Niki Gandy Fine Art Portfolio

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Niki Gandy

Artist’s Statement Niki Gandy is a Staffordshire-based interdisciplinary artist, fusing elements of film, photography, ambient light and drawing practices in order to conduct meditative inquiries into the human constructs of, and intrinsic links between space, place and time as sensory and highly subjective perceptions. Photographic image, still, moving or both is combined with heavily burnished graphite, layered repeatedly to achieve a variety of subtle marks visible only under certain lighting conditions, revealing themselves as ambient light passes across the surface as evidence or documentation of a fixed period of time and labour. Inspired by the Zen philosophy of Ichigo Ichie, that one must embrace this very moment, unburdened by experiences of the past or the uncertainties of the future, her work commemorates the futility of the human preoccupation with trying to preserve or reclaim time, examining the paradox of the present having already become the past. This concept is underpinned by themes of melancholia and nostalgia in its truest sense, a homesickness for a home (or moment) that no longer exists. Gandy’s work emerges from the epicentre of a period of life-altering loss and a deep-seated longing for a prior existence, revisiting, undoing and reconstructing nondescript domestic moments in a bid to overcome the frustrations of our limitations in time and memory.

Wall drawing inspired by the meditative patterns projected on the interior of an empty railway cottage, searching for light in a time of darkness.

Pendelino Barcode (2019) Graphite on Paper, 7ft x3ft

Key References Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows” and Lesley Halliwell’s graphite drawn responses to the text, enquiring into the charactristics of the dark, lacquered surfaces of the Japanese aesthetic. From my own perspective I am using burnishehd graphite to explore the effects of light hitting darkness, revealing otherwise the unseen depth and detail built up through a layering process of meditative drawing.

Having observed the interplay of light upon the burnished mark-making within my drawing I was compelled to explore the potential for a possible installation piece, projecting my video piece, “Pendelino Barcode” upon the drawing of the same name. I had been drawn to the fact that certain aspects were highlighted only under the conditions of a partiular moment, with the sheen of the graphite transformed from darkness into reflected light. This projcted experiment took place during lockdown, using my archaic projector, so the outcome is darker in tone than I had originally intended, but in as much, the majority of context is removed, reducing the piece to a band of light travelling across a fragmented surface of multiple and varied depths. The video is a reflection of my own sensory perceptions of the moment I first fixated on this scrolling motif, literally seeking light in a period of intense personal darkness. The soundtrak combines the original, harrowing ambient soundtrack of the initial video with the audio of the drawing in progress, in itself evokative of the trains generating the light pattern

Pendelino Barcode (2019) Video, 2mins 39s.

Pendelino Barcode (2020) Video, 2mins 41s.

Place is a space with its own special qualities. Place is a location created by human experiences. Space is a location which has no social connections for a human being. In the humanistic geography sense “space” and “place” are stand-alone A place is a space that has meaning. concepts. “Space” is referred to in the abstract without any substantial Space: A dimension in which matter is located. meaning whereas “place” refers to the way that peoSpace is polyvalent and available to both the mind ple are aware of or attractand senses. ed to a certain piece of space.

Varied notions on space and place

“Intensive spaciality: establishing a kinaesthetic relationship between a space and our movements in and through it. It is experiential, partial, experimental… … intensive space involves those aspects of the body and the mind that operate outside the intellect.” “The indistinction of inside and outside leads to the discovery of another dimension.” Chapter 23 “space and place” John Agnew (2011) in “Handbook of Geographical Knowledge.” J. Agnew and D. Livingstone “When a measurement doesn't work a more intimate notion of space begins” “Place is specific and location or space is general.”

