WOOFISM and beyond

Category: theory

Studio Diary M.A. : That’s all folks and a chapter on Moogee

Surprise of the week was news that Moogee had his own chapter in a new Loughborough/UAL/Teachers Columbia publication 🙂

TTDfront moogee


This is the final entry in the studio diary section as I will be assessed on my M.A. this Wednesday afternoon. To prepare for this I have created the pdf below and uploaded to Scribd detailing the progress made throughout the M.A. and the final outcomes at this point.

Where I go from here is a good question and not one I can answer easily.

There are three separate yet overlapping areas I have become deeply interested in.

1. Drawing research ; phenomenology of drawing and in particular an interest in sense of place and notions of ‘signature’ in terms of preparatory drawings especially in Gorky,  Miro up to Motherwell and Twombly all developing out of the surrealism and dada influence on mid-century American painting.

2. Early film/photography and magazine culture of the 18th Century/early 19th century and its relation to current developments in web. I have a paper to present in Paris on Charles Dickens magazine illustration end of March and I will be concentrating on that alone from now until then.

3. The continuation of this research into artistic research theory/philosophy of aesthetics and its dissemination through fine art pedagogy.

All three are possible PhD subject matter and how my institution views my future will probably have a major bearing on where I go.

My heart though probably in number one…..my head in number three and my teaching future at present tied up somewhere in number  two whether I like it or not…….

Interesting times ahead 🙂

Meanwhile I’d like to thank Deborah Harty for her very good supervision and for stopping me going off-track all the time or as they like to say in academia develop ‘focus’. Focused I am right now but come Thursday who knows:-)
please note the backgrounds have distorted in this display.


Future Planning: Which PhD if at all?

Amended diagram 6th January


Interesting supervision session with DH in which I tried to present the M.A. package and look forward to what might come next.

M.A. ‘package’ =

Frayling Cartoon ( DRN Proceedings and THE) and paper ( Published AHHE 2014) (20 drawings)

DRN Hockney Rakes revisited (DRN NY 2013) (16 drawings)

James Elkins 2nd Edition of ‘Artists with PhDs’ illustrations 2014. (20 drawings?)

The above image is my crude attempt to update a previous ‘future map’. The horse-trading going on over various PhD offers at NTU means the water a bit muddied at present especially as I waiting to confirm I actually have a job in 2014-15!

What is certain is that a period of reflection before diving into a full PhD in order.

The above image highlights two possible options. (The third option is leave teaching and pure practice which financially not an option – left hand side of image).

Option One: Phenomenology of drawing and memory of place?

Fine Art practice-led PhD linking to phenomenology of drawing and its link to painting through my interest in both aspects of place and symbolic drawing in the likes of Arshile Gorky and Miro and up to Guston and beyond.

Relates to this abandoned blog on painting practice…BLANK CANVAS

Option Two: The Victorian Sequential Moment ?

If redeployed into Graphic Design next year this would link to both possible animation and film courses within Visual Communications from a ‘Visual Culture’ standpoint. Locates me away from practice in a art history position though.

Relates directly to the revised Art History BLOG here


A basic plan?



Simplistic but this rough outline of new directions is kind of accurate.

Path One: Traditional practice-led craft orientated production – drawings not theoretical more instinctive. Crossing into surrealist/automatic and subconscious areas.

Path Two: Literary/Historical..orientated toward factual and historical research linked to a wide gamut of technology in early stages affecting a specific area of the Thames Valley – possible PhD subject area? Relating developments in 1850s to present day impact of ubiquitous media. Possible crossover with poetry/cultural geography. e.g. Charles Tomlinson’s borders thesis.

Path Three: Criticism as Research/Graphic Research. Cartoons as investigative art criticism. James Elkins and Mark Staff Brandl connection. Political edge.


RP Research Overview 2010-2011 – conclusion

It is ‘Graphic Research’ Spock but not as we know it…

An earlier post (see below) relates my two year long tussle with the idea of a ‘Multimedia’ M.A.by research project which spawned tis separate research trajectory as a by-product.

