The residency at ~ARU has now offially ended, though I have been allowed to stay on until next week, to finish up/clear up my studio space. it has been a great experience. Although I have only just got down to experimenting with my ideas.
The work I'm producing has taken a more 3D form. i've been playing with ideas and objects to be part of a body of work for our Ruskin gallery show. Which will include installation and panting/drawings,revolving around the same thems. Of the oceanic enviromental issues, pollution, waste dispolsal.
Another theme is based on the publicized story of plastic ducks that were lost over board 10 years ago, navigated the globe intact and began washing up on our beaches. this brought up a lot of issues and inspiration. perhaps not only the pollution issue but one of immigration, travel and unexpected arrivals. the 'duck's initially at the beginning of the project were secondary but now are the focus. They have come to embodied all these issues i mentioned above.
I have sourced three of the vintage scrap paddles from milk bulk cooling tanks. My Father was a farmer so I do have an interest in agricultural implements but actually they find their way in to my current sculptural pieces mostly because of their ambiguous forms. I am not making a statement about dairy farming, rather I think their incorporation is because as a little girl these were the things that surrounded me as I played. They were the props in my childhood world.
Although I like certain aged surfaces (aged galvanized metal and weathered copper will feature in these three large beings/ sculptures) I am not, generally speaking, a fan of distressed surfaces.
I have sourced fabrics for one of the new sculptures (the oval based one). Some sophisticated dusky pink tweed, creamy white wet-look PVC and a sort of shaggy spinachy green trim. I bought the wet-look fabric yesterday. Not everyone’s cup of tea but I think it’s luscious!
I try to be as intuitive as possible when making. I try not to analyse too much as I really want to work with materials because they feel like the right colours textures etc. I must admit that I do ask myself questions like, “Is that too 70’s?” or, “Would be too cheap, homely or downmarket?” But I actually don’t want to spend too much time making analytical decisions. I try to tune into a far off time (my childhood?) and to feel intuitively that the fabric that I am using is right.
So this is why sometimes I seem to work slowly. It’s because I feel deep down that it isn’t actually right and so I wait for the appropriate fabric/ material to reveal itself to me.
Even though I haven’t yet added the padding and fabrics to the first two frames I decided to get on and make full use of my AA2A access to the metal workshops at Coventry Uni so before Easter I made my third frame. This time I worked with 10mm steel tube. This means that the frame is much lighter but it is actually trickier to weld. If the power is set too high you actually burn through the steel tube before the weld is made. So this took a bit of tinkering with the settings before I got the mix right (mix of gas, wire feed speed and electric voltage).
See working with steel photo album for rough starting sketch, and the frame in progress. I also cut and bent 8 spines which will be attached to the frame later. I am going to use bolts rather than weld these on as I want them to be removable. This is all to make transportation easier. These are the largest sculptures that I have made (2 m wide and deep and 1.5 m high) so transportation and storage costs have to be considered.
I also used the plasma cutter (a great tool) to cut a couple of circles from steel sheet and then welded them to the long arm that I will be attaching to the oval based sculpture See initial Rhino drawing.
It was a bit frustrating because the welder started playing up. Andy, the technician, diagnosed it as being a problem with the wire feed. I did manage to weld the circles to the arms but it is a messy join. Luckily it won’t be visible as it will be covered in fabric later.
The next time that I was in the workshop the gas had run out so I brought the frame home and took my secret weapon out of my cellar. My own welder! I had been given this as a present from a friend about 5 years ago but have never used it. I realise now what a valuable and useful present it is.
So again the AA2A has prompted me into action.
“If you learn by your mistakes I am a genius!” This is what I say to myself when I seem to have made a lot of mistakes....while learning of course! It was three trips to MachineMart (getting the right welding wire, welding tips and my very own angle grinder) and fiddling about with the gas, wire feed speed and voltage settings before I made a satisfactory weld.
With the good weather I have made more progress; adding a base plate with castors to the oval frame and sets of short to the other two frames. I need good weather as I don’t have a garage and my studio is full of flammable items so I have to use my back yard when welding at home. See photo.
Other good news is that I currently have five pieces on show at The Public in West Bromwich.
I'm really pleased with this as not only is my work is being shown in such an interesting building but it is being exhibited alongside pieces from Frank Cohen's Initial Access collection.
I feel like I should be making solid decisions about my work, the final pieces, have some resolutions etc as the time is coming to an end but I kind of feel Im only just starting... Im conflicted because I feel like that suggests I havent put enough time in at college but I dont think thats the case, Ive been in most weeks and have really benefited from the facilities/ support/ community/ time to research and consider. I know I keep going on about it but Ive really struggled with the technical aspects and to remedy this I have to switch between two different computers at home (mac and pc) to make any progress which is very time consuming and not very portable which I think is why Im concerned about spending too much time at home working.
Anyway. Im working on my image pairings. the basic idea is that the picture shifts between two images as your perspective on the image physically changes, as mentioned like kids gimmicky traidng cards/ lunchboxes/ dvd boxes these days. Ive made some new images in the studio but have moved onto the idea of pairing up some of my older images in a kind of recontextualiseing thing. I dont have much experience in this but feels really interesting at the mo so im going to persue it. Im trying to get away from crude pairing eg angel to devil just as an example of extreme contrasts and looking at open landscapes to drop small idiosyncrasies/ splashes of colour to make the viewer look again and reexamine a familiar space. Even though im keeping sketchbooks i get quite confused as to what Im doing at what time and how to progress and end up going in circles but after a few more experiments with the process Ill have a better idea of what works visual and to get my ideas across.
