Siân Morgan: My Research and Ideas

I began my research by looking at what now remains in the place where Belle Vue Zoological Gardens once stood. The first thing that really caught my attention was the greyhound racing track, as it is one of the only structures of Belle Vue that still exist and it was also the first such track in the UK. I began to research the ethics of greyhound racing as I have always been wary of using animals for sport, I found sites such as C.A.G.E.D North West and Greytexplotations very useful for information on the abuse and deaths in the greyhound racing industry. There I found startling facts; that some breeders treat greyhounds not as living, breathing creatures, but as a commodity; that if a dog is not fast enough, it’s merely a drain on resources and they would rather them dead than rehomed.

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Greyhound bones found in the a Greyhound Racing Board’s licensed kennels.

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Close up of the skull showing extensive dental plaque and damage.

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Bones found by investigators in a dumping ground of waste and feces on the perimeter of the land.

In one breeder’s grounds a multitude of greyhound bones were found. I studied the bones and while they are evidence of horrific treatment of animals, they are also very beautiful to me. They are symmetrical, especially the vertebrae and pelvis bones, which reminded me of ink blots. I then went on to look at the Rorschach test cards, which are a psychological test using ink blots to assess someone’s state of mind. I began to make my own ink blots using a variety of mediums and materials to see how to make the kind of image I wanted. While at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe I saw the work of artist, Randal Page, who has created work based on the idea of ink blots and symmetry. I saw his work both in ceramics as well as paint on canvas. His work inspired mine as he used a limited colour palette, which I saw as elegant and would be good for getting my point across. I decided to make my ink blots using black, white and red primarily as these are bold colours which will give the ink blots a disturbing quality. After speaking to one of the tutors about my work I am also going to consider greyhound racing paraphernalia, such as collars and muzzles as well as thinking about how my project meetings the manifesto and how my final pieces will reflect that,

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Ink blot sample using black acrylic paint on canvas.

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Ink blot sample using ink on paper.

 

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Ink blot sample using black and red acrylic paint on white cotton fabric.

The most important and beneficial activity in my opinion was the “Identifying Team Roles” task. Although we only changed two roles I believe it gave us a strong foundation to work from and boosted the team’s confidence in our roles. Through this activity our team observed that Joanna is confident, organised and very outgoing; she has no problem sharing her opinions or being heard in group situations. So she took my original role as Exhibition Co-Ordinator. Our group has seven individuals and there are six team roles, so one of us would have to double up as one of the roles. As Joanna now had my original role, it was then decided that I would be Co-Head of Research with Laura, as I was seen as being methodical so suited for that role, but not particularly outgoing or loud in a group, so would be unfit for the Exhibition Co-Ordinator. Although I was ill and did not attend the activity our class attended with the interactive arts students, this may well have provided excellent starting points. I will endeavour to make sure that I do not miss the next activity that we share with them as a fresh perspective can sometimes be the exact thing a project needs as you can often become so focused on one area that you completely miss an obvious new or interesting direction.

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Greyhounds in muzzles and identifying coats racing round a track.

Our team is made up of crafters, unlike other groups I have spoken to which have a mixture of makers, product designers and artists. I believe being similar crafters is a strength as we can share knowledge, resources and suggestions seamlessly. All of us are making wearables except for Bethan who is going down the route of ceramics. I believe this will be beneficial for me as if I have any problems there are other people around to help solve any wearable problems I might have. We communicate well through regular meetings and a facebook group, so we can always keep in touch, give each other suggestions and help if it is needed. It was Joanna who saw Randal Page’s work at the Platform Gallery and made me aware of it, which has moved me forward as well as giving me a lot of more confidence in my work so far.

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