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Author Archives: MSButler
This project starts with a background covered in charcoal and starts by drawing into this with a rubber and then adding more charcoal to produce images without outlines.
This is my favoured way of doing life drawing, so I started doing some of these:
I want to see if I can apply this to my sculpture work though, so the next step was to draw a completed sculpture in this way:
This kind of works (colour plays quite a part in the sculpture, so black and white doesn’t capture that), but it doesn’t help me to develop the work.
I then tried a sculpture I haven’t (fully) made yet:
Obviously the lighting is made up on this sculpture as it doesn’t exist yet. The sculpture will be a wall hung relief work, but this looks more like an aerial view of a large scale work in the landscape. I’m also not sure it helps me to develop my work. At this stage, the nerve cell pieces are made, but I need to decide how to arrange them on the background. This is going to be much easier to do by moving the pieces around once they are made.
I am a big fan of this way of drawing and think it offers the best method of capturing a sense of depth and form.
This method of drawing doesn’t help me work on my current relief sculptures, but would help when looking at more all-round 3D works. For instance, this was how I ended up with this sculpture. I have gone in for a lot of relief sculptures lately and want to move back into more 3D in the round works, so this method might be more useful to employ with these works.
This was an exhibition of contemporary artist drawings, ranging from pencil/ink/charcoal drawings to objects and animation.
Responds to ‘found’ photographs and reproduces using pencil in incredible detail that makes it indistinguishable from a photograph. That shows great skill, but the interest comes from where he has altered them as if ‘photoshopping’ the images. ‘Untitled 2, 2005’ was particularly effective, a small image (maybe 50cm wide) akin to a black and white photograph of a school group, with the photographic like image for the front row, getting less detailed and down to a single outline at the back row of children.
A very pared down image using just a few lines, but in those lines the expression of the people is captured perfectly.
Very detailed drawings from her imagination which must take a long time to complete. She had some nice use of line and stippling, although I didn’t find there to be enough variation in mark making to keep my interest.
His drawings using just biro were very powerful. They use bold lines, or ruled lines fading out to produce graphic effects. They remind me a bit of Paul Nobel’s Nobtown drawings, but I prefer these ones as they leave more to the imagination.
A very interesting exhibition. Simon Woolham’s work made the biggest impression on me and I will try out some of his drawing methods.
Exhibition Visit – The Hepworth – Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscape + Permanent collection of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth
I started my visit looking at the permanent collection of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. I had viewed most of this on previous visits, so concentrated on their drawings and its relationship to their sculptures.
The drawings of his which were on display were his lithograph prints of Stonehenge and a couple of drawings of sculptures in a landscape.
I think his lithographs of Stonehenge are fantastic. They are very dark, but not in a brooding way, they have more of a mysterious feel to them. The lines and shading he uses describe the form of the rocks in great detail and really bring them to life.
The concentration on form and the smooth curves he describes in these rocks can be seen in his sculptural work. Whilst they are drawings of different objects to those which directly influenced his sculptures, the connection is clear.
This drawing was one of only two on display which show his drawings of sculptures – this time placed in an imaginary landscape. The background and shadows are very simple, but is effective in displaying these sculptures in-situ. This is something my tutor has just suggested I try doing with my own work in connecting my drawing more closely with my sculpture work. I can see how this could work well and I will try doing this.
There are many similarities between Hepworth’s and Moore’s sculptures, especially in their early work. However, when it comes to drawings, they are very different. Whereas Moore’s drawings are all about form, Hepworth’s seem to be all about line. She said herself (in an article for The Studio in 1946) that she rarely makes drawings for her sculptures, but her drawings are a search for forms, rhythms and curvatures. In the drawings on display, you could see their influence on the stringed sculptures she produced and the use of holes in her work, but there was no evidence of form being explored.
Szapocznikow’s work was very odd. Her work concentrates on the human figure and is mostly distorted and disturbing work. Reading about her background of being a Polish Jew and spending over 10 months imprisoned in concentration camps during the second world war, the experiences she suffered there are clear to see in her work.
‘Hand, Monument to the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto II, 1957’
In this sculpture she has drawn on these experiences to propose a sculpture for a monument to the Holocaust and it is a powerful work which fits the brief well.
Similarly, her work ‘Exhumed, 1955’ is another powerful sculpture, an unofficial memorial to a politician falsely accused of espionage and murdered.
Her other works, I found hard to connect to. Distorted figures or parts of figures were hard to interpret and her tumour works were very disturbing. She used materials which fitted in well with her work – resin and foam – these highlighted the disturbing nature of her sculptures.
Many of her drawings were also on display. These were often doodle like and used line with very little depiction of tone. It was also hard to see the link between these and her sculptural work, they all seems to be abstract shapes which bore no similarity with her sculptures.
Overall, it was not an exhibition I connected well with. I could see where the influences for her work came from and appreciate some of her work (the first two sculptures mentioned), but I didn’t like any of it. Is there anything I can take from the exhibition? That I’m not sure of at the moment. Maybe to be less precious of my drawings and not strive for a polished end product?
Notes on my tutor’s report for part 1:
Keen to get me confident in connecting my sculptural interests to drawing.
Need to bring my artists research into the coursework.
Try taking elements of a drawn 2D scene, model in 3D, then draw again.
Other option is collage – representing a scene through layered collage.
For my parallel project, investigate placement of sculptures in a scene or develop a purpose to the drawing investigations to move my sculptural ideas forward in some way.
Noted that the stippling was an interesting surface to bring in and why I did this. I need to remember to include details on why I make decisions like this in my reflections. Without the stippling, the white in the drawing was too stark. I was looking to break this up and had the option of either stippling or adding blocks of colour to the white areas. As blocks of colour had been explored in the previous project, I went for stippling.
Investigate more possibilities than the prescribed course notes to get the most out of the course.
