Studio Research - Week 14 by Ally McGinn

Presentations, crit, seminars and a few paradigm shifts in the studio this week. 

An archive of objects and a consideration of form. 

Studio Research - Week 13 by Ally McGinn

A week of object consideration, shadows and editing the space.

Studio Research - Week 12 by Ally McGinn

A more productive week in the studio, gearing up towards the coming crit and exhibition point. 

A few new ideas, the most exciting of which was the excavation of the white surface of my wall, a wall that has been claimed by numerous artists. The excavation revealed formal elements for consideration. 

Studio looking both messy and slightly more considered. A physical sketchbook. 

Studio Research - Week 11 by Ally McGinn

A mostly contextual week, involving much writing and image editing. 

A few small additions to the studio, a gift and the somewhat literal investigation of a stretcher as a window. 

Reflection - Temperature Check by Ally McGinn



My studio practice this module has been primarily focussed on the presentation of work, i have spent some time in a shop on Walcott Street, been researching artists who present conceptual and material together, and created works with a more focussed message.

The works have become more succinct and focussed, with a natural shift away from installation within individual works. I predict a return to installation in the move to the new studios at Sion Hill at the end of June.

Reflective writing

This has been an extremely reflective module, beginning with reflections on the terms i use to describe and contextualise my practice. Three levels of reflection have helped to define the focussed words in my practice. This process then led to a series of image reflections, begun to explore the reasons some works ‘work’ and others don't, this has become an exploration of the meaning within my work, helping to realise my main focus.

I’ve just begun ‘object reflections’ exploring the meaning and context of certain objects.

This reflective process has been long, it takes far longer to write a reflective sentence than a descriptive one, but very important. It has helped to focus the context of my work and understand my practitioner position.

I’ve had to attempt to control my obsessive tendencies while writing these reflections, not altogether successfully.


Research has taken time to percolate in this module. With so much time spent on reflection, to direct focus, research has begun later than it would normally. Given that i normally over-contextualise, this is likely to prove to be a good thing in the end.
My research has been focussed around;

  • ‘objects’ with a focus on the philosophical school of Object Oriented Ontology and the correlation between objects,

  • ‘painting’ with a focus on artists who explore the process and boundaries of painting,

  • And researching artists who present concept and material together in works that combine elements of installation, sculpture and painting.


This module has been unsettled, works presented at the end of the last module was more considered than i have previously achieved and i have continued that development through this module. However, this focus in artworks served to show me the open focus in context, which required reflection before i could continue confidently.
The reflection has reached a good point and i am far more confident about my position, at least in writing.

Ive been using a systematic approach, following a pattern of reflection to ensure that areas are not left uncovered.

Through this approach i have been able to analyse, empirically, the frequency of terms used in my practice, as a method for exploring areas of context through measured exploration.

For now i am beginning to pull together theory and objects ready for the end of May (6 weeks today) the next exhibition point. When working with everyday objects, especially those that remain mostly unchanged, the forms of presentation are singularly important. I aim to spend the next 6 weeks exploring presentation methods. The difficulty will be in controlling the process, and not following other avenues too much. A balance must be found between the development of new ideas and the refinement of old ideas.

Reflection - Frequency of terms by Ally McGinn

I have written a presentation with the aim of exploring the five foundational focusses that shape my contextual process.


Text analysis of the draft reveals the hierarchy of words.

  1. Object(s)

  2. Art

  3. Process

  4. Materials

  5. Value

  6. Objectification

  7. Practice

  8. Representation

  9. Things

  10. Work(s)

  11. Between

  12. Perception(s)

  13. Space

  14. Incidental

  15. Purpose

  16. Form

  17. Questioning

  18. Potentiality

  19. See

  20. Viewer

  21. Interest

  22. Painting

  23. Aesthetic

  24. Gallery

  25. Presentation

  26. Narrative

  27. Artist

  28. Point

  29. Reality

  30. Used

  31. Time

  32. Present

  33. Studio

  34. Painterly

  35. Unwanted

  36. Installation

  37. Exploration

  38. Subject

  39. Actions

  40. Plinth

  41. Function

  42. Creation

  43. Considered

  44. New

  45. Interact

  46. Artifact

  47. Activity

  48. Relate

  49. Making

  50. interactions

Studio Research - Week 10 by Ally McGinn

A focussed week in the studio, with some positive results and developments. I've begun a series of image reflections, which will mean fewer words of explanation in these combo-posts.

This was a week of redaction and reflection. 

