What We Are Looking For… (a brainwave)

I want to teach secondary art and design. I am dedicated to this new career path. It culminates my considerable experiences as an artist and arts educator. Academia is a fruitful place to work, but it has failed to satisfy my career, nor my vocation, which lies in secondary education.

I am certain of this because I want to share the knowledge and skills in art and design, art theory, and media studies, which I have accumulated over the past few years, to young people. My aim as a teacher is to inspire my students and meet the needs for all learners, despite any disadvantages or barriers posed to them by society. I want to show students how they can reach their full potential, and understand what they never thought they could.

The highlights of my teaching experiences have been guiding 16-18 year olds at Cambridge Regional College towards their Art Foundation degree. Packed classes with a broad range of students with very diverse needs meant some crucially experimental ideas about art making commenced in this space. My teaching at Anglia Ruskin University was catered for first year undergraduates (mostly aged 18), as well as older students. I taught media studies and art theory. This experience confirmed my aptitude as a teacher: earning respect and building collaborative opportunities for my students, and founding novel techniques for learning and assessment.

I have a PG Cert. in Learning and Teaching, which contributes towards my understanding in the nature of teaching and educational issues. I have made a detailed study of different methods of learning and assessment, whilst developing inclusive and effective learning resources. These are applicable to KS3 and 4 Art and Design, the underlying aim being for students to produce skilled and creative artworks, and be able to evaluate art’s history, culture and criticism. These requisites become openings for intensely imaginative and stimulating classes, when I am teaching.

My subject knowledge in art and design is based from my experiences as an artist (in painting, film, installation and performance, with multiple international exhibitions), writer (with a monograph published in 2014 by Bloomsbury, entitled: ‘Making Sense: Art Practice and Transformative Therapeutics’), art critic and lecturer in this subject.

I have worked with children and young people throughout my academic career. One trip to Cambodia, where I taught orphans in a Buddhist temple in the remote countryside, confirmed my desire to show youths how to do things, and how to think about things, which they never thought they could. In this case, I was teaching the Cambodian children art. They had never seen paint before. But soon, with my guidance, they were drawing and painting their beautiful landscape, and their feelings. They could then sell their works to passing tourists. The point of this exercise was to teach the students new skills, new ways to express themselves, and build up a source of income (crucial, in their destitute lives). I could not solve the horrific political, social and economic problems in Cambodia. But I could show the children new ways of looking at their country; opening new avenues.

This is an example of my motivation and commitment to teaching, and the reason why I teach. My intellectual qualities have led me towards a PhD in Art Theory from Cambridge University, an MA in Fine Art, doing my BA in a year. But these achievements aren’t enough, and yet they are too much. I always want to return to the classroom, which first inspired me, when I was at school.

 

There’s the thing. The stuff at the end, about being inspired when I was at school, is bollocks. School was awful and I can’t remember it anyway. But the rest is true. Suddenly, it dawned upon me that I could achieve my life aims somewhere else, not just in a university. I want to help people understand things that they never thought they could. This is my life’s purpose. So far I have been committed to failure, in academia. Rejection after rejection. Each one damages a little bit of my soul. The damage adds up; I feel broken.

But perhaps life does not have to be so hard. Perhaps I can’t achieve a professorship at Oxbridge, or a hip art school, or somewhere dynamic and exciting. Perhaps I am not able to do this. What I have come to realise is that, in any case, perhaps I do not need to do this. Perhaps I can be far more fulfilled with less kudos.

In fact, what I want to do in life is far smaller than my utopian aims. So much for ‘I must change the world’, or ‘I must ultimately become a Professor’, or even, trying to widen my ambitions to make them easier to achieve, ‘I must be a lecturer in art theory, art history, art practice, media studies, or anything near, on any course at any university in the world’. None of these are in fact achievable, so it seems.

Maybe for a reason. I’m not going to get all trick-cyclist about this. There’s no such thing as fate. Nothing except very very hard work makes things happen. But suddenly, with a new idea (once again, as it often happens, brought forward by my mother, who is Always Right), I am discovering something that I can achieve, which would also meet my aims in life.

