Progress is being made to finalising the portfolio images that will be used in the exhibition and for the MA PDF submission. Two versions are given. The first was submitted to Dinu Li for the Guest Portfolio Review on September 30th and the second is Dinu’s response. Both have merit and will be considered with other possibilities. Selection is being worked with my curator Cemre Yesil, a network of artists and curators I have established with the The Photographers Gallery over the last year and Paul Clements and Gary McCloed from Falmouth University.
Exhibiting the Work
The work ‘EVERY BIRD I SEE WILL BE PART OF YOU’ will be exhibited at Espacio14 in March/April 2021. Gata de Gorgos is a basket weaving centre attracting many tourists and holds a prestigious annual International Textile exhibition. The Gallery has invited me to exhibit in the premium footfall time at Easter (subject to travel being allowed!). The owner is very excited and energetic about the show. He is speaking to GQ, Vogue and Men magazines for press coverage in Spain. Work to do before handing in the MA is to show a plan of how the work will be exhibited. I am also going to work a storyboard with the gallery that complements their story.
The MS Society has agreed to make a major press release on my work at the end of January. They are planning to use all of their channels to launch this as a major story in the national press in the UK. It will also be published in their magazine which has 26,000 readers and given web coverage. I meet with Lizzie Dowell (MS Society Press Manager) on November 19th to begin to work the detail for the press release. Several meetings have been held in which all are very complementary about the work and see the story as important help for those supporting people with the disease.
Dignity in Dying
Dignity in Dying also wanted to use the work in the research campaign to influence MP’s and the medical profession on the laws for assisted dying. Ellie Ball (Dignity in Dying Press and Campaigns Manager) saw my work as a powerful element in the current research into the number of suicides and failed suicides taking place as a result of the law as it is. Unfortunately the MS Society does not have a position on assisted suicide so they said I had to choose between the MS Society or Dignity in Dying. I chose the MS Society as my intent is to help those who are in the position I was in. Ellie was very impressive and I committed to talk to the Chairman of the MS Society Nick Winser and a Board member Iain Conn to encourage the Society to have a dialogue with Dignity in Dying. I know Iain and Nick very well. Once press is public I will also reconnect with her.
Tom gave a really insightful lecture at Falmouth on September 23rd on pitching your work. After the meeting I pitched my work to him using what I had learned from his lecture. He responded promptly and offered a commitment to pitch my work. We are in dialogue to give him what he needs and will work the detail as the project reaches its MA conclusion. A challenge I have is that the MS Society wants first mover on the story as Lizzie explained you only get one shot with a big release. I have agreed with Lizzie that when we get going with the detail I will put her together to work with Tom to see what they can do to coordinate their efforts. I have promised the MS Society first mover rights. I attach two elements of the pitch. The short description of my work and the longer write up based on Markoisan’s approach to her work ‘Recreating my Father.’
Short Statement –
‘Every bird I see will be part of you’ is an ongoing response to my experience over the last two years as my wife became almost totally paralysed with multiple sclerosis and chose to go to Switzerland in January this year for an assisted death.
Longer Statement –
EVERY BIRD I SEE WILL BE PART OF YOU
Remember how we laughed the first time we touched noses
I loved your hair
I loved your kiss
I loved your feet
You who made me tuck my shirt in
Then your legs went
You fought so hard
Remember that all night walk on Wimbledon Common
You wanted to know what love was
Then your lips felt nothing
I failed you
Then the doctors gave up
You screamed with spasms into the deaf dark night
I wanted to die
Then friends disappeared
I got angry with you for being ill
Then you lost sensations in your body
Only your pain remained
I cried and cried and cried
You wanted to die
To spread your wings and fly
Somehow you smiled still
Then you could not move
I adored you still
You made me say goodbye
You knew how much I loved you
I told you every bird I see will be part of you
Len Williamson 2019-2020
10 Minute Film
There are three levels of experience to my work. The first is the images themselves and the sequencing of them. The second is another layer of input in the form of written words as in the pitch above. It is not intended to explain the work but to stimulate a deeper experience of it. The third level is a combination of the images in a video with a voiceover. This is a heavy part of the current work in progress and is ambitious but achievable I believe. I append the storyboard. This contains the twenty core images and another twenty assembled in groupings which will have a voiceover. The voiceover and other sound effects will be completed by the first week of November.
Critical Review of Practice
I am working through a list of practitioners to position my own work. They include Pedro Meyar, Kimsooja, Nan Golding, Jo Spence, Raghu Rai, Wolfgang Tilmans, Eugene Richards, David Heath, Simon Norfolk, Alec Soth, Tom Hunter, Frances Kearney, Hannah Starkey, Laia Abril, Katherine Borse, Gabriel Orozco, Felix Gonzales Torres, Nigel Shafren, Utta Barth, Breda Beban and Jeff Wall.
• Will the twenty images plus evidence of gallery exhibition next year, evidence of the MS Society press launch end January, Tom Seymour commitment to pitch and the 10 minute film meet the requirements for a strong submission for the MA award?
• What must be included in the evidence?
• Anything else I am missing?
Markosian, Diana. 2014. Inventing my father. Available online at https://www.dianamarkosian.com/father [accessed on September 30th, 2020].