The South West Regional for ARTiculation took place on Monday 19th February. I was privileged to have been able to join the winner of the school heat, Farren, and Ms Fisher in making the journey over to Bath.
The competition took place in the Holburne Museum, the first public art gallery in Bath, which displays fine and decorative art pieces structured around the collection of Sir William Holburne, dating back to the 1800s. There was a rather austere atmosphere as we mounted the staircase towards the venue, surrounded by the glinting oily eyes of painted figures. In a room surrounded by eighteenth century masterpieces, we waited in anticipation of our representative. There were nine candidates in total, with a huge variety of subjects ranging from Picasso’s Guernica to Ai Wei Wei’s A Ton of Tea.
There was plenty of intrigue; for example, one speaker discussed the way in which Guernica was no longer a piece of art, but an icon or symbol of war and another went into great depth about David Hockney’s My Parents and the warmth and emotion it conveys through elements of the different postures of the parents.
Farren gave her presentation on a plaster cast Reclining Figure by Henry Moore from 1951, speaking passionately about the need to see beyond Moore’s traditional associations with the British landscape and instead to consider his work in light of his involvement with the World Wars he had lived through and the political and economic climate of Britain in the 1950s. The winning presentation broke the pattern of discussing paintings, sculptures and pieces of architecture and spoke instead about a photograph, A Human Marketplace by Narciso Contreras, depicting a mentally ill migrant in a detention centre in Libya.
The broad range of presentation style and subject matter highlighted the open nature of the competition. It allowed competitors to use different aspects of performance to their advantage. The criteria included content, structure and delivery. One speaker used a teapot as her introduction to Ai Wei Wei’s A Ton of Tea, conveying tremendous passion through a dramatic escalation in tone halfway through.
ARTiculation is national competition culminating in a final at Clare College, Cambridge and the judge for our South West Regional was renowned Dr Chris Stephens, a former curator at Tate Britain and Director of the Holburne Museum.
I think that more people should be exposed to ARTiculation and be given this platform to speak about their passions. There is no criteria as to what can be presented in the competition, other than that the piece of art, artefact or architecture discussed should have been seen first-hand and that the speaker is limited to 10 minutes. The experience was wholly rewarding. It was a great way to delve deeper and explore interests outside of the school curriculum. Even within the school heats themselves, in which 18 CLC girls from all different disciplines took part, we were exposed to many areas within art and architecture that would not have previously been considered, and hence were given insight into the passions of our peers. The unrestricted scope of ARTiculation is hugely valuable, allowing the development of research and presentation style, skills of persuasion and the articulation of ideas.