I can help people understand things they never thought they could by teaching at a school. This will require yet another qualification, but it would guarantee a career and, following the PGCE, an immediate job. I could teach art and design. I could enthuse my students with inventive and imaginative methods of making and thinking about art.

My research? My film? My books? I could feasibly still do all of this. It wouldn’t be easy, but it’s never been easy. I’ve always felt like a lonely wanderer in academia. It’s so hard to get a job, any job, and even harder to get the right job. Research is supposedly, but hardly, supported. Publishing books are supposed to increase your reputation; but they haven’t done, in my case. It’s extremely hard work, with lots of stress, with no cream cakes. And I don’t like cream cakes anyway.

The rewards I seek are the following: I wish to make a connection with my students, build trust, respect and empathy. I would do this by collaborating with them as people, as individuals, with different – but equal – needs, hopes and interests. I want to inspire and encourage students to dream, and work towards achieving the dreams (in small, incremental stages). I want students to look forward to my classes. I need to do all this through making and thinking about art.

In fact, I have come to realise (just now), that these rewards probably can’t be obtained at a university. Work needs to be done earlier. Maybe becoming a secondary school teacher is a good idea, then. If I can make it happen.

Hence my meeting with the An Important Person at the Faculty of Education, Cambridge University. He was realistic about my chances, and suggested I get a minimum wage job, whilst I look for a teaching position anywhere in the world that might take me. ‘I wouldn’t teach’, he said, informing me about the abstruse levels of stress the job entails.

Yet I am determined to give this a go. I have found 3 opportunities for school-direct training or PGCE (‘Not worth it,’ he said, ‘don’t quote me.’) at various locations in Cambridge, London and (near the horses) in Amersham. Is this the start of a new adventure? I hope so. Hope is the most powerful, inexhaustible fuel there is. Still perilous, but infallible.

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No Name. A nightmare.

11695962_10153028075294646_6883815808619485365_nShe was wearing the new burgundy t-shirt, which said ‘Spiritual Gangster’, scrawled over a fickle heart-shaped emblem, on the front. The back was empty. Her hair was greasy, scrawny straggles, flopping in thin wisps onto her shoulders, bent over a book. Cowering underneath the (fake) strains of taking examinations. Fake? Since these weren’t the real tests brought by Life. And yet they symbolised the hardest question of all: would she be good enough?

That was the stupid yet recurrent question lurking and regurgitating in her throat. She looked up. The old, crumpled, bitter woman walked over, with a piece of paper in her hand. She stopped a few feet away from No Name (sic. This girl had still not made a name for herself.), peering down at her.

The girl could not, would not wait. Her small, green-cum-yellow eyes prised themselves upon the teacher’s piece of paper, seeking her results. The woman breathed in harshly, about to utter. The girl saw the flash of her marks, breathed in terror, and bolted.

E, E, E, E, E, E, NA (worse than E. Eliminated, Dissolved, Failed, Not Even Worth Considering.).

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She ran. From the cell, from the school, from the institution, from the arena, from the prison, from the tower, from the hospital, from the family, from her stupid, worthless self. Be clear: not just to get away from those lines on a piece of paper, from exam results. She was running away from all the nuts and bolts that prevented those impatient neurones from manufacturing A Method of mutating time: barring freedom.

Not known for athleticism, the girl embodied that emblematic t-shirt, vaulted over the fence (somewhat ungracefully), and lurched across the street. She knew where she was going.

Immediately, the old trout shouted at her and demanded that she stop, stay, and receive appropriate punishment. Suppression. No Name ran faster. Old Trout set off the alarm, and alerted the Authorities. By this time, No Name was out of sight. She had to escape before the police tracked her down and restrained her. Detained her. Sedated her. Murdered her.

No Name ran towards the hedgerow. She tried to puff and wheeze (since she was not used to running) quietly, unobtrusively. She ran through the fields. It was dark by now. On the right was a bridleway. A Polish horse and rider roamed past. The horse was mincing on long, black legs that jiggled around the stones on the ground. His rider held the reins high in the air and resembled an Oriental artist. He was dressed in auburn breeches, a pink flappy smock, and white leather gloves. The horse snorted, he could smell No Name. She was going in the right direction.

