Cheryl Beer

Cheryl Beer
Award Winning Creative Director making social change through the mediums of sound, story & mantra

Sunday, 28 December 2014

An Experimental Quikie: The Art of Rorschach

The Rorschach Test 
was used a lot in the 1950's and 1960's. 

A series of 10 ink blot images were presented as a psychological test and based on what you made of them, the psychologist made all sorts of decisions and diagnoses about you. It has long been a test with identified methodological flaws but that said, I wondered if I made 10 of my own ink blot shapes, with the black ink and the left over gold paint of my last experiment, would they have anything to teach me? 

To mirror the recycled nature of a disregarded experiment, I used the thrown away brown paper wrappings that some of my Christmas gifts had been wrapped in. 

What would be my own definition of my ink blots and how might this compare with Rorschach? A frightening thought!

The social history of the test in itself is a lesson in the nature of trends within research methodology. Here we have a test that was a stalwart in the briefcase of the psychologist, a scientist. And yet, research and further work has reputed the reliability and validity of such a test, so that now it is not used in the same way. We can not easily quantify the responses to the test.

And this is a consideration for my own research methodology as it will be one that is rigorously questioned , particularly as I will be working in auto- ethnographics & story. 

As an Artist working across genres, what conclusions can my own story make and can those conclusions be applied to widen an existing body of knowledge? Can my story really make a contribution to the world of academia?


Well, I waited for the crackle glaze to crackle the paint, as promised on the especially- ordered- from- ebay £2.95 bottle! But, it would seem, that you get what you pay for and all that happened is that essentially, I ruined my painting! 

I was, shall we say, a tad miffed and in my miff-ness, I sponged up in green and completely obliterated the part of the canvass that I was unhappy with. I'm not sure why it was green paint but I think somewhere inside me I was Mother Nature re-claiming the ruined ebay impregnation of my work.

In the breast region where I had intended the cracked void, instead now in the layers of green acrylic, I formed with the sponge what appeared to be a small planet and it spoke to me. Off course, in Mother Universe's ultimate void, there is us, the planets, surviving precisely because of her Space.

I decided then that the intended womb area of my canvass would become another planet, this time, a representation of earth herself.

As I painted I felt an emotional re-connection to my canvass but when I stood back she still did not look or feel right to me.

I remembered the advice of Emily Underwood Leigh, who was 2nd Supervisor for my Finals during my MA Drama this year. DISRUPTION ... 

I photographed the canvass and sat on the sofa rotating it and lo, upside down, it completely spoke to me. The golden breast now appearing to be aligned as the sun to my other bodily planets as they find balance.

And I had a little chuckle to myself because I know for sure a year ago, pre-MA,  I would have been concerned that  the viewer would no longer 'understand' my piece but the point is the viewer always understands the piece, but not from my perspective as the artist, no, from their own perspective, always. My aim is to bring about discussion and thought, to leave 'space' for consideration.

Indeed, throughout this journey I have been posting onto facebook the stages with comments as diverse as the following:

'What a beautiful piece.....both actually. and blog. I felt deeply stirred reading and also watching the piece progress. For me, I felt my life being mapped...from a clear canvas (purity) through confusion and cracking (emotional pain) to beginning to form and reform. Finally acceptance of the beauty in brokenness and more than that.... a precious glory in the perfection of a heart and soul fused together with gold (love). Thank you 

I think  it looks like a Gorilla's chest.

And this is the place of Art in any genre; to create a different kind of space where the viewer is left wondering, thinking ...

In addition, I no longer feel the need for the gold leaf application to the painting that I had planned for the 13th day of Christmas, although off course, that might change once it gets here! But I know for sure that last year, I would have applied the gold leaf anyway because ... well, after all, I had bought is especially! 

At this stage of my process, the lesson I feel I need to take forward into my research proposal is that of Disruption & Space. What have I learnt from experimenting in a discipline relatively alien to me about disruption and space and how can I apply this to my work more generally?

Seems I am left with more questions than answers! Qu'elle Surprise! Such is the nature of being an Artist living the disruption of her research.

Feel free to add me as a fb chum!
A short digital film showing the journey can be seen on my facebook page at this link: 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Kintsukuroi Art Experiment

While others are setting fire to their pudding this Yuletide, I will be putting together my new research proposal and to get the creative juices flowing, I have been working on an experimental canvass. 

When thinking about research, I find visual art a really good stimulus. I have no definition of how the canvass will be, but I hold in my heart and mind the key themes of the research and as the stages unfold to me, so they reveal something new to explore in an academic sense. It enables my inner intellect to speak with me and guide my reading.

This is my Kintsukuroi Experiment with Canvass. 

Kintsukuroi is a traditional form of Japanese ceramic which I have spoken about in previous posts. It literally means 'to repair with gold' understanding that something is more beautiful for having been broken.

I typed out the words 'Kintsukuroi: the understanding that something is more beautiful for having been broken' and then I cut up all the letters, gluing Kintsukuroi to the side to keep it in my line of vision throughout the experimental process of the coming days.

Phase 1: Stick with it


I glued all the letters to the canvass. At first they were in order but I then broke up the sentences and scattered the letters, sticking them front and back of canvass.

 Phase 2: The Cracks Appear


I then applied gold gold crackle paste to the canvass. I thought it would be a thicker consistency and should have painted the canvass gold first before applying the gold crackle glaze or ordered a second jar. But such is the nature of experiment.

Once the crackle glaze had dried, I closed my eyes and covered my hands in acrylic paint, fashioning the outline.

Phase 3: Filling the cracks with cracks to fill


Phase 4: Solstice
I was working on the canvass over the Solstice Weekend and on the night of Winter Sotice herself, I found myself introducing green hues and soon a wreath appeared ...

