Notes on the work of Annabel Dover, Helen Paris and Alexa Cox.


Annabel Dover’s presentation was interesting for a number of reasons. Her interest in the background of the cyanotype, and in the work of Herschel was interesting , particularly in the sense that the perception of work which was deemed appropriate for Herschel’s sister, Anna Atkins, to do at the time they were working was, in fact a skilled job. Dover mentions a number of times in her presentation the difference between work considered appropriate for women and that deemed ‘serious’ and therefore likely to be inhabited only by men. In her study of Atkins’ presentation of faithful reproductions which were in fact carefully crafted hybrids, Dover develops a series of responses in her own work on the premise of the ‘false original’. I like the way she described that every object has a story behind it and that simple objects have a way to get into our conscious, and can explore much more challenging themes. In using weeds from her father’s garden, or a sock, or a stocking, she is able to form a relationship with the viewer within which there is an understanding and a recognition. She ‘explores their power as intercessionary agents that allow socially acceptable emotional expression’.



Helen Paris’ presentation was predominantly about smell. She was presenting largely about a recent performance involving small audiences (4 people at a time) invited into the domestic setting in which the play would evolve, with smells to create a living installation. Paris conveyed a real passion for the ‘shared experience’ of the live moment and the communication between the audience and performer. Being ‘transported back’ by smells informed much of the current work, having traveled to Bangalore, India where she worked alongside scientists, exploring smell molecules and how ‘sticky’ they can be. Paris’ practice is focused on the theme of curiosity and she is the Co-Artistic Director (with Leslie Hill) of the company ‘Curious’, working in performance, installation, publication and film. They are both deeply involved in the theme of curiosity and in exploring avenues and questions which will allow them to be able to think creatively and engage in the process of exploring and finding answers themselves. I think it is relevant that the word INTIMATE is highlighted in my notes during Paris’ short lecture. The notion that one can present a performance to an audience of 4 certainly adds this ‘edge’.



Alexa Cox is clearly fascinated by the notion of narrative, and in producing paintings based on being a story teller. Interested in dialogue, allowing the imagery to be ambiguous with ‘partial traces’ and allowing the story to meander and deviate from the path are all central to Cox’s work. Cox’s influences come from many sources. She is interested in the work of various artists such as Doig, Rego and Woodman and in the notion of mapping and being playful with visual language. She mentioned really liking the writing of Tim Ingold, which I read some of for the MA1 course and found quite frustrating. At the point when Cox started to talk about the relevance of Ingold’s ideas in her work I realised that she tackled the development of her paintings in a way which is much more deliberate than perhaps I am conscious of working in myself. This led me to thinking about whether it would be beneficial for me to be much more schematic and to have a highly developed ‘plan’ as such prior to starting a painting. Cox asked ‘what is an authentic line’ and this is probably the most challenging and philosophical question from the three lectures. One which I will certainly be losing sleep over……


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