It was past midnight by now. No Name knew she was a runaway in danger: the police would not be far behind. It would not be hard for them to have found inside information on where she would go. Where she always went. But that did not stop her. No one had ever quite found her Hell, except she. Hell was some atrocious hidey-hole; yet inescapable. Inevitable.

An interlude: At the crossroads in the woodland, No Name discovered a fountain spurting spouts of pure unbroken ambrosia. It was the bottom of a rainbow. The liquid glowed like magma, flirtatiously. Green shoots popped out, blooming into pretty fuchsia petals. Around the ornament a number of dappled ponies danced. Riders were small and lithe; on perfect, lilting strides of bounding connemaras. But they disappeared. In the space, No Name stepped into the ambrosia, bent her knees and drank.

Immediately the magnanimous liquid warmed her spleen. The air erupted into shingles of the rainbow’s spectrum. A pinto Marwari horse with pointy ears that touched themselves trotted past her. Revived now, sheimages-1 followed. She must flee.

The Indian horse galloped away. No Name found her own narrow path by the hedgerow and proceeded with determination. In the distance she could hear the blaring noise of a police car. It seemed to get ever louder, ever closer, ever more threatening. She was near to her place, and yet so far.

No Name tripped in the mud and fell over. She slipped into a thick, rambling wad of rough crop, grown to rear pheasants. Tumbling down the field, the earth dissolved and enveloped her. Swallowed whole, she scraped her way through the mulch and dug herself ever deeper.

Eventually No Name had buried herself entirely, until her short, scrubby fingernails broke through a hole in the soil. She had reached the tunnel. Flopping onto the floor (again, ungracefully), she heaved a breath, which was hard, since there was little air down here. Crawling on her knees, she edged forward. Her body was hot, wet with sweat, and whet with the threat of those advancing imminently behind her.

Soon she reached the end of the tunnel. It opened out into a large spray of lavender. The smell was pacifying,images but intoxifying. She was close. Pushing through the pale blue flowers, No Name stood up. By now it was nearly morning. At the end of the garden was a plain house. She was in France, in Provence, near the village called Cotignac. This was her parents’ house. They came here once a month. But now it was empty.

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No Name found the dungeon near the moat, and she jumped into it. With the last remaining surge. Around the corner was her place. The walls were red; a dark, dark red. Almost black. She had painted these old walls herself, with her blood. The space was a testimony to the foundation that beguiled all but No Name. Each time she escaped, blood burst here. It could end here.

No more exams. No more cells. No more school. No more institutions, or arenas. No prison, no tower. No hospital. No family. No more stupid, worthless self. With No Name. Here was The Method of mutating time: opening freedom.

There was a moment here, which was indescribable. Before the future took over the present (with time mutated); it was over. The blaring nee-naa of the police siren reached a harsh crescendo. A man burst in, with his truncheon (a shot of lorazopam) at the ready. No Name tried to resist; but cowered. There was nothing more she could do.

Old Trout appeared, grimacing with eerie disgust at the smell. We’ll take you away to the place where you always get better. Her words were reasonable, but No Name did not want to go back to that place, where she had No Name. Yet here was blood, just blood. Nowhere was free. Perhaps she would have to call herself: No Name Nowhere.

I took a breath, and opened my eyes. I was at the farm, with my dog still sleeping, curled up in the crook of my arm. Quite safe. With a name: Lorna Collins.
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Perspectives built in India

There are 3 parts to this reflection on my squeezed escapade in India. Firstly I include a poem I wrote when I was sitting in the departure gate of the airport, waiting to fly back to England. I get a bit lost in words and sounds at times, so I’m not sure it’s easy to understand, unless you know the context of my inspiration. I dilate/dilute my poem by copying down here sections from my diary, which I wrote during the 2 days of the symposium. These 2 sections contain a simplistic narrative of an adventure I had, and then a more philosophical deliberation on my part in the symposium at the Goethe Institute. This symposium and the concurrent exhibition were called “Crisis and the Making and Unmaking of Sense: Art as Schizoanalysis”, organised by Khoj International Artists’ Association.

  1. Pure perceptions

The smog tugs

my throat in

smoky dregs

that won’t

relent and

parch my

retching

breath

amidst the

dirty, musty

rubble.

I stumble,

tremble,

grumble.

