WOOFISM and beyond

Category: RPT (Page 1 of 3)

Studio Diary 17 April: Presentation and beyond…The Bauhaus




Presentation for MA students. A slightly odd experience. Especially when introduced as a ‘graduate’.

Back to studio and more subconscious un-directed drawing.

Hidden messages….crazy thoughts…mad equations..exploded peanuts characters…back to paul klee…taking the line for a walk..Bauhaus….

Found this fantastic image by Paul Klee of structure of the Bauhaus not unlike my plan for M.A. drawings ha ha ha….it all connects.





Studio Diary April 9th

Finally back in studio after Easter break and torn between the reading required for the Film History paper for Amsterdam and keeping drawing experiments going. In the end managed both. Above are drawings I did as usual trying not to think almost automatic and the larger ones at bottom slightly different. Inspired by some recent text paintings of my friend Zenon I played around with notion of text as drawing. I then produced the strange calligraphy like ‘hill’ drawing. Not sure exactly where this going but does seem to be laying on borderline between cartoon, text and drawing. I was reminded a lot of the Abstract Expressionist drawings I looked at a lot in the 1980’s.

Also been flicking through a Marukami Catalogue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takashi_Murakami

M.A.Choice: It was always Fine Art


I have decided that the area I wish to continue my M.A.in is FINE ART.

I would like to rename my M.A. as a Fine Art M.A. instead of Multimedia for the reasons detailed below.

I currently have two separate ‘reflective journals’ documenting my ideas and thoughts and research over the last two years.

The first could be described as the ‘DIGITAL’ blog and the second as the ‘NON-DIGITAL’. (Using Digital as a descriptor preferred by
Lev Manovitch in his recent article ‘After Software’as opposed to the less well used ‘new media’, ‘interactive’ or ‘multimedia’.)

The DIGITAL enquiry focussed to start with on GPS and locative notions of landscape (originally called TRACK) and tied in with the original intent of the M.A. to link directly via CPLD to my Trent teaching. With the closing of the Multimedia Course in 2013 and my own frustration and lack of interest in the ‘web and mobile apps’ field I would like to take this opportunity to move back to my preferred original nomenclature of the degree as ‘Fine Art’. As a title this far more appropriate to the actual content which I exploring which is fine art painting and film/photography. I have realised that a significant part of the ‘DIGITAL’ that did interest me and still does is the representation of landscape in digital photography and cinema. So this blog will continue to investigate this area. I am hoping that instead of an either/or situation that the Digital and Non-Digital representation of landscape and the tension between these areas will become the focus of my M.A. enquiry from now on.
Reflective Journal ‘TRACK’: https://shaunbelcher.com/fineart

The NON-DIGITAL enquiry is explicitly concerned with what one could describe as ‘hands-on’ practice – drawing, painting and writing. In this area I have created artworks for over 30 years much of it related directly to a specific location (one of the reasons for the GPS/Mobile focus of the original proposal). I have been operating in a new studio in Nottingham since May 2011 and I will be creating large paintings and a series of drawings over the next year. Material created and thoughts on this process are being assembled in the BLANK CANVAS BLOG.




FINALLY the third area I have been exploring through papers, cartoons and conferences is more theoretical and is really PhD rather than M.A. material in my opinion: This is contained in this blog.

(Theoretical research as a precursor of PhD)


This is where I think the work displayed in this blog is leading…..

The analysis of Frayling and cartoons which constituted this summer’s ‘research’ and the subject of this blog belong to a critical practice which really situated within a FINE ART PEDAGOGY and FINE ART THEORY field. As such they are relevant to the PRACTICE as supporting material but do not directly engage with my fine art practice. Rather it acts as a frame and exploration of that practice’s political and theoretical situation in the modern university. I can see it developing into further research and possibly a PhD related entirely to the theoretical problems of attempting a fine art PhD. In this I draw heavily on James Elkins’ recent publications and have been involved in many recent threads which James has started on facebook and online.

Visual Writing?


I have been asked to look into the possibility (nothing more at this stage) of developing a VISUAL WRITING M.A.

This interesting especially as I not sure if it actually exists!!!!! (I can find no trace of such an animal in the wilds of academia). It also interesting as I not sure where such an animal if found would be caged…..Fine Art or Graphics?

A web search of VISUAL THINKING came up with only one related PhD studentship at Duncan and Jordanstone:

Visualisation & the Application of Visual Thinking
Visualisation & Simulation, Mediating technology, information design, Applying design thinking, Public engagement, Identity cultural & sense of place, Design in Public, Policy, Society, Business-Service Design, Design in new contexts (health etc) Exploring the economic / social impact of new practices


VISUAL THINKING is a generic term which covers any method of displaying information graphically from business seminars to infographics made for the web. I cannot see how it strong enough to form an M.A. unless situated firmly within GRAPHIC DESIGN. It could however be a cross-disciplinary role helping from a pedagogic point of view which how it employed at the RCA where the post recently advertised ‘taught into animation and graphics’.
Wikipedia defines thus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_thinking

VISUAL WRITING is a much narrower term that basically refers to art books which contain a lot of visual information but are not GRAPHIC NOVELS or COMIC STRIPS.

