I have been developing works surrounding the genre of landscape. My work seeks to address the importance of landscape painting within the current nature of debate centring on the breadth of accepted contemporary practice that it remains to be a valid currency within the parenthesis of visual language. This subject is important to me because I spent my early childhood growing up in rural surroundings and so my relationship with landscape has formed an important role in my psyche and personal development. It is this relationship with the natural environment that governs the origins of my practice and that first drew me to the landscapes of Cyprus.
I have explored notions of human relationship with the environment to develop ideas within the context of ‘inscape’ of which the paintings entitled ‘Lunar landscape,’ ‘Lunar landscape II,’ ‘Last light,’ ‘Night flight’ ‘High horizon,’ ‘Emergence II,’ ‘Flight,’ ‘Arched sun,’ Fragments of flight II’ and ‘Big red’ are examples of. I have used the banana plantations of the Cypriot villages of Lemba and Kissonerga as a vehicle to communicate a psychological response to landscape. The banana plantations are of particular interest to me for a number of reasons, the first being that this agricultural landscape was completely new to me on arrival to Cyprus and as I discovered is a relatively new phenomenon to Cyprus too. My personal discovery of this landscape suggested concepts of the ‘uncanny’- a Freudian concept of an instance where something can be familiar, yet foreign at the same time, resulting in a feeling of it being uncomfortably strange. The state was identified by Ernst Jentsch in 1906 who defined the ‘uncanny’ as:
“...being of a product of intellectual uncertainty; so that the uncanny would always, as it were, be something one does not know one’s way about in. The better orientated in his environment a person is, the less readily will he get the impression of something uncanny in regard to the objects and events in it.”
The work entitled ‘Dog hidden in the plantation’ plays on this state, as you will have noticed there is no dog in the image, but the title encourages the spectator to look for a dog, exploring a disjointed world of amorphous forms which ominously elude to landscape and evoke atmosphere. The spacial composition owes much to the work of Max Ernst highlighting the influence of the Surrealists on my work at large.
My investigation has been set with a focus on ‘real engagement’ with this particular landscape to explore the notion of ‘spirit of place.’ I have worked directly in the plantations producing studies and photographic works which were then brought back into the studio and developed further in the paintings. The effect of the light in the plantations and absence of it contribute to the sense of the ‘uncanny’ and greatly impacts the experience of being in this landscape at changing times of the day. I have therefore used light as a vehicle to traverse both concepts of the ‘uncanny’ and ‘inscape’ within the genre of landscape, anchoring my visual language concerns within a long standing history of painting.
The series of photographic works entitled ‘lunar eclipse’ were taken immediately after a lunar eclipse, at this moment the sun was setting and the moon was high in the sky. What effect does the absence of light have on our perceptions of a place or landscape? The feeling of being in this particular landscape during the eclipse was both unsettling and mysterious. In this instance I set about creating a body of photographic works which would be considered drawings, using light as a tool to draw with, to describe, manipulate and define forms and space, identifying the changing moods and interpretation of this landscape. The result is a collection of surreal images which describe something of this unique moment in time.
The work entitled ‘Lunar landscape’ demonstrates the influence of Asian art and calligraphic line with an emphasis on Zen painting. In 2002 I studied the art of calligraphic line under the direction of Yoshida (a Japanese monk and artist) the influence of which can be seen in subsequent works. As well as the influence of Zen style painting in this work it was my intention to visually depict a poetic statement about my experience of this landscape mirroring Zen ideals:
“Sometimes it seems that we should take a half an hour and just sit down and figure it all out and by that get some control and sense of place... And what does this have to do with Zen and painting? When things are going well there is no particular reason to figure it out. But, everyone finds that the world is not a place that is made just for their needs and desires. For many this is the beginning of the spiritual quest. The adversities of life force us to think about ourselves in terms of a larger perspective.” –Robin Buntins on Zen painting.