My tutor notes that these are very successful and wonders why I say that I struggle with drawing. I am confident in my life drawings using charcoal and so it is odd that I consider myself a poor drawer. I need to work out how to apply the confidence I have in my life drawings to other subjects I guess.
Delve around further in terms of the artist’s working processes.
Write about decisions made in why I am drawing what I choose to draw.
Be more critical when unpacking the work when it is done to understand what I am investigating and why.
My tutor asks why the interest in cells. Again I have failed to explain this thought process in my reflections. I have an interest in microscopy from work I did on my Sculpture 2 course and I continue to delve into that world for ideas and inspiration for new sculptural work. I am currently working on a sculpture piece based on nerve cells (IMAGE) and so I am again trying to link my drawing work with my sculptural work to make it more relevant and interesting for me.
Try to incorporate 3D work. Use non-traditional materials to draw with.
Visit at least one exhibition for part 2.
Read and reflect wider than the course notes.
Investigate contemporary sculpture from artists drawings to get a better sense of the connections that can be made.
A very helpful tutor report and useful guidance in how to take my drawing work forwards. I was wary of doing this course based on my experience of D1, but now I think I can get a lot out of it.
Idea 1: Pollen
I would like to expand this work, so have the idea of producing a series of drawings of pollen grains, then their transformation into pieces of sculpture.
Maybe move this more into mixed media drawing?
Some ink drawings of the actual pollen grains as a starting point:
Idea 2: Genetic Modification or cross pollination
Using a similar method to the idea above, this would start with a drawing of a pollen grain and another of a virus (or different pollen grain), then a series of drawings combining the two into a new form and from there into a sculpture.
This would require research into the science behind these first.
Idea 3: Bees
I might have the opportunity to get involved with an exhibition based on bee decline with my sculpture work. I could incorporate drawing much more in this process than how I usually work and see if it leads me into more interesting territory.
Reviewing my work so far, projects 1-3 have been a progressive investigation of the use of ink, whilst project 4 has been a change of medium and feels a bit disjointed from the other two because of it. All the projects have explored making an apparently uninspiring subject interesting and exploring ways of making compositions more dynamic.
With my assignment piece I decided to combine elements from all the projects, taking the change of scale from project 3, my use of ink and bringing in the charcoal life drawings from project 4. My thinking was to combine these by doing ink/watercolour drawings of cells / skin / blood / etc. then charcoal life drawings over the top. Referencing the unseen internal structures alongside the external form of the body.
I tried out some drawings of nerve and brain cells in ink which worked well:
I then tried a few prepared ink drawings which I then drew over in charcoal:
I thought this idea worked well, with the quick ink and charcoal sketches working the best. I wanted to keep the spontaneity which came from working at speed, so for the assignment piece I decided to prepare both layers within a short timescale to try to retain this.
I used watercolour blocks to prevent the paper buckling and worked on 5 of these at once. Ten ink drawings were completed within around 2 hours, drying the blocks over a heater as soon as they were finished. To some of them I added a white gouache wash over the top to send the bold black lines more into the background. Within the 5 watercolour blocks I used there were 3 different paper types which worked differently with the ink.
In the second session, this was completed during around an hour and a half life drawing session, so allowed around 10 minutes a drawing. Again the different backgrounds all worked differently with the charcoal and swapping between them worked well to keep me on my toes.
Not all the drawings worked – in some the ink and charcoal drawings fight with each other and sometimes look quite disturbing. Others work very well together, some looking quite Picasso like.
I decided they would work well put together as a video. My video editing skills are limited, so I limited the effects to fading in:
I think these pieces draw together the project work well. I have been criticised for lack of risk taking in my previous course and I think forcing myself to work as speed in this assignment has involved more risk taking than I usually take, with some interesting and exciting results.
Not all of the drawings work, but that is to be expected with the risk taking and time constraints I set myself. However, as a whole in the video piece I think they do work well together.
The aim of this project is to draw parts of the human figure, observing the underlying structure of the limbs and create a drawing which leads the eye of the viewer into the overlapping twists and turns of limbs to create a powerful statement.
I enjoy life drawing and decided to leave my ink experiments for a while and do these drawings with charcoal which I am more confident in using to describe form.
I focussed in on overlapping limbs for these drawings and enjoyed trying to capture their shape and form.
There is not enough tonal variation in this drawing and the composition is not very interesting
I think I have captured the hands and crossed legs well here, but the composition doesn’t work, both with the drawing petering out at the edges and also the horizontal arms and leg being depicted in a portrait format.
I am pleased with how this one has worked out. The bottom on the left hand side is the least successful area, but I think the covered foot and shape of the leg works well.
I spent my time focussing on the hands in this drawing, so I didn’t have enough time to complete the upper part of the drawing. I think the composition of this works well though and would have been quite a powerful drawing if it was completed.
Another hand! I usually leave hands and feet unresolved as they are tricky to get right, but I think this one has worked out quite well. I think the composition works well here and shows a good sense of form.
I enjoy depicting the form of a figure in life drawing and I think most of my attempts here have been quite successful. Cropping the picture plane to include just a section of interesting shapes can work well, although attention needs to be given to whether limbs (arms and legs) will work being only drawn in part.
Research Point – Prunella Clough Tate Archive
Looking at the Prunella Clough Tate archive reinforces many of the projects in this stage, cropping images, inspiration from the mundane, the bold use of colour. She took uninteresting / unobserved scenes and trainformed them into artworks. It is particularly interesting to see her photo collection which acted as inspiration for her work. This is something I used to build up, but since turning my back on photography, have let slip. I will have to resurrect this habit.
I have picked out a couple of her images I particularly like:
I like the use here of a textured/patterned background with a small section of detailed painting and colour. I think this could work well with my water and ink drawings in moving them to a bigger scale.