The turning point for treating cartooning of art criticism/history as a viable research subject came with my acceptance for the Mostyn Humorous Intent Symposium in March and subsequently acceptance for three drawing related symposia in September 2012. All related to notions of practice and drawing in some way. All reflected my seven year output of critical cartoons and blog entries which began in 2005. In this period I have had work published by Axis, Arts Professional and Matter Magazine ( interview with Matthew Collings). Ironically none of this has been recognised ot supported in any way by my institution. Indeed this has been conducted beneath the radar because of the nature of the material created and because as a member of a ‘Multimedia’ faculty I was coerced into accepting a ‘Multimedia’ M.A. as part of professional development. Ironically again, professional development seemed to disappear when my course was closed down (it has two years to run) in October 2011 coinciding with my decision to take a year of absence because of my mother’s serious illness of which she passed away in June this year. Having removed both the raison d’etre of professional development and having offered no supervision or help at all during my first year of ‘study’ it not surprising I a little confused.

I took matters in my own hands in March 2012 by applying to the Mostyn conference which firmly in the Fine Art area. The drawing conferences could be seen as straddling both fine art and graphic design. In light of this it makes clear sense to me that if I attempt a PhD M.A. it  should be re-assigned into one of these two areas and I hope to sort this out before commencing one. As the research also combines pedagogic research it may be difficult to find a supervisor again. Trent is presently lacking a art history professor or staff at that level with a art history background since Richard Woodfield left maybe the new Dean will freshen things up a bit. That is for future after the M.A. completed.

So I now have to complete the three symposia. Develop or rewrite the original MA:RPT proposal in light of changes of direction.and then focus on creating a body of work in the ‘graphic research’ area to lead up to PhD ( a term invented by myself in conversation with Ian Williams a.k.a.Thom Ferrier at a graphic novel conference at Nottingham Contemporary).

My interests going forward towards PhD (RESEARCH ROUTE) are firmly in the areas of art criticism/history (comic and written) and for M.A (PRACTICE ROUTE) new media and painting and drawing.

Even a week of travelling elsewhere artistically speaking is very welcome…..and maybe signals a new start.

RP Research Overview 2010-2011 – first draft

I am looking at a range of options to decide whether I pursue film or drawing as my second year of RPT.  At present I have reviewed all of the sources that I have found over the past two years.  The illustration below shows the strongest categories in my original research blog in 2010 and 11.

(Click to see larger version)

Looking at the spider diagram one can see how the original parameters changed as I went through the year.  The above diagram does not include any references to non-multimedia i.e.  Drawing related practice as at this point I was keeping this separate.  I began with a fairly tight proposal focused narrowly upon using the then new tablets and possibly applications running on tablets which used a narrow geographical location as its subject matter.  As I progressed through the year and investigated the area more deeply I found myself moving away from the original proposal.  My original idea of using GPS within a hand held application was quickly undermined by a rapid development of several freely available apps which operated very similarly to my original concept.  These included the Spanish paint map use of Google maps API and the Brothers and Sisters ‘Street Museum’ for the Museum of London.Since then the History Pin android app pretty much does what I was hoping to prototype. I also looked carefully at the category of Locative drawing.  This seemed to me to be a fairly shallow theoretical area which had been explored thoroughly and had produced a range of outcomes from the banal to the quite good. At this point I seemed to be drawn most to Richard Coyne’s theory of ‘Tuning of Place’ and the ‘multimedia work of Martin Reiser.

Having a year break has reinforced the turn away from this original idea as both hardware and software developments have moved on a pace.


My first actions on location on the actual disused railway track involved photographing places along it.  In the course of this I met a local photographer and historian who is very active in documenting this particular location.  This led me to investigate the then new concept of context provision and to consider placing my practice within a social practice container.  Once again I felt that this categorisation did not really reflect my aims.  There are elements of my practice as a web practitioner which could be seen as context provision.  However, advice for me, sale this was not an area I wished to develop at this point.

