On Tuesday 16th of January, I headed off to Woking for one of this year's heats for Articulation. Articulation is a competition run by the National Gallery. This event was founded in 2006, by the Roche Court Educational Trust, often called RCET. The National Gallery hopes to “empower young people…understand…the wider visual world.” After entering this competition, I can confirm that I have obtained numerous skills from this process and overcome some of my fears, such as public speaking. 

The day itself was lovely, the Articulation team did a tec run-through before the event. Here I got to sit down with the other participants, who had also spent the last 4 months working for this day. There were 5 other girls in my heat, ranging from year 12 to year 13. It was nice to be surrounded by like-minded people, who shared a common interest. The gallery, ‘The Lightbox’ offered a tour of their current exhibition. 

Hearing the participants talk was fascinating.  We all talked about different types of artworks, which inspired us individually. The first contestant talked about Gaudí, a Spanish architect, whose work is showcased in Barcelona. This talk focused on Casa Batlló, built in 1877. I was informed about the various ideas behind Gaudí’s work, and how he took inspiration from natural forms, which are included in his architecture. I found this talk very captivating, as I am interested in architecture. 

The second talk explored Paula Rego’s work. There was a focus on ‘Desacralizing’, a series of abortion paintings. This candidate went on to win, making it through to the next round. I found this talk powerful, as I think it helped address a topic which is often taboo and not talked about. Raising awareness and normalising conversation about abortion is crucial, as I think it is essential for women to feel like they can explore their options. 

My talk focused on a Basquiat work, ‘Equals Pi’. I spoke about the various symbolism and meanings within the painting, as well as my interpretation. I included information about Basquiat himself, as well as his past. I explored whether events in his earlier life influenced him to make some of his most famous pieces of art. 

After an intermission, the next talk was about ‘The Last Resort’ by Martin Parr. This piece of photography captured two young children by the beach, eating their ice cream. This participant explored how the film was used in the 80s. This participant explored the use of hue, and how this made the car a bright red, and stand out, capturing the viewer's attention. 

I found this fifth talk very interesting, as it was not your traditional piece of art like a painting. ‘Crawl’ by Pope L, captures Pope L crawling through the streets of New York on his hands and knees. Pope explained that the idea behind his work was partially inspired by necessity. We know this as he said “I didn’t need a room…objects. I just needed the opportunity, which I could create myself.” I think that Pope L’s pictures and videos from ‘Crawl’ really captured something uncommon, which drew attention to it and in turn made people think about his message.

The last talk focused on the ‘Jerome project.’ This project was inspired by the criminal justice system in America. The self-portraits themselves are based on incarcerated African American men. This collection consists of 65 self-portraits. The similarity between all the men showcased in the project, is that they all have ‘Jerome’ in either their first or last name. This was the artist's father's name, I think this adds a nice personal touch, as the artist has linked his work to a personal meaning to him. 

Overall, I found this day highly enriching. It was inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded people, who value and appreciate the same things you do. I would definitely recommend this competition to others. The whole process taught me a lot, such as research methods, how to effectively write a speech and how to deliver and perform to an audience. Articulation helped me get over my fear of public speaking.