It is the ‘larger perspective’ that arouses an innate response in us towards landscape urging a sense of our own identity in reflection of our relationship with the environment. Landscape encourages us to think about where we belong which brings us back to the concept of inscape. The following statement by the Boyle family defines the relationship between inscape and the environment:
“Inscape is the inner essential nature of anything. It is anything perceived, or experienced, or felt, without the filters of conditioning... It is so sad when this most unique and wondrous state is presented as a series of smutty clichés and when we have a look in wonderment at a system in our world that requires that we look at this sublime condition as something disgusting. But this too is part of our amazing environment. And this word environment, which used to mean the things that surround us, has I am glad to say, gradually come to mean something completely global. So that everything we can think of is part of our environment. We ourselves, our art, our innermost thoughts and essential nature are all part of the environment. The environment is the inscape of everything.” – Feature on ‘inscape,’ Art and Design Magazine. 1994 edition.
The painting entitled ‘Lunar landscape II’ marks the influence of Abstract Surrealism painting in my work, particularly the works of Arshile Gorky. In my opinion landscape art lost its focus over the later part of the last century, having been superseded by the complexity and confusion of practice which could be construed as artistically introspective. It is apparent that a great deal of contemporary practice which parades as ‘landscape’ inspired work, has not addressed the real essence of the accessible history of landscape art, but instead has only fed on short term, often superficial or fashionable practice.
My imagery is an amalgamation of forms recorded through studies made directly in the plantation, looking at positive and negative shapes, organic forms and perspective as defined by the changing light, juxtaposed with amorphous forms which are derivative of microscopic and organic life, used as a metaphor for our existence, evoking both a sense of the real and the surreal. The ambiguous spaces suggest a psychological space as opposed to any view or vista found in the landscape, serving aesthetically to present a synthesis of natural holistic rhythm, suggesting a meditative state. The images are not just abstract but allude to a higher awareness of reality. There is a visual layering which requires navigation, the eye first takes in the over- all dynamism and then focuses on the details and intricacy of line, as well as referencing appropriated symbolism. A number of the paintings undergo a lengthy process of collaging mono printed imagery with tissue paper and over painting with acrylic, building the image in a system of layers which serves to present a process which I like to think is unique, engaging the aesthetic and the tactile through surface. There is an interesting tension between the scissor cut line of the collaged shapes and the painted line giving rise to a lyrical fusion of imagery.
I would reference Roberto Matta as a major influence in my work. Matta’s strange organic forms came straight from the subconscious, produced by a technique called ‘pure psychic automatism,’ whereby the artist produces spontaneous drawings directed by his inner being. This interest in the subconscious is typical of surrealism. Matta’s ‘inscapes’ are preoccupied with infinite, cosmic space. Matta’s works were to have a significant influence on the paintings of Gorky and the American Surrealists. My own investigation involved developing through drawing, a language that could communicate different types of narratives, to develop a family of marks and forms that are characteristically my own and remain open to interpretation.
Mono-printing allows spontaneous mark making providing the opportunity to respond intuitively to the landscape, recording in the open air by a more intensive re-perceiving of the landscape at work, in movement with particular emphasis on changing light. Automatic mark making is mirrored in the work of artists of influence to me (including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Graham Sutherland.) One of the most prominent issues in my investigation has been the identification of the word ‘landscape.’ This is not a new concern and is definitely one which will continue to change throughout history with ongoing influences of country, politics, media, art, literature, society, etc. Aside from the ideas, thoughts and transformations and experiences of landscape that we collect, we must realise that our interpretation and understanding of ‘landscape’ is conditioned by what we bring to it. This is better described by J. B. Jackson in an extract from ‘Land and Environmental Art:’
“... If a child’s vision of nature can already be loaded with complicating memories, myths and meanings, how much more elaborately wrought is the frame through which our adult eyes survey the landscape?... Before it can ever be repose for the scenes, landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock.”
The banana plantations can stir feelings of the unknown, hidden, forgotten, unusual, intimidating and overlooked; paralleled with distinguished features of beauty, intrigue, exotic and compelling interest, again presenting a dichotomy of the strange yet familiar. But this particular choice of landscape as a subject reflects the current contemporary portrayal of landscape art and consequential shift in the perception of ‘landscape’ to acknowledge what is the man- made, the strange, the mundane, the ugly, the functional and the commercial environment as landscape; owing more to mans relationship with the environment and consequently denoting notions of the picturesque, sublime and pastoral to encompass the urban, agricultural and every-day.