The sounds

abound

unfounded

ground.

In dirt

a yurt (of sorts)

surrounds

the furtive

thoughts.

I’m caught

amidst

a sort of

noise

that toys with

grids that lead

instead to boys who

glue their eyes

to gushing buys

and see my white naivety

a state to shove believing with

above their toil.

A royal boil

begins to itch my throat

again.

They sell me rotten apples

coupled

and drive me through the rubble.

In-credible, a fib,

unstable, a rib

bounces and renounces

my body’s defences

as I lurch across the track.

A fact backed when

shambles wend

around the bend

floundering my senses

(jabbering,

shuddering).

But then I arrive.

Dust clears.

Rust bears

my weight.

I stare

into the

air and through

the golden

groats’

emboldened

stoats

and feel

iotas grinning

and calmly

holding my inebriety.

Instead of lurching,

retching,

deflecting,

I nurture

nature

softly dazzling,

embezzling

and tickling

my senses.

Here the sun

maintains grains.

Those groans

from tomes of blown up dens

cannot subsume the oms

from green and grown refrains.

Liquid lubrication

amidst the new creation

defies the chronic,

bubonic,

catastrophic,

hegemonic

grasp.

This is our task.

We slip through,

ripping their cloak,

nipping through the boundaries,

staking out founded steeds

for a brand new reality.

Grand, astute, a fluke?

Not quite, more like

a great hike that breaks

the strokes of broken lives

and strives to set us free.

2. My adventure

Last night Lleah (who has dyed her hair pink) took me to somewhere in central Delhi. It was very intense and a crisis evolved. Before it did we had a highly stimulating set of sensoriums/sensoriae, which erupted from the trip to this crammed, chaotic market. We went on the subway first of all, which was a pretty intense experience in itself. Talk about crammed. So many dark, smelly men, wet and whet with sweat and pounding the inadequate space too close to me. One man placed his left ear on my lips. As my breath banged his warm skin, and our bodies touched, clammy and condensed, I immediately gasped, aghast at this ghastly unwanted intimacy, and retreated (as much as was (im)possible, given the restraints (im)posed by the lack of space). Soon it was our stop. The station was similarly crammed full of people. We went up the stairs. So was the street.

Undeterred, excited, I followed Lleah and we began to explore. Neither of us knew where we were going. We followed out noses. The odd pong barred the route – urine, mould, dirt. In fact, each olfactory stimulus enhanced the overall sensorium, since it made the journey more authentic.

We wandered randomly through the streets, undeterred by the aggressive rickshaws (‘autos’) and motorcycles beeping and cavorting their horns and accelerators, bombarding through the space.

The streets were lined with market stalls. Most were selling colourful material and fabric, bangles or fruit. I took lots of photos and videos, really enjoying this adventure.

After a while we decided to return home. We found a rickshaw (after one we’d rejected due to excessive charge) and climbed aboard. By now it was rush hour and the streets were crammed with beeping automobiles aggressively meandering around each other, noisily trying to overtake and ignoring any semblance of order posed by lines, lights, regulations, or policemen blowing vociferously into plastic whistles.

Then, before we knew it, a motorcycle cruised past at huge speed, and snatched Lleah’s purse, which she was holding on her lap. It flashed past and away, irretrievable. We urged the rickshaw driver to follow, and he went down the other side, the wrong side of the road, dodging rickshaws etc., trying to catch the villant. Violence. Shock. Fear. Lost. The motorbike went away and we could not follow. The purse was gone and we were unable to retain it. so we ordered the rickshaw driver to take us to the police.

At the police station Lleah formed a complaint. We had to go to another police station to do this, in the same—evidently dangerous—rickshaw that we’d lost the purse on before. I was scared and clasped my own bag so closely to my chest. The next police station seemed “helpful” in inverted commas, but Lleah’s purse (passport, all her money, credit cards and iPhone) was irretrievable and she had nothing. The police did nothing and were quite intimidating. They gave us each a glass of water and tried to insist that we drank it. Now pure water here is poisonous so that was a pretty shifty gesture.

I was melting into patheticism, if I’m honest, by this moment. I gave Lleah some money and asked the police to get me a taxi to return to KHOJ, where I was staying. At first they did not want to get me a taxi and said I should use a rickshaw, this same rickshaw which had brought on the situation. I refused, and eventually a taxi was called. I got in and we drove off.