Image Reflections - 'Fabric' by Ally McGinn

This fabric is paint.


It hangs over frayed canvas thread.

The paint is seductive, it has admirers.

This is not it's final form.

The thread and red paint have become their own work. That work includes photographs of this work.

The brown fabric paint continues in other forms.

This form was interesting.


Image Reflections - Floor board by Ally McGinn

The removal and re-placement of a floorboard. Not a work in itself (yet) but an interaction. 

I have been working with space, in the specific sense, for the past two years, attempting to incorporate elements of the space into the definition of the artwork, with varying degrees of success.

This idea is the most literal, and extreme, action to bring the space of creation:display into the work.

The viewer is confronted with a liner insight of the construction of the floor. It is both formal and real, an unstripping that adds visual information to the work.

Responses to this adjustment to my studio have been clear; people recognise that it is bringing the space directly into the work.

This intervention is particular to this space, while it could be replicated (following similar self-imposed instructions) but not copied exactly.

Since the hope and board have appeared they have become part of the studio, part of other works, and a work in it's own right.

More about this in other reflections.


Image Reflection - 'White Cube Reliance' by Ally McGinn

This piece is singularly focussed on the idea of balance and reliance.


The wood is an offcut from a painting stretcher, destined for recycling. Reclaimed early.

The small stack is made of paint chips, the grey paint from the floor (an association that is unimportant in this case).

The small white cube is ‘white tack’ shaped and pressed to adhere to the wall and the wood. Without it there would be no balance.

It is an enforced balance, and yet a stable one. Re-enforced.

Studio Research - Week 9 - Reflection by Ally McGinn


I had a full week away from the studio this week, due to childcare and treeworks. So instead of images…..i present words. I am about halfway through the second trimester of the MA and I’ve realised that it's been awhile since i've done a true reflection.


During the last trimester i focussed on expanding my practice to better understand what i do, how i do it and why i do it. The work created for the exhibition point in January was more considered than my work has previously been, and heading into an interesting focus.

This trimester i have been focussing on reflection, contextually and aesthetically.
Through a systematic reflective process i have narrowed down my main terms to five areas of true descriptive focus, and am working towards a single phrase that describes what i am exploring at the moment.

I’ve almost finished a series of image reflections, which aim to explore the success and failures within recent artworks. For someone as systematic as i am this is a complicated process, as new works are constantly being added, meaning this process has the potential to never end.

In line with these literary reflections i have been researching artists who work with a similar balance of context and material. The most influential of these, so far, are;

Issa Iman - exhibition currently at Spike Island, Bristol. Blog post coming.

Ian Kiaer - whose work is a wonderful display of dichotomy; aesthetically balanced, contextually engaging and presented materially.

Lydia Ourahmane - who recently had an show at the Chisenhale gallery, which embodied the audience in an utterly experiential exhibition.


My theoretical research has been focussed on three areas, in an attempt to focus my time and knowledge. 1) Object Oriented Ontology, a relatively new philosophical ideology that explores the relationships between objects, without the previously necessary human interaction. 2) Essays and texts around the notion of the object, with a focus on the value judgements as a result of objectification. 3) Essays and texts around the act and idea of painting, with a focus on the representative qualities of both the act and output of painting.

In very broad terms these three strands are where i am attempting to contain my research.

I have a tendency to over-do, something i am trying to ameliorate through this process.


While exploring new research i have begun to focus on deepening research already done, examining it to see whether the things i have been talking about are still relevant in this reflective trimester.


It’s a time to be ruthless with these ideas and references.



In the studio the works have been progressing well, interesting new ideas are taking form, and an air of enforced focus is prevalent. Septembers show is not far away, and now the focus is key.

The first trimester was a real chance to expand and contract. This trimester has been an examination, a deeper understanding of what is happening in the studio, and what needs to happen to develop my practice.


The simplest way to describe this would be to say that i've realised how important the communication of a message is. The communication of a clear message requires clarity.


As time moves towards the show in September my aim in the studio is to focus down onto the best ways to present the objects i have been working with.


It’s hard to predict what will come of it, or what i will make, but an engagement with the space and the collection of objects is key. A balance between the two will form the final artwork.

Object and space are the two focuses in the studio at the moment.



I have a presentation and proposal to write in the next week. Trying to explain where i am and what i'm doing. This is going to be a hard process but i know that by the end it will have a very good effect on the work.


Back to it………..

