By Stephanie Spindler, practice-based PhD candidate,
Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon (CCW)

image: Recreated image from film stills of research documentation from working in the studio, Stephanie Spindler 2017

Mead PhD Residency at the British School at Rome report by Stephanie Spindler, practice-based PhD candidate, Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon (CCW).

In this report I will briefly describe my cultural context, research and give a brief description of the artwork and research done during the September 2017 residency. The time and resource of the residency allowed an intense and creative focus that was heightened by the rich history, cultural immersion and dynamic community at the BSR.

Paper series (Untitled) 1.5m x 2m x 15cm, Rome BSR, 2017

I am currently an American artist studying at Chelsea College of Art. My practice-based research emphases are processes of making to inform an awareness of the specificities of a female sexed body. At the core of my artistic practice are representation, experience, and materiality; I use these to investigate how sexual difference is an integral subjective perspective and to articulate a concept of female phenomenological identity.

I applied to the residency because the British school at Rome is a very prestigious institution, the emphasis was on studio practice and I also spent a year twenty years ago as an undergraduate art student, living and studying in Rome. My first trip to Italy was formative to my perspective of history and culture as a living entity.  Since my first experience, my knowledge and interests have matured into particular theoretical, feminist and phenomenological focuses. I have found that the two distinct

experiences of being in Rome have valuable reflective and reflexive contributions to my perspective and my methodology in my arts practice. First in the opportunity to spend an uninterrupted period of time dedicated to my arts practice and secondly because my subject of research has evolved more succinctly, I was able to be more precise in how I might re-imagine possibilities through a more cultivated point of view.


image: Film still-recreation from Paperface Interface, Rome Italy 2017

I focussed on processes of drawing while thinking about histories of art with a feminist perspective; for me, drawing is the most fluid and raw form of an idea. During the residency I worked with paper using the material as a way to express variations of actions applied to the medium.  I was contrasting expressive characteristics of fabric and skin represented in stone sculptures, to the temporal and material qualities of paper. I was thinking through representations of women in stone in contrast to how women might describe their own subjectivity. Cast, carved, modelled and rendered into perfect stillness I explored these fixed positions by recreating the expressive representations of fabric and skin by wet and dry folding, scrunching, bending, layering and billowing the paper.

I documented the making processes as a form of research, by doing this the body of work I created in Rome contains a short film and a series of sculptural artworks that would be exhibited together. The series relies on the projection of space, light and the sense of vulnerability embodied in the artworks. The residency was highly productive and I would recommend students to commit to the experience.

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