Student stories: Walking, Psychogeography, Collaboration…..
In conversation with former OCA Student Andrew Howe:
Through a conversation between tutor Lydia Halcrow and former OCA student Andrew Howe, this blog post explores themes around making through walking and Psychogeography in relation to Andrew’s socially engaged, collaborative and multi-disciplinary artistic practice. The blog post is in two parts with some recommended reading that has shaped the development of Andrew’s practice during and since his time at the OCA
LH: Andrew, could you give a bit of background around the work you were making around the time of your final project at the OCA?
AH: My final OCA project was a series of paintings and mixed media work called In Parallel which I made in response to hour long walks to and from a business park on the edges of Shrewsbury, where I used to work part time. Photographs I took on the walks informed the paintings and I also documented these in a book. I went on to develop this work in a more abstracted form looking at the interrelation or entanglement between human-made and non-human forms within the landscape. In my current work, I try to draw attention to non-human perspectives. Psychogeography was a significant influence, and this continues to guide my approach, to the extent that I led an event as part of last year’s Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography.
LH: How has your practice evolved since graduating and what do you see as your key ongoing influences shaping your thinking and making?
AH: My practice has diversified considerably both in terms of the media I work with and in modes of practice, ranging between self-initiated research based work made in the studio to a collaborative socially engaged practice. Walking continues to play an integral role, and I am very much interested in how other walking artists bring their experiences into their practice. Recent self-generated work includes a series of paintings and drawings titled “Inhabited”. These depict sheds, cabins and other more ambiguous places that may or may not have been lived in. In other projects, I have explored particular places by walking and my responses have included printmaking, drawing, and digital media to make sound and video work.
LH: Could you talk a bit about the collaborative nature of your practice and the walks?
AH: Much of my work is made in collaboration with other practitioners. I set up a community organisation to commemorate the Cinderloo Uprising, a miner’s protest which took place in Dawley in 1821. Having secured funding from National Lottery Fund Heritage, Historic England and other partners, we organised a programme of arts events, heritage walks and other activities leading up to a 200th anniversary in 2021. As part of this, I developed a schools programme and, last year, delivered projects in six primary schools in Telford using walks, collage, creative writing, and film. About two years ago, I joined Meadow Arts’ network of creative practitioners to work on schools projects and on arts engagement relating to events or exhibitions curated by Meadow Arts.
Arts Territory Exchange has enabled my collaborative practice to extend overseas by linking me with a British artist/academic based in China (recently moved from Japan), and a sound/video artist based in Australia. This form of remote exchange brings fresh thinking into my practice, and challenges me to reflect more critically on what I make, and how it relates to others’ work.
In part 2 of the blog post, Andrew tells us more about the walk/performance/intervention he led as part of last year’s Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography which sprang from a recent project called Act of Resistance made with reference to the history of people’s protests in West Yorkshire.