Group critiques (crits) can adopt a number of different formats but typically involve a small group of students led by one or two members of staff. Students present their work to the group, which is observed or read, and a dialogue about the work is entered into. Specific elements of the artwork are discussed, such as its physical appearance or the processes involved in making it, its content and possible meanings or suggestions for further development.
Group seminars, related to crits, also vary in format but usually involve a small group of students and a member of staff discussing a particular topic in depth. Students may have been given a text to read prior to the seminar.
Observation, description, analysis, critical evaluation, communication, increased confidence at public speaking.
Project Title: Artist’s Statement Seminar/The Syntax of the Press Release
Student Name: Hannah Hamill
School/ Department: Fine Art – Painting and Printmaking
Year of Study: Four
Project Length: Four hours (over two afternoons)
Project Location: Studio 44
Language plays a key role in the production and consumption of art; however, it can be a struggle to ally written language with visual language coherently. The overall aim of this exercise was to provide students with a critical awareness of art writing, necessary to inform professional practice within and beyond the course. This involved exploring art writing from the dual perspective of practising artists and readers. This conferred an idea of written and visual language and the ways in which they can effectively facilitate one another in the context of an exhibition.
This project was split over two afternoons, allowing for two separate group activities that provided the basis for a wider group discussion. The first activity focused on visual language. In groups of three, students were provided with a single image of an artist’s work and asked to collect between five and ten further images related to this work. The images could be sourced from any form of visual culture – from television and film to advertisements and other artworks. Connections to the original could be via colour, material or theme. This imagery then provided a platform from which to generate character profiles of the original artists which included their favourite food, pet and how they would choose to murder someone.
The second afternoon focused on the ways in which written language is transferred into visual language. The groups were each provided with a written description of an artwork and asked to visually render it using easily available materials. The results ranged from a bag of rubbish hung from a ladder to a precarious sculptural work involving a chair balanced upon a felt-tipped pen. A crit involving the wider group examined how un/successful the visual productions had been and highlighted the effect of written language upon visual language.
The project outcomes included creating a character profile of an artist based upon visual imagery. It also included a piece of artwork developed from a description of an already existing piece of artwork alongside the skills outlined beneath. This prompted a discussion about the ways in which visual language is transferred into written language and about the often subconscious assumptions that are made from visual imagery.
The project gave students the opportunity to explore the influence of art writing upon the viewer and the artwork. As a result, the students gained skills in concise and deliberate means of carrying out research, as well as how to write more effectively about other artists’ practice in relation to their own. The project also provided students with writing skills specific to statements and press releases. The exploration of the relationship between written and visual language highlighted the importance of using one to inform the other, thereby developing students’ professional practice.
Fine Art – 3rd Year – Georgina Towler
Final year Fine Art student Georgina discusses the value of giving and receiving both positive and negative feedback.
Textiles – 3rd Year -Meggan Johnson
Meggan understands that the world of design is full of contrasting opinions. Group critiques simulate this environment for students to prepare for the design industry.