Decades on from the 1960’s and we are still searching for what is beyond the throw- away society, the obsolete and the dominance of technology. We should not just try to address social concerns, but question societies understanding of art today. I hope for a resurrection of artistic language which truly addresses issues of landscape, as history tells us that any language that is neglected will eventually fall into decay and die.
Copyright, Lorraine Cooke- September 2011.
Billion and one distractions mean that the luxurious time spent pondering within the walls of the art department at Hull last May seem a dream away aswell. Back to the reality of daily disturbance which is all good in the general way but insane for making art !
SO much thought at least and time to consider the benefits of the Hull visit for AA2A.
I don't think I would have revisted drawing for a finished product in its own right if I hadn't had the opportunity to spend some hours in the etching department. Very worth while. The etching itself fairly rubbish but the activity fun and sparked up ideas about drawing and how I can more usefully apply it. It's my intention this autumn to work on some drawings in a series called 'imaginary interventions in the countryside' and to pursue this full circle towards another etching - so using etching as a means of presenting a scenario.
Life drawing also provided me with the shock that I had lost a lot of headway by not fitting it in over the years. Doing that raised for me questions about skill and unskilled work and the subject of craftmanship. Since last June I've read extensively on the subject.
AA2A has meant time out - so that when I did get to the college I was absorbed by the atmosphere and the environment. To an outsider the opportunity for experimentation is inspiring and makes having open ended ideas seem like legitimate possibilities. The project I took with me was vague yet at once too prescriptive. Talking to staff members and students, visiting the library, consulting on technical issues with technicians were unusual luxuries for me.
I came away with food for thought. While at the same time making myself feel shaky by dabbling at life drawing and etching and trying to understand the finer points of dressmaking for a hooped skirt...exposing myself to a sensation of non professionalism ... easy to end up with many threads.
The project will spread out over next year and take in all the seasons. The dress/skirt/tent/lampshade/haystack will get increasingly grubby and I imagine it will be different by the time it appears at Spurn Point - it may gather pebbles, dirt and bones in its 'pockets'
The skirt surface - now made needs more attention. Problematic? Not sure. It's a tent because it's big enough to climb inside.....its a haystack because its that shape and its a hooped skirt for someone very tall and a lampshade for a massive lamp.
The colour is what I'd aimed for. The surface just isn't there yet.....
I'm sorting some pics that are mini versions of the idea about yellow as an introduced element in a rural setting plus a piece of film that's part of the series based on the York to Malton railway journey ( one version currently on show at Duckett and Jeffrey's in Malton, and somehow before next Tuesday I'm hoping to video the structure of yellow out and abbout......... no telling what will happen.......
From around the country The Sunderland Book Project brings together artists, designers, comic makers, printmakers and those new to artist’s book making. The project brief asks participants to make a book, (using whatever production methods required) on the subject of the City of Sunderland.
Showing alongside The Sunderland Book Project is a collection of artist’s bookwork from Beijing from the private collection of established artist’s bookmaker, Sumi Perera, as well as work from the collection of Sarah Bodman, Research Fellow in Artist’s Book at the University of West of England, current book work in glass and paper from Theresa Easton and a selection of contemporary photographs by established Sunderland based photographers.