Envoi Imprisoned by four walls Gordon Matta- Clark, “Art, Architecture and the Attack (to the North, the crystal of on Modernism.” Steven Walker (2009) non-knowledge a landscape to be invented Yu-Fu Tuan The difference between “space” to the South reflective memory “Space is a product of huto the East the mirror and “place” is defined as the man activity but it is also extent to which we give mean- to the West stone and the song the setting where such of silence) ing to a specific area. Meanactivity takes place.” I wrote messages but received ing can be derived in a direct no reply and intimate way e.g. through The production of SpaceOctavio Paz the senses or an indirect and Henri Lefebure, translatconceptual way, mediated by ed by Donald Nicholson symbols arts etc. Smith (2007) Place is a space that has been ordered in some way to serve human need Michel de Certeau – The Practice of Everyday Life (1984)

Franco Farinelli Place… is a part of the terrestrial surface that is not equivalent to any other, that cannot be exchanged with any other without everything changing. Instead with space [place as a location] each part can be substituted for another without anything being altered, precisely how when two things have the same weight or move from one side of a scale to another without compromising the balance.

Place as a vessel

My own understanding of place, as opposed to space is based around the concept of a vessel: for memory, experience and sensory perception. Place, to me is personal and therefore intrinsically linked with time, memory, nostalgia and sensory qualities such as light, sound and scent..

Breath of a New Beginning (2020)

Video, 5mins 01s.

These three short films explore the permeation of exterior light into a non-descript interior space as the sun rises, one of my main influences being the concept of the Japanese Shoji screen, designed to allow exterior light and features to bear influence over cool, dark interiors. This is a relatively direct metaphor for me, embracing light in the darkness while appreciating that this moment can never be repeated. For me light, place and time are intrinsically linked through relativity and sensory perception. Each of these pieces signify a very different phase in my journey and quest to find a “home” that no longer truly exists, the first being on the brink of an abrupt upheaval, second being a nostalgic reacquintance with my childhood home and third being quite simply an understanding and appreciation of the moment, over which like time I relinquish all control.

TImeshafts Shift (2020)

Video, 28mins 58s.

Lightdagger (2021)

Video, 4mins 03s.

Zen Teaching: Ichigo Ichie Ichigo ichie refers to the unrepeatable and transient nature of any given moment and can be translated as, "Once, meeting" or "In this moment, opportunity." Every experience, however banal, is a unique moment and can never be repeated in the same way. If it passes without acknowledgement the moment will be lost permanently. The Japanese use the expression when meeting a stranger for the first time or when meeting acquaintances, to emphasise that each occasion is unique, with the purpose being to show gratitude and appreciate a shared moment. It conveys a hint of nostalgia and reminds us that our passage through time is fleeting. The term can be traced back to the 16th century to an expression used by tea master Sen no Rikyū: "one chance in a lifetime" (ichigo ni ichido). Rikyū's apprentice instructs us to give respect to our host "as though it were a meeting that could occur only once in the lifetime" Ichigo is a Buddhist term meaning "from one's birth to death.” In the 19th century, Ii Naosuke, Tairō (chief administrator) of the Tokugawa shogunate elaborated on the concept in Chanoyu Ichie Shū: Great attention should be given to a tea gathering, which we can speak of as "one time, one meeting" (ichigo, ichie). Even though the host and guests may see each other often socially, one day's gathering can never be repeated exactly. Viewed this way, the meeting is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. The host, accordingly, must in true sincerity take the greatest care with every aspect of the gathering and devote himself entirely to ensuring that nothing is rough. The guests, for their part, must understand that the gathering cannot occur again and, appreciating how the host has flawlessly planned it, must also participate with true sincerity. This is what is meant by "one time, one meeting."

Source: The Book of Ichigo Ichie, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles.

Søren Kierkegaard on Time "It is really true what philosophy tells us, that life must be understood backwards. But with this, one forgets the second proposition, that it must be lived forwards. A proposition which, the more it is subjected to careful thought, the more it ends up concluding precisely that life at any given moment cannot really ever be fully understood; exactly because there is no single moment where time stops completely in order for me to take position [to do this]: going backwards.” Søren Kierkegaard, Journalen JJ:167 (1843) Translation: Palle Jorgensen

Kierkegaard is best known for an abbreviated version of the above quote, but the full English translation provides far more clarity. When read in its entirety, the quote fits neatly into the Danish philosopher’s canon of observations on the concept of time, as well touching upon thought something akin to the Zen teachings of Ichigo Ichie.

