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IP – Week 1 – Matteo

Reflections on the summer holidays and the start of third year

Having finished my second year mid-May, my summer holiday lasted around 4 months. During these 4 months, I travelled around the Balkans for a month; volunteered at an organic farm; volunteered at a kid’s summer scout camp; went to visit my family in Belgium, Italy, and Ireland; explored Ceredigion and North Wales. I couldn’t sit still, I was always chasing new experiences, and yet I found a sense of peace that I hadn’t felt in years. My life values didn’t ‘change’ but they certainly got stronger and I realized how little some of the things I worry about matter. This got me thinking about my existence as an art student and the fact that I’d be spending the next few months in Aberystwyth: what I intend to do in this IP module, and in every other module involving self-directed projects, is to find this same peace and fulfilment through exploration (which in art translates to experimentation) and productivity.

Introduction to IP – Group Tutorial and Workshop 1

I chose IP because I like the absolute freedom that it provides when it comes to making our self-directed project, but also because of the exposure I’d get to different creative minds and interesting group workshops.

The first tutorial mainly involved everyone introducing themselves, talking about their preferred mediums and what they would like to experiment with this semester.

In the workshop on Friday, we were introduced to the concept of ‘active listening’ (listening carefully to the person you’re talking to, and responding accordingly with curiosity), which is an important skill for people, but perhaps especially for artists, to have. Next, we took turns to draw the person in front of us without looking at the paper. This helped me realise the importance of intense observation and the mixed feelings of pleasure and discomfort in being observed. I will think about this idea some more; after spending so many months observing and connecting with all sorts of people from different countries with different cultures, why was the feeling of being observed so odd? Was it because what was being observed was me, not was I was saying or doing? We ended the workshop my creating an interconnected map of our skills, it was interesting to see what everyone brings to the table and how varied our skills are.

Self-directed project

My ideas for the self-directed project are very sparse, but I know I want to try something new and mix two or more mediums. I made a list of things I have tried or am good at and then a list of things I’ve never done, which I will likely keep adding to. This is to help me generate ideas.

Beyond the medium, I am also thinking about what I want the piece to be about. This summer I had to resit my painting portfolio and for the first time I made art that included social/political commentary (ecology-based). I felt quite good after making it, not because I need my art to ‘have a meaning’, but because talking about it made me feel fulfilled and passionate about the work. It seemed like whoever I spoke to about the paintings got something out of them beyond aesthetic appreciation.

I see all art as political (on different levels) but I want to decide soon if I want my project to be politically motivated, personally motivated (connected to a personal experience) or neither (in which case I want to figure out why I want to make it, even if the reason is very basic).

I also want to create something that people can’t just glance at (like a static painting or illustration); I want to force the viewer to view, to take it (whatever I want to communicate) all in. This is, in part, because I would hate to spend months on something that people spend 5 seconds looking at!


As mentioned in class I often find myself bombarded with exposure to all sorts of art. My goal for research is to find a way to ‘group up’ all these different sources of inspiration into one big document that I can access or share with others easily. This notebook is a good start. It is quite early in the semester so at the minute I am just using the ‘save’ button on instagram, tiktok, pinterest, youtube, etc. for me to view later. I also have a few books for inspiration and intend to pick up some more.

A big compilation of Gerald Scarfe’s Art, a controversial English illustrator who worked on many famous projects such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall
Book about the Basement Group Project (British art collective) –

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