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Monthly Archives: September 2018
Notes on my tutor’s report for part 2:
My tutor wants me to explore more widely other artists who work within a similar remit and develop a much deeper understanding through practical and critical research. She also wants me to now spend more time on my parallel project and critical review and give my practical work time and space to develop.
Project 1 Space, depth and volume
Picked up on a lack of idea development in my submission. Need to try a wider range of options and explore as many possibilities as I can rather than restrict to a single outcome.
Project 2 Mark Making materials
My tutor pointed out that I have not explained my thinking behind the mark making I have been doing. I think I need to document my thinking much more as I am aware that I spend a lot of time working stuff out in my head, but then struggle to document that thought process in my blog. I will try to work on that more.
It is interesting to see that in my tutor’s later comments, she has suggested I do exactly what I have been planning to develop for my parallel project, which is using drawing on steel / rust to draw my own studies of organisms through a microscope.
She also suggests using cartography as a means to explore drawing, with some suggestions on artists to look at for extending ideas:
Maelzer paints or manipulates photographs of abandoned places or objects, they have a sense of time forgotten and a feeling of loss about them.
Her interest in abandoned sites and discarded items fits with the images that appeal to me. The texture of decay was an appealing subject to me when I was a photographer and has come back in my sculpture work in using rusted steel and now into my drawings using rust prints. This is definitely an area I want to explore more, so I will try to think how to continue this going forwards. I have a stash of images of abandoned places, so maybe I will try to use these in a project in future.
Maelzer, L. (2018). Leemaelzer. [online] Leemaelzer.com. Available at: http://www.leemaelzer.com/ [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].
I struggled to get a sense of Dyson’s work through the images on her website and other sites. Her work is about the way spaces are negotiated by black and brown bodies, with historical work on the history of slavery and racism. Her work is highly abstracted though and mostly evades my attempts to interpret it
Dyson, T. (2018). TorkwaseDyson.com. [online] TorkwaseDyson.com. Available at: https://www.torkwasedyson.com/ [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].
Meier, A. (2016). Creating a Spatial History of Slavery through Abstraction. [online] Hyperallergic. Available at: https://hyperallergic.com/287833/creating-a-spatial-history-of-slavery-through-abstraction/ [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].
Project 3 Narrative
My tutor thinks my drawing of my father is very earnest and representational and I need to be more experimental. I decided to re-visit this exercise again and see what I could do to rectify this:
I made the mistake of trying to use charcoal dipped in oil to darken areas of this drawing, but on the map background this didn’t work, maybe because of the acrylic gel used to affix it to the background paper. The resulting image may be lacking in technical proficiency in areas, but it has resulted in a more interesting image and more open to investigation and interpretation.
My tutor suggests I look at the work of Cai Guo-Qiang, which further reinforces the lack of explanation I am putting into my blog as it was his exhibition in the Whitworth back in 2015 that inspired me to try out gunpowder drawing.
I definitely need to document my thinking more, which is an important note to take forwards into the rest of the course.
Parallel Project and critical review
Need to think why work having a distinct narrative through a landscape is important to me. Think wider outside of the brief. Think about how going to start making work for the theme. Make work around my research.
Pin down what going to make for the project and more importantly, why?
My initial approach is going to be to start making sketches around landscape locations and also to try to translate some of them into sculpture.
Experiments to try:
- Drawing in wire, with tissue paper wrap over the top
- Drawing in oil based clay
- Could do thin plaster casts of these in Jesmonite?
Contextual focus point: Cornelia Parker
My tutor pointed out that my comments on her work were ill informed and she is right. I shall try to rephrase what I was trying to say:
Parker’s work is mostly all about the conceptual message. The hand of the artist (i.e. craftsmanship) is often absent. I think many of her works are interesting in their conceptual approach, but that only some of them hit the mark with me. There are sometimes hidden meanings in the conceptual work, i.e. in her ‘Pornographic Drawing 1996’ where she uses Rorschach drawings which are used in psychoanalysis to reveal subconscious desires, providing additional layers to appreciate. With the ones which don’t resonate with me though, there is often no fall-back position of admiring the craftsmanship of the work.
Her work is highly sought after and the exhibition of her work at the Whitworth gallery I went to in 2015 was interesting. What I was trying to say is that in my work, I want there to be more evidence of the artist’s hand in the work and that craftsmanship is important to me.
