Communication at the Core.

It’s a well known fact that non-verbal communication and body language are consciously and subconsciously utilised more when trying to understand what someone is really saying.

During the 4 months I was working with children ages 4-14 body language and none verbal communication became such an important factor in the way we understood each other.

As you get to know one another the communication becomes easier and the little looks they do between themselves or slight movements in their chair can say so much. Being able to have TEFL experience especially with young people has made me realise how much I focus on communication - how important it is for our everyday ability to navigate through life. In fact in most cases I can think of, when there has been a problem, a disagreement or a lingering issue it normally comes back to poor communication.

It also made me start to think about what interests me, what’s important in my life and within my own practice. When I look back at projects I have devised or planned and work I have made that still resonates with me - running through it is a channel of communication. Whether it’s been me or my artwork trying to communicate with the viewer, or the notion of playing with communication or using it as a jumping off point…

I feel like loose ends are coming together and I have made peace with the fact that I have many interests I can necessarily squeeze them all into one box and label it ‘my artistic output’. But doing this TEFL course and the experience of teaching English instead of teaching art or drama has shown me just how highly I regard communication - in all it’s forms.

So now I am on a hunt and research phase. I have an open studios event coming up in September and there is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. My recent travels have given me wonderful material starting points but what I really need is some good reading!

So if anyone knows of any interesting books, videos, podcasts, audio clips, essays, ted talks…etc that I can start to draw from to get my creativity ignited please recommend! No idea is too distant or ridiculous and everything will be carefully considered.

Email me - meg7989@gmail.com with ideas or DM me on Twitter or Instagram.

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Communication in all its forms.

Stop worrying and start doing.

It’s been little over a month since my last blog post and we have now moved on from Mexico to Peru. We have been from Lima to Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa, Puno and finally Cusco. We are here in Cusco for just under 2 weeks and our trek starts in 3 days and I am nervous and apprehensive. This has been a theme over the last 5 months in some respects - there have been so many new challenges and unknown territory - quite literally. But every time I catch myself worrying or missing home I have to take a moment and remind myself how lucky I am to be here, and for how long I have wanted this.

Since I graduated in 2011 it’s fair to say I spent most of my waking minutes (and some sleeping ones) worrying about a career in the arts; what type of direction I wanted to go in, what I was good at, where I would go to get one? Then as I started to network and get reputable jobs in the sector across Dorset I spend most working minutes worrying about when I was going to give it all up and go travelling. I know it sounds like a grass is always greener scenario and to some extend that’s absolutely true.

You always wonder whether you have made the right choices at the right time and the truth is you probably never really know, because you only have the choice you have made and you have to live with that and learn to love it. I was offered an incredible job - a chance to stay working for an organisation that had huge potential but I turned it down, because it felt like the right thing to do at the time. Do I wish I hadn’t - no. Do I think about what could have happened if I accepted the offer - yes of course. But I am happy with the choice I have made to come to the other side of the world to gain new experiences and give myself some much needed space from home and from my arts bubble.

A lot of us feel a bit trapped sometimes, trapped within ourselves to make the right decision - or to not make a decision at all and let life continue as it’s what we know - even if you do you not feel like you are ‘making’ a decision, you still are in some way or another. It’s easy to flick through Instagram and see all the amazing achievements everyone else has - the beautiful things they are making and the hugely successful life they are living. Social Media is fantastic at showing us all the best versions of everyone - I am guilty of this too - my feed is endless pictures of glorious food, amazing museums and picturesque scenery from our travels. I didn’t feel it was right to share the 5am selfie of myself when I had food poising and had to make the decision to stay another night somewhere and miss the bus - then spend the next 12 hours in despair as I tried to get space on another - maybe I will next time.

But my point is - don’t forget all these insta-feeds are expertly curated and are self-preserving. We don’t see people’s struggle we mostly just see the glossy end results. Also it’s naïve and unfair to underestimate how hard people have to work for their success - whatever that looks like and their social media accounts don’t do justice to all the hours, stress and money they have most likely fed into their business or creating themselves and carving out a career.

I admit, I am a little late to social media things - trends and the like, so I came across Sara Tasker and her beautiful Me & Orla Instagram only recently. For those of you that are big Insta-heads (is that the slang, I don’t even know?!) you probably already follow her work and know her story - if not go check her out. She has her own Podcast series and during our travels I have found myself listening to a few of these in between destinations. Although an older podcast, the one I was most recently listening to was called, How to stop caring what everyone thinks with Sas Petherick. If you have 45 minutes on your lunch break at work, walking the dog, cooking dinner.. I urge you to listen to this. Sas’s wise words really inspire and make you realise that you shouldn’t be striving to put out an image of yourself that is for others. I couldn’t be more timely either, as it is Mental Health Awareness Week. I believe social media and many aspects of mental health are linked and if we all took a break from it every now and again and spent time doing the things we want rather than looking at the things we want we might feel happier and a little less worried.

If you listen to it, let me know what you think or if you have any podcast recommendations let me know!

Insta - @meg_dunford // Twitter @megdunfordart

Drawing - should I stop thinking. Or think more?!?!

Why do I draw? It’s a question I have been thinking about a lot recently.

More so whilst I am here in Mexico, mainly because there are lots of things to draw - or rather perhaps lots of things I feel like I should be drawing. I always have a feeling when I see something interesting that says ‘ Oh I should be drawing that’ but then I sit down to draw it and nothing really inspires me or I end up doing it and getting very impatient that it’s not finished yet and hating the end result and myself a bit. I know I am not ‘meant’ to draw anything - so why then is there is internal feeling to do so? Does it come from a place of wanting to or ‘feeling I should - because I always have; mentality.

