Category Archives: Assignment 1

Assignment one: Sculptural form as architecture research

My initial thoughts about this are that sculptural form as architecture would be a sculpture that happens to incorporate an element of a building, whereas architectural form as sculpture would be primarily concerned about the building, with the sculptural form coming second?

The examples of this kind of sculpture given in the course notes are the architect Frank Gerhy’s ‘Guggenheim Museum of Art’ 1997, in Bilbao, Spain and the sculptor Rachel Whiteread’s ‘Holocaust Memorial’ 2000, sited in Vienna’s Jewish Quarter. These two examples would fit with my initial thoughts, but I can see that the distinction could get very blurred.

Looking into this further it looks like some sculptors also find the distinction blurry and a number of them have looked to merge the two. Siah Armajani invented ‘archi-sculpture’ in 1979, abstract sculptures using architectural elements. Similarly Anthony Caro invented ‘sculpitecture’ in the 1980s for his crossover pieces.

In relation to specific works, Per Kirkeby’s ‘Wanas’, 1994 is very clearly in this category, being a roofless pavilion. Won Ju Lim’s ‘Elysian Field North’ 2000 references the architecture of Vancouver using plexiglass and foam core, with projected images of industrial site played over and through it. These are the more obvious architectural sculptures, being either buildings or cityscapes.

More abstract forms like Caro’s ‘Forum’, 1992-94 obviously reference buildings in the shapes used and the form of the combined structure.

Forum

My ‘Residency’ sculptures from stage 1 would fall into this category also.

Residency No.6

Less obvious forms might include Sophie Ryder’s ‘Sitting’, 2007, a hare formed from galvanised wire, but cut in half down the middle. The gap between the two halves offers the opportunity to walk through the two halves (if it wasn’t fenced off!) and I believe there is a seat incorporated into the sculpture (although I can’t seem to confirm this, certainly there is a hollow which would allow access to a cave like space), bringing in usefulness and the makings of an enclosed room. As an aside, the materials of this sculpture were very interesting, using flattened wire, but the result is not well formed, nor makes any sense being cut in half!

Sitting 1 Sitting 2

“Evaluating Structural Form: Is it sculpture, architecture or structure?.” Is an interesting paper on the crossover between these three forms, with the linkage between them being the increasing number of constraints as you go from sculptural form, through architectural form, to structural form. Sculptural form having much more freedom than the other forms, with the only critical criteria being that it will stand up under its own weight.

As to when a sculpture starts to reach this blurred division of forms, it seems to me that pretty much the only criteria is size (either real, or implied). Any large sculpture will (intentionally or not) start forming spaces which might provide cover, or routes through it, or masses sufficient to provide rooms, or use industrial/architectural materials.

References:

Wanas.se, (2015). Konstnär. [online] Available at: http://www.wanas.se/svenska/Konst/Konstn%C3%A4rer/Konstn%C3%A4r.aspx?fid=29 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2015].

Backhouse, J. (2015). Vancouver Art Gallery launches a new series on emerging artists of the Pacific Rim. [PDF] Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery. Available at: https://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/media_room/pdf/100902.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2015].

Saliklis, Edmond P. “Evaluating Structural Form: Is it sculpture, architecture or structure?.” Architectural Engineering (2007): 25.

Collins, J. (2007). Sculpture today. London: Phaidon Press.

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Assignment one: Working to commission research

David Mach makes sculpture out of 100s or 1000s of mass produced objects and does most of his work by commission. ‘Train, 1997’ is a good example of how well his work scales up to produce public sculture (the largest in Britain at the time). I find his work interesting, but not hugely inspiring. I think this is because of his use of many of the same type of object, there is no variation in texture on his pieces.

It is interesting to read about the productions of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Burghers of Calais, 1884-9’, a commissioned work, but one in which Rodin had very strong ideas that he would not compromise on, even when the committee commissioning him did not like the direction he was taking. I imagine many sculptors would have changed their designs, but then lost the integrity of their work. The resulting sculpture is very powerful, full of movement and emotion and much more heroic for the vulnerability of the portrayal.

Rachael Whitehead’s ‘Untitled (House), 1993’ is a public commissioned sculpture which was a continuation of her current practice. Again for me this is interesting work, but doesn’t inspire me much. I prefer work such as the Rodin example above where the evidence of hand on sculpting is there to see.

Creative Commons Licence. RayMorris1. "Angel". 28 May 2013. Online image. Flickr. 13 February 2016. https://www.flickr.com/photos/vidyo/13661912663/in/photostream/

Creative Commons Licence. RayMorris1

Anthony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North, 1998‘ is probably one of the most famous commissioned works in the UK. To be selected to build such a monumental sculpture would be amazing. Like most of the commissioned work I have read about, this also caused controversy at the time, perhaps a given for producing large-scale works. I love the rusty metal texture of this sculpture and you can’t fail to be awed by it’s size and dominance of the landscape.

