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Monthly Archives: April 2015
I went on the OCA study visit to the Henry Moore exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The bulk of this exhibition was in the underground gallery where no photography was allowed, so this will be sparse on pictures unfortunately.
Texture is very important in his work and he often leaves the marks which show how he has arrived at the final form. Negative space is also very important in his work. He often has holes in his sculptures and it seems that the shapes of these spaces are as important as the sculpture itself.
As for inspiration, it is obvious that the shapes of bones are a prominent source for the shapes he uses. Researching this after the visit, I found that some of the development of bones into sculptures can be seen in his sketches – Ideas for Sculpture: Transformation of Bones 1932.
With the majority of his work, there is a real sense of mass. This influence is confirmed in something he wrote in the Architectural Association Journal in 1930:
“The sculpture which moves me most is full blooded and self-supporting … it is static and it is strong and vital, giving out something of the energy and power of great mountains”
Focussing in on a few of the sculptures on display:
The facial features of this sculpture are very flat on a rounded head. They are asymmetrical, yet still appear balanced. There are obvious Aztec influences.
It was interesting to read after the event that the expressionless features on his sculptures could be interpreted as death like, or having the symptoms of shell shock victims or masks used to cover facial wounds.
Reclining Figure, Bone 1974 (I can’t find a picture of this on the internet to link to)
Reminders of bone / driftwood / seascape / landscape elements with a sense of time / worn away. The sculpture is bottom heavy like many of Moore’s works. There is a strong, heavy pull to the ground in his work, a real sense of mass. The holes and lines in the travertine marble add to the time worn and bone like elements of this sculpture.
Mother and Child, 1978
By contrast with many of his works, this sculpture is smooth with no evidence of tool marks. It is made out of a stalactite and is a beautiful material. The only image I can find of this work is of a smaller maquette.
This sculpture is designed to be seen from the front rather than in the round, the rear of the sculpture is much less finished and has much less detail than the front. They are sentinel figures, designed to be read. The figures are ugly in contrast to other Moore sculptures. Miro inspired?
This is the combining of drawing and sculpture, in the way that the thin lines contour around the shapes. It is a beautiful object, but you get a different view of it when you take the “head” title into account, at which point it becomes cyclopic and a bit disturbing.
The circular section implies more of a mechanical/non-organic influence (perfect circle), and also has a different sense of time about it (quicker to produce and not time worn like the other shapes).
Three Piece Reclining Figure No.1 1961-62
This is made up of very bone-like elements. The marks on it are all hard, chisel like marks, showing that it was carved rather than moulded.
Moore’s shelter drawings are very evocative and depict the suffering of people sheltering in the tube stations very well. His use of small amounts of colour and wax crayon as a resist for watercolour wash is extremely effective.
His prints of Stonehenge (e.g. Stonehenge IV 1973 and Stonehenge XI 1973) were even more impressive for me. Depicted almost entirely in black, the lines used are very sculptural and the impression is very dark and brooding.
Overall, this is a very interesting exhibition. I hope to revisit it if possible, having now read more about his influences.
Arts Council Collection. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk>
Bridgeman Images. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bridgemanimages.com>.
Getty Images. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.gettyimages.co.uk>.
Lewison, Jeremy. Henry Moore. Köln: Taschen, 2007. Print.
Mitchinson, David, and Henry Moore. Celebrating Moore: Works from the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation. London: Lund Humphries, 2006. Print.
Mutual Art. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.mutualart.com>.
Stephens, Chris, and Richard Calvocoressi. Henry Moore. London: Tate, 2010. Print.
“Tate.” Tate. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.tate.org.uk/>.
The Henry Moore Foundation. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.henry-moore.org/>.
I visited this exhibition at The Tetley in Leeds on 26 January 2015.
An interesting selection of drawings, all of which seem to have been chosen because they are “different” or “off the wall”. So, no wonder then that the winning piece is actually an audio track of someone describing an unknown object in a way one might draw it. There were photo-realism pieces (I can appreciate the skill involved, but they leave me cold), paper-cuts, paintings, pencil, charcoal and film. I don’t know what the submissions were like, but they seem to have picked one of everything and it made me wonder if that became the winning criteria!
Some of my favourites:
Jemma Appleby ‘#2230113’, 2013 – A tonal charcoal image which is reminiscent of a B&W photo of Bauhaus architecture.
Gary Edwards ‘There are no owls #1’, 2014 – Abstract image in graphite with marks made by scratching/distressing the surface.
Hilary Ellis ‘Enigma II’, 2014 – Threads through paper and knotted to look like a page of text.