Before long it was evident that this bedraggled taxi driver did not know where we were going. Soon we were lost, in the middle of nowhere (after travelling at speed up the motorway). The taxi driver jabbered away in one of the multitude of languages apparent in India. He did not speak English. He stopped the car, left me alone in it, and wandered off to speak to a fat, bearded man who was sitting in an armchair outside his house. The driver eventually came back and we were off again. He turned around. Kept stopping and turning around. I became increasingly scared, and did not know what to do. I had no one’s telephone number and my phone wouldn’t seem to work anyway.

I shouted pigeon English at the driver and he shouted his Indian nonsense back at me. No sense. The Crisis and Unmaking of Sense. Then, suddenly, I recognised the street and so it was fine. I stopped the taxi. Refused to pay the extortionate fee he proposed, I paid a lesser fare, and walked to KHOJ. I found, then, that the door was locked and I couldn’t get in. I had no key. Shit. It was late by this point and of course I was on my own. All I could do was bang on the door and shout loudly, hoping someone was there who could let me in.

Someone did. And then I ate cereal and milk. I forget about water being poisonous and drank it neat from the tap. Fuck. Oh well, I was fine. Phew. What an adventure!

3. A more philosophical debrief of the symposium, and my own intervention

. . . So it’s bumpy now, because I’m on my way back home in a taxi to Delhi airport. I wend my way. Yesterday (the second day of the symposium, the day after the above adventure) was terrific. I showed my film and made my intervention. I was so brutally honest about my experiences because they could be applied critically to the overall trajectory of the symposium, which was: schizoanalysis and the making/unmaking of sense. 

In basic terms the symposium and exhibition presented artists and thinkers who demonstrated different ways of perceiving and reacting to the world, in response to a crisis that is both social and psychological. This concerns psychosocial trauma, the effects of genocide, the disappearance of lives from history, and the false rewriting or superimposition of a history that is fundamentally hegemonic, selective, exclusive and hierarchical.

The point we made at KHOJ was to show how stating a different truth to the one superimposed and falsely fixed by history can de-legitimise the structures of power who control it. This is agency. We cannot reverse genocide. We cannot prevent trauma. But we can build a rhizome of utterings, rememberings, representations, which secure our different identities and, collected, can provide healing and retaliation.

The symposium tried to install this agency through a schizoanalytic framework, one which dismantles the fixed, teleological, catastrophic logic of systems of power. We founded a way to state and respond to the pits of hell and torturous atrocities installed and advocated by these mutually destructive—whether totalitarian or capitalist—forms of power. Making art, thinking through making, and sharing what is made, resists and decentres. It provides healing. A rhyzome of possibilities.

My own part to play in the symposium was highly insignificant. I felt like an ignorant, spoilt child – from the West, where, although we are hyper-consumed and dictatorially controlled by capitalism, we know nothing of the atrocities suffered in other parts of the world (represented at the symposium). However, I have experienced my own atrocities. My own genocide, which fortunately I was able to free myself from. I make art. This provides a process of retaliation from my demons, a process of sense-making, and a process of healing. What I do with art can be applied to other situations, since it is not just individual, or confined to me. It is social.

I showed my ”Touché” film (viewable on my website, under ‘Painting Film’. Then I explained how I’d made it, and discussed how it showed a different perspective of the world, which consists of my hallucinatory visions. I developed this subjective narrative through a schizoanalytic appraisal and applied my thoughts to a critical as well as clinical register. Leon Tan, whose film (made with Virlani Rupini) was shown in the exhibition, asked me questions, and talked about his own work also. Together we discussed how art can promote healing in situations of psychosocial trauma, particularly using Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas about and their methodology of schizoanalysis.

Pooja Sood, who runs KHOJ, said she would have liked to have put my film in the main exhibition, and I had some great responses to it, both during the symposium and afterwards. I connected with several artists, who said that they also have visions. We began to discuss what larger intervention we could manifest together, as a result of the insight and openings uncreased and set free here, floating and yet grounded, beneath the soil and grains of dirt, spit and detritus, and growing reams of shoots and bulbs from the multiplicity of roots that spread across the many corners of the world. I mean, the symposium had a global audience. Participants came from all around the world. The world – its corners don’t trap or confine, we are set free by the agency of the frisky roots which take us to and from them, skipping through time zones, nations and boundaries, spreading hope and clasping hands with friends along the way.

