Dean Hughes Lecture

Dean Hughes is an accomplished artist and Head of the school of art Edinburgh. Born in Salford 1974 and attended chelsea collage of art where he was taught by Martin Creed and Roger Ackling and achieved a BA Hons in Fine art.

At the start of the lecture Dean comes across as a bit of a lazy haphazard artist, he never really knows what he is going to do next and often worries that he won’t. Dean likes to work in a ‘aimless, nonsensical, randomness’ and he belives that a lot of artists including himself never really know what they are doing.

His titles for his art are very discriptive of what your looking at. It reminds me of the Ronseal adverts..“It does exactly what it says on the tin

 *Embroidery thread on a London bus seat 1993-1996

Dean had an idea for some art work before he got to college to start his degree in fine art. He knew he didn’t want to paint and doesn’t like to work with anything that’s considered arty like Paint and canvas. Dean likes objects not materials especially A4 paper.  His idea was that he was going to make a map of London puddles but got a bit stuck when he realised he couldn’t do the work because it doesn’t rain as much in London. So he found himself without an idea for a project. During Dean’s time at The chelsea college of Art, Dean would walk or travel a lot on the buses and he begun to look at the bus seats, they had a mosaic pattern on them and what he liked about mosaic pattern is that they are like puzzles and if a piece is missing you can quite easily just fill it in.  Dean decided to experiment a little bit. Dean only semi vandalised a bus seat by cutting a small piece of material from a London bus and took the piece to a Haberdashery to match it up on his way to college, he also purchased a curved needle used for needle work. Dean went on to say that Part of the reason why he decided to do this was because he thought that if he could make a piece of art before he gets to college then it meant he could pretty much do what he wanted during the rest of the day and he liked the freedom. So Dean made a series of embroidery on the tiny little mosaic marks on the upper deck back seats. Although he said he didn’t really know what he was really doing but made it over the whole 3 years he was there. When tutors came to his studio they would want to know what he had been doing and want to see his work but he would be like  ‘well it’s on the bus’  so Dean had to learn how to talk about it through ‘allegory’ story telling.  And wasn’t really sure tutors ever really knew if he did the work, but he did.  Dean only ever took one photograph of the work he did just to document it but no one was ever meant to see it.  Dean also took a photograph of the last bus he ever embroidered on the number 19 bus. Dean later told us a humourous story how his work can sometimes be misunderstood and how a scary European exhibition curator in a gallery thought a London bus seat would come to be exhibited when he tried to explain that there wasn’t one she was very frank ‘I cant sell that’! so to keep her semi sweet but in a juvenile way got the smallest one photograph he had and fixed it on the longest wall.

Dean also talked about the work that he calls bad works. He said he had tried to shove what worked in the first year into one piece of work in the second year. Tutors said ‘Don’t do that’. it was a good lesson. So he started to think about the process involved in what he gets out of making the work and had lots of questions about ‘what is art?’. He confessed that his Father and Grandfather had worked on busses. In the times when you could talk to bus drivers he would ask bus drivers to sign his bus ticket.

*A bus ticket in a Hole 1996

Aimlessly Rolling a bus ticket round his finger and drilling a Hole and put them in.

*Gumstrip 1996

Dean always feels this piece of work is a ready made., an accidental piece of art. Martin Creed visited for a tutorial one day and noticed a piece of work on his desk and thought it was brilliant. It was an idle, aimless not even thought about piece of gum that would fill a crack in the wall that he had just been playing with and pulled without thinking about it. He was just told he needed to find a way to present it and was advised to place it on a plinth. Another tutor saw it and her reaction was and never did ask her why but ‘I really didn’t need to see that today’.

*Two pieces of ruled A4 paper
Made a lithograph an exact copy with the same amount of lines and holes but moved them around. Dean quoted a friends reaction In a review and he wrote’ If you think about it in the terms of music this is like a cover version of a song, a cover version of A4 paper and this is and cover version of and remix’ Dean liked it so much he likes to use it.  A lithograph is an authorized copy of an original work created by the artist himself or other skilled craftsmen. A lithograph is rarely worth more than the original artwork it reproduces, but if the print quality is excellent and the production numbers are low, it may still have significant value in the art world.  

*East international Norwich bus seat.

Dean entered a competition called ‘East’ and was told he could do anything he liked so he said he needed a 2 week bus pass and a place to stay and embroidered a bus seat.

*Imprint 93

A letter that curls in your hand like a magic fish from a Christmas cracker

*Curly Gumstrip, straight Gumstrip.  1997.

*Hole punch pieces 1998

Hole punched hole in and around paper some with punched hole pushed back in.

*Drawing pin, thread and a knot.1999

Installation from the ceiling to the floor

*Filling up puddles on a day it hadn’t rained. 2000

A photograph of puddles on a sunny day dry ground only filled in puddles.

*A photograph of the sky taken with a passport photo booth 2000

*staples stuck through paper.2003

*stickers in a bag

Coloured stickers stuck in a brown paper bag.

*pin drawing series

Pin and thread holding up A4 paper

*shelf pieces 2008,

My favorite anecdote of the lecture. Sean through a little white lie involving these small little boxes and an underwhelmed meeting lead to Dean having to make 300 little boxes for a exhibit and my favourite piece of Dean’s work. I think its probably because in the right environment this wouldn’t look out of place and I like the aesthetics. It reminded me of my childhood as well. I had a friend who collected pencil sharpener’s and she would display them on her shelf with the holes facing the same way.

*Bent staples

Idle shaping of staples

*Fabric dying and drying.

Inspired by drawn shapes over time in Dean’s notebook. Dean likes to draw in his book everyday, morning and night.

Even though Dean claims he doesn’t really know what he is doing as an artist I would say he is a very clever man, aesthetically most of his work isn’t ugly and it is presented well. His lecture wasnt dull and he made me laugh with his dry northern humour.Dean likes the emotional response he has and gets from making and exhibiting his work, he is passionate and I think a genuinely nice guy. I hope to achieve good emotional responses to my work to.


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