I thought I would gain confidence as a result of being selected for this scheme but because Im trying something totally new to me that i dont know will evn suceed I think im struggling a bit as i want to have something really good to show for my time here but it could all end up being nothing like i was aiming for. oh well, without sounding unbelievable cheesy i guess thats the risk you take.
This project has been about process - and the possibility that the processes might not work!
I completed 100 hours of practical work making various large-scale hollow felt shapes before Easter, and now feel confident that my initial, making-processes do actually work.
The equally important final shaping & finishing processes have been tested on a slightly smaller scale, and although the full size pieces may be awkward to physically handle, I don’t think it’s going to be as difficult as I imagined it might be.
I’ve solved most of the difficulties of doing the final shaping and finishing so that my hollow forms should retain their shape. It’s early days with this, but I have gained so much more confidence in working large-scale, that I’m sure that my ideas will work!
I feel I’ve been very dogged with this involvement with ‘process only’, but I feel that it’s paid off.
I’m so much more aware of the time required for each of the processes of large scale work, that I can now get pieces to a point where they can be safely left overnight, to be finished next day, or can be carefully wrapped up and taken back to my own workspace for completing there.
Unfortunately, this highlights the lack of space in my own space!
This project has provided a fantastic opportunity to ‘test to the point of failure’!
If things don’t work, then I know exactly why.
I would never have done this much, and tracked it with notes and sketches and photographs on my own – and I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to commit either the time or the money to it.
Apart from finding out how to use an Embellisher, and creating dozens of samples, I’ve created several large, test – pieces of hollow felt.
A plastic template is required for each shape and I’ve cut these templates in direct response to the lines and shapes in the sketchbook I’ve been using for this project. This has allowed me to work in a very free way. I’ve just gone for making the shapes without blocking myself by thinking too much ahead as to what problems could arise.
Some shapes work better than others, and having worked each of them by hand, I’ve been able to gain a much better understanding of why some did and some didn’t work.
I’m also conscious of my time at HSAD running out, and that I need to reach some decisions as to what the final pieces will be.
This project has been all about process – how to create large scale, hollow felt.
It’s been totally absorbing, and I’m now confident, and hopefully competent in the processes of laying up the felt fibres over the plastic templates I’ve devised. Problems of turning them to lay up the other sides have been resolved, but the actual felting was a hard physical slog.
I’ve found that lightweight acrylic roof sheeting with its more deeply ridged surface is the best surface to give quicker and very even felting on pieces this size – most recent piece is 2.10m x 0.5m.
However, I still needed something to wrap the felt round, so that I could roll it back and forward on the ridged acrylic to get it tightly felted and shrunk to final size.
Discussing this difficulty with a friend and fellow artist, we came up with the idea of making some kind of roller. He has resolved the problem and made me a couple of rollers from differently sized plastic plumbing pipe, ridged with plastic beading pop-riveted at regular intervals. They work brilliantly!
It's fifteen days says the blog in which case a phenomenally swift 15 days!!
AA2A has afforded me time to think and I noticed this week that while the college was so studentless that I really did miss the activity and atmosphere of production amongst the quiet and the still works in progress.
Last week made collars for the stand. Used bore drill,band saw and sander which emphasised the ease of access and the lack access to equipment outside the college.... and thought about how to run this over the summer. Also gave talk and now think should have advertised it here but was too worried would be disappointing which just shows how long since I delivered a talk because everyone very appreciative!
I'd decided a few weeks ago to put all the components together in studio at home as also needed to see what happens when indoors as well as out.
Since other commitments have eased have been able to deal with aspect of camera image making.
- am amazed how allowing time for experimentation also lets in many other equally diverting ideas. Examining the question why make an image photographically or why make it through an etching...begins to help consolidate the activity. The journey began at the conception of the idea two years ago in Scotland on the residency there. It began as a cup that glowed under water and with trying to marry various facets of my activities in the one idea.
From crochet to dusters - a talk to students last week - really brought my own thinking together. Skills and process key to narrative in this case - etching produced to experience the action of carrying an image through a series of tones,and with the photographic imagery, to see whether if knowing more of the process I will enhance or confuse the content...hope now to spend the summer assembling all parts ready for exhibition in September. All this has enabled me to take the thinking forward - feel that have regained confidence through experiencing a range of activities that haven't done for many years in fact treated the place as if it were an arts school ie life drawing, etching, photography, fashion design,3D, presentation and sketchbooks...... here begins the artist and years away from that environment can erode the ethos of working hard to sustain the necessary immersion needed to fully engage with the artwork out in the world beyond. . A real luxury to not have to tick boxes and to allow the experimentation to lead rather than be determined. I'd recommend AA2A to anyone who feels not only sure of their chosen material or equipment but those who are also at a crossroads or who need an injection of fresh thinking. It's been great. Am in next week I hope though will avoid being in way and will finish the following week - really can't tear myself away...........