Image Reflections - 'Still Landscape' by Ally McGinn


A bag filled with gold paint and studio dust. A remnant of wood, left over from the bevelling of wood for stretchers, sanded to normalise the shape. A pot of studio dust and a nail from the floor. A shelf made of remnants found in a wood workshop. An apple painted grey, preserved in futility. A canvas covered wall, and three strands from it's length.



Together implying a landscape. A window. Curtains. A bowl of fruit.

Or maybe not.


A painting.

A still life.

A landscape.

Image Reflections - 'Cube' by Ally McGinn


There are multiple contextual elements to this piece, which could explain why there is something missing within it.


Firstly; painting the box. This is a heavy duty box, used to store things in my home studio. Marks of use are ripped into the surface.

Using the same robust floor grey paint that I have been obsessed with for months the box has become a plinth.

Painting with this paint has the effect of preservation (see ‘apples’) the marks are etched more permanently into the surface. Signs of use preserved and highlighted, made more aesthetic through the application of paint.

Placed on the wall, as above, the plinth becomes a shelf. This style of shelf (a box mounted on the wall) has become popular in recent years (this contextual connection is something I've only realised while writing this).

The objects displayed with the box are, a book on aesthetics chosen for it's cover, an offcut from a painting stretcher, a plastic ring it's use complete, a dried lump of gold oil paint, a scrabble tile (letter ‘A’, worth 1 point) and three glass bottles filled with studio dust of varying qualities.

There is something almost childlike about this form of presentation. A diorama of context, almost.

This needs more thought.

Image Reflections - 'Knobel Inspired This' by Ally McGinn


A pile of materials, seemingly unconsidered and yet the more it is considered the more considered it appears.


Inspired by the work of Imi Knobel, in small part. The title is more of a throwaway comment, something that popped into my head when thinking of a title, and refused to leave.

The inspiration is true, and false.

The work is unconsidered and yet considered.

It is a contradiction.

A rather unsuccessful one. This ‘piece’ will never be shown, it is an idea. For now it remains an idea.

Note - Denotation and Connotation by Ally McGinn

The denotation can be seen as a descriptor of what is being seen, the connotations the deeper meaning implied or inferred.

This is a term associated with semiotics but first put forward in linguistic terms, in 1843 by J S Mill.

This is a descriptor that I may use with future reflections on work.


Image Reflections - 'Imposed Tension' by Ally McGinn

This is a piece born of process. It began as an idea to stutter a painting, forcing a gap in a pre-painted surface. That it was pre-painted became important to show the stutter in a narrative, rather than as a draw to the physicality of the piece.


However the physicality took over the process.

Fringing the exposed tear in the canvas was a hypnotic process, begun to create a slack string they resisted. Pinning the resulting strings, which are surprisingly strong, created an imposed tension that stutters the narrative on the surface, and within the material itself, far better than I had originally imagined.

Studying the place where the strings rejoin the surface shows marks spread, the edges of colour are still visible.

Crossing the strings rejoins both halves without them ever touching.

The tension of the piece relies upon the nails, embedded into the wall. Making the surface of the wall a vital component to the piece.

The canvas is a piece of the floor from my degree show work. It collected the marks of use. That collection is no longer as important as the fact that the canvas is not clean or new. I need to spend more time thinking about this.

Image Reflections - 'An Un-unifed Shelf' by Ally McGinn


This is a clear example of an unsuccessful work.


There are interesting connections here but they are too convoluted, too unconnected and too profuse.

That it is unsuccessful is both an aesthetic and conceptual truth.

Simplicity in one area seems key, if not in aesthetics (as my personal taste seems to lean) then in concept and context.

A good learning point, although an embarrassing one. There are many works like this, they no longer exist but are documented.

Image Reflections - 'Firebricks' by Ally McGinn


I don't want to explain this piece.



It is a photo taken at Walcott Chapel, Bath.

A section of the fireplace.


For the pirposes of this exercise I should reflect upon this work slightly. It was a successful piece. Successful in its simplicity.

The cubes are painted grey, as much of the surface covered while holding the block with one hand, and painting with the other.

They are placed in the space, wedged where they will fit into the negative space of the fireplace.

It draws attention to the space, and attention to it's form.


Grey is the most neutral colour.

Image Reflections - 'Plinth on Carpet' by Ally McGinn


A small (10x10x10cm) plinth filled with studio rubbish collect from the MA studios in a single day.


Shown in a room in the shop on Walcott Street.

The rest of the room is empty.

Something about this piece really works in this space. It is simple, and yet invites questions.

That the rubbish is from the studio is unknown, which could change with a title (date and studio location?).