I have gone back and re-written this section to make a more informed assessment of her work.
My tutor points out that I am still trying to make a representational drawing and also that I haven’t followed my ideas through to exhaustion.
One of the key questions she asks is “think why you think that the final image needs to read like a painting? Is this important to you?”
I like abstract images, so I by no means feel that it needs to read like a representational painting. I do feel though that a drawing / piece of art, should have an aesthetic beauty to it. I feel that it needs the ‘hook’ of being an attractive image, to draw people into viewing is closer, to then impart more of it’s meaning to the viewer. A visually ugly image can turn off viewer attention instantly, or quickly impose a negative impression of a piece which it is hard to get past. So “yes” and “no” really!
I will keep exploring this site and how to draw this area.
My tutor encourages me to be more open to creative exploration and investigate other artists to gain confidence in my own approach and development of my personal voice.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Be less critical about what my work looks like and think more about that I enjoy in making marks.
Look at artists like Agnes Denes, Herman de Vries and CCANW – See Parallel Project post
I definitely need to document my thinking more, which is an important note to take forwards into the rest of the course.
I looked initially as her works like ‘Rice/Tree/Burial, 1968’, a piece which is thought to be the first ecologically conscious earthwork (Kino, 2012). This was a performance piece which involved planting a rice field, chaining trees and burying poetry in a time capsule. I have great admiration for works like this and whilst it chimes with my environmental concerns, it doesn’t chime with the type of work I want to produce myself.
On further investigation of her work, it became apparent that she has produced work in pretty much every field of art. The pieces of her work which appealed to me the most, are some of her drawings, a few of which I have made notes on below.
‘Stelae – Message from Another Time – Discoveries of Minds and People, 1986’
Carved marble inscribed with mathematical and scientific formulae. Looking at the scientific achievements we might carve onto a slab of stone to show the pinnacle of our thinking of the time, which could be unearthed in the future by archaeologists.
‘Isometric Systems in Isotropic Space – Map Projections: The Doughnut, 1974’
An ink and charcoal drawing of the globe in a doughnut projection.
‘The Human Hang-up Machine, 1969’
An ink drawing on graph paper which is like an engineering diagram for a machine, but with labels like “Degrees of Freedom”, or “Ethical Egoism Oscillator”. I am very taken by this work, engineering diagrams hold appeal to me for their precision and depiction of machinery and the explanation of how they work. This adds humour and a complexity which means you can spend a long time discovering new features of the work.
Her work appeals to me in the way she often combines science and art. Her drawings are precise which appeals to my way of working, although a little too precise and clinical sometimes for my taste. I want to find a balance of precise and random in my work if I can.
Kino, C. (2012). Agnes Denes Stretches the Canvas as Far as Can Go. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/arts/design/agnes-denes-stretches-the-canvas-as-far-as-can-go.html [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
Moma.org. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. Human Hang-Up Machine. 1969 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/61777 [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
Agnesdenesstudio.com. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. [online] Available at: http://agnesdenesstudio.com [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
herman de vries
herman de vries (he uses lower case for his name to embrace equality) works with nature, using natural materials to produce installations, or rubbing earth on paper. ‘from earth: everywhere, 2015’ is a collection of 84 rubbings from different earth samples – de vries has over 8,000 different earth samples, so this is just a selection of these. The displaying of samples appeals to me and I have produced some work in a similar vein cataloguing textures.
His work is often uses natural objects as they are, with little intervention other than their placement. It is interesting, but mostly not where I want to take my work, although the cataloguing display is an area I have explored and may well take forward.
Ganstrom, L. (2015). herman de vries interview in the dutch pavilion at the venice art biennale. [online] designboom | architecture & design magazine. Available at: https://www.designboom.com/art/herman-de-vries-dutch-pavilion-venice-art-biennale-05-13-2015/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].
herman de vries. (2018). herman de vries. [online] Available at: http://www.hermandevries.org/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].
The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) is a charity all about nature and the Arts, so it should be a good place to explore the ideas I want to look at.
‘Soil Culture’ project shows the amazing things you can discover when focussing on a particular issue, soil in this case. Exploring the science behind this is fascinating and provides an unlimited source of inspiration. Making art from this inspiration can then start a conversation about the environmental issues behind the subject. This brings issues to light which would not have been known about before.