Rusty metal always strikes a chord with me. Again, the use of a lightly patterned background which is left blank in much of the image works well and the small section of colour really stands out. I always wonder how artists ‘see’ images like this, so maybe I will try to create my own in this style and see how I get on.
A very interesting artist to look at and one I will take inspiration from.
Scaling up particular features of a landscape, still life, portrait, or anything for that matter is likely to create an abstract image of which the original source is potentially obscured (if scaled up sufficiently to remove all context). As a way of creating an abstract image, this offers unlimited drawing opportunities. It may be more interesting to scale up just below this point though, so the image can still be related to its original source, but take on a new life through being much bigger than would be expected. It’s increase in scale and partial representation will introduce ambiguity and allow the viewer to question what they are looking at, and so take on more interest as an image.
I played around with a few arrangements and settled on drawing two keys and a piece of toy train track. I used a small paper frame to isolate an area of this and select my composition.
Continuing my work with ink, I used ink and water to render the objects, then a watered down ink wash to add in the shadows.
This was OK, but the white areas were too white. I tossed up between adding colour and continuing in black and white. I decided to stick with the latter and added stipples to the background.
This drawing is much more interesting than I would have imagined that a drawing of two keys and a train track would have turned out. This method of working opens up an unlimited source of inspiration using whatever objects are to hand – something I will hopefully remember when I struggle to get inspiration for a drawing.
Research Point – Elizabeth Blackadder
The course notes point to a video about her work, but I thought I’d have a look at her work on various internet sites before watching this.
Born in 1931, Elizabeth Blackadder is recognised as one of Scotland’s most important artists (The Scottish Gallery, 2017).
Her paintings don’t appeal to me on first viewing as I find they lack any depth or life. Her sketches of lobsters and leaves are technically proficient, but are more like studies than finished paintings.
This image seems to be close to the image this project is looking at producing. It is an unusual composition which doesn’t seem to follow normal placement ‘rules’. The objects seem to be randomly chosen and again, very flatly painted. It is interesting that this project is focussing on the background – in this image, the background works well for me, it is the random image painted as the main subject which don’t work for me. There is no focus, my eye wanders aimlessly around the image, not finding any area it likes to settle upon. However, zooming out to the overall shape and colour of the background it has an appeal to me.
I struggled to find other work by her that I liked, so I moved on to the video.
I’m not sure I learnt much more from viewing this, other than she paints what she likes and it was refreshing to see an artist talk about it in this way without losing the audience in art speak!
Turning back to the internet, this image was another which uses colour and the placement of objects. Whilst the first image link could have been produced in the way the course notes suggest by pinning work to a coloured cloth, this was obviously painted from a 3D scene, it has just been painted to look squashed into 2D – there are no shadows at all. Maybe this is my objection to her work – I am very much a 3D artist, so I like to see depth in an image.
It looks like (from the video and also from looking at her paintings) she paints the coloured backgrounds in after the individual objects have been painted. I will try this in the exercise.
National Galleries of Scotland (2011). Elizabeth Blackadder: In the Studio. [image] Available at: http://vimeo.com/25711526 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2017].
Nationalgalleries.org. (2017). Artworks | National Galleries of Scotland. [online] Available at: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/search/artist/elizabeth-blackadder [Accessed 27 Oct. 2017].
The Scottish Gallery. (2017). Elizabeth Blackadder. [online] Available at: https://scottish-gallery.co.uk/artist/elizabeth_blackadder [Accessed 27 Oct. 2017].
The aim of this project is to experiment with colour composition and detail to use the whole frame of the drawing. The notes say to pin up coloured fabric or card and suspend or pin light, brightly coloured objects onto the fabric. Then make several drawings in colour exploring composition and enjoying the juxtaposition of bright colours and detail.
I decided to modify the brief by electronically pinning items to a coloured background. This meant I could adjust the scale and also not be restricted to light objects. It also meant that I didn’t procrastinate because of not having any coloured fabric / suitable objects to pin to it. The course is encouraging me to see ideas in unexpected places, so I chose my items quickly from the items which are sitting around me in my studio. I photographed them individually on a white background, ‘cut them out’ in GIMP and ‘placed’ them on a coloured background.
I tried various arrangements and made small sketches of these, working in a similar way to Elizabeth Blackadder in leaving plenty of space around each object.
I decided that the final version worked the best. I haven’t given up on ink drawings yet, so I decided to keep going with these for this exercise and use watercolour over the top.
This time I worked with a mapping pen and water to do my drawings and I think I may have found my favoured medium in this combination. The mapping pen allows precise lines, but varied with pressure and the chance of blotches or sprays when the pen catches on the paper. The addition of water introduces partially controlled randomness and gives a great effect. I am glad I have persisted with ink as a medium! I used watercolour to add colour to the ink drawings and also to the background.
Have I managed to instil energy or life into the whole drawing, or does it run out of steam at the edges?
I like to think that I have in this drawing. In following the advice of the course notes in allowing the objects to go off the edge of the page, I think this adds more energy to the drawing. The bold colours and the interesting black ink shapes work well for me.
From an uninspiring premise, I’m quite surprised and pleased with the results. I have also really enjoyed working with ink and watercolour which is a promising start to the course.
Research Point – Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse made use of bold colours in his paintings, both in depicting the objects and the background.
In a similar way to Elizabeth Blackadder, some of his still life images are very flat, e.g. ‘Still Life with a Magnolia , 1941’, although others do have shadows and depth, e.g. ‘Vase with Fruit , 1901’.
It is interesting to view the ‘Selected Highlights’ page on the The Metropolitan Museum of Art website, which shows that he painted several versions of many of his images, working in very different styles on each version.
Henri-matisse.net. (n.d.). Matisse: Life and Painting. [online] Available at: http://www.henri-matisse.net [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. (n.d.). Selected Highlights. [online] Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2012/matisse/images [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].
Elizabeth Blackadder vs Henri Matisse
Both use bold colours and both often render their objects in two dimensions by removing shadows.