“If time is correctly defined as an infinite succession, it most likely is also defined as the present, the past, and the future. This distinction, however, is incorrect if it is considered to be implicit in time itself, because the distinction appears only through the relation of time to eternity and through the reflection of eternity in time. If in the infinite succession of time a foothold could be found, i.e., a present, which was the dividing point, the division would be quite correct. However, precisely because every moment, as well as the sum of the moments, is a process (a passing by), no moment is a present, and accordingly there is in time neither present, nor past, nor future. If it is claimed that this division can be maintained, it is because the moment is spatialized, but thereby the infinite succession comes to a halt, it is because representation is introduced that allows time to be represented instead of being thought. Even so, this is not correct procedure, for even as representation, the infinite succession of time is an infinitely contentless present (this is the parody of the eternal).” […]

“The present, however, is not a concept of time, except precisely as something infinitely contentless, which again is the infinite vanishing. If this is not kept in mind, no matter how quickly it may disappear, the present is posited, and being posited it again appears in the categories: the past and the future. The eternal, on the contrary, is the present. For thought, the eternal is the present in terms of an annulled succession (time is the succession that passes by). For representation, it is a going forth that nevertheless does not get off the spot, because the eternal is for representation the infinitely contentful present. So also in the eternal there is no division into the past and the future, because the present is posited as the annulled succession. Time is, then, infinite succession; the life that is in time and is only of time has no present. In order to define the sensuous life, it is usually said that it is in the moment and only in the moment. By the moment, then, is understood that abstraction from the eternal that, if it is to be the present, is a parody of it. The present is the eternal, or rather, the eternal is the present, and the present is full.” “If at this point one wants to use the moment to define time and let the moment signify the purely abstract exclusion of the past and the future and as such the present, then the moment is precisely not the present, because the intermediary between the past and the future, purely abstractly conceived, is not at all. Thus it is seen that the moment is not a determination of time, because the determination of time is that it “passes by.” For this reason time, if it is to be defined by any of the determinations revealed in time itself, is time past. If, on the contrary, time and eternity touch each other, then it must be in time, and now we have come to the moment.” “The moment” is a figurative expression, and therefore it is not easy to deal with. However, it is a beautiful word to consider. Nothing is as swift as a blink of the eye, and yet it is commensurable with the content of the eternal… Whatever its etymological explanation, [“the sudden”] is related to the category of the invisible, because time and eternity were conceived equally abstractly, because the concept of temporality was lacking, and this again was due to the lack of the concept of spirit. The Latin term is momentum (from movere [to move]), which by derivation expresses the merely vanishing. Thus understood, the moment is not properly an atom of time but an atom of eternity. It is the first reflection of eternity in time, its first attempt, as it were, at stopping time.” Source: Søren Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813–November 11, 1855) The Concept of Anxiety (1844)

We form attachments to spaces through absorbtion of individual characteristics through memories. Qualities such as light and scent are evocative of place and are intrinsically linked with memory and nostalgia.

Investigating the permeation of exterior light through interior space; how characteristics significant to a unique moment in time can help differentiate a place from mere space through individual sensory perception.

“The representation of windows is highly revealing of a culture’s attitude towards the power and significance of light.”

Christopher Masters, Windows in Art.

Nostalgia Nostos – “homecoming”; algas – “pain”; “ache” Nostalgia, widely considered to refer to a yearning for the past is directly linked to mental health, both positive and negative. Smell, touch, music and weather conditions are strong triggers due to the processing of such stimuli first passing through the Amygdala, the emotional seat of the brain which performs a primary role in processing memory, decision-making and emotional responses. Personal nostalgia is when we reminisce over what we have experienced in the past, inspiring us to recreate such happy moments in the present and future. But we can long for things sometimes before they are even over. This is called ‘anticipatory nostalgia’ and leads to sadness, worry, and anxiety. Consciously reminiscing about the past can invoke positive emotions and build coping strategies during challenging times, but the darker side of Nostalgia leaves us constantly comparing the present unfavourably to the past – or worse, unable to experience the present at all. The definition of Nostalgia has evolved greatly over time; however, this darker side is something more closely associated with its original form of Place Sickness, with its Greek etymology lying in “homecoming” and “pain.” Nostalgia was for centuries considering a potentially debilitating and sometimes fatal medical condition expressing extreme homesickness and directly linked to Melancholia.