All the artists looked at here seem to be producing commissioned work which is in harmony to their current practice and not compromised by the commissioning process. They also research the location where they are to be sited, it’s history and significance, and produce work which is relevant to that history and makes reference to it.

References:

Benedek, N. (2000). Auguste Rodin: The Burghers of Calais, A Resource for Educators. 1st ed. [ebook] The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/~/media/Files/Learn/For%20Educators/Publications%20for%20Educators/Burghers.pdf [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016].

Gateshead.gov.uk, (2016). Background. [online] Available at: http://www.gateshead.gov.uk/Leisure%20and%20Culture/attractions/Angel/Background/Background2.aspx [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016].

RayMorris1. “Angel”. 28 May 2013. Online image. Flickr. 13 February 2016. https://www.flickr.com/photos/vidyo/13661912663/in/photostream/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016].

Royalacademy.org.uk, (2016). David Mach | Artist | Royal Academy of Arts. [online] Available at: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/artist/david-mach-ra [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016].

Tate.org.uk, (2016). Rachel Whiteread: Biography. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/unilever-series-rachel-whiteread-embankment/rachel-whiteread-0 [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016].

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Assignment one: Initial Ideas

The assignment task is to make a monumental abstract constructed sculptural maquette based on the idea of monumentality and architectural scale, using simple constructional materials such as lengths and blocks of wood, hardboard, flexible metal sheet etc.

Unlike the previous projects, there is no reference here as to where this sculpture would be sited, so this assignment seems to be all about form in a way which would work on a very large scale. The suggestion is to start with various blocks of wood, arrange and design them on a baseboard and use this as a starting point for the sculpture. I find this way of working a bit difficult as I usually start of by having quite a clear idea in my head as to what I might construct. It’s all about challenging yourself though, so I will give this a go.

I sat down to try this and then realised that approaching it in this way is easier said than done. I have lots of wood in my workshop, but it is all in big pieces and to start using them for sculptures, you need to have them in suitable small pieces. To get suitable small pieces, you need to have a vague idea of the types of shapes you want, or you end up with a lot of firewood! Nothing sprung to mind whilst pondering my pile of wood, but what did grab my attention was a metal rod which I played around with.

Initial Forms

Two themes began to emerge, firstly the use of metal rods and something bendy between them:

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Secondly, the use of metal rods and textured tiles:

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Either way, I was looking to try to incorporate them into some kind of building to reference the architectural theme.

I had again started to develop two sculptures rather than the one required! I initially thought that I would again pursue both ideas as one may be more successful than the other again, but the curved building with metal rods idea took hold the firmest and I decided to just pursue this idea.

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Assignment one: Development

Starting off with my initial vision:

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The initial idea of the building shape was a bit like the Nike logo and didn’t seem to work very well. Sketching this out led to this shape:

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Playing around with adding back in the metal rods:

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Working on a large sketch of this, randomising the rods and having them coming out of the walls seemed to work well:

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The building form has moved from being a smooth curved surface to becoming more organic in bulging where the rods meet it. It seems to make sense to expand this to the whole surface and make it ‘lumpy’ with a rough texture (stipple the paint?).

I am pleased with this form now and will start to work on the maquette.

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Assignment one: Maquette

The maquette was started by cutting wooden contour shapes with a jigsaw and gluing them together on a baseboard, as well as testing what materials could be used to fill in the gaps and be painted afterwards.

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The basic shape was then formed using oil-based clay, offering the opportunity to keep changing the form and whilst it will not harden to a firm surface, air-drying clays all seem to contract as they dry and crack if around wood.

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The rods were then added, using wooden dowelling.

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The ‘lumpy’ surface was then added using Plaxtin (not exactly sure what this is, but it also doesn’t dry). The intention had been to paint this afterwards, but I liked the colour of this so decided to leave it as it was.

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The next decision was what colour to paint the dowelling. I tried some coloured options, but none seemed to work.

Sketchbook035 Mockup redSketchbook036Mockup blackenedMockup metalicMockup white

The best options looked to be white, metallic/grey or black.

I started out painting the dowelling white and textured and painted the baseboard green.

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Having done this, I realised that the building is quite dark so the dowelling might be best left white rather than using the other dark colour options.

I was going to stop there, but in writing my first reflection post, my view changed.

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Assignment one: Initial Reflection

This maquette is OK, but it doesn’t have the oomph of my ‘Resurgence’ maquette completed in the earlier project work. I wonder if this was because I didn’t have a context in which I was constructing this sculpture? Having a context allowed me to think what related to the site and would work within it. Having no context for this piece, it was more about following a whim, with the lack of any constraints actually not helping my creative process.

In designing this work, the rods through the structure were intended as a bit of fun. However, these have ended up looking more violent, spearing the structure or protruding from it like spikes. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on what the sculptures purpose is. For me it didn’t feel like I had been successful in achieving my aims.

I posted images of the work on a Facebook group and had a number of people all commenting that it had war associations, looking like:

  • a WW1 Dreadnaught
  • a Paul Nash painting (interesting – not an artist I am familiar with – I can see the link made with his bare war ravaged trees and the implied violence)
  • a trench
  • a protective barrier.