Matisse still life images keep their arrangement, the object drawn have a relationship to each other in their placement. Blackadder often paints each item of a still life in it’s own space, with object rarely overlapping.
Backgrounds are important for both. Matisse paints backgrounds which are realistic – i.e. the corner of a room, whilst Blackadder uses shape and colour to provide a background to her objects.
I’m not sure which artist I have more affinity with. I can appreciate elements of both artist’s paintings, but overall neither really does it for me.
The aim of this project is to learn to use what seems to be an unpromising subject, build up a composition and create an interesting drawing.
I have learnt that projects like this in Drawing 1 could lead me to procrastinate as they didn’t inspire me, so I grabbed my sketchbook, went outside and drew the first area I found!
It was an uninspiring area and still life on the whole is an uninspiring subject matter to me. I played around with a few areas of the scene:
I wasn’t getting anywhere with these and was getting close to giving up, when several elements of the scene came together for me into the design of a sculpture – I was interested now!
This sketch is of a sculpture I am now quite keen to have a go at making, so it was a useful exercise in keeping going with an uninteresting subject until something is sparked.
I tried again in the quite periods whilst doing an art show with the corner of a room:
This morphed into a surrealist view of the wall! Good fun to play with, but I didn’t develop this one as far.
These sketches formed a successful outcome for me in producing ideas for my sculpture work, but they don’t necessarily create an ‘interesting drawing’, which was one of the project aims. One issue is the use of drawing pens gives too uniform a line and the resulting sketches are too flat and boring because of it. I also haven’t taken heed of some of the course suggestions to be playful with the work and media.
- Learn to use sketchbooks effectively
- Learn to use drawing as a development tool for my sculpture work
- Produce drawings which will compliment my sculptures
- Incorporate research into my work
- Complete in 1 year
My sketchbooks and drawings are currently the weakest area of my work and I hope that my journey through this course will address and resolve that issue.
I also have an aim to work with ink more, so will be trying to complete many of the exercises in this medium (or at least to start with).
I feel I have come a long way in my journey through this course. At the outset of the course I was enjoying producing sculptures but had not developed a style that was mine. I feel that I have now started to develop that style and have a much clearer view on the direction in which I am taking my work. I have more confidence with my main working materials of bronze and steel and have challenged myself to produce ambitious work.
I now have two main bodies of work that I am going to develop further, my map tiles and my pollen/microscopic sculptures.
Throughout level 1 I had completed the research elements of the course in a perfunctory way and it was a noticeable weakness in my results. In this course I have carried out research in more depth, have begun to enjoy it more, incorporate it into my work, and now appreciate the benefits of carrying this out well.
I still need to do more to address my other weakness which is in my drawings, moving on to study drawing 2 is therefore daunting, but hopefully will be beneficial to me.
Part 1 – ‘Resurgence’ from my project work included. This piece has more presence and a stronger form than the other work, it also fits better with my other work in using rusted steel. Assignment 1 piece ‘Sanctuary’ included in supporting work.
Part 2 – No work from this stage is included in my selected work. The project work I completed for this section was not all successful, ‘Wing’ was too contrived, the bronze sphere in ‘Box’ worked well, but the sculpture as a whole was less successful, ‘Untitled’ (included in supporting work) worked the best and was a precursor to my Assignment 3 piece. My assignment piece ‘Target’ is the piece that worked best in this section, but as it doesn’t fit with my other work I have included it in my supporting work.
Part 3 – ‘Organic abstraction’ was chosen from my project work as a successful translation of my initial drawn idea and although different to my developing style, still similar in the use of steel and bronze (or plaster painted to look like bronze). ‘Organic carving’ is submitted as supporting work as it had a fairly successful outcome, but I didn’t feel that it contained any meaning for me. The assignment piece ‘Untitled’ had some issues in the design and construction of the piece, but the form and concept work well. This work led on to ‘Decaying pollen 2’ which was completed after the assignment and is now part of a body of work I am developing.
Part 4 – I produced a series of 8 sculptures for this stage so have just selected two of the original assignment pieces ‘Conistone Moor’ and ‘Howgills’. I have also included development work completed after the assignment was submitted in ‘Fractured Landscape’, the start of a new series I am developing.
Part 5 – I completed 4 sculptures for this section and have included all of these except ‘Animalcule 1’, which was not as successful as the other three due to the internal forms used.
All these works are being submitted digitally, with the exception of ‘Conistone Moor’ which I will post.
Animalcule 3 was unfinished at the time of submitting my assignment, it had the steel and bronze is a raw state. This looked good for this sculpture, but wouldn’t stay in that state, the steel would rust (quickly if displayed outdoors) and the bronze would slowly colour over time.
I liked the colours in the raw state pieces, so I started out by painting the steel silver. I then made the mistake of patinating the bronzes mostly in a blue colour. Some of them went a bit brown in colour and these work better, but the blue ones don’t provide enough contrast between the two different colourings.
I think I need to strip the bronzes back and re-patinate them a brown colour. I’ll not be able to do that until after assessment though, so I will submit my original unpainted/patinated pictures and video.
I developed some more ideas for map tiles, covering issues such as desertification, flooding, drought, etc.
Looking at the work I had produced for this assignment, my tutor made the following comments:
Work well as a body of ambitious work. Have more of a sculptural sense about them that my previous map tile work.
‘Captured passion’ – whilst the grid is interesting and the patina works well, the pollen sphere is too placed and ‘pretty’.
‘Animalcule 1’ – the steel form has the form of a scientific vessel and this theme could be played on more? Of the 3 animalcule sculptures, this is the one which needs more work.
‘Animalcule 2’ – The canvas softens the steel and works well with it, but perhaps the wiring could be made more of (too delicate at the moment)? It is like a zeppelin and has the feel of wanting to travel.