Annette Fernando ‘Wait a minute, it’s the truth and truth hurts XIV’ 2013 – Ink drawing of a crumpled page with text on. Very skilfully done and an evocative image.
Michael Griffiths ‘Spectrum’, 2014 – Bold white lines through dark charcoal on one side, subtle crease marks on the other under oil pastel lines which work well together as a whole.
Jonathan Huxley ‘Breakdown’, 2014 – A very evocative and suggestive scene created with no defined lines, as if viewed through a fog.
Alzberta Jaresova ‘Position XVI’, 2014 – A very skilled drawing which asks questions about what the woman is doing / thinking.
Aileen Keith ‘Jetsam’, 2013 – A very bold images. Not clear what it is saying, but I like it.
Sigrid Muller ‘Seed Pods’, 2014 – Lovely tone and form.
Hitesh Natalwala ‘Untitled I’, 2013 & ‘Untitled 2’, 2013 – These look like sculpture designs which are interesting on their own. The background is also fascinating, being made up of hundreds of tiny cut out rectangles with small gaps around them, cut from the text of some kind of medical form. These were my favourite images of the exhibition.
Taylor, Anita, and Parker Harris, eds. Jerwood Drawing Prize 2014. London: Jerwood Visual Arts, 2014. Print.
Sketchbook and Learning Log
In the overall comments, the main one to note was that my sketchbook and learning log are still under-par. This is an area I guess I was aware of, so really need to crack now before going any further. It also means going back on some of the blog posts already put up and amending them (now done).
My tutor was pleased with my drawings when I worked with more dynamism and fluidity and thought my sculpture and its finish was effective. The main point to note going forwards was to remember to look and reflect on my work and consider future developments for sculptures, based on the work I have done. That thinking should also be reflected on in greater depth in my learning log.
“I was interested to read that you had asked for other students to offer their opinions of this work on the student Facebook page. For me the sculpture is interesting because it conveys a sense of ugliness and seduction, the form changes from geometrical to organic and is then squeezed by the two red forms, the sculpture is well finished and adds to the sense of allure. I feel this is your best work on the course so far and should show you a possible path forwards.”
Additional work – “As an additional exercise I would like you to make a robust large scale fluid drawing in response to this work and see what that does!”
I did try this in pastels:
However, I don’t think this drawing adds anything new. I think maybe this is because I have moved on in my mind to other things and this sculpture isn’t inspiring me as much as other ideas I have?
“The sculptures look interesting in their raw state, where you can identify their nodules and orifices. As you finish the works some of the glazing, in particular the blue, overwhelms the sculpture and it is difficult as the viewer to discern what we are looking at. Please also be very careful not to over-finish a sculpture through the use of elaborate backgrounds, these can often detract from the work and make it look old fashioned.”
I get the point on the glazing overwhelming the sculpture in terms of losing some of the definition of the form, but then I feel it does also meld it together well. I’m not sure I would agree here on my tutor’s comments about the use of elaborate backgrounds. I could see how they might end up detracting from the work, but I can’t see how they make it look old fashioned.
Suggested reading and viewing
Please take some time to look and respond to Phylidda Barlow’s work and make reflective comments in your learning log and the way it relates to your plaster work ‘Flow’.
Phyllida Barlow makes large scale sculptures out of cheap and easily obtainable materials which she describes as “anti-monumental”.They are crudely constructed by piling up materials / fixing together in a random fashion, which makes them appear to be bodged together. Some areas are painted (equally roughly), whilst much of the material is left untreated. The whole edifice looks unstable and thrown together.
In her interview with The Guardian, she says that she “isn’t that good at making, isn’t very good at detail”, her work embraces mess and collapse.
I can see why my tutor is asking me to relate my ‘flow’ piece to this work in that it is very loose and embraces the unfinished look. However, I think her work is the polar opposite of what I do and like!
It is always hard to judge artwork thought the viewing of images on a computer screen, but I don’t see the appeal in these sculptures. Most of them don’t appear to have a pleasing form, don’t seem to suggest anything more than a pile of rubbish, don’t seem to offer interesting areas to visually explore, their scale is impressive though.
The only one of her pieces I have found which I like is this piece. The pillars and struts look neater on this structure, the suspended box object has an interesting surface texture and the broken end shows the underlying structure of this and a contrast to the solid area. The protruding concrete(?) blocks provide a narrative with their appearance of having smashed through the suspended box.
In contrast many other pieces, this amongst them, just looks like a pile of rubbish attached at the top of some step ladders.
Maybe they need to be viewed in the flesh to fully appreciate them as even this video I found didn’t do anything for me.