The colour and hunkered down form of the structure add to this perception.

Maybe the structure could work as some kind of war memorial? Maybe it wouldn’t work at all? I think the site and purpose of a sculpture is important to be able to judge if it would work and not having this specified it is hard to do so. Maybe I should have picked a location in the same way the projects were site specific?

It is very interesting through the Facebook posts to see how different people view work which you have produced and come to different emotional responses / interpretations than what was intended. My view of it as a failure now changed to seeing that it could work in some circumstances.

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Assignment one: Final Form Maquette

My thoughts now are to take this down the war theme as that is the association it obviously has at the moment. The white coloured ‘sticks’ then don’t fit, so I’ll try painting them a darker grey than the mound (they were originally going to be made of steel rods, but I didn’t have enough) and look at reducing their number. I also have some pieces of rusty metal I might try to incorporate into the mound that might add to the impression of a barricade – worth a try.

As a barricade, this maquette is then too uniform, but that is a bit difficult to change at this stage. The main area to look at in this respect is the thin pointed end, which looks like a lizard’s tail at the moment.

I removed 6 of the sticks to make it less cluttered, then painted them a darker grey than the mound.

It was then quite drab which fit with the theme, but it did still need some colour. Bright red “blood” was the obvious colour addition, some thoughts:

  • red ‘blood’ on the ends – hurting others
  • red ‘blood’ on the base where the rods pierce it – hurting yourself
  • Both – hurting others whilst hurting yourself
  • just a few coloured, too messy otherwise

I also wondered about adding rusty metal, but decided against this in the end.

Red fluid acrylic paint was added by dripping it onto the end of 5 of the posts.

Sanctuary 1Sanctuary 2Sanctuary 3Sanctuary 4Sanctuary 5Sanctuary 6Sanctuary 7 Sanctuary 8

‘Sanctuary’
45cm x 57cm x 18cm
1:500 scale maquette Wood, clay, acrylic paint

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Assignment one: Reflection

Note

I am approaching this reflection differently and would welcome my tutor’s feedback on this. I have previously tried to fit my reflection to the marking criteria (see my project reflection), but I feel this restricts me in trying to analyse my work. I may go back to that method dependant on discussions with my tutor.

Artist Statement

‘Sanctuary’

Standing as a monument to the loss of life in war, this sculpture is the shape of a bunker with defensive struts projecting from and piercing it. Splashes of red drip down some of these as a reminder of the blood shed. A white door in the structure offers sanctuary from the chaos outside.

Reflection

See my initial reflection here.

This is an improvement on my earlier maquette, but it is still by no means my best work. The white door now has more presence due to its contrast with the grey colours than when the posts were also white. The red ‘blood’ splashes would also be very powerful on a full size sculpture.

This assignment didn’t grab me as much as the preceding project work and I think the sculpture has suffered as a result of that.

People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures.
(Theresa Amabile, ‘How to Kill Creativity’, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1998)

I perhaps should have followed an idea I had for developing my ‘Residency’ works to monumental scale:

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This would have inspired me more, however I wanted to try to produce something new rather than continue with ideas from my Sculpture 1 course.

Development

I was originally struggling to think how this piece could be developed further, but then an idea finally broke through:

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The shape here is reminiscent of a wave or an almost enclosed tunnel, the white rods now being like shafts of sunlight – in fact they could be glass rods / tubes to carry light through – the space is enclosed evoking more feelings – oppression, exploration, etc. Interestingly, although not an intentional idea at the time, this could also continue the theme of war, with dark tunnels broken through by shafts of light/hope, with the external surface similar to my current maquette.

I feel this is one of the issues of this course in tackling new areas / techniques all the time, the development ideas often seem to come too late in the day to do anything about them!

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Assignment 1 – Tutor feedback

I had a very useful telephone tutorial with my tutor Jim Unsworth at the end of Part 1. We discussed my strengths – making, but more importantly for me, my weaknesses – critical thinking / writing, observational drawing work and research.

As a result of this he suggested quite a few changes to my blog and ‘resurgence’ sculpture:

  • Research – my exhibition visit posts were mostly descriptive of what I had seen, not an analysis of the work. This has been changed now.
  • Artist statement and thoughts on my ‘Resurgence’ sculpture have been expanded.
  • Research – add research on commissioned work. Now added.
  • ‘Resurgence’ sculpture – on my tutor’s suggestion I tried removing the boulders at base and the green cloth as he pointed out that these distract from the sculpture. This has improved the work. Re-photographed and filmed the work.

Going back and amending this work has helped me in working out what I need to change going forwards. Hopefully this will show through in the next stages.

For future work:

  • Use white paper and increase contrast – the work I have scanned looks better on screen than the actual work due to contrast changes.
  • Make drawings like I make sculpture – explore the material and forget what it looks like. More experimental.
  • Develop large drawings and sculptures at the same time; open things out; investigate through drawing and making.
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