When I received successful email from Solent I was more than happy to be back to 'my' uni. I had big plans how to start and what I will do first... But then reality hits me as I had few things to sort out! My wedding! Then honeymoon...
After I came back I was on my 39 h/week full time contract in supermarket and just turn my head around and actually visit Solent it was Christmas 'School closed’!
After Christmas my head was nowhere and my hand which is usually drawing was doing shopping, washing, calling, cooking, and working full time in NOT really dreamed job... My creative side gone away and I were getting up from bed just to work - to make money, to make living... But my mind was dead and I knew I need to do something.
Yesterday again I get up 12 o’clock and I was thinking ‘what I’m doing with my life’ I got AA2A placement so get your body and do something now! So HERE IAM in my studio writing this post and planning how my life should look now. I am collecting my campus card tomorrow and starting my journey!
Need to arrange meeting with my client to start big project at Solent. I will post my work in progress soon!
Today I have been working in a slightly different format. Having edited a number of raw files from my initial photoshoots; which have involved simultaneous projections from a variety of sources, I have now sequenced a series of them into a short film clip. The element of movement and the opportunity to play out scenes in real time adds to the narrative. The scale available through data projection has also given me a different perspective on the outcome of the project. This is definitely a development that I am going to engage with further. Having access to the equipment here at the university is immensely enabling.
ideas into visual form
Making some studies in preparation for the work I am aiming to produce for the final AA2A exhibition. The studies will be presented in an informal interim exhibition from the 20th February.
I am planning to make a series of pillars, using a variety of materials from sheet metal, acrylic sheet and wood. Free standing, they will be my height and will be painted and printed on. The content will be my personal reaction to the threat of fracking and the fight against it; the erosion of our democratic rights, the labelling of anti-frackers as domestic extremists. The term "earth, wind and fire", keeps encroaching into my thoughts - I am possibly going to call my piece Earth, Air and Water - the three vital aspects of our life on this planet and the three things highly likely to become polluted and threaten that life should fracking get the go ahead.
My aims for this placement were to develop my work into three dimensions, thus the pillars, which represent the human body (the vertical in many of my paintings represent the same) will be a phyical manifestation of this. I am also going to make small folded books exploring the same content but in hand-holdable form. Alongside this, I will have a roll of Chinese paper containing further explorations of the theme that I intend to print up as one continuous work, similar to the ballot box piece I made last year. I envisage this being suspended and draped from the ceiling of the space it inhabits, to allow viewers to walk round and through it. If I have time, I may produce some smaller prints on Chinese paper although I suspect these may be something I continue with later in the year.
I've not got very far yet, so I'd better crack on. Why do I always find this so difficult? I suspect it is because I am anxious to produce work of good quality; once I get going it is always fine, so I'd better stop procrastinating. . .
I shall create an album of sketches made so far along with other older pieces that relate to the intended work and become part of the imagery I will use.
Happy new year to all of you who may be reading this. I promise to have something worth looking at soon!
I've got an exhibition at the LCB Depot in Leicester starting next tuesdayhe 12th January. Go here for more details.
I will also be holding an artist talk at DMU on the 25th January, talking about my current practice, projects and how my work has developed since university.
A bit of a fallow period, although I have been continuing to experiment in the sculpture workshop (evening class) and going along to events to help me keep thinking about the project. I have been building small structures with polystyrene, scrim and plaster, but seem to want to scrape back the plaster right to the scrim, reveal a texture underneath, make it clear that I am interested in forces, not depictions.
I visit the Ai Wei Wei exhibition at the Royal Academy, and this was much more pertinent than I could have possibly imagined. The artist had constructed a major wooden floor-based wave-like piece, based on a map of China, and including exquisite 'invisible' wood joining, embedded in Chinese traditions of wood working. In addition, there was another floor-based wave-like piece on display made, terribly poignantly, from thousands of restraightened metal struts gathered by Ai Weiwei and his team. The struts had been employed in the building of public buildings including schools in Sichuan, done on the cheap, so that they were easily destroyed by the earthquake in 2008, killing thousands of people, many of them schoolchildren. This moving piece gave me pause in terms of the careful selection of materials.