“Highlights from Phyllida Barlow’s Show ‘RIG’, October 2011.” Phyllida Barlow RA Elect. Royal Academy of Arts, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
Cochrane, Kira. “Phyllida Barlow: ‘Just Going to Art School Doesn’t Make You Famous'” The Guardian, 31 Mar. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.
“Defying Gravity: Phyllida Barlow’s Tate Britain Takeover – in Pictures.” The Guardian, 31 Mar. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.
Have a look at Adrian Villar Rojas who was on show at the Serpentine Gallery not long ago, to see just how ambitious you can be with modelling in clay, you can see examples of the work on the Serpentine website.
Adrián Villar Rojas
I can see the appeal of Adrián Villar Rojas much more than Phyllida Barlow. He also works on a monumental scale, but also at smaller scales, however, his work appears to be well made, detailed and visually appealing. He often chooses materials which degrade over time, which provide interesting textures and effects.
His recent exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery called Today We Reboot the Planet was based on the imaginings of a world after we have destroyed it.
I don’t like all of the work, but many of the pieces are interesting and offer comment on the way we treat the planet. As commented later on in this post, this is not the kind of work you would have sitting in your living room. In a gallery environment like this, I can see it makes a very interesting exhibition which I would have liked to see. His works for this exhibition all appear to be in clay, and he seems to have made everything and anything out of it for this exhibition. He doesn’t fire any of his work though, so it will all disintegrate and be returned to the earth. He also incorporates living material into his sculpture, their attempt to grow and eventually to die, being a part of his work.
His work ‘My Dead Family, 2009’ where he made a 28m long sculpture of a whale stranded in a forest in Argentina is a beautiful piece and would be great to see in the flesh. To be able to produce a piece of sculpture on this scale must be a fantastic achievement – something to aspire to!
Interestingly, whilst my tutor has been trying to steer me away from representational work, Adrián Villar Rojas’s work is definitely that. From a Guardian interview (link):
When he was at art college, he looked at the conceptual mood prevailing in Argentine art and did the opposite of what artists today are supposed to do: he set out to tell stories, depict figures, express emotion.
Overall, I like his work and might well try some pieces in the same kind of style.
“Serpentine Galleries.” Adrián Villar Rojas: Today We Reboot the Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
“Adrián Villar Rojas: Today We Reboot The Planet.” Art Fund. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
Jones, Jonathan. “Adrián Villar Rojas: Why I Made Kurt Cobain out of Clay.” The Guardian, 19 Sept. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.
Pointers for the next assignment
Remember not to over-finish a sculpture and reflect in depth on your successes and failures.
The above is a selection of my tutor’s comments about my work looking at the areas I need to develop and also picking out some of the main views and criticisms.
The main issues I have are with my tutor’s comments that my project 6 sculpture is my best work so far on this course, my assignment pieces are over finished with too elaborate backgrounds, and his pointer for the next assignment to not over-finish a sculpture.
I feel that my tutor is pushing me towards the more modern art installations, for example the work of Adrian Villar Rojas who he asks me to have a look at. The main issue for me here is that whilst I could go down this route, I don’t think it is a route I want to go down, at least not at the moment. Work like this is interesting, but to me it is only really suitable for gallery exhibitions. The work I enjoy and therefore want to produce myself is work which is displayed in commercial galleries, which you can imagine putting on display in your own house – i.e. work which is “finished”. Maybe I am being unadventurous in this respect but, long term, my aim is to exhibit and sell my work. However, I am not aiming to be putting on solo shows in London, rather small shows in local galleries and, for that, I would be looking for work which I guess is more commercial.
Going through a course like this is an opportunity to push the frontiers and experiment, which I will certainly continue to do. I just don’t think I will be doing this to the extent which my tutor would like me to do. I did a post on my thoughts about ‘Art’ in an early blog post to see how my views of this change as I go through the course. I think I am learning to appreciate modern art more than I did when I wrote this post, however, I still want to be producing work which appeals to the masses. Well, maybe not going that far, but work which can be appreciated for its beauty. That beauty can be weird and wonderful, but still beauty.
For me, I think my best work so far were my assignment pieces. I get the comment about the glaze hiding the form too much (and will hopefully get chance to try some more and see if I can rectify that), but apart from that, I could see these on display in a gallery. As for my project 6 piece, I was quite pleased with it, but I couldn’t imagine this on display in someone’s house.
So, how do I go forwards from this?
Maybe do a mixture of both?
I think a mixture of the two could work, I will just have to see what the views of my tutor are.
Plenty of work in progress, but nothing finished this month – must try harder!
I had planned on doing lots of sketches whilst I was away at the bronze foundry, but ended up not doing any there, so a bit of a sparse contribution from me this time.