Phase 5: Digital Void

Not happy with the wreath, I took photographs and used digital editing to find inspiration for a void.

Phase 6: Back Against the Wall: 
Learning to live with the new

Having introduced the void within the Solstice wreath by using sponges, I hung her on the stone walls of the living room to see if I could live with her.

The Final Repair
And now, when the time is right, I have 13 sheets of gold leaf in my studio waiting to be applied in the final 'repair', one sheet for every lunar month. 

The gold will shatter and fall into the dark green.

What do you think this experiment is telling me from deep within about the shape of my research process? 

Graduation MA Drama

It is difficult to put into words the immense sense of achievement and the intense bond I felt with my fellow students, Denis Lennon and Josh Alan Trask at the University of South Wales when we graduated from our Masters Degree in Drama last week. I felt so utterly proud of the lads and then, for the first time since I can remember, I felt a warming glow deep inside and realised that I was in fact, also proud of myself.

BIG surprise! I won a prize for my Outstanding Achievement in MA Drama and will be invited to a special ceremony for 'exceptional students' next year! Strewth! I wonder if I will always float with this feeling of joy?

I have learnt so many things this year having given the whole of myself to the experience but if I had to identify the most significant, that have had the most impact on my life, it is the ability to be intensely considered, that broad is not the same as deep, and that deep provides a framework for activism and change. It is these key themes that will be at the heart of my ongoing research.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Moonlight & Silhouettes: First EVER Online Single Release

Today I have put my first ever online single for sale on Bandcamp. 

Here's the link ...

I'm so excited! It's completely home-made by moi! 

I am not one for selling my work. I've always had a problem with it to be honest, it sort of takes away from the joy of making and sharing music, but in this climate, t'is the Arts that gets hit first and I need to find a new, painless way of giving people the opportunity to support my work if they wish to. I am hoping this online mallarki might be it!

Having read a poetic post by fellow writer, Peter John on facebook, I was compelled to write 'Moonlight & Silhouettes' which I then recorded in my home studio with the kind engineering help of my friend Jeff Beer, I played the guitar, programmed the drums, sung the song and mixed it myself.

Pete's words placed me in the Quarters of Paris where I performed in 2011 as part of my European Tour, the long walk back every evening to the area of Paris that I could afford to stay, guided by low lamplight and the moon.

I can not believe that I actually managed to convert my recording to a WAV, which I have never done before and then upload it to Bandcamp! Honestly, I am so NOT technical! 
If I can manage this, so could you!

Anyway, I hope you like the track and if you can't afford the 99 pence on Bandcamp to download it into your world, here it is on youtube so that you don't miss out should you wish to hear it. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Historical Thanks

One of the wonderful things about a career in The Arts is the way that my work is received by the community within which I create.

You may remember earlier this year that I did a piece of work with Louie: Postcards from Louie, a 92 year old woman living in a dementia friendly home. We wrote a book and made a story CD of her lasting memories regarding her village of Llansteffan.

Louie was one of the longest standing members of Llansteffan Historical Society and on the Sunday afternoon before her 93rd Birthday, I went to the society to talk about my work with Louie, subsequent work with people who have dementia and to sing some of the songs on the CD. 

Louie was not well enough to come so I played her talking parts on the CD  and members were visiting her later that week to wish her a Happy Birthday.

We finished the presentation with a cuppa and we all sang Penblwydd Hapus (Happy Birthday in Welsh) to Louie.

It was a very special afternoon indeed. Louie's son and daughter in law invited me for cawl (welsh soup) and I met many of Louie's friends who all loved the book and CD.

Then this week a beautiful card of Llansteffan Castle arrived and a thank you note:

Dear Cheryl
On behalf of Llansteffan History Society, I would like to thank you for your superb talk to us last Sunday. It was a moving occasion for all of us who knew Louie, a faithful member of the Society for so many years. You reminded us of her remarkable qualities, but you also added another dimension: the importance of people's memories, even when their faculties are seemingly warring. Your musical background has proved invaluable in evoking those memories, and it is wonderful to hear that the work you have done in this context is being so widely recognised and appreciated. Your talk/performance was very entertaining in addition to being enlightening, and the Society was privileged to have you on our programme.
Yours Sincerely
Eiluned Rees (Hon. Sec.)

Off course, my thanks are shared with my friend Louie, who has managed to make change from a chair at the side of her air bed.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

a little Thank You goes a long way

I have just finished another Young Promoters Project for Night Out kindly funded by The Arts Council of Wales. 

I have to say there is nothing quite as joyous as forming a committee of primary school children and watching them grow into positive, fun, hard working and focussed citizens within their community.

Last night we had a theatre performance from The Silly Boys at Pen Pych Community Primary School. The children had spent 6 weeks having visits with me, supported by their outstanding Head Teacher, Miss Price & Staff team, to make the event happen.  Mrs Basset became our continuity link in the school.

Before the show, I gave them all a pep talk; 'We are a team, you have done so well, you should be really proud of yourselves, now let's enjoy it!'

'Actually,' says one of the children, ' we have something we want to give you. We think you have done really well and we appreciate all your hard work. You should be really proud of yourself.'

And they handed my a bundle of Thank you cards, one each, hand made with beautiful messages. 

'She's crying.' They all laughed. 'No, she has actually got tears.' said one of the children. And I did. I couldn't help myself, proving unquestionably that a little thank you goes a long way. 

And as if that wasn't thanks enough, The Head Teacher presented me with a bunch of flowers at the event to thank me for all my  work with the children.

Young Promoters is part of Night Out: