Flux exhibition: FaB17

Promotional flyer

Callout as published on www.curatorspace.com, February 2017


In a rapidly changing world with accelerating technologies, mass migration and shifting cultural values, we are now more conscious than ever that our experience of the world is in a constant state of flux. How does this impact us as individuals?

'Flux' will consider our relationship with an ever-changing world through an exhibition of works by artists whose practice in some way addresses the concept of change.

We invite artists working in all mediums, including performance and intervention, to submit images of artworks and/or proposals. The title is open to interpretation and we welcome a diverse range of approaches. Artists might respond with work that reflects socio-political or technological change, or that acknowledges and plays with the fact that perspectives shift and ideas are fluid. Others might explore the creative potential of transformation on a purely practical level, by experimenting with new technologies and processes or by pushing and transforming materials and traditional practices.

My submission

Name: Paula Hickey | Email: allaboutart16@gmail.com

Created: 18:04 22/03/2017 | Title: Metamorphosis (working title). | Artist name: Paula Hickey | Media: Works on paper. | Size: 30cm x 30cm framed. | Year: 2017 | Price: £225 each. | Where did you find out about this opportunity?: Word of mouth


My work is concerned with challenging assumptions of fixed solidity and apprehending the condition of our existence as one of continual change. I visualise these ideas through exploring medium as matter. Enacting a series of material transformations. I aim to create intense little moments, drawing the viewer in to contemplate material and immaterial aspects of this matter flow. The images I have included here are examples of existing work, adapted to the format I would propose to submit for this project. My intention would be to make a series of new works specifically for this, using processes similar to these submitted. A series of six framed, works on paper, using a variety of mediums such as inks, graphite, charcoal, wax, natural dyes and pigments.

Additional requirements

I am currently undertaking a MA in creative practice at Leeds College of Art. I am also a member of the collective 4place&space, a group of four artists who's work is landscape and environmentally oriented. I am based in Leeds but also have links to the west of Ireland. You can view some examples of my work there at www.paulahickey.com

Relevant previous experience

In 2016 I undertook a months residency at the Burren College of Art Ireland, I also took part in weeks a residency in Trento, Italy where I exhibited in group show at the 'Galleria Civica di Trento'. This year I am currently involved in three other exhibition/ art events taking place in Norwich, Ireland and Leeds. I am working towards growing my creative practice and excited about the opportunity to collaborate with other artists in different parts of the country.

I received confirmation in March that I was one of 13 artists accepted out of 300 or so submissions.


I submitted for this opportunity as it's central themes related very directly to my creative practice and the frameworks which guide it. I was also keen to collaborate with and exhibit outside of Leeds, Yorkshire a broaden my context and connections.

Studio practice

My concept for this exhibition was to make a series of works which explored the theme of flux through material play and transformation. It represented an opportunity to showcase the various processes and techniques I had been developing during the course of the MA to date. I chose the smaller scale as I wanted to achieve a sense of scrutiny and intensity to the work. I was also considering the fact that it was a group show with potentially limited space and therefore I needed to contain the boundaries of my submission.

My process for making the work involved concentrating on one technique at a time. I was interested in both reworking and developing existing processes. For example, I had previously made some work before using dry pigments and powders embedded into paper for my Research trip exhibition in Trento the previous year (below, left). I wanted to harness this approach but in a more fluid way. Also on a practical basis the work tended to shed the loose grains and as this was going to be framed I wanted to avoid this. Through researching ways to fix loose material I explored the encaustic technique of using refined was to embed material onto the substrate, (below, right). It also afforded fluidity once the wax was heated. It represented a further dimension to an existing process which was inspired by this particular brief.

Example of dry pigment process reworked on right with wax

For a couple of the pieces I re-presented some existing pieces of work. This was done through cropping out from a larger piece (below) or reworking and existing piece. Cropping and framing was very key to this series. As I was looking for moments within the transformation process I found that it was more successful to make works outside of the final dimensions and then select areas which worked best. This re-inforced an isight I have had about working beyond boundaries and it being ok to elect to crop out the areas which don't work.