‘Animalcule 3’ – This is very dynamic looking, with animation in the way the internal bronze elements travel around the steel structure. This has much more confidence in working with the materials and placement of the forms.
My research is OK as far as it goes, but it needs to be more fully integrated in my processes. I need to broaden my reflections and identify the areas I need to work on more. I also need to make notes on what I am reading, comment on the work and how it could be used. Need more clarity and more depth. I also need to broaden my reflections
My tutor suggested I research and comment on the following:
Isomorphology by Gemma Anderson
This is a fascinating little book by Gemma Anderson. She has obviously spent a lot of time drawing different specimens to come to the conclusion that forms can be compared based on their basic form.
The fact that animal, vegetable and mineral forms can be classified in a similar way is interesting, but the most interesting points for me are:
Following a line of thought in great depth can lead to interesting results – I will take this forward with my pollen work, dedicate a sketchbook to this work and follow it in as many different ways as I can think of.
Combining science and nature can work well – this may form the basis of my third stage project.
Drawings can be very simple (her bold coloured outline drawings), or detailed (her etchings) and still work. I had this discussion with my tutor earlier in the course that the notes often push towards the free expressive marks, but that these don’t work for everyone – myself included.
Place by Tacita Dean and J Millar.
I will research this book in relation to the stage 6 essay
On Growth and Form by D’Arcy Thompson
Having only got through the introduction and first chapter of this book so far, I also looked at the Henry Moor Institute Essays on Sculpture 70, which is about the influence that this book has had on sculptors (Hammer et al., 2014).
Thompson’s principle theory was that the growth and form of living creatures could be explained using the laws of mathematics. His ideas were very controversial and none more than his ‘Theory of Transformations’ – the idea that physical forces could account for differences between different species. The diagrams he produced to show this were very convincing and influenced Henry Moore to produce his ‘Transformation Drawings’.
Naum Gabo believed in an alliance between science and art and was also heavily influenced by Thompson, particularly his work on shells.
Richard Hamilton was the sculptor whose work directly referenced Thompson’s book in his 1951 exhibition of the same name, which presented objects which translated Thompson’s diagrams into three dimensions and mixed sculptural items with scientific objects.
Other artists who were influenced include:
- Herbert Read
- Ben Nicholson
- Barbara Hepworth
- Jackson Pollock
- Mark Bickers
- Charlotte Sale
This shows what a huge impact his book had on artists and sculptors in particular because of his focus on shape and form. This influence is obviously still continuing in inspiring Gemma Anderson with her work. I shall keep reading and see where it takes me.
From the introduction to the 1961 abridged edition of ‘On Growth and Form’ I bought, this is attributed to the fact that ‘it is good literature as well as good science; it is a discourse on science as though it is a humanity’ (Thompson and Bonner, 1961, p.viii). This seems more common nowadays, so as more and more science is explained in this way, the link between science and nature will no doubt only strengthen.
Science is obviously influencing my own work and I am interested to take my pollen work forwards, looking at the effects of genetic modification of crops. I can’t find any images of GM pollen, so I could work on combining images of bacteria and pollen, then use some of the principles in this book to distort/modify these and develop the work in this way. This could be an interesting project to take forwards to level 3.
Hammer, M., Jarron, M., Kemp, M. and Le Feuvre, L. (2014). D’Arcy Thompson’s “On growth and form”. Leeds: Henry Moore Foundation.
Thompson, D. and Bonner, J. (1961). On growth and form. Abridged Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
I had an encouraging tutorial for this assignment and seem to be heading in the right direction with my essay. I have many notes on how to tweak it, my main stumbling block is adding in my tutor’s suggestions whilst keeping it below the 2,000 word count. I only hope I have cropped out the right bits!
For my next level 2 course I need to deepen my research and its application to my work as I go through the course. I also need to ensure I have primary research as part of my next essay. It will be interesting to see what comments I get from assessment to add to my list of ways to improve.
I need to do some more drawings in relation to my map work for the assessment.
My tutor suggested I research and comment on the following:
Whistler’s “arrangement in White and Yellow” 1883 in relation to the movement towards displaying art in minimal spaces.
Whistler’s exhibition ‘Arrangement on White and Yellow’ was staged at a time when the usual method of displaying art works was the salon hang, with pictures crammed together, occupying the majority of the wall space, on bold painted walls and framed in large gilded frames. Whistler’s exhibition went completely against that principle, framing the works in thin white frames, spacing them out, painting the walls white to merge into the frames – an arrangement we would be very familiar with today. In addition to this, he turned the exhibition into a performance, affecting the quality of the light with yellow drapes, adorning guests with yellow satin and velvet butterflies and an attendant dressed in white and yellow to match the gallery theme. Such a significant change in display challenged the established way of displaying artwork, caused great publicity for his exhibition and led to the minimalistic gallery environments we now all expect.
Rosner, V. (2005). Modernism and the architecture of private life. New York: Columbia University Press.
The Fine Art Society. (2017). James McNeill Whistler. [online] Available at: http://thefineartsociety.com/artists/63-james-mcneill-whistler/overview/ [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].
Olafur Eliasson in conversation with Tim Marlow
This is a fascinating talk that I think will take me some time to digest fully. Some interesting points I noted:
Regarding space in works – do they celebrate your movement through them, or try to alienate you for moving? – In Olafur’s case, definitely the former.
People come into galleries to take a closer look at the world. They heighten people’s senses.
In his works, he wants to encourage shared experiences that people see differently – he sees their disagreement as a positive thing, to be celebrated and embraced. Certainly when looking at ‘place’ as I am, no two people will experience or remember it in the same way.
He gives the responsibility of finishing his art works to the viewer. He trusts them and gives them the confidence to experience them fully and make the works their own.
Royal Academy of Arts (2016). Olafur Eliasson in Conversation with Tim Marlow. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KmUFPZxp6E [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].
