John Russell / Lecture



For our first Transmission lecture of the new semester, visual artist and writer; John Russell was the guest speaker.

Usually, the first lecture of the new academic year is dedicated to discuss the theme/question for the lecture series, which we haven’t had this time. Instead we were informed this year’s Transmission series will be focused on ‘who is an artist?’ through guest speaker John Russell, who discussed his becoming of an artist and how he defines what it is to be an artist.

Russell first began by describing his current area of interest which is posting his writings and essays on an online blog accompanied with animated illustrations. He explained that he chooses to post online as he receives feedback and comments quickly. Russell proceeded to read out one of his writings about gender, the difference between a man and a woman physically and how surgery can change to from a man to a woman, which was all illustrated by his animated images/gif type media. I found it difficult to keep up with this but I enjoyed his mode of delivery – like an art performance.

‘The Social’ 2010 by John Russell. Image source:

After finishing his art piece, Russell explained that his father had recently passed away and his mother is ageing and he had realised he didn’t know his parents’ backgrounds or history, so he was now compensating for this by finding out and discovering his dad was an artist.

This then began the discussion of who is an artist? Russell’s father never went to art school as he had no confidence in himself, and he wouldn’t be considered an ‘artist’ in the art world. So, his dad became an illustrator for the daily mirror, radio times creating images in places of photos. Something I found poignant is he explained how upset and frustrated his dad was because he wasn’t allowed to sign the illustrations and he was refused to ‘mark his existence on the world’.  The thought of not being able to put your name on something you have created distressed me, it was as though his dad was never acknowledged as an artist or human by refusing his signature, this point made me question who is an artist?

John Russell then discussed his early exhibitions post art school with other artists where they would create adverts and invites for non-existent exhibitions, he did this so people from art school would be shocked at how successful they were as artists and they were an attempt to become a part of the YBA (Young British Artists)movement, which he now explains how naïve they were as at the time they didn’t realise the YBA’s were backed by millionaires. He also mentioned how the most important part of this process was the name of the exhibitions, everything else came after – which was an interesting approach.

poster for exhibition ‘Zombie Golf’. Image source –

After the fake exhibitions, Russell then had a series of exhibitions; the first he mentioned was ‘Zombie Golf’ in 1994 where he turned a room in the bad part of Shoreditch into a crazy golf course that had a theme of zombies; which he was a big fan of at that time (movies). He then invited artists to display their artworks in this space. He asked artists whose works would ‘juxtapose with the zombies’, this was an exhibition that dealt with artists’ egos and pretentious attitude – Russell knew they wouldn’t want to exhibit in such a space, and in doing so removed their ego and created a spectacle.

Image from ‘Zombie Golf’. Source –

The next exhibition/art work John Russell discussed was one that was in response to discovering the economical and corporate aspect that made the YBA’s so famous and how Russell wasn’t part of it. He named the exhibition ‘Fuck Off’ and these were a series of adverts in newspapers and invitations to a non-existent exhibition. It simply saw the exhibition name in huge letters in the newspaper – very anarchic.

John Russell presenting his exhibition ‘Fuck Off’. Image taken by myself.

Russell’s work is clearly driven by what makes you an artist and how artists become powerful and known. His work ‘The Bank’ shows this as he creates a newspaper that picked on powerful people in the art world and through this became a hypocrite – Russell creating art and wanting to be known but bashing the people who make you famous and the obvious unfairness in the art world. He gained interest from this and in so received many press releases which he corrected in an anarchic way – by removing the pretentious aspects. He explains it as correcting them like a teacher would to a student working and giving the press release a mark out of 10. It’s quite interesting to see someone so against this hierarchy and process to becoming an artist yet they clearly want to be well known.

‘The Bank’ newspaper article by John Russell. Image source –

John Russell finally presented his most recent works, much like the animated images at the start, yet these were large scale prints created in photoshop and were exhibited with back lighting behind them. Below is an example of this where he has recreated a ‘Jackson Pollock’ piece using meat. These works to me, appear quite garish and they are a big contrast to all the works he had mentioned previously.

Overall, this was a really great start back to the Transmission lecture series, John Russell made a really interesting guest speaker and brought up some great points for the question ‘who is the artist?’ and also what it is to become an artist.