By the end of the symposium I felt surrounded by these friends and so stimulated that the pores in my skin began to ooze with synaesthetic shivers. Hair-raising, but with the comfort and security of company by now, unlike the adventure of the previous night, I settled into this expanded sensorium.

After a rousing, celebratory booze up (or diet coke spritz, in my case)m we confirmed our vows of fraternity and agency. Pooja drove Navjot, Ana and I back and I went to bed. Tumbling thoughts and sensations pervaded the ends of my consciousness as I lay down to settle, safe and secure on the wooden bed. Hypnogogic visions mutated these cerebral happenings and soon my mind was wound with skipping images of hope, release and joy.

This is what I found in Delhi.

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Kinhin in Wollongong

This is a video I took using my iPhone whilst meandering along the beach in Wollongong, Australia, yesterday morning. There are no thoughts. Just a soft, rhythmic pull of the tide’s intrinsic motion. The sand sank and crumbled ‘neath my feet. The sea soaked them, pulling back the crunchy pink and beige crystals, leaving my toes wet, cool and salty. The salt in the sea tinged two of my toes (which had been rubbed raw with blisters from walking around all day in heels). This pungent pique–not quite pain, but sharp, stinging perception–disinfected them. There was a purity of touch in the euphonious fluctuation between the sea, the sand, and my feet. I tried (but failed) to walk in time to this.

I was here to do a performance at a conference called ‘Provocations’ in Wollongong. The subject matter pontificated here was provocative in a theoretical sense: sex, pornography, the volatility of normality, doing and undoing our bodies, vibrant and vibrating materialities, all sorts of genders, technologies and politics, class, narcissism and fat (my own as well as activists’), migration, nomadic rhizomes of thought (and action), pathological wound cultures, social and structural injustice, and the rest (which circulated like a drone around the delegates, arousing and questioning).

My own part of this Happening was to provoke in a literal sense, by performing in a TRANCE in front of these pontificating intellectuals. They raved about their Queer and queerer theories. Then I did my pseudo-dance. Not really dancing at all, but responding to my own heartbeat, enveloped by the rhythmic sound, I splodged around the foyer, quasi-elastically. Listening to my core, which was retching emotions of anger, fear, impatience, but also joy, shame, elation, I wrenched the corpuscular molecules of muscle and (mostly) fat that comprised my massive corpus, and moved across the floor and up and down the walls. Not particularly delicately. No where near grace.

And yet. Yes. There were moments of connection between myself and my body which fulfilled the said intentions I had proceeded with. Some of the voyeurs found it hard to articulate what they had seen. Others found it titillating. More still (at least) provocative.

Performance complete (see https://lornacollins.com/trance-⬇%EF%B8%8F-under/ for documentation), I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of my flying visit to Australia. At the conference, I was particularly impressed and stimulated by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi’s interventions with the Sense Lab. Erin and Brian are superstars in the world of creative theory and cultural studies. At the conference they elevated thought into play, by encouraging delegates to use their imagination and creativity to contribute their own interpretations of texts, problems or suggestions. I got going on this, particularly on the last day of the conference, and started delicately ripping up bits of cardboard (my intention being to make a fractal snowflake) and declaring suggestions and questions (written in fragments, printed on pieces of paper, flung around the room) to other participants. Hampered by an immediate and hypocritical restraint by a member of the Sense Lab, I retreated. A few minutes later, I played cat’s cradle with Erin, and elastics with someone else. At a serious conference this was novel. I wondered what kind of knowledge these activities were disseminating, what was the point (or telos), and without it, what was going on? We use these sorts of activities to teach Foundation art students at Cambridge Regional College. With much fun and games. Pure, unrestrained creativity. Except at Wollongong I was restrained, which spiked my sensitivity.

I had to leave to return to Sydney before this session was finished, so I did not see what happened. I wish I had done. I am a major fan of Erin and Brian’s work with the Sense Lab, and I wish I had the chance to really engage with their work, make things, critique them, and construct decisions that pertain to understand the world from a Sensual point of view.

