Tell us a little bit about yourself—your background, major program of study, reasons for taking this trip, and anything else interesting you want to share (maybe something people might not know about you).
My name is Allison Hyslop and I am a second-year fine arts student at KPU. Growing up my parents always encouraged creativity in our home, giving me ample outlets to let my creativity flow. My Dad has also always been quite an artistic and creative person, so it definitely helped to have an artist in the house to help push me as well. As a kid, I was always creating things whether it was drawings, painting, or letting my imagination roam free. I was, fortunately, able to have the opportunity to dabble in multiple areas of creative output like fine arts, dance, music, fashion etc. As I got older, I always tended to gravitate towards the fine arts end of things, always wanting to paint, draw, or sculpt. As I transitioned I to my senior year of high school the counsellors were able to pull some strings for me so I could focus more on my artwork. This was the year where I truly felt like I could make art a bigger part of my life and as university application windows came around, I knew I wanted to be in fine arts. As I’ve slowly worked through different aspects of the BFA Program, I’ve so far gravitated towards painting and sculpting the most but there is still so much more for me to explore. Once I heard about this field school, I knew immediately it was an experience I wanted to have to help me explore my practice and all of the possibilities. The Professors are always telling us how magnificent the works we study in art history are in person and since my first art history course, I've wanted to travel and experience the works in person.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about London or Venice so far?
London was absolutely incredible. The architecture gave a sense of how old the area truly is, especially compared to home. There were so many similarities, it honestly felt a bit like parts of Vancouver, but with a bit of extra flair. Getting around the city was quite simple which I enjoyed. They have a far superior transit system to back home I must say. The abundance of artwork and the appreciation of it is so incredible. It felt like such a luxury to be able to walk into all of the galleries and museums and not have to pay anything. I wonder if they know how good they have it. I would highly consider going back just to enjoy the artwork more. Venice, on the other hand, is like a whole different world. Every turn is like looking back in time. The architectural history is so prevalent and enriching. I’m amazed at just how fast the environment can change in Venice. Just by wandering through alleyways and side street, you’re enveloped in a whole other realm of Italy where it is mostly locals. Venice, I feel, is one of those cities where you go for the art and stay for the environment. Even without doing anything particularly exciting, a day is well spent just by roaming around and enjoying the views. Every turn is a new experience, filled with small shops and restaurants. The number of places with gelato is overwhelming but I would gladly try them all. Having a bad time in Venice seems next to impossible with all the gorgeous views and amazing architecture.
Give us some insight into your assigned artwork from the Tate Modern. After seeing the work in person in London (and any other related art from the same artist or art movement associated with the assigned work), what struck you most about it and/or how did the artwork’s form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it.
Seeing Torsions, CO 459 (1974) by Walter Leblanc in person changed how I viewed the piece completely. Photographs do it no justice, the intricacy and aspects of human touch are revealed through viewing it in the gallery space. Aspects that are not captured in photo are revealed, things otherwise unseen or unknown if not personally seen. A piece, which at initial viewing from afar, seems so simple and easy to accomplish, actually took a fair bit of planning and work. Details like the supports between the purple backboard and the canvases being painted to match would never be seen if not physically there in front of it. Next to Torsion was Leblanc’s piece titled Twisted Strings, in which he attached string to canvas and then covered in latex based paint. The two pieces side by side reflects on the two different directions his work took, one black and white, reflective of the work done with the group Zero, and the other incorporating vibrant colour, more present in his work after his work with Zero. It highlights that although his palette has broadened, his main focus has always been the way his works play with light and perspective. The way that the light casts shadows based on its position to the piece changes the perceived depth and intricacy of the image.
How did you approach the creative task of responding to your assigned artists in studio? What were your challenges as an artist to be in dialogue with the artwork and artist? Would you do anything differently now that you have seen the work in person?
Working in conversation with my assigned artists (Walter Leblanc and Tomma Abts— see Allison’s art projects below) was an interesting task as neither one had any given or intended meanings in their artworks, but rather focused more on their process of creation. As someone who has always worked with a more direct meaning and purpose to my work, it was a bit challenging to switch mindsets and not revert too much. Researching the works and history of each artist allowed me to see how their practices morphed with time and what their inspirations were. I took aspects of these creative pushes and tried to integrate them into my own work. I focused primarily on the use of materials in somewhat unusual ways, and after having the chance to see what my work stemmed from right in front of me, I’m more than pleased with the outcome I produced. I loved the idea of taking a construct of art (i.e. the use of canvas) and working in a way to break it whether that be destroying it or orientating it in an unusual manner.
Today’s activity was a free day to explore in Venice. What were your impressions? What will you take away of the experiences of this day? What are the most memorable moments for you?
Well, let’s just say today didn't go quite as planned. What was meant to be a day filled with art from the Venice Biennale (at the Arsenale) turned quickly into a free day to explore; the Arsenale is closed on Mondays…. I decided to use the day to explore the city some more and see what kinds of places I could discover. As a group, we went from the Arsenale entrance up to the Rialto Bridge. It had an absolutely breathtaking view of the canal, and the beautiful weather was a bonus. Once the group split, I spent the afternoon with Gen, roaming the streets of Venice. Along the way, there were so many amazing little shops full of clothing and accessorize. We stopped into this amazing gelato spot called Venchi (the dark chocolate and tiramisu flavours were incredible in case anyone gets the chance to go.) Overall, even though we didn’t get to see the Arsenale as planned, I still was able to have an amazing day gazing upon the streets of Venice and taking in its hidden beauties. I can’t wait to see what else this stunning city has in store for me to explore. It’s a truly inspiring place to be.