Biddick Lane, Fatfield
Tyne & Wear
Tel:0191 219 3455
Fax:0191 219 3458
Hi, The last you heard from me on this page was roughly five months ago and also the last time i worked in the college. This is the first time i have written a blog on here. I always thought i said things better with things! Five months ago i went into college to work on the window I was doing. (You will find pictures on my page) I had laminated lots of carrier bags and stuck them to the window with suckers. I used the smaller size of the suction cups and so used the small hole punch to attach them. However the smaller suckers were not strong enough so they kept falling off the window. So i realized i had to use the bigger ones and bought hundreds of them. I spent days looking for them in pound shops and such. Then i spent a whole day searching the internet for a hole punch with a bigger hole and couldn't find one. Eventually i decided i would have to use the star shaped hole punch i had used when i was first experimenting with the idea. So this is what i did. The hole punch was a button type one rather than a lever and i was using both my hands and all my strengh to punch a hole in the corners of each a4 laminated carrier bag. After a while i noticed that in between my knuckles was swollen and the was burst blood vessels on my palm. I packed up and went home. I had stuck ten plastic panels to the window (40 holes) which had taken the best part of an hour. I forgot all about it until i got home and when i remembered i said to my partner ' oh yeah, my hand exploded!' I showed my partner the swelling between my knuckles and he said 'Oh my god!' By the next day it was all through both my arms. That was over five months ago! I haven't been able to carry my shopping or do this much typing without pain. I spent most of that time thinking it was a repetative strain injury. I have been told by one doctor that there is nothing wrong with me and i should battle through it and take pain killers. I finally saw a good doctor who said it may be ligament damage and i have an appointment for physio! yay. Even though i have done some of my best work since then, it has been in small amounts! also my studio has become a tip! If I didn't have my partner to pick up my slack then I doubt i could work at all. When my hands are better I will never take them them for granted again! So the lesson is, if there's one its not to work beyond your capabilities! even if you think it is the only way. Anyway i'm going to make a cup of tea and put some frozen soybeans on my hands! Thanks for listening :) Kate
Hi AA2A artists
Did you know that if your work has appeared in a-n, Crafts (and most other magazines) you are entitled to money!...
"Any visual work that has been published in a UK book or magazine that has an ISBN/ISSN/Barcode number on it is valid for inclusion in a Payback claim. This is even if that work is included in an advert."
You may already claim but just in case this is all new to you, I would encourage you to register with DACs and see if you can claim as it really is 'money for nothing'!
The last day for claiming for this year is Friday 9th Sept 2011.
If you've got any questions - please contact DACs directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Big time lapse here and curiously feel guilty when I haven't managed to blog....time has been busy AND holiday and many other activities including preparing house for moving and Community Opera
Excellent Comm Op in Ryedale this year and should have mentioned it here earlier..
In spite of all other activities and thwarted intentions - good time for reflection. Think that the AA2A time provided me, more than anything else, with that profound reminder that experimental is ok and that the atmosphere of the experimental within an art department allowed me to recall what that means.
My interest in what and what's not skilled is of more interest to me than this time last October.
I've spent some time considering this over the year, and just what are and just where - are my particular skills through this current yellow dress work? I want to spend the next year on this same investigation while other research emerges. The yellow dress morphed in my mind and on the page between being a definite object - fine made and tailored to delicate suggestion.
I feared it in a definite form - properly stitched and sewn - layered and steeled. Yet knew it needed all the materials that I had but also knew that not any old yellow would do.
Through this analysis and across the moments when I was not able to spend any time engaging with it (the dress) on a physical level I still could not accept that it should be well crafted. In other words a proper frock. Why would it need to be that?
If this yellow 'thing' landed in the land - scape - would it be of it? Would it be overtly female or feminine.Probably - that's not all though - therefore the emphasis needs to shift.
Disruption, shaking the expected in terms of the visual - is this helping or hindering the understanding of the land - scape ( escape)?
My skill - I think it may be called that - is perhaps in adapting and using available material as part of subtefuge. Recently in the literal sense while assisting in Wardrobe on Red Saunders' HIDDEN project over in the Dales. 17th Century cozzies and attention in some detail - but not to everything eg hidden stitching and then running out of leg covering... improv baggy long johns - may be good at the back of the row and out of camera view? Great to be involved as volunteer on this and reassuring to know that the intuition still plays a part!
Very interested in how objects become and accrue.
Am currently developing bibliography for research scholarship............... and investing in Super 8 projector .... meanwhile have rejected all yellow findings and will take another look at fabric - dusters though good colour - too evocative of cleanliness and housewifery for this though gave it some thought tying dusters to people and all.
Is all this too much of a luxury though? What the hell is happening in Britain? Is this asking any of the right questions?
Cambridge School of Art is pleased to continue participating in the Artists' Access to Art Colleges (AA2A) scheme for the third year running, and our application process for 2011/12 is now open.
The closing date for applications is 17.00 on Monday 5 September 2011.
It's surprising how quickly the year has gone, and how fast the time has flown by since I first became engaged with the AA2A programme. My initial experience of the project was one of some confusion and it was not entirely clear exactly what was expected from us as student reps, however, when we eventually began to worry less about what we were 'supposed' to be doing and started looking into what we could do, the potential became clearer.