GRAPHIC RESEARCH (my term) is using convention of Graphic Novel/Comic Book to reinterperate/re-present academic research.

My subject matter for my M.A. is FINE ART and practice-led. The blog related to it is called Graphic Research and stands outside of that M.A. and could lead to PhD level enquiry. I am interpreting FINE ART THEORY and PEDAGOGY in traditional research documents and comic book format. In this I am imitating a traditional PhD ‘practice-led’ approach but with both written (verbalised) and drawn analysis. I see the ‘graphic’ elements as being outside the traditional text/practice split and to some degree challenging Frayling’s notion of Research FOR art and design not being embedded in the art object (if you accept the drawings as art objects and not text).

Finally, and to address the new M.A. possibilities discussed above. I could happily posit the following options instead which we do not at present cover.

(I have not included ‘Interactive Arts’ or ‘Digital Arts’ because I think all Fine Art/ Graphic Design is digital/non-digital these days and it a false nomenclature  anyway and we would have to have a culture change and move towards the Glasgow model of ‘Digital Culture’ and ‘Communication Media’ to allow this to happen.)

1. GRAPHIC NOVEL AND COMIC. (Presently none exist in UK could be a USP?)

similar to Goldsmiths course

Wimbledon College of Art have just re-launched their Drawing M.A. and there are also similar courses at Falmouth and Oxford Brookes (just validated)


This a very strong possibility and something I would like to work with Terry and Deborah Harty on developing.

This the area I currently studying in and when I finish I believe I would be best suited to run this as course leader. A post that has not been treated as a separate entity since Carry Welling left and one that I think requires a stand alone course leader to promote and run effectively due to the nature of the provision which more akin to blended or open university curricula. I think it also one of the most exciting parts of our provision at Trent and should be made more of.



If these M.A. ideas do not develop I can see myself moving wholly into research / PhD as the Multimedia Course closes as my only option as I will have no teaching into Fine Art at B.A. (rejected by Fine Art representatives at consultation phase) or M.A. level as things presently constituted. Equally I am not considered worthy of teaching practice into Graphic Design….too graphic for fine art too fine art for graphics…marvellous…


Cartoon map of output to date: The Road Not Taken?

As part of re-planning my M.A. by registered project I was asked to ‘draw’ out my ideas. By chance I had already done it a few weeks ago as part of process of seeking ‘re-alignment’.

The image is complex but for me the most interesting outcome was the realisation that the ‘four-leaf clover’ actually boiled down to two distinct and separate ‘pathways’ going in different directions but both could equally be followed and examined as an M.A.



The first pathway is practice-led and focusses on drawing and painting as both studio-based and like most fine art PhD’s one that can interrogate itself during ‘process’. i.e. self-reflection on practice within M.A. and an analytical tool to examine the process of submitting for M.A from an institutional point of view. This amalgamates the ‘graphic research’ and ‘painting’ threads of my work in one. I will attempt to analyse the studio practice through cartoon diagrams and reflective analysis.

Possible output: Paintings and drawings and conference presentations/research papers.



The word that has no meaning again applied to a very diverse range of ‘praxis’ that includes poetry, film, photography, oral history, social intervention, music and sound.

The mopping up of ‘everything else that I do’.

Possible output: Book, Cd, exhibition, graphic design, ‘deep mapping’, live performance.


What will win …..or maybe do both and make this the most disjointed M.A. ever?

The four-leaf clover below now has two leaves….

maybe should listen to Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Planning M.A documents


As part of an interview for course leader of M.A. Fine Art at Nottingham Trent ( the proverbial snowball in hell chance as they say). I prepared the following course structure ‘plans’. The reaction was a little bemused but the thinking embedded within has already been corroborated by information on trends developing at other M.A. courses.

The traditional M.A. is now an expensive additional outlay on top of three years and approximately £100K of debt for a home student so unless there a viable and necessary reason for having one the market doomed to collapse. That reason could be academic progression (the traditional bridge between B.A. and PhD) or it could be cheapness (the international student who chooses a course because not as expensive as London based institutions).

Either way the outlook is for a radically different postgraduate landscape sometime soon.

The first  document explores viability for both an M.A. and M.F.A. which matched courses to expectations of consumers geared to ‘practice’ or ‘research’ outcomes. The others map ‘student expectations’ (a core mantra of the institution) and possible reorganisation of the whole structure from a new foundation through to PhD.

Needless to say I over-pitched the whole thing and should have kept this all back until the head of M.A. post becomes available…..and as usual I am too quick to spot trends…By the time thie institutional supertanker starts to change course I will probaby be long gone. I am posting so I can have the limited satisfaction of looking back in due course and saying ‘I told you so’….

It also interesting as a part of my investigations into course structures and could be seen as ‘action research’ even if as I expect I do not get the job ….


Royal College Research Series

In addition to Frayling’s first document the RCA published more in the series – here all the ones available online through http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/

Volume 1, Number 1 1993/4

Sir Christopher Frayling: Research in art and design


Volume 1, Number 2 1993/4

Roger Coleman: Design research for our future selves


Volume 1, Number 3.

Alex Seago : Research methods for Mphil and PhD students


Volume 2 Number 1 1996/7

Alex Seago and Anthony Dunne: New methodologies in art and design research: The object as discourse


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