On the way back to Blighty I had the fortune to stay with my brother Edward’s oldest friend, Sam, in Sydney. He took my to Bondi Beach for dinner, where I ate the most exquisite piece of salmon I have ever eaten. This morning we went to Manley to say hi to his parents and I fell in love with their gorgeous sausage dog Daphne. Now I’m at the airport waiting for my plane. I miss the horses and can’t wait to get back home.

HERE I AM

I wish:

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This is how I exist: my art feeds my life (not only furnishing it, but nourishing it), whilst my life depends upon my art (since it sets me free). The hardest thing about studying for an MA in Fine Art is that everything I produce is summatively or formatively assessed. There is ongoing and eternal judgement. So my art can’t set me free anymore (unless I achieve the mark I desire). And yet, it still does. This is because I utilise my art practice as a critical, sensuous, transformative and therapeutic method of material thinking. This is no longer confined to painting. I am experimenting in new mediums. Last term I made a 16mm analogue film, Touché. Now I am making sound art from the pulse of my heartbeat during 90 minutes of bikram yoga. This is going to be an installation piece. Next term, for my major project, I plan to create another installation — using sound that is amplified at a rate to make it tactile. I’m going to create a wall of sound.

 

Meanwhile I continue to try and boost my employability — ever hankering after that elusive job, in a a super-competitive market, with ongoing recession and funding problems meaning that it is almost impossible to find and make my career. I will to succeed (not necessarily confident enough to say that I will succeed, since I am so ambitious and I don’t know if I can ever achieve my dreams and goals, but I have desire, determination, persistence and pluck. I will — I have will (to power), which is a combination of hope and drive. This is directed towards my meta-need, which is that I need to feel needed. I can achieve this, I think, through finding a teaching job, establishing my career as a lecturer and a writer, and making art that really touches people. I would also like my art, my books and my words to help people who have experienced suffering. There is an ethos behind my entire research enterprise and my pedagogy as an arts educator.

Alongside the MA FA I am taking the PG Cert in Higher Education, to gain a qualification in teaching. I am also teaching part-time in the Art and Design department at Cambridge Regional College. My lectures and tutorials here concern the history of modern and postmodern art, with dabblings of contextual studies and theories from the philosophy of art thrown in to elucidate conundrums posed by conceptual or performance artists, the YBAs, or Dada (for example).

I have 2 books coming out this year, both with Bloomsbury. One is an edited volume, Deleuze and the Schizoanalysis of Visual Art (http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/deleuze-and-the-schizoanalysis-of-visual-art-9781472531131/) the other is a monograph inspired by ideas I began to develop my PhD, and from my deep understanding of the transformative, therapeutic and ethical effects that making an artwork can provide for us all. This book is called Making Sense: Art Practice and Transformative Therapeutics. So watch this space for launch parties!

I am looking for further teaching opportunities — in any field that has to do with art, art history, art theory, critical theory, aesthetics, philosophy of art, continental philosophy and/or modernist or contemporary French philosophy. I need to be observed as part of my PG Cert. and I want to expand my pedagogical experiences as a lecturer, tutor, supervisor or mentor.

I also want to help people who are suffering from eating disorders or other psychiatric illnesses. I want to show them how art can help us make sense of the world, and describe how making art can open a healthy way of managing life. Yoga also helps. I am a fanatic yogi. This is my performance art, and moving meditation. I am creating an artwork on this theme at the moment (from my heartbeat, as I mentioned above). Thus, as you can see, I have humanitarian aims as well as scholastic.

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New page on my site!

I’ve added a new page to my site, ‘essays’. You can see this by clicking on the link on the left.