Mapping is a theme that has been present in my work for many years. The idea of representing a landscape on a flat surface fascinates me, as does the history the features can reveal.
Mark Butler, Conistone, 2016 and Howgills, 2016
Through working on a series of map based sculptures, the subject of place came to the fore. I produced sculptures that started out by depicting the topography accurately, before adding found objects or more abstract marks. They were successful, but they might benefit from concentrating on the emotional response the landscape evokes rather than any accuracy to the terrain/features being depicted. Researching this subject will help me to decide on the future direction of this body of work.
What does ‘evoke a sense of place’ mean when it comes to sculpture?
Evoke means the appearance of feelings about something, to ‘bring or recall (a feeling, memory, or image) to the conscious mind’ (Oxford Dictionaries | English, 2017).
Place has many meanings, but it does seem to imply a specific location. A sense of place is ‘hard to define with any satisfaction’ (Dean and Millar, 2005, p.17), but means a location which has a feeling of being special in some way, it is an emotional response.
So evoking a sense of place involves triggering an emotional response and will therefore be different for each individual. Tacita Dean says ‘the artist can evoke a place that will always only exist as a memory of another place in the mind of the viewer’ (Dean and Millar, 2005, pp.182 – 192). In sculpture this might take the form of a large scale installation which places the viewer in a new special place, possibly also evoking memories of similar locations from the viewer’s past, or smaller works to which the viewer would travel in their minds eye which might be more in the realms of the imagination.
Why do I want to examine work in a ‘gallery environment’?
White walled galleries are used to provide a blank canvas, a void like atmosphere in which no distractions are present (Zimmerman.co.nz, 2017). Brian O’ Doherty (1999, p.15) describes the design purpose of the modern gallery spaces is that ‘The outside world must not come in’.
Bringing the outside into a space specifically designed to keep it out is an interesting and challenging idea.
On the other hand, an outside location already has its own sense of place, so using the vacuum of a gallery environment allows the viewer to focus purely on the sense of place the sculptor is trying to evoke.
I will examine two artists: one who uses installation to bring the outside environment into galleries and another who produces landscapes on a smaller scale.
A number of artists import natural materials into the gallery environment to blur the lines between outside and inside. An early example of this is Walter de Maria’s, ‘The New York Earth Room, 1977’ (Foundation, 2017) where Maria imported 197 cubic meters of earth and spread it evenly over the floor of a white walled gallery space.
More recently the work of Olafur Eliasson brings elements of the outside into the gallery environment and creates a sense of place within them. ‘The Weather Project, 2003’ consisted of a giant ‘sun’ made out of hundreds of mono-frequency lamps, a mirrored ceiling, and haze machines producing a fine mist atmosphere. Over ten years later, ‘Riverbed, 2014’ created a rock landscape and stream inside a gallery.
Olafur Eliasson, Riverbed, 2014 (changeorder, 2015)
Eliasson’s work considers what is ‘natural’ and how our experience of nature, natural phenomena and landscape is actually cultural. To engage viewers with this question, his installations are created in a way that enables people to see the construction techniques used. ‘The Weather Project’ allowed viewers to walk behind the ‘sun’ and see how it was made (Tate, 2003); ‘Riverbed’ was obviously a built landscape because of its setting in a gallery. He wants to make it clear how his installations are made so the viewer can question what they are experiencing (Collins, 2014).
Both pieces invite more interaction than purely observation, with the visitors having an impact on the work as they pass through it, or actively interacting with it. Many of the reviewers point towards the freedom in this work from the usual rules of engagement in a museum environment. The installation removes the ‘rules’ of a gallery experience and ‘there is no expected way to act within or experience the space, allowing for freedom of reflection, thought, sensory experience, and sense of self.’ (Quddus, 2014), others find ‘something disorienting about a piece that so openly invites intervention’ (Secher, 2014). These reviews were about ‘Riverbed’, but looking at the videos of ‘The Weather Project’, the same seems to be the case for this installation.
‘Riverbed’ can be seen as contemplative in a similar way to the layout of a Japanese garden, it is monochromatic and simplistic, with a peaceful stream flowing through it. Conversely it can also be viewed as sinister and destructive, the barren and lifeless landscape imposing itself on the gallery like a scene of devastation or ‘a post-apocalyptic environment’ (Coghlan, 2015). Eliasson is interested in how people can shift between the two perceptions dependent on their mood and the impact of the people around them (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014).
It is hard to know what my response to this work would be without being able to experience it, but I think I would find it oppressive. The sterile nature of the landscape in the equally sterile gallery environment would find me relieved to escape into the outside world. However I experienced it, both ways of viewing it detailed above are strong emotional responses, so would therefore evoke a strong sense of place. Interacting with and contemplating the meaning of the installation would create a strong memory and opinion of the work which would not be quickly forgotten.
The installations accentuate elements of the natural environment we might not pay attention to normally. Voon (2014) puts this down to ‘the role of the white cube in creating more alluring environments.’ These installations certainly couldn’t work in the same way anywhere else but in these gallery environments because their isolation from the real world is a necessary part of the work. Eliasson does not see the gallery environment as a vacuum as discussed in the introduction, rather he sees it as an environment that should amplify what we know about the world. Whether it succeeds depends whether there is trust – if visitors experience an exhibition where they are trusted, they then have trust in themselves to interact with the art (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014). From videos of viewers interacting with his installations, I would say that this trust has been achieved.
Smaller scale landscapes
In this section I will look at the work of Mariele Neudecker. The works she creates appear like fantasy landscapes, but they are actually based on romantic paintings where the artist (Friedrich) adapted the landscape to suit what he wanted to show. Neudecker recreates these landscapes and immerses them in tanks with dyes and salts which react over time to create different atmospheres, simulating the effects of fog or sunsets on the scenes. The highly detailed landscapes are crafted in great detail to give the illusion of reality, with the aim of being able to transport the viewer into the scene in their mind’s eye (Cumming, 2000).
