Hannah Standen is an experienced arts producer and consultant working in the public realm. As a producer, Hannah brings together artists, technical teams and project partners
to oversee the delivery of art works in urban and rural contexts. As a researcher and writer, Hannah is interested in developing works that have a genuine connection with people and place.
Earlier this year, I started thinking about applying to do a PhD. At first it seemed beyond my reach, something other people do, but the more I have thought about it and talked my ideas through with others, the more it has started to take shape and to become an achievable possibility.
A few different strands have been circulating in my mind, and I find myself returning to over and over again. These are:
– exploring what it means to really see and to spend time looking, and how this impacts on the work we make;
– developing projects that have a genuine relationship/connection with people and place;
– looking at the process of making work, and specifically, the people involved in its creation.
With these ideas at the forefront of my thinking, I started to look at ways in which I could use the time available through the Alps Art Academy to try to reflect on them. I have never thought of myself as a writer, so when Hanna suggested to the Theory group that we write about our time here in the Safiental Valley, I initially felt quite hesitant. I have always been a very practical person, focused on delivering the work of artists but, at the same time, have noticed that I keep returning to my reflections on this as a process, who is involved, what does it mean to them, what does it mean to me, what are my values, my struggles. Writing as a way of reflecting and drawing attention to the process, suddenly seemed to make sense. I am comfortable with doing and being practical. I am less comfortable with expressing my ideas to others. The challenge was set. Even though I am looking to do a practice based PhD, writing will still form an important part of this, in translating my ideas to others. It is after all about the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Writing suddenly became my focus.
In order to approach writing as a means of exploring my ideas, I realised I needed to read more. I decided to set myself a challenge. To read a text I hadn’t heard of recommended by someone in the group; to read one each day over a period of three days; to hike in the valley as a way of absorbing the ideas I encountered through the text; and to write a descriptive, creative response to my experience of walking.
Walking has always been important to me, as a way of making sense of the world, thinking, moving my body and experiencing the places around me. Reading, walking and writing, in that order, have resulted in the following reflections. They have enabled me to test what it means to look and respond.
The first texts you will encounter relate directly to spending time looking. The final text is a more descriptive response to the Academy as a whole and my insights along the way. I am interested in people, stories and what goes on behind the scenes when making an artwork and it is this that I hope to explore and develop further through my ongoing work.
Hannah Standen, July 2018
Prisoner of the Coral Deep – JG Ballard
A tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey – Robert Smithson
From Tenna to Egschi
A walk to Egschi
Man and the Sea Shell from An Anthology – Paul Valery
From Tenna to Tenner Chruz via the forest
The climb to Tenner Chruz
Invention of the Vertical – Bill Fox
The roads around Tenna