The Thursday playdate with Brian was fun, but left me curiously unsatisfied. One piece of oak bent beautifully, but I am not after the lovely bend of a Windsor chair. I am looking for something much more 'revolting'. I think of heating small pieces and crashing them into one another, but I am not sure. I look further into the reality of a quake, what effectively happens is a kind of shake, not a bashing together as such, even though the tectonic plates are rubbing against each other. Having felt an earthquake in the early hours of the morning when living in Germany, I remember that sense of shaking, but, at the same time, of liquidity, as though the floor of the block of flats I was living on could have simply slid off the rest of the building.
Over Christmas there is little time to work as we are away at a family get together. However, I meet a potter at the place we are staying. He was showing some beautiful work and generously showed us some 'firsts' as well as the wonderful 'seconds' for sale in the greenhouse, which were very strong and dated from the earliest years of his career. I talked to him about his raku work, which struck me immediately. What to my untutored eyes was a somewhat 'failed' pot, was in fact, his greatest achievement, in the true spirit of raku.
That certainly interests me, I mentioned the word 'entropy' to him, in the sense of the notion of inevitable social decline and degeneration, which, on reflection, makes me think of Robert Smithson. I had been looking at precarity on the PGDip, a kind of precarious language of activism and survival, the metaphor I have chosen for this piece is one of upswell. But is that a language that really accords with what I am reading, and what my practice thus far has indicated about the need for a more precarious approach? I am thinking on. I start to think more realistically about pieces that are free-standing, at least to start with, because installation work seems improbable at this stage.
I start drawing precarious wooden structures, like clashes in mid-air, and see them in baby pink and blue for some reason! The drawings aren't strong, just a feeling really - I note that in the third one, where I try to integrate my bent wood piece, this just doesn't work, the process may simply not be right for what I am trying to do.
I find a definition of raku and the Chinese letter form seems so pertient here:
I wonder whether I could make the form of the Chinese expression in wood? But in many respects I think raku may be much more interesting for Clare's work than mine. But it does make me think about the kinds of visual languages that contemporary contexts call for. This links in with some reflections I have had about the Japanese art school experiment Bigakko and one of the tutor's interest in working without a fixed sense of ground.
Its moved the project from an explorative meander into a purposful forward march. This injection of energy is making the working process far more intense, which, given the already hugely focused way of working, already feels like walking a tightrope. Its very interesting working through the magnifiers which concentrate my attention on a tiny area, while trying to keep the balance and shape of the whole image in mind.
I'm woried about completing work in time to translate it in the print room - the facility I'm here to use.
So I've been back to the life room ao throw my pencil around a bit and loosen up; maybe to step back and see the bigger picture....
I recently showed a risograph print 'After After Richard Hughes' (see below) as part of Square One exhibition at the 101 Space, Plymouth University where AA2A artists introduced themselves to students and staff. Each of this years PU AA2A'ers presented a past work to introduce their practice to folks working in the Roland Levinsky Building.
Now I look forward to undertaking the necessary workshop inductions so I can begin to experiment with new (and familiar) materials.
Here are a couple of images from the Spuare One opening event captured by one of AA2A students reps, Oscar Kirkpatrick:
Did my first day at Solent last week after swopping emails to gain information about any procedure for getting started with my placement. The facilities look promising for my project and Im keen to get going with it all.
Unfortunately not knowing anything about the institution is making progress slow, as getting information and being set up on their rather complex 'portal' system has proved challenging. However once I know the staff and questions to ask they are helping with my issues.
Anxiety is something from which I suffer. Many people I know do, beyond the normal healthy anxiety we each carry to help us navigate safely through the uncharted world. I wanted to visualise anxiety. Not regarding any particular thing, more a general anxiety which could apply to anyone. Time and pressure came to mind. Quite abstract. The march of time. The sense of time speeding up and slowing down. I thought of a metronome. A device used to speed up and slow down time as an aid in attaining synchronicity. A device of visual binary motion, tick/tock, on/off, one/two. Of course, when used as a musical aid, the tick/tock may well be used beyond a 1,2 count for any desired timing ... but the noise, the incessant click/clack, the sound the visual suggested, that to me elicits a sense of tension.