Having decided that my research project should produce quantifiable research and physical artefacts as outcomes I reconsidered my position and turned to photography/film as a more solid theoretical base and area to explore.  This was reinforced by the wider availability of DSLR HD cameras as well as the increasing potential of mobile phones to shoot video footage.  Two photography mentors suggested that I focus on producing manageable outcomes in a variety of media.  I also discussed with them the concept of deep mapping and especially the work of Cliff McLucas and Mike Pearson in regard to performance mixed with graphical elements and video.  This for me, all linked directly to the work of Patrick Keiller especially in his recent ‘Robinson in Ruins’ film.

At this point (November 2011) I had taken several photos on location and voiceover films via mobile phone incorporating local history/natural observation/political commentary live as I was walking along the track.  This correlates with a lot of contemporary theory and practice in terms of both Locative and dialogue related practice.  Some of this practice appears to me to be weak if not founded on a thorough knowledge of the area being traversed.  I bring to my practice knowledge gained over 25 years of researching and writing poetry informed by local history and natural observation.  This enabled me to ad lib continuously over handheld film for 40 minutes.  This was very experimental and obviously is not tightly scripted nor well edited material.  Indeed the very amateurish and ad-hoc nature of the performance as recorded is a necessary part of the experimentation and the final output.

View on Vimeo here : http://vimeo.com/user2430018/videos

Following up suggestions from mentors I have been investigating the theories in respect to early rail travel and early cinema.  Rebecca Solnit, Lynne Kirby and Wofgang Schivelbusch have been most useful in terms of examining the experience of place on this disused railway line.  However I also from an art historical point of view found myself digressing in to a great deal of art historical research.  Especially in regard to a little documented art colony known as the Blewbury artists and related material.  This colony and other artists such as Alexander Mann had direct physical connection to the area of railway track I was working on and alongside.  Subsequent research uncovered a rare set of etchings in a Folio edition by Alexander Mann called ‘Gnats and other hindrances to the landscape artist’.  These etchings possibly show an early knowledge of photography and cinema.  The publication was found in a house Alexander Mann had occupied in the village of East Hagbourne next to the disused track.  Below a couple of illustrations from the folio I discovered.  This suite of etchings has a performative and animated aspect. (see Appendix One)

I however cannot directly link this portfolio to this area.  Others sketches by Alexander Mann do correlate with the location.  These drawings appear to relate to a Scottish landscape particularly in their subject matter i.e.  Gnats being actually Scottish midges!  Mann is not the only artist who relates directly from the historical point of view to the track I was walking.  I went into some depth in locating various individuals as they linked to my own practice in the early 1990s.  I have found one Mann easel painting which appears to be the same view I drew some 90 years later.

Alexander Mann – The Road to Wittenham Clumps near oxford 1901 (Government Art Collection)


However as with previous research diversions this material takes me very far away from the original premise of the research project.  At present I have put this particular research on hold until I can find a way of reintegrating with the notion of multimedia.


Returning to the idea of multimedia and leaving the historical aspect for while I re-examined the material shot on the Sony Xperia Mini mobile phone.  This is low quality footage gathered by holding the phone in front of my face and speaking as walking.  This enabled me to produce a voice-over in the manner of Patrick Keiller not with a far more personal focus.  I have also experimented with this footage by stripping out the frames using free software and then moving through the sequence by hand and using screen capture software to produce a fake’ film’.  The results I have posted to my vimeo website.  My interest here relates to the Solnit and Schivelbusch concepts of film and railway time being linked.  In my case I am slowing down the film manually to create ‘walking time’ as my viewpoint is that of the walker not of the railway carriage occupant.  This can be seen to link to Darren Almonds contemporary work with film and trains.  I also see it as linking to Philippe Parreno’s reconstruction of the funeral train journey of Robert Kennedy’s body only in my case I am deconstructing the view from the train completely and replacing it with a walk thus reversing the technological advance which aligns with the physical deconstruction of an arterial route.  This particular line reveals a post imperial contraction as commerce and goods ceased to flow through the traditional ports such as Southampton. Thus this in a greater sense reveals the nature of Britain as a post imperial, service led rather than manufacturing economy. My political comments came about through voiceover as a natural addendum to the film.  As I have stated this was not scripted or planned.  In this regard that commentary links directly to my work in poetry.