“Nostalghia” (1983) Andrei Tarkovsky A Russian writer visits Italy while researching an eighteenth-century Russian Composer but is stricken by Homesickness. The film explores themes surrounding Nostalgia and the un-translatability of art and culture, drawing on autobiographical experiences from the director’s travels in Italy.

Central to the film is a particularly drawn-out dream sequence (9:07) in which the protagonist attempts to cross a mineral pool whilst carrying a lit candle, without extinguishing it. Following a promise made to a former asylum inmate with whom he strikes a bond, sharing feelings of isolation from their surroundings, he becomes obsessed with this task, trying and failing again and again before collapsing with a heart attack upon achieving his goal. We then see the writer in an imagined return home, in spirit The film’s central theme is the protagonist’s state of reverie carrying the concept of home with him as images, sound and physical sensation with his longing for home providing the transition from life into death. Location becomes not physic al but a state of mind.

Key Reading

Whilst by no means an exhaustive list, these key texts provide crucial contextual research into some of the themes I have explored and have been invaluable throughout the development of my studio practice.

Studies into use of dark over dark through various media, intended to find a process through which details become illuminated only under the lighting conditions of a particular moment, giving a sense of depth and almost cinematic quality to the work. This is entirely inspired by the observations into the qualities of Japanese aesthetics within Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows.” I want my work to quite literally produce light in the darkness.

This body of work explores the limitations of memory and nostalgia when revisiting a single moment of non-descript domesticity. An original graphite drawing on aluminium was developed from a photographic source over a period of thirty hours. This in turn is revisited through ambient light, photography and film, and finally a further series of graphite works. These works remain unfixed to enable the image to continue to shift and desort over time.

1/30s in 30 Hrs - Allignment (2020)

Video, 2mins 53s.

Moment: Extended

Moment: Undone

Moment: Reflected

Moment: Redone

Graphite-glazed/handfinished photographs on aluminium panels, 40 x 40 cm

Further ideas for Series:

Moving into experimental photographic processes, I wanted to embed both light and time as raw materials within my work. This aspect of my investigations is taylored to a commissioned project with the Ikon Gallery in conjunction with HMP Grendon and some of its residents. Themes of isloation and limitations underpin the work. This series of caffenol prints was priduced using a matchbox 35mm pinhole camera

Use of thermal prints within my work has become a means of allowing an image to further continue to record the passage of time within its environment. The above image was hung in the window from which the subject was projected, for three months between December and March . I was delighted by the remnants of lattice work, masking the bleaching of the paper on the right.

“Matter cannot be reabsorbed by the image (the concept of image presupposes a possible distinction between form and matter, and it is this distinction, insofar as it is an abstraction, that the operation of the formless tries to collapse.)” Bois and Krauss, Formless. A User’s Guide . (1997)

From Night into Day: Glitch Three versions of this thermal print exist: One hung in the space in which it was made One hung in HMP Grendon One hung publically for exhibition in Wolverhampton. Each will continue to record time through the quallities of the light in the environment in which it is hung. Eventually no image will remain, only the imprint of time.

Image from offsite show, June 2021

Solargraphy Moving further into the process of using time as a raw material, I began to experiment with Solargraphs, literally burning an image into photographic paper using pinhole cameras made from objects found around my home. with exposure times ranging from days to a month, or more. Each of these uses multiple apertures, intended to record time as a fourth dimension. It is not linear in the sense that it extends in all directions, so I wanted to produce images that portrayed this.

Stay (2021)

0 mins 46s.

