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Katy Nelson~ Week 1

We started this semester with an introductory PowerPoint to this semester’s module, including the layout of each week’s workshops and lectures and some details on the upcoming TAKEOVER exhibition. We also discussed the different aspects of producing a successful project- research, experimentation, and reflection, as well as some of the approaches we could take to the theme of ‘Time’. This part of the session was beneficial in refreshing my brain ready to start this project. After the break in this session, I went home due to illness. However, I have caught up with the rest of the session’s discussions through Blackboard and have considered the topic of socio-demographic groups in relation to my own project ideas. I think somebody I would have referred to for this task is my boyfriend’s father. I would place him in the demographic: ‘Pint and a Match’ as he is in his 40s, spends his free time playing computer games and maintaining the house and doesn’t (as far as I’m aware) have an interest in much art. I think it would be interesting to invite someone from this demographic, as in the ’Arts Audiences: Insight’(2011) report by Arts Council England, this group was found to generally not be engaging in art, therefore it would be quite a challenge to get them to accept the invitation.

The challenge of creating artwork that’s audience appeal is inclusive of these demographics is something I was already considering before the semester began, as after receiving verbal feedback and comments from the public at the January Show, I noticed that it was predominantly women between 20-65 that seemed to have really engaged with my work and its meaning, rather than just glancing over it and moving on. This realization didn’t come as much of a shock to me, as I can see that my work (especially with all the purple and pink hues) is more stereotypically feminine in style, but definitely got me thinking ahead to this project and how I can develop my work further this semester in a way that would appeal to, and maybe even resonate with a larger male audience.

The January Show

The January Show exhibition was the first art exhibition that I had taken part in. It was an exciting opportunity to showcase our work to other students as well as the general public, and really gave me a confidence boost in regards to sharing my art without the fear of negative judgment. The show was a great way to start this semester. After such a long break over Christmas, it was nice to return to the School of Art and work collaboratively alongside others from the course, including some people that I hadn’t gotten much chance to speak to before. As mentioned before, I received valuable feedback from visitors of the exhibition. I spoke with a few visitors about the ideas behind my work and the meanings and emotions that the installation was fueled by, as well as about the subjects of the paintings themselves, my pet rodents, which was a particularly lovely aspect of sharing my work as people could see how lovely they all are!

These photographs are of my completed installation on the day of the exhibition. I chose to take some photographs from these angles as I had previously forgotten to do so when completing my proposal form and wanted to correct this. The photographs show the installation well, aside from the over-exposure taking away from the sharpness of the images due to the positioning of the purple studio light behind me.

‘Time’~ My Project

Life, Death, Rebirth and Metamorphosis

My project last semester was a very personal one. For me, it perfectly encapsulated the adoration I feel for each of my pet rodents and displayed the significance they each have in my everyday life. In January, my hamster Cherry passed away. From the start, Cherry had been a chaotic little ball of energy and, like with all young rodents, it took us a while to form a bond. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye; she loved to keep me up all night running noisily on her wheel or chewing the cage bars- but looking back on it now it’s just all part of what made her so special. Cherry was a refreshing and uplifting influence on the past two years of my life, and no matter what people think about the intelligence of hamsters, I know how special the bond we shared was. I am grateful that her death wasn’t sudden, as loss without any time to prepare is especially hard, but it didn’t make it any less heart-breaking to lose her. Cherry’s death kind of stopped me in my tracks in all aspects of my life. It being the beginning of 2023, I had been trying to improve my physical and mental wellbeing in preparation for the next semester, as my declining mental health had been somewhat of a hinderance since I began university back in October. However, when death became visible right in front of me, it felt like something inside me paused. The positive force that had been driving me to work on myself was in that moment replaced by a sense of hopelessness. Having dealt with my fluctuating mental states previously, this loss of… something… call it drive maybe?… was all too familiar, but there was something else- something about losing a companion that I felt so fondly for- that kind of just left me questioning ‘why?’

I hope that this semesters’ project can be both an artistic endeavor and a series of philosophically investigative stepping stones that hopefully provide me with some comfort or peace of mind surrounding the themes I want to explore; Life, Death, Rebirth and Metamorphosis.


Since I am starting off this project with such a broad area of focus, I thought it would be a good idea to work on contextualizing these subjects through reading. I collected some books from the Hugh Owen library and have been collating quotes that have stood out to me in some way whilst reading. I wanted to look at a range of sources, so I got some scientific and some philosophical books, although the scientific ones were a lot less helpful in supporting my exploration of ideas. My favorite book I borrowed, and one I am still yet to finish reading, was ‘The Wheel of Death’ by Philip Kapleau (1972). It is ‘a collection of writings from Zen Buddhist and other sources on Death- Rebirth- Dying’ and is a thought-provoking and fascinating collection of quotes, stories and teachings that have really made me think about death from a less fear-driven perspective.

“To fear death, gentlemen, is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not; for it is to think one knows what one does not know. No man knows whether death may not even turn out to be the greatest of blessings for a human being; and yet people fear it as if they knew for certain that it is the greatest of all evils.”

Socrates, The Wheel of Death, p.6

“Having once perceived the world through Buddha-nature, we are indifferent to death, since we know we will be reborn through affinity with a father and a mother. We are reborn when our karmic relations impel us to be reborn. We die when our karmic relations decree that we die. And we are killed when our karmic relations lead us to be killed. We are the manifestation of our karmic relations at any given moment, and upon their modification we change accordingly. What we call life is no more than a procession of transformation.
If we do not change, we are lifeless. We grow and age because we are alive. The evidence of our having lived is the fact that we die. We die because we are alive. Living means birth and death. Creation and destruction signify life.”

Roshi Yasutani, The Wheel of Death, p.8

“The man who becomes the wolf(metamorphosis) can be seen as revealing his rapacity; satyrs, chimeras, or mermaids(hybrids) can be understood as depicting lust, hypocrisy, or the insubstantiality of love.
On the other hand, both hybrid and metamorphosis can be destabilizing of expectation. Both can suggest that the world, either in process or in the instant, is disordered and fluid, with the horror and wonder of uncontrolled potency or violated boundaries.”

Caroline Walker Brynum, Metamorphosis and Identity, p.31

These are some examples of my brainstorming from the beginning of the semester. I started with a very broad mind-map to try and gather my thoughts and ideas in one place, before creating two more sheets of more specific ideas.

1 thought on “Katy Nelson~ Week 1”

  1. A really good notebook, keep it up!
    I like the layout, it’s easy to read and well written. The project idea is very interesting, of course very personal and profound. I think you can create strong work sticking to that idea of the circle of life. The research is good, very contextual, you are looking at the subject holistically.

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