Placement Spotlight: Bosse and Baum Gallery, London

As an artist undertaking a practice-based Fine Art DPhil, the placement has provided an invaluable opportunity for me to develop creative and technical skills working with film and video. This is significant because since beginning my DPhil, and over the years preceding it, I have increasingly felt that working with moving image would allow me to bring together aspects of my work as an artist and researcher that are not possible in other mediums - this includes integrating text, image, sound, movement and performance. Working with film is technically demanding, and my previous experiments in this area had made me aware of my lack of experience, and the skills I needed - in planning, production, storyboarding, shooting, and editing, among others - to realise my ambitions for this work.

The problem I faced was the absence of existing contexts that would allow me to develop these skills. As a result, I decided to create a bespoke placement that supported the development of my own moving image artworks. I contacted a cinematographer, producer, curator and gallerist, each of whom helped me with different aspects of the process. I essentially envisioned my ideal placement and tried to construct it. The process of developing the project also allowed me to establish professional links that will be significant for the progression of my career upon completion of the DPhil.

The object of the placement was to create three short films that offer reflections on the relation between wetland environments and the climate crisis, and to show the work developed in several professional contexts at the end of the placement. This provided an opportunity to develop the skills I needed, with support from those experienced in relevant fields. The project was structured into three month-long development phases that encompassed research, shooting footage, editing, and exhibiting the works developed.

The shooting process involved working with a number of both human and more-than-human collaborators, including performers, a sound designer, a live kestrel, hundreds of white lilies, and a Conger eel who had sadly died accidentally near the UK coast. Planning the shoot involved coordinating many different elements, and the main challenges I faced were maintaining my vision for the work whilst ensuring the welfare of everyone involved and managing practical and logistical elements amidst unpredictable circumstances.

Our final shoot involved me being covered in hundreds of lily petals, a process that took hours to prepare. Unfortunately, as we were preparing to shoot it began pouring with rain, and it turned out that the glue used to attach the petals was not water fast! As the light faded and the rain became increasingly torrential, the petals began loosening and falling off in clumps, while I lay shivering with another performer in a boat. Despite this seeming disaster the footage captured surprised me with its strangeness and beauty. In the end, this section became one of my favourite parts of the film.

My experiences on the placement represent a significant leap forward for me in terms of my skills and confidence in handling ambitious moving-image projects. My advice for other students considering developing a placement is that if appropriate contexts are not available for you to gain the experience you need, it can be incredibly fruitful to contact organisations and individuals to create a project on your own terms.