John Russell –


Mary Ellen Carroll / Lecture

Image Above – Photo I took in the lecture of a handwritten note about Policy



This week brought an additional Transmission lecture, the final one for this year.  The lecture began with a man named Professor Kernick, where he read out a continuous monologue, he mentioned an artist, spoke about them and then related them to another artist so it became a following train of thought, where he related artists to other artists. He then presented the actual guest speaker, Mary Ellen Carroll.  This was a very different way to present the artist, it kind of threw me off slightly, as I thought he was the artist but he was just setting out the lecture as this kind of following on/continuous linking of information was how Carroll proceeded to present her works.

Carroll is a conceptual artist, whose artwork surrounds public policy, performance, architecture, law and intellectual property.  Language is also a big aspect of her work, explaining that she always starts artwork with an essay/lecture, like a research stage.

The whole lecture became a blur as it went on, it was set at a very fast pace and each separate artwork/artist that she spoke about merged and became one.  It was quite difficult to keep up but on reflection it was also a great way to present her practice and interests as it became a timeline of her development.

One piece of work of Carrroll’s that caught my interest was a video piece but unfortunately I have been unable to find the video or title to show, but it was an interview type situation where a famous drag artist; Lady Bunny who discussed her history and her father who wanted peace not politics, which lead into discussing politics then onto a discussion on peace, where the video then muted.  It was a really impactful film that made politics audible and liberating but also amplified her when she was mute which was a really strange contrast.

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Photo I took in the lecture of the ‘Artist Contract’ mentioned below.

Throughout the lecture Carroll read out quotes that empowered and added clarity to her artwork:

  • The past is never dead, it’s not even past – Barack Obama speech
  • You need to be an anarchist to be a good artist, from her ‘Artist Contract’ how to be an artist
  • The outside can never reveal what is happening inside
  • What you pay for isn’t visible

I really liked how Carroll placed these quotes next to her artworks to intensify the meaning of something, I now want to use this element and develop it into my practice.


The final piece of work she presented was an artwork in Dubai, where there were two LED signs, one on an entrance of a building reading, “When did you arrive” and one at the exit reading, “When will you return”.  As a striving text artist myself, I was really drawn to these, I loved how they respond to their surroundings as they are questions you ask at an entrance/exit.  I now have an idea in mind responding to surroundings/placing work that intensifies the meaning and I feel truly inspired by this piece.

This has been a really fantastic lecture, so different to the others, so interesting and inspiring and Carroll’s work really related to mine which I haven’t found in any other lecture this year, so all in all a brilliant final lecture.


Mary Ellen Carroll –

Steven Claydon / Lecture

Above Image – The Author of Mishap (Them) by Steven Slaydon, 2005. Explained below. Image Source.



Interdisciplinary artist and London based musician, Steven Claydon was the guest speaker at Transmission this week.

Claydon used the lecture to discuss his Artworks. I always do some research about the speakers practice before each lecture so I have some basic knowledge of what the artist creates, so going into Claydon’s lecture, I was excited to learn more about the Sculptural Busts (pictured above)that seems to be popular among his works.  However, he never mentioned them in his lecture discussing his practice, to my disappointment, so I think at this point I became slightly disengaged because I was wanting to find out more about their surrounding context, which I had to Google later to find out that they are ‘Heroic political figures’ that were linked to J.G.Frazer’s dissertation,‘ The Gilded Borough’.

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The Guilded Borough (on plinth) by Steven Claydon. Image Source.

The aspect that intrigued me about the busts was his use of material, he’s camouflaged a peacock feather as the busts eyes which is an interesting approach to detail, he explained he ‘makes things that look like something they aren’t, which is very clear in this piece, Claydon also put a contemporary twist on a traditional medium by doing this.

Going back to the lecture, Claydon discussed his work titled, ‘The Gilded Borough’ 2016.  He shredded money from the Royal mint (not sure how he got it and he didn’t explain how) and covered each piece in gold and then cast them still in a vivarium tank.  I really love the movement this piece has, yet its still, like the gold fragments have been paused in time.  It has a feel of antiquity, so ornate yet the piece remains contemporary by the vivarium and its surroundings as the piece was part of the installation.  I think Claydon has a fantastic use of material and it seems by his choice of material he has great knowledge of its history which adds to his context further.

