Tuesday, 27 October 2015

New Artist in Residence: Permindar Kaur

UHArts has a new artist in residence, working in the School of Creative Arts. The residency is funded by a substantial grant from the Arts Council of England and is supported by the School of Creative Arts, through provision of a studio space and access to the school’s workshops and technical expertise. Permindar Kaur will work within the Sculpture Studios amongst UH students to develop a series of new sculptural works for an ambitious solo exhibition in the Art & Design Gallery 18 March – 7 May 2016.

Alongside developing new skills and exploring new media, Permindar will engage in UH research across the schools of Creative Arts and Psychology, to inform her thinking around notions of belonging, fitting-in and watching. This blog will record the development of Permindar’s work, how her ideas develop throughout her residency, and provide reflections and responses.

Permindar is keen to consider how her work may be developed for space on offer in the Art & Design gallery. “I like adapting to different environments” she says. “The work changes depending on where it is sited”. She is looking forward to getting to know the space, and to investigate how it can add another layer of meaning to her work.

The particular features of the gallery are providing Permindar with opportunities to think about scale. While the space lends itself to working big, it also has nooks and crannies that would be ideal for small installations, representing different ideas that can be encountered as visitors journey through and around the gallery. She hopes to invite visitors to meander around the space on a journey of discovery, encountering artworks along the way.

The work may relate to themes that Permindar has explored in some of her other recent work: childhood and camouflage. Several of her previous and planned pieces feature ‘teddies’, suspended against backdrops of the same fabric. While audiences have found these scenes unsettling, as if the teddies are lurking, ready to pounce, Permindar is keen to point out that camouflage can serve two different purposes for predators and prey. She likes to think of her teddies as using camouflage defensively. She notes that, though audiences are initially unsettled by the hidden teddies, they soon soften to the teddies’ familiar, nostalgic form, and often reach out to stroke the fabric.

During her residency, Permindar wants to work with her teddies further. In particular, she is interested in the response to black teddies. It is fascinating, she observes, how simply making a teddy black can completely transform people’s interpretation of the work.

Permindar also hopes to develop new ideas and working practices during her residency. Her interactions with students and access to new materials, equipment and techniques within the School of Creative Arts’ workshops will help her to develop new methods and inspiration. Permindar also intends to continue conversations with Professor Karen Pine, Department of Psychology to explore her research into the psychology of clothing to inform concepts behind the works. I will be following her on a dedicated blog (here) throughout the residency to record how her plans for the exhibition develop, and how the residency has informed her practice.

Friday, 9 October 2015

The 'Pursuit of Luxury' continues...

One of our colleagues in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire, Dr Shaun Borstrock, is working with TVAD research Dr Steven Adams to co-convene another conference as part of the 'In Pursuit of Luxury' project, with Dr Veronica Manlow, Associate Professor at Brooklyn College in the School of Business. It will be held on May 6 2016 in New York at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, 65 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016. The convenors will be joined on the steering commitee by Prof Eugenia Paulicelli of CUNY. The conference team has this week opened the Call for Papers.

The 'In Pursuit of Luxury' conference provides an opportunity for academia and industry to come together to discuss issues that have a key impact on the global luxury and luxury brand market. The conference provides a platform to examine and expand understanding of the concepts of luxury and to provide a refreshing context to the debates surrounding the subject. Dr Borstrock and fellow commentators aim to take a critical look at a range of issues, some well-established, others neglected. This provides a focus for the exploration of luxury's past, present and future. This year's theme is around commercial and academic perspectives on luxury.

The idea of luxury has secured a place in modern western culture as the term is part of common parlance. This conference will aim to explore the many issues and debates surrounding the idea of luxury. When and where did the concept of luxury emerge? What is its history? How does luxury relate to social class? Is luxury necessarily the preserve of the few and, if so, what are the qualifications to consume luxurious objects? How important is social status v the accumulation of money in luxury acquisition? How does an object or experience acquire luxury status? Is it through branding or high quality materials and craftsmanship? Is it possible to mass-produce luxury, and, if so, what are the ethical implications of this? In a global world of mass consumption, is luxurious consumption becoming politically and/or ethically suspect? Similarly, as the world's resources diminish, might we expect the political implications of conspicuous consumption to take on greater resonance? And, not least, what is the future of luxury in a world beset with financial turmoil? All of these questions stack up to make for a subject of pressing concern and febrile debate.

For the Second International 'In Pursuit of Luxury' conference we will consider work within the field of luxury which encompasses established firms with a long heritage, from conglomerates to small independent firms, to "new" luxury, and emerging models with innovative practices. How is the industry structured with respect to work, what hierarchies are in place, and how do people in a variety of positions from professional to service and labour classifications experience their day to day reality? What is it like to work behind the scenes in ateliers, factories, in facilities, and in support functions such as technology and research? How do those who work on the front lines with the public perform their roles and how do they relate to corporate directives?

The irony of the "democratization" of luxury is subject to analysis as is the mythologisation of labour, upheld by marketing, media and public relations where ground level operations in stores are spectacularised while production, which happens a layer below the surface, is obscured. It is at the level of production where artisans practice their craft and where others perform labour. It is here that costs may be cut the most, workers deskilled and labour subject to the logic of scientific management. It is also the point at which artisans and factory workers alike may be integrated into the culture and philosophy of the company in a way that enriches their lives.

How sustainable is a luxury model dictated to by fashion and business, which requires ever larger segments of the global population to consume and produce luxury, in faster cycles? What are the costs of continuing along this trajectory, and indeed what are the forces that create and fulfil the desire for luxury, and that uphold its existence in a variety of incarnations along a continuum stretching from the bespoke and rarefied to "new" luxury?

To submit an abstract, visit the project website at http://www.herts.ac.uk/in-pursuit-of-luxury/conference-2015/abstract-submission. For abstract submission enquiries please email us at: abstracts@inpursuitofluxury.com

For general enquiries, please email us at: info@inpursuitofluxury.com

For sponsorship information please contact Nicholas Thomas at: n.thomas9@herts.ac.uk

More information is available on the project website http://www.herts.ac.uk/in-pursuit-of-luxury


Friday, 2 October 2015

Dr Daniel Huppatz is TVAD Visiting Researcher for 2015-16

Dr Daniel Huppatz will join us as TVAD Visiting Researcher for 2015-16. Dr Huppatz is a Senior Lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. His current research interests include mapping histories of modern Asian design, Australian design, and histories of interior design and architecture. As well as presenting papers at numerous academic conferences, Dr Huppatz has been widely published in journals including Design Issues, Journal of Design History and Design and Culture. His other interventions include editing Design: Critical and Primary Sources (Bloomsbury, 2016), a collection of 75 essential texts on design from the mid-19th century to the present day, covering key thinkers, movements and issues for design, and co-editing Unbounded: On the Interior and Interiority (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015). Huppatz is a co-founder of the Design History Australia Research Network, DHARN. He is currently working on a book titled Modern Asian Design.

Dr Huppatz will be working with researchers both within and beyond TVAD, and other staff and students in the School of Creative Arts and the School of Humanities. His work with us will cover topics including interior design and global design history to modern Asian design. These topics will be examined through sessions including:

For more information, contact Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, TVAD Research Group Leader, g.lees-maffei@herts.ac.uk