This project has been directly influenced by a sense of loss.  My father died in 2004 from cancer and my mother suffered from carcinoid cancer in the period 2005 to 2012 and died on the 8th June 2012.  My focus on the track was done in the full knowledge that I would be visiting the area regularly and that this would be the last time I could focus on it fully.  I intend through the summer of 2012 to complete a series of short films with no dialogue related to their loss.  I also intend to create more artefacts out of my engagement with the track itself.  Whether or not this will be shown or  included as part of my final M.A.  RPT multimedia  summation depends upon the direction I choose from September 2012 onwards.  This I will decide in due course.  This document acts as a summing up of the various directions my research has taken over the past two years including the year of leave of absence.  It is intended to clarify these tentative investigations both for myself and any potential supervisors.

Shaun Belcher June 2012


References:( to come)


Almond, Darren
Coyne, Richard
Keiller, Patrick
Kirby, Lynne
Lubbren, Nina
McLucas, Cliff
Mann, Alexander
Parreno, Phillippe
Pearson, Mike
Reiser, Martin
Schwivelbusch, Wolfgang
Solnit , Rebecca


Appendix One:
London: Fine Art Society, 1884. Oblong folio. A special publisher’s Presentation Binding in full pigskin. x pages, etched title page and 16 etched plates, each in two states, with a third state of 10 plates also present. Number 9 of 250 copies of the large-paper issue.
A nice association copy, owned by James Mann, the artist’s father, with his bookplate.  The book also bears the bookplate of the flamboyant architect and historian, Roderick Gradidge. Alexander Mann was a Glasgow-born, Paris-trained artist.  This suite of delicate comic etchings depict the trevails of the poor landscape painter who must deal with rain, insects, cumbersome easels and umbrellas.  This copy is in a full pigskin binding by Maclehose of Glasgow, most probably designed by the artist.  The copy contains two states of all etchings and a third state of ten of them. The first state of Plate VIII is on inferior paper and is slightly spotted, else a very good copy with very minor edge marks.  OCLC lists two copies of what appears to be the regular edition with seventeen etchings only.  Those are at Cambridge and the British Library.  No copies are cited as being in American libraries and we could find none selling at auction during the past twenty-five years.
Source: http://www.bookpress.com/featured_402.html



Mostyn ‘With Humorous Intent’ Symposium March 2012

Again a retrospective post highlighting a symposium presentation I gave in March 2012.



With Humorous Intent: Symposium

By admin Published February 21, cialis 2012

I have been invited to give a presentation of my ‘Cartoon Practice’ at a symposium organised through Loughborough University called ‘With Humorous Intent’ at the new Mostyn Gallery Llundudno.
With Humorous Intent (Symposium)

03 Mar – 04 Mar 2012

With Humorous Intent

A two-day symposium interrogating the deployment of humour within contemporary art practices.

Organised by Lee Campbell, PhD researcher, in conjunction with Politicized Practice Research Group, Loughborough University School of the Arts in cooperation with Mostyn. To coincide with ‘Ha Ha Road’, 03 December 2011 – 11 March 2012.

FREE EVENT but places are limited. To reserve a place, email sian@mostyn.org or phone 01492 868196.

Guest speakers: Gillian Whiteley (aka bricolagekitchen); Gary Stevens and Frog Morris are joined by Andrew Paul Wood (University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand); Dave Ball, curator of Ha Ha Road, Mostyn; Jonathan Roberts; Alison O’Connor (Oxford University); Ana Milovanovic; Shaun Belcher (Nottingham Trent University School of Art and Design); Eve Smith (Liverpool John Moores University); Jennifer Jarman; Hannah Ballou (Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London); Steve Fossey (University of Northampton); Simon Bell (Anglia Ruskin University,Cambridge); Waldemar Pranckiewicz; and Dean Kelland (Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London).

The symposium is launched with a performance and talk by Bedwyr Williams at 7pm, Friday 2 March. Places for Friday evening are limited and must be booked in advance, £5 / £3 students. To reserve a place for Friday 2 March, phone Mostyn’s Shop on 01492 868191.