Yet another great informative lecture about the Artist and his practice, seeing Steven Claydon’s innovative use of material was fantastic and inspiring.


Steven Claydon –

Hannah Swatell / Lecture

Above Image – Vendor by Hannah Swatell, 2012. Image Source.


London based Artist, Hannah Swatell was the guest speaker from Transmission lecture this week.

Swatell spoke about several of her artworks throughout the lecture but to be honest although her work to me was aesthetically good, I didn’t seem to get a grasp of the context of each piece which created a barrier for me to be fully immersed in her work.  It was clear from her work that graphic based images, technical, mechanical, scientific images and film stills were an interest to her but as a viewer I only saw a visual connection in the images, no context and even on further research I have carried out I still can’t find the context or interest that drives Swatell to create.

Swatell’s; Swapmeet, 2012. Image Source.

However, she spoke about two projects; Swapmeet and Vendor, which were both visually similar. Swatell printed images (mentioned previously) onto glass panels and they were suspended onto the wall at an angle in Swampmeet and in Vendor suspended in steel structures.  The aspect I liked about these was how the image became sculpture and appeared like 3D collages, I like how she presented the images, which is something I wanted to achieve in my piece, ‘Goodbye’. I really liked how Swatell created sculpture and image but in a subtle way that made the images the focal point.

Another shot of Hannah Swatell’s; Vendor, 2012.  Image Source.

This wasn’t a lecture that I fully immersed myself in or truly connected with but the point I am taking away with me and something I feel I’ve learnt from is the subtly of her image and sculpture pieces, something that I wanted to achieve in my work but I feel in my work it became quite dramatic but something I can work on to achieve better now that I have attended this lecture, so overall this was another thoughtful lecture and one with a great learning curve for me especially.


Hannah Swatell –

David Michael Clarke / Lecture

Above image – David Michael Clarke’s, Post Gods Band – Live at Wharf in 2006. Image Source.



British contemporary visual artist, David Michael Clarke was the guest speaker at today’s Transmission lecture. Clarke stated that he now lives and works in France explaining, “He met a girl and stayed there”, further saying in terms of art and space, “we move because of loved ones”.

Clarkes, One square metre of raw canvas with 212 stolen kisses, 2001. Image Source.

Clarke had a vast amount of work under his belt, including works he created directly from other artist’s works including ‘One square meter of raw canvas with 212 stolen kisses’, where he wanted to transfer the lipstick from Fabrice Hybert’s piece onto his own work as pictured above, but Clarke just enjoys making work explaining he doesn’t feel the difference between work and holiday.

The sign that Clarke saw and then made Post Gods solely from seeing this. Photo by Clarke take at Ericsson Factory, Stockholm, 2006. Image Source.

A good portion of the lecture, Clarke discussed his project ‘Post Gods’ which began when he saw a photo of a sign that said, ‘Post Gods’.  Solely from this sign Clarke created a Rock Band because the words sounded like a band name.  This span into him creating a band and creating an album. One of the songs called ‘Mortality’. He continued to mention that he also made a logo for the band in an ‘Ephemeral typeface’ which he printed onto T-Shirts and also made further merchandise including badge that had PG on; the parental guidance sign and even further Clarke wore a significant necklace, which made him well known for this, much like the famous white glasses worn by Kurt Cobain, again the necklace was turned into merchandise and made into a large scale sculptural piece.

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Finally the ‘Post Gods’ band played an acoustic show, which I suppose you could label as an ‘art performance’.  So funny to think that all this stemmed from a simple thing as a sign, which is one of the main reasons I liked about this project, how Clarke saw something so ambitious from something that was so menial.

As for the project itself, it really represents the current music industry and how quick it starts and then ends and the idea of making merch, a gimmick that will sell, it seemed much more of a fun project, rather than a serious one, which I really liked the idea of.

On the website created for ‘Post Gods’ it quotes, “From one simple photograph…….. to music, poetry, fashion and sculpture”.  This sums up Clarke’s project perfectly.


dDavid Michael Clarke –
Post Gods –

Neil Brownsword / Lecture

Image Above – Pieces from Brownsword’s, Salvage Series. Image Source.



