John Roch Simons MA in ARC
Would you recommend the Masters in Art + Research Collaboration (ARC)?
Absolutely, the modules covered are vital for most artist practices. I think it’s always good to challenge one’s practice. I like to work in series, but I especially enjoy working out the focus or concerns for a series.
My current project was so rich with so many possibilities of direction that the structure of ARC and interaction with my fellow students really helped me focus. I was able to listen and learn from the other ARC students and an amazing gathering of lecturers and guest speakers.
Listening to the methodologies of others on the MA, how they began their
research, collaborations, and why. Questioning each other and watching our projects develop to production and finally to public engagement.
So yes, if you want to finesse a research-driven practice and enjoy the learning curve through practical research, studio experimentation and having your practice challenged, yeah, it was a no brainer for me.
I’m a multidisciplinary artist, working primarily with portraiture through painting, video and sound. My recent work explores a forgotten historical legacy of a good ancestor (Kathleen Goodfellow) whose philanthropic actions secured public engagement for many artists and an urban biodiverse bird sanctuary in the centre of Dublin. She was generous with her affluence, modest and private about her philanthropy, and avoided attention.
My projects working title was Intention, Place and Legacy. It is the first articulation of three series on Goodfellow.
After investigating different MA’s I decided on the Masters in Art, Research and Collaboration (ARC). The course challenged me, but I believe you get back what you put in.
In Intention, Place and Legacy, through the MA I developed my previous interest in portraiture and place with a new focus and approach. I responded to a gap in history, exploring this good ancestor through archival and immersive field research, documentation, and interviews with primary and secondary sources.
My project focused on the Goodfellow’s legacy and The Grove, an urban wildlife sanctuary she gifted to An Taisce, who manages the space.
Over the eighteen months, I gathered an engaged body of research around this site-specific subject. This allowed me to approach the representation of Goodfellow and her legacy in a much more complex manner than conventional approaches to portrait or place. My project drew from histories of art, culture and literature to explore personal relationships with placeand emphasise the deep connections between public, private and non-human worlds.
This resonated especially at the time, 2020, when COVID had hit, and public encroachment on biodiverse spaces was in demand.The skills I developed during my Masters helped me make decisions and structure plans beyond college.
I had a real sense of respect for my subject matter, and I believe my work from Intention, Place and Legacy, contributes very relevant and important research material and new contemporary works to a somewhat overlooked story. This is the first articulation taking three years to complete and in 2022 I will begin the second articulation, on whether The Grove’s biodiversity is sustainable with or without human intervention. I want to explore the intentions and legacy of Goodfellow and how a changing world may impact on these. The third articulation? I have no idea yet, but from the natureof my practice I am confident new concerns will identify themselves through the research of my work for the next two years.
I don’t always feel it’s necessary to decide on concerns for a new articulation until the research is done and the concerns emerge from this. Sometimes you have to be open to the blank canvas to remove all preconceived ideas and leave yourself open to chance marks and discoveries from the canvas.I am confident the skills I now have will support and increase future opportunities, future collaborations, and future public engagement with my work and I look forward to the challenges of this structure.