Feedback from Z-Crit 1

The feedback I received from the Z-Crit (see previous post) was brilliant. It has helped me see my work in a new light and given me the confidence to continue that I’d been lacking since the Foundation course fizzled out in the face of Covid-19.

The whole session was well prepared and brilliantly run. As the facilitators are listed on the Artquest Z-Crits page, I think it is ok to say that our breakout group (there were three groups with six artists in each) was hosted by Elizabeth Murton: she did a perfect job of keeping each of us to two minutes, so making sure that each artist got their 10 minutes of feedback from the others.

I will not identify the other participants in my breakout group but will pull together all the feedback in one block and then begin the process of assessing how I incorporate it into my painting practice.

I think the words most used by the other artists about my piece and their reaction to it were ‘challenging’, ‘uncomfortable’, ‘confronting’, ‘melancholy’ and, surprising me, ‘political’. I guess one responder summed it up for them as ‘Woah!’.

Other comments include (edited a little and grouped for later discussion):

  • ‘it jars, with its imagery and use of colour,
    ‘picture is almost attacking me’,
    ‘very disturbed by the melancholy of it’
  • ‘a lot to think about and can’t begin to address it’,
    ‘struggling for direction because I’ve not seen anything like it’,
    ‘so much going on, it’ll take a lot of time to unpick’
  • ‘tense and political image’,
    ‘strong political narrative about exploitation or servitude’
  • ‘need an explanation to get control of it’,
  • ‘painterly marks’
  • ‘use of blocks of colour are why it does what it is doing’,
    ‘yellow is very political’,
    ‘red and green putting my nerve endings on edge’,
    ‘bright colours’
  • ‘grateful for giant moon to rest eyes on’,
    ‘gives context for the piece’,
    ‘helps to play with the planes’
  • ‘no shadows adds to sense of other-worldliness’
  • ‘main figure is confronting me’,
    ‘close to the edge, almost falling out’,
    ‘barring my access’,
    ‘melancholic and sad figure’,
    ‘foreground figure is mirror or metaphor for us, our society’
  • ‘awful indifference of the women on the bench to the character pulled along by a mechanical device’,
    ‘people on bench seen as ‘other”
  • ‘confused by the church and crosses in the background and its link to the foreground’,
    ‘church and buildings in the background symbolic of institutions and their power’

One person mentioned they were reminded of Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ because of the foreground figure being led around (as with Pozzo leading Lucky around on a rope) and wondered if that was the link to free will. Everyone else who mentioned free will said that they did not think the image made them think of that concept.

People mentioned the work reminding them, in parts, of Francis Bacon, Thomas Hirschhorn and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

Finally, Liz summed up, hoping it had given me things to think about like the political connotations of different colours, shapes and figures, and suggested people could contact me directly about ways to develop and sustain a practice without art school.

I was going to go on here to talk about how I might incorporate this feedback into my painting practice but think this is enough for one post. I’ll address this in the next one.

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