When I was younger I drew all the time and it was for the joy of it! I loved to draw and subconsciously it was probably a way of working the world out. When I got older and was at school and moved into 6th form it was the basis for all of my work, I drew an idea before anything else and I was encouraged to do so and I loved to experiment with different methods / styles.

At university it continued, I have pages and pages of sketchbooks of doodles, ideas and notes. I think whilst I was there though something changed within me and I stopped drawing for pleasure and started to draw with more intention and reason. Then when I found something out or go to a point of inquisition I was happy with, the drawing seemed a bit redundant. The pleasure aspect almost seemed ridiculous, as if there always needed to be a reason or a ‘brief’ to draw and that feeling has stayed with me ever since.

Now when I sit down to draw I will myself to be inquisitive, but I find it pointless. I hear myself saying - why don’t you just take a picture. I would just take a picture if there wasn’t this feeling of the continued will to draw something. An artist I follow on Instagram - Trevor H.Smith - you can follow his interesting instagram HERE> posted about this too recently. How he had to overcome a fear of drawing. I had suspected that I might perhaps be afraid of drawing too, but not wanting to confront this I kind of ignored it.

Why would I have a fear of drawing - there are of course lots of elements that go through your head when your drawing - for me a lot of them are negative. When I visit drawing exhibitions or see a drawing I like, my first thought is always - damn that’s so good, why didn’t I think of that! Which is absolutely absurd.

So I still care about drawing, I want to do it more so than ever before, but I seem to stall or falter when it actually comes to the act of it. So in the spirit of a recent blog (trying more things for the joy of it and worrying about the end point or whether it looks good on my C.V less) I need to find a way to draw again.

To get myself out of my drawing pit - I am going to give myself a new challenge every week and try my hardest now to worry about the outcomes. Suggestions are welcome of course. Or if you are an artists reading this and you feel my pain, please get in touch - let’s share stories - let’s share drawings? Direct Message me on my INSTAGRAM - OR EMAIL VIA MY WEBSITE…

Some recent drawings I have done below. I hate them. But I need to get over that.

Bridport Open Studios in progress!

Fantastic visitors and comments so far for this year's Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios event

Included are new pieces featuring Digital Prints of European Towns & Cities, as well a selection of new collage works and paintings. I have chosen to include a few sketchbooks that contain early ideas for paintings and collages and working drawings. Image below of surface illustration. 

Complimented by Sarah Jane Ross's work which includes industrial and nautical sculptures, cast in plaster.  Encaustic wax, scorched plywood and inks all work together to create interesting pieces that call to local places. With some pieces linked to subject matter of more political and national significance. Such as the casts of Milk bottles - Image below, which reference the dairy farming industry's relationship with supermarkets. 

We are open for two more days, come and see us in a beautiful white space, with Sarah's studio open for viewing too. Sat 16 / Sun 17, 10-4

Megan Dunford - Surface Studies
Sarah Jane Ross

Bridport Open Studios..

I am taking part in Bridport Open Studios again this year, this time after a very generous offer was made by a talented artist... Sarah Jane Ross. We are exhibiting from Sarah's lovely home, where she has a studio and spacious conservatory where we can feature our latest pieces! 

I will be showing a series of new photographs. drawings, prints, paintings, collages & zines. We would love to see you there if you can make it... our work is very different but we have similar interests and it sits well together. 

Click here for the BOS website

 

A day in Bristol to explore the offer for Young People . . .

A cold, wet and dark start to the day, but a bright & optimistic end.

Today, as part of my role a Bridport Arts Centre I visited 5 cultural organisations in Bristol. Picking the brains of other learning officers and staff members whose focus is working with Young People to ensure those key young people's ideas are heard within the organisations they are linked to. 

BAC is taking part in a Arts Council England funded opportunity called Agents for Change. The scheme assigns a creative professional to selected Arts Organisations, specifically NPO's across the country. This opportunity, hopefully,  enables them to work with key members of the staff team, to make them re-think the way they operate, in order to achieve their new goals. Our agent is the fantastic Mena Fombo, an inspirational thinker and leader with specific experience of working with and for Young People. 

Working our way around the city, we met Hannah Higginson Engagement producer at Watershed, Clare Karslake from the Learning Department at Arnolfini, Another Claire - Claire Simmons from Bristol Museum, responsible for the development of work with 16-25 yr olds and Ailish from The Young People's programme at Tobacco Factory. As well as this I had an informative but lightening speed tour around Knowle West Media Centre where Mena works on leading the Young People's programme. 

The amount of things I learnt today was extensive and far too long to list here - but I am hugely grateful to all of the above organisations and individuals for making the time to talk to me, share common problems and generate new ideas. 

So that's the easy bit, now to go back to work tomorrow and work out how to create space for all of these fantastic new projects I want to begin at The Arts Venues I represent...watch this space. 

 

 

Current work - moving forward

The end of last year was fairly exhibition heavy on my practice and I have taken the decision to move away from that this year, focusing on writing and smaller pieces that contribute to a larger series. 

Still looking at rural dwellings  - because it's always useful to have a starting point - I want to enjoy the making and spend time developing techniques. I relished the time spend doing this when I was completing my degree and since feel that this joy has been lost somewhere...probably between the work and the deadline! 

I will keep this space updated...

 

Poole, Lighthouse - Collecting the Image

Megan Dunford - Collecting the Image
Wednesday 12 November - Wednesday 25 November 
Top Floor Gallery 
Many artists through history have been intrigued with the arrangement of gathered objects as collections and the obsessional nature of collecting. 
With previous subject matters in her work focusing on the object as representation or even replacement for human presence, no-where is this more apparent than in this most recent body of work Megan has chosen to exhibit at Lighthouse Poole. The exhibition includes a series of collected artefacts and images alongside new pieces.