Friday, 7 June 2013

Art Academy open crit 07:06:13

It was decided that June's open crit should be split into two smaller crits, to enable Natalie Bradbury to present a research poster and receive feedback before a research event on June 12, and to allow for a 'field-trip' to Rachel Goodyear's installation in Macclesfield as part of Barnaby Festival later in the month.

The crit took place in Maurice Carlin's temporary space in a warehouse on Regent Road trading estate, just behind Islington Mill, where Morry will be undertaking a print-making and performance project over the course of the summer, coinciding with Manchester International Festival. The space is currently almost entirely empty, and painted off-white, so Natalie's A2 size poster was the only point of visual interest when stuck on the bare walls.

Natalie explained that the poster being presented was a smaller version of an A1 poster she has had to produce for a research event at the School of the Built and Natural Environment at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, where she recently started a PhD with the title 'Pictures for Schools: Art, Education and Reconstruction in Post-War Britain'. She explained that Pictures for Schools was an annual exhibition in London (and later Wales) which took place annually from 1947, until at least the late 1960s, and enabled county councils and local education authorities to buy original artworks for display in schools. 

Natalie passed around two catalogues from Pictures for Schools exhibitions in the late 1960s, and explained that the font used for headings on the poster was the same font as used for the 1967 exhibition, and that the style of the poster mimics the exhibition catalogue. This was seen as being a nice touch, however it may not be obvious to those who are not familiar with the catalogues.

The crit was a chance to discuss the effectiveness of the poster, gauge people's reactions who were not familiar with the research and suggest things which could be done better. For example, there was debate over the images being in black and white, and whether they fitted in with the colour scheme or whether they would be more effective in colour. Partly this was because of the early stage of the research, and the necessity of reusing relatively low-resolution images from the internet as opposed to original images. Natalie has also started a research blog to document her project as it progresses, and there was agreement that it should host a gallery of images relating to Pictures for Schools, and that it would be good to see images of some of the work in situ in schools in the future. Sara said it could be nice to see how the project progresses through posters, if more posters are made in future, so that a collection of posters can be displayed together at the end of the research.

It was suggested that some of the text in larger font sizes was not in a logical place, and that perhaps the poster should be arranged differently to prioritise some information over other information (the bibliography was seen as taking up too much space). There was also discussion about the extent to which the poster could be seen as a poster, or whether it was more of an information sheet, and what the conventions of such posters are (for example, containing only 300-500 words, readable from at least 2 metres, headings no less than 32 pt and main text no less than 18 pt, main points at eye level and being able to read the poster in 3-4 minutes) and to what extent conventions can be flouted to make an effective or stand-out poster. There was agreement that it would be interesting to see how people interacted with the poster at a research event, and how much time people spent with it. Natalie said that those presenting a poster are often required to give a 5 minute presentation too, and sometimes also choose to make handouts for anyone wanting further information, and Jared suggested perhaps just making tear-off strips of contact details.

The research poster was a format that most people present had not come across before. Lauren Velvick mentioned that Paper Gallery at Mirabel Studios will be holding an exhibition of alternative ways of presenting research later in the year, by researchers from MIRIAD at Manchester Metropolitan University, which led to a passing discussion on alternative ways of communicating research such as performance lecturing and video essays, and the relationship between art and research.