As such, I would certainly advise any new student reps of the potential benefits of the scheme but would also suggest that they do not wait for someone to tell them the best way to proceed as that information may very well not be fothcoming! The approach that worked for us was very much to simply dive in, arrange a meeting or two and get chatting.
It is unfortunate that as a part time student I was not always available at the same times as the artists so that did limit it a bit, however, following a meeting with Maria Mylona (Also student rep at MMU) and Melanie Alexandrou (Artist in Residence), I was delighted to accept their support of my practice in various ways. Maria assisted me by taking some very professional photographs of a participatory project which I have used in a variety of ways and Melanie kindly volunteered to be directly part of that project. You can see Maria's photos and learn more about the Talk to Me project here: http:/
I was also pleased to have to opportunity to display this, and other work alongside the contributing artists at an end of year exhibition in the university. It was at this event that I managed to meet 2 of the other artsists in residence (Ima Pico and Chava Rosenzweig) and speak with them about their work while displaying my own.
In reflection, I think that because I had a very clear direction in my practice this year, I did not put aside as much time towards the AA2A project as I might have done if I had been less focused, however, I can clearly see the benefits that I may have derived from it had this been the case. As it was, I benefited from the opportunity by meeting and being able to engage in dialogues with other artists and students that I would not otherwise have met, and the fact that I found contributors to my projects through it was undoubtably of great use to me.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to apply for the residency opportunity myself next year as to be eligible one must have been out of education for a year, however, this is certainly something I am considering for next year. I wish all the new artists and student reps the very best of luck with the new academic year and hope this will not be my last invovlement with the AA2A programme.
The end of an era. (AA2A residency draws to a close)
What a great time it’s been.
This oughta be the last post I make. Signing out.
So here is my attempt to sum up the past month or so of whats been going on/off/on again/round and round/side to side/and every other way the wind blows.
Post AA2A Show is now very much ON! Secured funding from the Uni. Secured a space courtesy of the kind folks at Newcastle Arts Centre.
Between working at the gallery, I spent the in between days getting into the ceramic studio and glazing/decaling new members of the dysfuktional ceramix family. New images to appear online soon.
Today is the first day in well over a month in which I have made found time to write the end of this blog. That’s how crazy things have been lately. The stress of it all has had my seriasis kick back in again, which is totally unfair given that I can’t even spell it!
Crazy neurotic weather.
I’ve been going thru those old haunting moments of wonders and thoughts that stalk the trouble and euphoric mind with delight and fear all at once.
Artist interviews and chit-chat-art-chatting up - see www.infesting.net
I’ve been collecting found torn out pages along walks round the streets.
Aside from myself the BA students mounted a fabtastic Degree Show. Well done. Hats off to them. All the stops well and truly out. And Andrew won the AA2A Student vote! He did give an extremely awesome rallying performance in his lecture.
Nu friends. wine. beers. sitting on the grass in the sunshine.
It has been a rollercoaster. A snowplough. A jump around. A time of gr-eat development for my practice.
I spent a good amount of time in the library, more than needs to be blogged about but as its the end I feel it deserves a little mention.
only once did i successfully insert a photo into my blog post. how did i do that?!
Did I achieve my proposal? I'm still kinda finding out what those became. But I guess that yes, some way towards achieving. and some failing. I'm keen to inherit failure in the works to maintain honesty. spunk. excitement.
POST AA2A SHOW - what condition our terms of condition are in
26th July - 13th August
Newcastle Arts Centre
67b Westgate Road
Doing this project has meant that I’ve gained confidence and improved my practical felt-making skills on large-scale work. It’s also made me really think about the surface of the pieces I’ve produced as ‘test pieces’ - forcing me to re-consider the ideas I had at the start of the project about using hand or machine stitch on the three dimensional hollow shapes.
Felt takes both types of stitch beautifully, but I‘m no longer sure that the pieces I now have in mind to make will actually need any stitch.
The dye sampling and the test-pieces with texture are pointing me in a different direction now. I’m ready to start creating the final pieces that I would like to exhibit, and as I’m using my test pieces and all my samples to help me generate the new pieces, I find that I’m questioning just about all of my initial ideas!