe this can help validate art critiques – especially in the digital age when anyone can be a critique. But who is a good critique and this develops how we can differentiate between those who sprout blubber and those who don’t.