Mariele Neudecker, Heaven, The Sky, 2008 (Jeffery, 2011)
‘Heaven the Sky, 2008’ consists of two large glass tanks housing cropped mountain ranges made from cast and painted fibreglass, filled with water and a chemical solution. This piece addresses a number of different issues:
The chemical reaction which takes place in the tanks results in a change in the environment, simulating snow forming on the mountain tops and fog around the base of them, similar changes to those which take place in our own environment.
The scenes are also animated by the viewer moving around them, through refraction from the water in the tanks, reflections off the glass walls and changing views as foreground becomes background and vice versa.
The scenes Neudecker depicts are based on romantic paintings and she is interested in how these paintings and any view of a landscape are always a crop of reality. This is depicted by cutting the sides of the mountains to leave flat planes where they meet the edge of the tank.
Containing the mountain ranges in tanks captures a piece of the outside for the viewer, bringing it to them. Placing them on plinths at or just above head height makes them still inaccessible though and distances the viewer from the landscape in the same way we view mountain ranges in reality.
The artist Friedrich, on whose work many of her tank pieces are based, ‘demonstrated a strong conviction as to the enduring identity of place’ (Dean and Millar, 2005, p.17) by using images of people in his landscape paintings. Neudecker has removed the people, but left evidence of man’s impact on the environment, be it a cairn, or a pathway, or a tower. This evidence of mankind’s impact will help viewers to project themselves into the landscape and bring about that sense of place. However, due to the bright lighting and reflection in the tanks, we are always reminded of the gallery space in which they are placed. The glass tank is used to remove the scene a step further, to displace it from the everyday world (Searle, 2000), the viewer is acutely aware that they are on the outside looking in.
Neudecker’s works are described as ‘captivating’, they have a ‘reverence and mystery’ (Jeffery, 2011) or a ‘religious majesty’ (Artforum.com, 2009). They certainly appear intriguing and provide a realistic (yet obviously cropped and contained) landscape in which to lose yourself in your mind’s eye. The cloud-forming chemicals add a sense of time passing as well as another layer of realism to feed the imagination. I imagine these evoke a strong sense of place, even if that place is definitely contained and outside of reality.
Evoking a sense of place in sculpture is possible in many different ways. The only requirement to be able to do this is for people to be able to be in a landscape, either physically or in their imagination.
Triggering the memory of a real place can be achieved through almost any means (even smell), but that memory is dependent on the viewer in question, whether they have visited that site and the experience they had of it when they were there.
It is much easier to create a new sense of place in a sculpture. Doing that through installation or in smaller works would seem to require a degree of realism, not necessarily relating to a real location, but in how they depict a chosen location. Placing yourself in a location would require a belief in that landscape. In developing my map tile work this is an important consideration to keep in mind as I move towards more abstract work – if the sense of landscape is lost by abstracting too far, then so is the sense of place.
The notion of time is also embedded within place (Dean and Millar, 2005). This can be depicted through movement in installation work, either within the landscape or the viewer’s movement through it. In smaller pieces this could be achieved through the viewer’s ability to move around a piece, or through evidence of occupation in a landscape, providing a ‘route’ for the eye to travel through the work.
Whilst a ‘sense of place’ can be hard to pin down, the key to its success in sculpture appears to be creating a believable landscape, introducing a sense of time, and producing an emotional response in the viewer.
Artforum.com. (2009). “Trying to Cope with Things That Aren’t Human (Part One)” – artforum.com / critics’ picks. [online] Available at: https://www.artforum.com/index.php?pn=picks&id=22034&view=print [Accessed 19 Jul. 2017].
Blayney Brown, D., Daniel-McElroy, S. and Young, D. (2004). Mariele Neudecker: Over and Over, Again and Again. St Ives: Tate.
changeorder (2015). Riverbed by olafur eliasson at the Louisiana. [image] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/29623457@N02/16027764390/in/photostream/ [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
Coghlan, N. (2015). Olafur Eliasson, Expanding Environments in Aesthetica Magazine. [online] Aesthetica. Available at: http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/olafur-eliasson-expanding-environments-aesthetica-magazine/ [Accessed 11 Jul. 2017].
Collins, J. (2014). Sculpture today. London: Phaidon.
Contemporary Art Forum, Kitchener + Area. (2009). CAFKA.09: Mariele Neudecker. [online] Available at: https://www.cafka.org/cafka-tv/cafka09-mariele-neudecker [Accessed 7 Jul. 2017].
Cooke, R. (2003). The Unilever Series: Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2003/oct/19/features.review17 [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].
Cressey, D. (2013). Arts: Framing change. Nature, 497(7448), pp.187-187.
Cumming, L. (2000). Review: Mariele Neudecker. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2000/oct/08/1 [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].
Dean, T. and Millar, J. (2005). Place. London: Thames & Hudson.
Eliasson, O. (2017). Riverbed • Exhibition • Studio Olafur Eliasson. [online] Olafureliasson.net. Available at: http://olafureliasson.net/archive/exhibition/EXH102282/riverbed [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].
Facebook.com. (2009). Royal Academy of Arts. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/royalacademy/videos/210048532946/ [Accessed 7 Jul. 2017].
Foundation, D. (2017). Dia | Visit | Walter De Maria, The New York Earth Room. [online] Diaart.org. Available at: https://diaart.org/visit/visit/walter-de-maria-the-new-york-earth-room-new-york-united-states [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].
Jeffery, C. (2011). Preternatural. Ottawa, Canada: Punctum Books.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. (2014). Olafur Eliasson. [online] Available at: https://en.louisiana.dk/exhibition/olafur-eliasson [Accessed 11 Jul. 2017].