This brief vignette started out as a spontaneous clip, shot when leaving my home. As I walked downstairs I could hear a sound something akin to that of an old projector, and was struck by the sudden movement of butterflies. It was the first warm morning of spring so they had clearly been hibernating, not uncommon in this big old building. I watched their struggle for a moment, torn between the beauty of their repetetive and futile attempts to do the impossible and the urge to set them free. Of course, I set them free and countless more, since. But the sense of nostalgia, of melancholy and longing from this single moment seemed to encorporate so many of the ideas I was trying to express, as well as feeling incredibly poignant following the isolation of the past year.

Continuing my investigations into multiaperture Solargraphy, I had wanted to produce a camera that did not record a figurative image of the space but a (still representational) rendering of its charactaristics at a particular point in time. With exposure times of thirty-one days, this is hardly preservation of a moment so much as a duration, but the movement of light through space in that time highlights unreplicable aspects of the place that exist but are unseen by the human eye. This realisation has led me to question the concept of abstract photography - does it in fact exist, or is it just recording something we cannot see without the aid of a camera? The above image was produced using two stacked cream crackers to form sporatic, apertures, unrepeatable in scale or formation between exposures.

Revisiting the cream-cracker pinhole camera, this time for an eight day exposure.

A further eight-day solargraph, this time using a tea strainer to form an aperture. I was interested in the repetition between apertures, reminiscent of the human construct of time, and calving it into measurable portions, in itself futile as time, as we know, is relative.

Room Obscura I explored the idea of allowing the place itself to record an image, so converted one of the brighter rooms of my slightly unconventional home,, the snooker louge into a camera obscura. For me, it was essential that the lattice windows be a consitent motif rather than simply a component of the “camera”, so I boxed off an entire section of the room, effectively building the camera around the large bay window, resulting in the projection of both lattice work and aspects of its view throughout the room. I created a variable aperture for a surprisngly sharp image.

Yesterday, Today (2021)

Graphite and Gesso on Fabriano Paper - Under Ambient Light 4ft x 6ft

Performance test for accumulative piece, tracing light and vicariously time. The futility of this impossible exercise exposes the failure of the human mind to embrace the intangible nature of transience, in effect, our inability (and yet the importance of any attempt) to preserve time,

Yesterday, Today (2021)

Video, 8mins 22s.

“Because everything that begins must end. What causes us to suffer is not the past or the future: it is here, now, in our memory, in our expectations. We long for timelessness, we endure the passing of time: we suffer time. Time is suffering.” - Carlo Rovelli, “The Order of Time” (2018)

Gallery Plan A - Ideal

• Window space allows for tracing of light patterns as they are projected, directly onto wall for unconstrained boundaries and contours.

• Cameras record the light source and the work itself, with footage in turn being projected back onto the work’s surface area at intermittent intervals, in bursts of not more than eight seconds . A combination of live , archival and momentariy lagged footage.. • Audio recording from within the space generates an eight second delayed echo, with viewers catching snippets of themselves as they occupy the space. Work will be produced accumulatively throughout the duration of the exhibition, meaning I will need to access the space at times when light is most likely to be projected onto the walls. I am conscious of the fact that this will be in autumn, in Britain, meaning there is an element of risk present that light will be sparse. This merely reflects the undercurrent of futility and failure present throughout the investigations; we have no control over light; we have no control over time.

Work to be live streamed both online and within the gallery, allowing viewers to continue to watch it develop at different stages in the process. This also mkes the work fully covid-accessible.

Gallery Plan B - Realistic

• Window space allows for tracing of light patterns as they are projected, directly onto wall for unconstrained boundaries and contours.

• Cameras record the light source and the work itself, with footage in turn being projected back onto the work’s surface area at intermittent intervals, in bursts of not more than eight seconds . A combination of live , archival and momentariy lagged footage..

• Audio recording from within the space generates an eight second delayed echo, with viewers catching snippets of themselves as they occupy the space.

Work will be produced accumulatively throughout the duration of the exhibition, meaning I will need to access the space at times when light is most likely to be projected onto the walls. I am conscious of the fact that this will be in autumn, in Britain, meaning there is an element of risk present that light will be sparse. This merely reflects the undercurrent of futility and failure present throughout the investigations; we have no control over light; we have no control over time.

