Hester Reeve in the Department of Philosophy
Hester Reeve was an artist in residence in the Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts (CPVA) at King’s for spring term 2017 on a project exploring how thinking conceptually about art’s possibilities can facilitate new agendas for making, composition and materials.
About the Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts
The Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts (CPVA) is a major multidisciplinary initiative based in the Department of Philosophy at King’s. Its aim is to bring together academics, artists, curators and gallerists to explore the connections between philosophy, theory and the visual arts.
The first King's artists at the CPVA in 2017 were Hester Reeve and Dr Siobhán Tattan. The small-scale residencies provided opportunities for the artists to develop their practice based on a particular lecture or lecture series. The Centre provided the artists with the time and space to develop their own point of view and facilitated the creation of new work and research through encouraging open, ongoing conversation between artists and academics. Artists were selected by the Centre on the basis of whose work would most benefit from the subject matter or methods in play within the Department, whereby the residency work and research could offer new perspectives on issues for students and academics involved.
For more details on recent events and projects, please see the CPVA main webpage.
Hester’s practice balances the urge for producing ‘stuff’ with a longstanding investment in thinking as a type of making. Her practice employs a wide range of mediums incorporating live art, drawing, sculpture, writing, lens based media and David Bohm’s concept of dialogue, a concept that encourages the free exchange of ideas and information between participants in an attempt to reach a common understanding equally and nonjudgmentally.
For the residency, Hester attended Dr John Callanan's lectures on Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals in the Department of Philosophy, which formed the basis for the research and development of new work. The thoughts developed in these lectures, such as 'how do some questions regarding human nature and morality actually go beyond the very limits of knowledge itself?', hold particular meaning for Hester, whose practice frequently touches upon the status of the artist as a moral agent. Her residency developed around the questions that follow from this fact. First, how can the evocation of moral capacity within the human being become conceptualised without words? And second, does this indicate that morality is a fundamentally creative enterprise between a human subject and existence’s materialities?
The residency took place during the spring term at King's (January – April 2017) and was followed later in the year by a six week residency at the CPVA's partner institute Kunsthuis SYB, Beetsterzwaag, The Netherlands (mid-September until end of October 2017).
The CPVA also planned to host two artists salons during the spring term as part of the residency and at the end of the total residency (late 2017 or early 2018) there was a presentation of work by the artists as well as informal talks with the artists and participating academics.
Regarding the residency projects, Dr Sacha Golob, Co-Director of the CPVA, commented: 'One of CPVA's core aims is to explore the points at which philosophical research and artistic practice overlap, intersect or diverge. This residency brings together artists and philosophers working on some of the central metaphysical and existential issues of the modern period – it is going to be fascinating to watch that interaction develop over the next year, culminating in the final exhibition.'
Harald den Breejen, Co-Director of the CPVA, noted: 'Being situated in the university presents us with the unique opportunity to allow artists to develop their practice. Because our programming is tailor-made to the participants, the meetings between our academics and artists can become mutually surprising and enlightening. This type of engagement provides much needed conversation between worlds which in practice can be very divided.'
The cultural partners involved in the residencies are: the Centre for Philosophy and Visual Arts (CPVA), Kunsthuis SYB, King's Department of Philosophy, King's Department of Theology & Religious Studies, The Cultural Capital Exchange.
About the artist
Hester gained a BA in Fine Art at Northumbria University, which included a formative year of study at the Art Institute of Chicago. Upon graduating she lived and worked abroad in a variety of artistic contexts most notably in former Czechoslovakia where she volunteered with environmental NGOs under the auspices of the Institute of Cultural Affairs eventually setting up an independent oral history project.
Upon her return to the UK, Hester set up innovative teaching sessions and artistic projects at HMP Lancaster Castle before entering the academy. She is co-founder of the Emily Davison Lodge, an associate of Prison Dialogue and a member of Performance Philosophy international research network and currently Reader in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University. Recent public works were staged at Tanzquartier, Vienna (as part of Philosophy on Stage 4), Tate Britain (working under the umbrella of the Emily Davison Lodge) and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. At the latter she presented Ymedaca, a two-year project in which she worked with Plato’s banishment of the artist.