This first essay is about a schizophrenic artist, Kyle Reynolds, whose work I find immediately fascinating, intuitive and deeply moving. He shows us a way to perceive the world beyond the dictates of ‘common sense’, whilst his works replace the psychoanalyst and exist as healing powers in themselves. My essay uses the psychoanalyst Lacan’s theories on the symptom, and how art practice might replace the need for the clinic, and Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalytic theories about the Body without Organs and the time image. I also compare Kyle’s work to Salvador Dali. My hope for this essay is to demonstrate the nurture-power of art practice, and show how it might heal the individual and society at large. This is a ‘test-run’, so to speak, and I need feedback. It is perhaps controversial to use Lacan alongside Deleuze and Guattari, and my theory may be naive or simplistic. But I would rather to draw out the essence involved in art practice, rather than write a strict or scientific (incomprehensible) work of critical theory. So, enjoy! (and tell me what you think…)

Morphing Monsters in My Head…

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See the essay, here: https://lornacollins.com/essays/

Bikram Yoga

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I had a euphoric moment in Bikram yoga today. I went to my friends Theo and Jennifer’s new studio, Ethos Hot Yoga, in town, and practiced in both of their classes. I ‘did a double’ (with my packed lunch and lots of coconut water in between). This experience brought me a momentous bodily nirvana as a trolled along to my Sunday’s duration.

The first class was lead by Theo. As I exerted my body to the maximum, trying to achieve the perfect muscular alliance and traction during each pose it occurred to me that I have become so besotted to Bikram because it seems so like my previous love (and obsession): dressage. In both arts there is a set sequence of movements which never change: in dressage you follow a particular test, trying to perfect each movement, which is judged and marked out of ten. The tests might change, as you progress and advance to a higher level, but the movements stay the same. You are always trying to improve and interpret these movements with greater correction, pureness and poetry.

Just so, in Bikram the 26 poses are repeated in each yoga session, and they do not change. But every time you practice you try to improve and interpret each pose with greater correction, pureness and poetry, just like in dressage. And, in both arts, every time it feels different. In Bikram, the body reacts and plays differently, as the heat changes in intensity, whilst you can feel your muscles being stretched and your internal organs being massaged in different areas, with different amounts of pressure, as you attempt to perfect each posture.

Equally, in dressage, the horse and the rider always feel different in their interconnection and in the ways they align and communicate to interpret each movement. I used to talk to my horse with my body, through pressure from my seat bones and our connection through the reins, and with our synchronised breath and muscular harmony we could communicate and reassess each movement, always trying to advance the power of the horse’s body and show the meaning of beauty. We did this by practicing each movement, and using this process to enhance the muscular anatomy and poetic brilliance of the horse. In dressage this is an endless search and a lifelong journey that changes and is always different every time the horse and rider come together and perform.

It’s the same in Bikram yoga, my new-found love. The poses are always the same, but each effort to move the body to create them is different. I always lose my balance in ‘Standing Bow’, or during the three bounces to test the balance in the third part of ‘Awkward Pose’. During these poses, and in fact in every pose, I am tested to my limit.

But today this test erupted. There was a tsunami of sweat, as I melted (and came in the heat) and an oozing evanescence between the boundary lines of my body and my mind as they came together and performed each pose. Within the set barriers regulated order of the sequence there was a continued effort to grasp a purity or essence that might be obtained if you can ever achieve the pinnacle of perfection by doing each of the postures properly. You trust that the muscles of the body will be compressed and stretched, massaged and realigned to their ultimate benefit by doing these postures. You can really feel it happening, or, at least, that’s what I felt today. Like dressage, the practice has the aim of improving the anatomy and reaching a pinnacle of health and wellbeing, as well as achieving or creating an artistry and genesis.

Today I felt this come to fruition. Jennifer led the second class and I was determined to test my body to its utmost. It was hot. I felt so situated inside this flesh, and aligned by my practice that I took off my long-sleeved black t-shirt, which I always wear during every Bikram class. So, for the first time, wearing my crop top, I bared my arms and their scars, my stomach and its weight, and the meaty covering over my ribs, which used to protrude and now are no longer visible (even during the pranayama breathing exercise). Most of all, I bared and shared my body with myself, and felt at home there, as the sweat flushed and dripped down me. I put my all into each posture and, despite wobbling around during most of these attempts, there were moments when I could really feel the benefits of this practice. I felt fit and alive. I could see the scars, as relics of my psychotic, destructive, detained past, in the mirrors, but I no longer needed to create them, or to hide from them. I was surrounded by new friends, a new life, and the discovery, or self-discovery, of a healthy way of being inside my new body. This was my euphoria.