Gallery Plan C Experimental

Work will be produced accumulatively throughout the duration of the exhibition, meaning I will need to access the space at times when light is most likely to be projected onto the walls. I am conscious of the fact that this will be in autumn, in Britain, meaning there is an element of risk present that light will be sparse. This merely reflects the undercurrent of futility and failure present throughout the investigations; we have no control over light; we have no control over time. To counteract this issue, however, the building of a simple light-proof space within the gallery would allow me to produce a camera obscura, enabling the tracing of light to be performed within. This in turn would be filmed from within and screened outside of the camera obscura, also allowing for live streams elsewhere. Concievably the entire interior of the chamber might be worked upon throughout the duration of the show. Footage should be intercut with live and lagged snippets of the light source itself, together with the process of the work being made, as well as the projection both during and without my presence. Audio will be of the process of working, together with a lagged audio recording of the space, enabling viewers to catch glimpses of their own occupation of the space moments ago.

Exhibitions 2021 Ikon for Artists, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham Interim Show, Mander Community Space, Wolverhampton Interim MA Show, Mander Community Hub, Wolverhampton 2020 New Wave WV3 - Viner Gallery, Wolverhampton Grammar School New Wave WV1 Studios, Wolverhampton New Wave - White Ladies Priory, Wolverhampton Artists Supporting Artists WV1 Studios New Wave Artvent Calendar (Online) 2014-20019 AB Open, Abbots Bromley 2007 Degree Show, University of Wolverhampton 2006 Stafford Film Festival (Nominee) 2004 The Oval, Stafford 2003 Stafford Open Art Exhibition, Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford Group Show, Riverside, Stafford

Online Miscellaneous 2021 Lead Tutor for University of Wolverhampton’s online Saturday Art Club, in conjunction with the National Saturday Club Trust Private Art and Photography Tuition



Group Show, Shire Hall Library, Stafford

Online video art tutorials produced on behalf of the University of Wolverhampton, assisting parents with home-schooling in Arts subjects.



Athenaeum - Harrison Library, Wolverhampton January 2020 - September 2021 In Collaboration with Clare Chennells

Subject Lead for Photography and Teacher of Art, Abbots Bromley School.

Publications “Glorious Glass” article, Glass Network Magazine, Issue 74/Dec 2019 Contemporary Glass Society

Reflective Statement The evolution of my studio practice has been a long and varied process, from an early background in Fine Art (painting; drawing), a period working with Video and Film Production and a lengthy career in Photography – to now, coming full circle to embrace the roots of my initial interest in mark-making. At this stage everything converges and I feel that now, I’m finally embracing my own visual language. I understand at last, that it is possible to link the individual strands of my practice together, successfully; to be a fully interdisciplinary artist producing interdisciplinary work. Processes of upheaval resulting in a period of intense introspection have born an overwhelming influence upon my conceptual development throughout the past couple of years, with the resultant effects of the pandemic equally placing limitations over my means – and place of working – but effectively leading me to explore a more thorough understanding of my immediate surroundings and existential values, not least of all through the motif of the lattice window and its light projection, which has become an integral aspect of my investigations. To me the windows are enshrined in symbolism related to the primary themes of light, space/place/time… Nostalgia… memory… The lattice structure acts as a clear barrier between here and there; then and now. Exterior influence floods interior space, taking its form but ever evolving and never to be repeated. A light in the darkness: Once moment; opportunity – Ichigo Ichie. Through meditative drawing I strive to preserve the moment, immersing myself fully in what can only ever amount to an honest attempt. I leave work unfixed in a bid to allow it to continually evolve, to absorb its handling and environmental conditions, becoming a record of its own existence. I use time as a raw material within my work, mapping its passage through drawing, photography, video, and combinations of the three. The futility of this exercise is unavoidable, but process is essential. I have surprised myself in exposing the element of performance in my work, as I work towards resolution of my studies in the tracing of light and time. Whereas in the past I would prefer the work to speak for itself I have come to understand that the process is in fact the work, or a component of it and should therefore be made transparent. The act is as crucial, if not more so than the outcome.