PHO705: Guest Lecture with Andy Hughes

Introduction

Andy Hughes is an artist based in Cornwall and he investigates the relationships between consumption, plastic waste and the defilement of the land and sea. Hughes is interested in radical conceptions of materialism and the implications this has for politics, ecology and the everyday way we think of ourselves, others, and the world. 

As preparation, the audience was asked to watch the film Plastic Scoop on Vimeo. There is also a Zine about this film. It is on Issuu.

The FMP Photo Project

Following the viewings above the immediate question must be about the Video Documentary and Video Gamification post that introduced Verdun a successful WW1 game on XBox. There is a possibility of cutting scenes into the photo project. Given the work is about the What and less so about the How, then this could become a diversion. The intent would as always be to contextualise the Abstract Expressionistic images at the core of the project to give the viewer more scope to follow the theme or themes.

Plastic Scoop above is a collaborative effort taking 6 months to create and demonstrates the scope to be largely beyond that of a Final Major Project FMP.

Lecture

A summary is provided here of some of the main points from Andy’s guest lecture and with particular reference to MA Major Project practice.

Early work was in part didactic as a way was sought of helping campaigns. The way an artist works is different though.

The book Novascene (Lovelock, 2019) was given as a recommended reading in terms of the theme connecting the past, present and future. Lovelock is the author of the Gaia Principle.

It was noted that in Aboriginal culture, thinking does not have to be linear as in Western culture. The image below depicts the concentric and a representation of thinking moving in any number of ways.

The area around Castleford which Andy has a childhood connection with transformed from coal mining to businesses’ that feature single-use materials (McDonalds and KFC).

Interest was found in the sport of surfing and this led to an awareness of beach litter. In photographing surfing comparison was drawn between the UK and the classic portrayal of surfing in sun-baked climes.

A new series of work was created using colourful plastic waste.

Also, in travels to the USA an unravelling golf ball was shot and in the background is the menace of a polluting plant.

Work was also made based on the waste found at outdoor events such as Glastonbury.

As an artist, there is a connection with making and so still life photographs of waste were combined with paintings.

Nostalgia was raised as a topic. Nostalgia is popular at the moment as it makes people feel comfortable in uncomfortable times.

At various points, during the presentation, there was a prescience: subjects photographed (e.g. rat, glove, stick) photographed as the same composition decades earlier.

In a comment about carbon usage, it was noted that Photography has in its DNA this thing about travel. So what can be done to limit the carbon footprint?

Working on plastic scoop meant spending 6 months in the studio and that limited travel.

There was work currently close to being exhibited. There is the whole question of how you keep in contact with the curator as there is a balance. Big-name artists can probably call the shots while the lesser-known have to be more patient.

Bibliography

Lovelock, J. and Appleyard, B. (2019) Novascene The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence. Kindle. UK: Penguin Random House. Available at: http://www.penguin.co.uk.

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