The Transmission lecture this week brought Neil Brownsword, who discussed his works surrounding ceramics.  He started by mentioning Stoke on Trent, the ‘Ceramic Capital’ of the UK, known for its pottery industry.

Stoke on Trent would later be mentioned in the lecture as a setting for a collaborative project, where a few artists were asked to create work in and around the ‘Spode work factory’ in stoke.

More pieces from Neil Brownsword’s, Salvage Series, 2005. Image Series.

Brownsword discussed many of his projects in the lecture but there were two in particular that interested me.  The fist was titled, ‘Salvage Series’ 2005 (pictured above), in which he used found fragments of ceramics/pottery, mainly 19th century, Wares, Saggars, Kiln props and deformations unearthed from my own back yard, he lists in his paper ‘Action-Reflection Tracing personal developments’.  From these fragments he placed them back into the kiln, giving them a new identity and lease of life. ‘The beauty of the discarded fragments fascinated me and raised the issues on how we decide the value of certain objects’.  I really liked the concept and results of this project, upcyclying something beyond repair, creating really interesting shaped objects.  This work really shows the respect and love Brownsword has for his medium and materials, which is so often taken for granted.

An outcome from the project ‘National Treasures’, 2013. Image Source.

The second project I really admired was, ‘National Treasures’ 2013, which was part of site specific work at the ‘Spode Work Factory’ in Stoke on Trent.  This work was a performative instillation in which he commissioned ceramic painters to paint ruins of the building on the back of broken and found plates that was left behind at Spode. The work was these artisans at work, where the viewer would witness each artisan occupy a painting station space at a time. Video of this piece can be viewed below:


I really loved how Brownsword exhibited these artists who are so often overshadowed and forgotten about, this piece gave them the recognition they deserved for creating such a wonderful intricate ceramic adornments. Again, I also admired the upcycling aspect of this piece, painting scenes of ruins onto ruins is really quite poetic.

This lecture was really enjoyable, seeing how Neil Brownsword took a lost/diminishing art and contemporised it, knowing there are all these varied possibilities and seeing how Brownsword was so positive about the material, made this a lecture to remember.  I am so pleased to say that I have a ceramics workshop coming up this semester and this lecture has made me really eager to start it.


Neil Brownsword –

Jem Finer / Lecture

Above Image – Overview image of Longplayer. Image Source.



Artist, Composer and Musician, Jem Finer presented at Transmission this week. Finer discussed several of his works but one piece that really stood out to me was his piece titled Long Player.

“Long Player” is a musical composition conceived and composed by Finer that is a 1000 year long music piece that began playing midnight on 31st December 1999 and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, where it will have complete its cycle.  Such an extraordinary idea and involves dealing with something and planning for it when it will last way beyond his lifetime and through several generations.

The idea began for Finer when he thought of the idea of making a music piece that would last forever – this was in the mid 1990’s, so this idea was brought on by the looming Millennium hysteria.

I was so struck with this piece, from it being so ambitious and the idea of planning so far into the future to Finer having to pass it on for generations, such an amazing idea it questions whether it is possible or not but either way it is so impressive that its continued since before 2000, 16 years which is totally astonishing and also the science behind it and its conceptual background of science, mathematics, which I personally find quite baffling.  An article by the ‘Guardian ‘newspaper, that discussed the new app designed to allow anyone to play ‘Long Player’ described the musical piece; ‘each track moves in and out of phase with others, like planets and moons whose orbits gradually bring them closer together and then propel them apart over the course of years, decades even centuries’, which is reflective of the Long Player concept background.

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It will be interesting to see if in 10 years the piece will still be playing but even that is still an extreme amount of time and an amazing achievement. My practice is inspired by my love of music and lyrics, to see this and know it’s completely taken over his life is incredible, Finer’s ambition is so admirable, a really striking and mind blowing piece of work, it’s just a pity that no one that is alive now, will ever know if he’s achieved it, quite daunting to think a song won’t finish, even long after we are gone.


Jem Finer –
Jem Finer’s Longplayer –