The speed of a metronome can be adjusted. The tempos are denoted by labels, which signify where to position the weighted slider for the desired setting. The labels presented an opportunity. Of the labels for different tempos ('Largo', 'Adagio', 'Moderato', 'Allegro', 'Presto', etc) one stood out. 'Grave' is a very slow tempo, between 25 and 40 beats per minute. I named the artwork 'Grave Matters', thus incorporating a rather obscure double meaning.
Initially I shied away from changing these tempo labels. It needed to work conceptually, there needed to be a reason. I asserted that slow and steady suggests an air of confidence. An extremely rapid speed, a sense of paralysing anxiety. I thought of having just two labels at either end of the scale, very slow/very fast, to signify this confident/anxious. But then something happened. I couldn't easily choose the best binary pair. What about 'Assured' or 'Bold'? And were there different levels of anxiousness? Yes I decided. And set about compiling a list and creating the new labels.
I agonised over which two colours to use, deciding on blue and red ... but worried the contrast may just have been too great. So eventually I created a third outer highlight layer. I wanted the colours to vibrate against each other, with a soft middle layer that beckoned the viewer to come closer to the work, in doing so uncovering the subtle detail of the side ridges and face of the object. This was my first print run.
After this first three colour print, on reflection, I wanted a slightly calmer and simplified version. Perhaps safer or more direct? I'm not sure. But I set about producing a second print run, and this is the pink/red version of the print at the top of this blog post. The colours still jar, but there is a little more harmony and the details are visible from a greater viewing distance. In a way, it makes sense there are be two variations ... I had considered producing another two, but I think I'll stick with it as is.
So, as mentioned in previous posts, I'm interested in Derrida's Binary Oppositions and how the grey areas between binary pairs can be visualised. Often I'll start with an idea and reduce down to a pair of words, or have a visual in mind and think about the words that best describe the idea. The topic/theme are usually around a political/social/cultural area. In any case, I aim to produce an image that both communicates quite directly, but gives rise to a level of ambiguity in meaning as increased time is spent by the viewer interpreting the work. That may be asking a lot, but I am challenging people to think, and encouraging a kind of critical loop to occur in the viewer;
Something like that anyway. I'm sure that doesn't happen at all, but I like when I get feedback where a viewer says 'this piece could mean A or B, but I think its C because ... '. I hope something like the above is going on. This makes 'Grave Matters' a bit of a key to my work; it literally denotes the grey areas, punctuating the (somewhat subjective) binaries with a scale, a range of possible states. In a way the work deconstructs itself. (If that is even possible!)
On Tuesday Tom Stevenson and myself gave artists talks at the University. It was a treat to hear Tom speak and see his impressive painting work, and great to share the process so far with the students. I had some really helpful approaches from several MA students afterwards. One of them showed me her video footage of the wave machine that Plymouth University owns in the Marine Biology area. I explained that I would like to use a handicam and film the phenomenon of groundswell, although it may be hard to find a location where I can do this. I have enquired about contacting the Marine Biology staff, and presume that this will be OK.
I dropped into the wood work area to speak to Richard Wood, the technician and team leader and his helpful thoughts gave me pause. I couldn't work with wood on site as I haven't yet had an induction, but we were able to discuss different ideas. He suggested I think about creating work which was the result of something that simulated tectonic pressure, so that the making process related to what was being investigated. I loved that idea, although in reality I am not sure how to put materials under that amount of stress - perhaps I could find some advice within materials science, perhaps the wave simulator can create the image of groundswell through pressure! I need to find out. At the same time, it's a question of material processes that I can usefully and manageably do in the studio, at least to some extent, and I like the way this broadens things out.
On the train home I read my bentwood book, so kindly lent to me by Peter Bodenham. It sounds as though working with oak is the best way forward. On Thursday I spoke with friend Brian about bent wood work, and we are planning a bentwood play date on Thursday! He has some thin oak strips we can work with. Steam is incredibly hot, so care (and specialist gloves!) will be needed. There is a tube that I can borrow, we would need to create an end for it and build a jig to hold the bent wood in place (overextended, as there will be springback).