Neudecker, M. (2017). Artist – Mariele Neudecker. [online] Marieleneudecker.co.uk. Available at: http://www.marieleneudecker.co.uk [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
O’Doherty, B. (1999). Inside the white cube. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2017). evoke – definition of evoke in English | Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/evoke [Accessed 9 Jul. 2017].
Quddus, S. (2014). Olafur Eliasson Creates an Indoor Riverbed at Danish Museum. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: http://www.archdaily.com/540338/olafur-eliasson-creates-an-indoor-riverbed-at-danish-museum/ [Accessed 11 Jul. 2017].
Searle, A. (2000). Arts: The magical landscapes of Mariele Neudecker. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2000/oct/03/artsfeatures [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].
Secher, B. (2014). Riverbed by Olafur Eliasson, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/11055034/Riverbed-by-Olafur-Eliasson-Louisiana-Museum-of-Modern-Art.html [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].
Tate. (2003). The Unilever Series: Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/unilever-series-olafur-eliasson-weather-project [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].
Voon, C. (2014). Olafur Eliasson Creates a Riverbed in a Museum. [online] Hyperallergic. Available at: https://hyperallergic.com/144439/olafur-eliasson-creates-a-riverbed-in-a-museum/ [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].
Zimmerman.co.nz. (2017). Zimmerman Art Gallery – Why do galleries have white walls?. [online] Available at: http://www.zimmerman.co.nz/insider-info/44-why-do-galleries-have-white-walls [Accessed 7 Jul. 2017].
I was going to include Charles Simonds’s work in my essay, but decided to restrict it to just two different artists instead. The research work I did on his work is below.
Charles Simonds started his career constructing buildings for imaginary ‘Little People’ on the streets of New York. These were temporary installations that would be destroyed by vehicles, people or the weather. He was interested in making them for their own sake and for the community he was working in, not for art collectors as work to sell.
Working on location in the poor areas of the city, his early sculptures had a strong sense of place, usually constructed in decaying abandoned buildings and echoing that in his constructions. They were also a comment on displaced people looking for a safe place to live (Coffey, 2015).
He initially resisted putting his work into the gallery environment, wanting his work to be discovered by chance on the streets (Weber, 2013). This changed as he received more invites to show in them and whilst he still works in this way on the streets of various cities, he does also create work for galleries.
Early on in his career he created his ‘Three Peoples’ – three different tribes of ‘Little People’. These people lived linearly, circularly and spirally and he described their way of living, their beliefs, history and their buildings in this way. He has built upon this foundation ever since. This way of working with imaginary occupants fits well with my ‘residency’ work.
‘Two Streams, 2011’ is a landscape and buildings for ‘Little People’ reminiscent of an Indiana Jones set, or the floating islands of Jorge Mayet (My Modern Met, 2017). Like all of his pieces, they have body references, the streams in the title appear like tongues projecting from this piece. The small ruined buildings are constructed in intricate detail, the landscape they sit in is portrayed in grey or red colours like rock and earth. It’s suspension from the wall makes it even more other-worldly, but is portrayed with great realism.
‘Ruined Blossoms, 2011’ is a landscape of grown walled flowers in various states of decay. The clay they stand on is dry and cracked, the lack of water perhaps the reason these blossoms are dying.
‘Grown Walls, 2011’ is a fantastically detailed piece, with a central flower turning into brick walls as it goes outwards. The close and uneven walls mimic the flower’s petals but tend to a more regular square shape, crumbling at the edges.
In moving from the street into the gallery, his gallery works do not try to address their setting, his later works take this further in their suspension from the wall or ceiling. Taking about ‘Mental Earth, 2002’ he says that ‘it’s not part of the space, it’s in the space’ (The Institute of Fine Arts, 2016).
In his conversation with Richard Shiff (The Institute of Fine Arts, 2016), we hear how his pieces were originally built on his body, he sees the body as the original house and all his landscapes have body references. From his 1984 exhibition catalogue (Simonds, 1984):
‘These works are wilted ruins, sprouting towers, body rock plant hills, stumps, smears, buds and floral sprays.
They are living places.’
Do these sculptures have a sense of place? With their myriad of ruined dwellings and realistic rock and earth surfaces, they certainly provide locations you can project yourself into, so I would say that they do.
Coffey, M. (2015). “I Build Ruins”: Charles Simonds and the Dwellings of his Little People – artcritical. [online] artcritical. Available at: http://www.artcritical.com/2015/12/31/michael-coffey-on-charles-simonds/ [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].
My Modern Met. (2017). Miniaturized Landscapes by Jorge Mayet Appear to Float in Mid-Air. [online] Available at: http://mymodernmet.com/jorge-mayet-miniature-island-sculptures/ [Accessed 23 Jun. 2017].
Simonds, C. (1984). Charles Simonds: house plants and rocks. New York: Leo Castelli Gallery.
The Institute of Fine Arts (2016). Charles Simonds in conversation with Richard Shiff. Available at: https://vimeo.com/162981459 [Accessed 14 Jul. 2017].
Weber, S. (2013). BOMB Magazine — Charles Simonds’s Absence by Stephanie Weber. [online] Bombmagazine.org. Available at: http://bombmagazine.org/article/7170/charles-simonds-s-absence [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].
Frame title as a question then focus on answering it.
Structure around an introduction that outlines the question you’re asking and how you propose to answer it. Why this question + how going to answer it.
Then 2 or 3 chapters to break up the test into key areas + conclusion that summarises what you’ve deduced and your final thoughts.
- How do sculptors evoke a sense of place in a gallery environment?
- Introduction (200 words)
- why this question? Relate to map tile work
- why ‘place’?
- why ‘gallery environment’? Vacuum / white cube
- How going to answer the question?
- Chapter 1 – 2 or 3
- Two or three different artists + relate to own work
- Chapter 3 or 4
- Comparisons between them
- summary of what deduced
- final thoughts
- Bibliography (assume this doesn’t count towards the word count? Not according to the course notes)