My considerations regarding framing the work revolved around a desire to draw the viewer in and keep the peripheries as mute as possible. I knew the work was going to be hung on white walls decided to use white box frames to blend in. I decide to use a window mount rather than float mounting as again I felt it might help focus the eye in and the drawing. I was dissatisfied with it sitting with it on the surface as it had a flattening effect. To counter this I float mounted the surround so that there was a degree of distance which could be peered into, further encouraging the scrutiny I was hoping to encourage. Also it avoided a sense of the surface being cut off and bounded as you could see into the space beyond the frame.

The exhibition

I decide to title the work according to the process and materials used. I wanted to avoid putting interpretations onto them and instead re-inforce there materiality and the interventions I had made with them i.e. Folded (l), 2017, Sumi ink and sodium on Japanese paper, 30 x 30cm I titled the series "the Mutability of Matter'.

My artist statement for the exhibition

This series of drawings represent an exploration into-and celebration of- the mutability of matter. I enact a series of materially led encounters hoping to capture intense little moments of transformation. My aim is to draw the viewer in to contemplate both the material and immaterial aspects of this matter flow. This work is concerned with challenging assumptions of fixed solidity and apprehending the condition of our existence as one of continual change. My artistic engagement with these substances connects me to my environment and pose questions as to our place in the world.

Paula Hickey is currently undertaking a MA in creative practice at Leeds College of Art. Her practice resides primarily within landscape as both physically located space and un-located conceptual space; immersive time spent in one feeds the other. Materiality lies at the heart of her process. She believes that it is through working with substances the more elusive aspects of our existence can be explored, visualising that which might otherwise remain hidden or overlooked. She is concerned with promoting a sense of inter-connectedness with our environment through the valorisation of matter.

The exhibition itself took place on the middle floor of an ex-bookshop. My work was hung in two rows of three inside the door. I ensured that the spotlight above my work was switched on even in daytime as it helped to enhance the material qualities of the work. In particular the piece with carborundum embedded, as the light caught it and made it vibrant.

I was very happy with the other work in the exhibition and felt it had been curated very well both in the work which had been selected and how it was presented. It was quite multi-disciplinary, video, installation, interactive, sculptural work. There was a monochromatic and subdued colour palette which unified the work. I felt the theme of flux had been explored in very diverse ways, representing the themes of the initial brief. My work was was one of two materially led approaches which I felt reflected well this aspect of the brief/theme.

As it was part of the Firing Arts Bath festival it had a lot of publicity beforehand and during. This attracted a healthy footfall. It helped that we were located first on the trail and in a prominent position on the hight street.

Professional practice

The curators were a team called Sightlines Projects, formed by graduates of the MA in curation at Bath College of Art. They were very professional in how they managed the exhibition and we have talked about possibly collaborating on projects in the future.

I invigilated over the weekend and made quite a few connections both with other exhibiting artists and people who came to view the show. Invigilating proved to be a useful way to forge these contacts. It was also a great opportunity to have discussions about mine and others work and discuss ideas around that. It was also very enlightening to hear the public's response to my work and the exhibition as whole. All of the feedback was quite positive. There was intrigue around some of the process I had used to make the work. Some thought they were prints or even photographs. I enjoyed this 'mysterious' element and it is something I aim to maintain.

Reflections post-exhibition.

There were various aspects to this project which worked very well for me and enabled a relatively smooth experience. Firstly the fact that the theme was one which resonated strongly with me and was very relevant to the work I make. secondly my proposal was to submit work i had already mad or variations of it. this meant that both myself and the curators had a strong idea of the work I would be exhibiting at the outset. My studio practice of focusing on one piece at a time helped me to focus and develop my techniques. Enjoyed and wa inspired by re-visting and re-working existing works.

Having visited other exhibitions as part of the festival over the few days I was there. Some were less successful in terms of how the works sat together. there was a lot of scrappiness and poorly realised work. In some cases the curation or even the spaces in which they sat let the work down. It re-inforced the importance of considering both the experience of the curation team who are leading the project but also the other artists which might be involved. As my practice progresses I will need to be discerning about the projects I become involved with. Both in terms of my suitability for it and theirs for me. Another important factor is the visibility of the project, whether it will be promoted and seen. In this case the fact that it was part of a larger event helped to generate publicity and audience.

in general it is helpful to my practice to involve myself in projects outside my own making. It is a motivation factor in producing completed work. it can also be a valuable way of forging connections, networking and making my practice visible to a wider audience. This in particular when it is taking place beyond my locality.

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