Interesting quote from one of the videos (CCANW, 2014):
Dr Stephan Harding, Resident Ecologist & Head of MSc in Holistic Science
‘Information doesn’t work, I can show you tonnes of graphs of sea level rise, it won’t do anything to you, it will just switch you off, make you go back and watch your television even more. It doesn’t work. Fear doesn’t work either. The only thing that works is love. What we’ve got to do, is fall in love with the earth.’
CCANW (2014). Soil Culture. [online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/112804613 [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
Ccanw.org.uk. (n.d.). Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World. [online] Available at: https://ccanw.org.uk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
There was an exhibition of the work of Common Ground at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This is a group of artists who look for ways to engage people with their local environment, running workshops and engaging with other artists, organisations, public. The exhibition showed work from many of their projects and like many artists working in this area, they focussed on using natural materials to create their work. Whilst I admire this work, I was focussing on what I could get out of it to use in my own work and there were two pieces which stood out for me.
‘the Light Walk, 2016’ by Harriet and Rob Fraser
This was a series of wooden boards made from seven different woods (hawthorn, rowan, alder, scots pine, sycamore, birch, oak) with a laser cut GPS-tracking showing the seven day walk they took to travel between seven Long View trees.
The piece is visually attractive, appeals to my background working with maps, the poetry speaks to me about the environment they encountered and there is a great story about the journey they took behind the piece.
‘[G.H] Galgorm/Holly, 2018’ by Christine Mackey (and 4 other drawings in the series)
These are drawings of charcoal twigs which I presume were made with the charcoal twigs themselves. An idea I plan to use in my parrallel project work.
Common Ground. (n.d.). Common Ground. [online] Available at: https://www.commonground.org.uk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
Fraser, H. and Fraser, R. (2016). Back from the Light Walk. [online] THE LONG VIEW. Available at: https://thelongview.today/2016/06/28/back-from-the-light-walk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
The result of this research and much thinking around this subject was the identification of the key issue for me. I want to highlight environmental issues, whilst working in my chosen mediums of bronze and steel sculpture, or rust printing and gunpowder. I am not looking to change the mediums I work with to suit the subject, but a way to approach the subject using the materials I respond to. In some ways it seemed that by using more industrial materials, I may be contradicting myself and I battled with this issue for a long time. However, I believe it is more about getting the message across and I don’t believe the materials should matter in doing this.
A simple paragraph to write, but the crux of the issue which I have been battling with for many months now!
Exploring a 1km grid square and producing work based on that – was agreed by the collaboration participants.
The 1km grid square was chosen by selecting a spot close to the central location between the three of us and we arranged a site visit to explore this area. It turned out to be an ideal site as it contains a wide range of habitats:
It also includes Barden Tower, a 15th century fortified house which was remodelled in the 16th and 17th centuries which is a very impressive ruin.
The first thing we came across when looking at the river was a large selection of signal crayfish remains. This is an invasive species which carries the crayfish plaque which wipes out the native white clawed crayfish. They are also much larger than the native crayfish and can out compete and even predate on them.
We also found Himalayan Balsam which is an invasive non-native plant. So invasive species could be a possible avenue to follow.
I spent a morning with conservation staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park doing river fly monitoring in the river about 6 miles upstream of this site. We caught and examined the larvae of mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. During this monitoring, we also found a non-native invasive snail (from New Zealand) and an American flower (which I forget the name of).
Ash dieback is very prevalent in this location, with all the small trees affected and many of the large ones showing signs of it. This is spread by very small white fungus which appear on fallen ash leaf stalks between July and October. The spores from these are dispersed by the wind and can travel long distances. I hope to be able to find some of these during this period to be able to study further.
We also found Alder Gall Mite and Bird Cherry Ermine Moths. The former causes wart like nodules on Alder leaves, the latter covers cherry trees in silk. Both look like bad news for the trees, but apparently don’t harm them much.
Brown, P. (2018). Specieswatch: Bird-cherry ermine moth. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jul/24/specieswatch-insects-caterpillars-moths [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Woodlandtrust.org.uk. (2018). Ash dieback. [online] Available at: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/tree-diseases-and-pests/key-threats/ash-dieback/ [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Historic England. (2018). Barden Tower medieval fortified house and medieval garden earthworks. [online] Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1015417 [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Plantlife. (2018). Himalayan balsam. [online] Available at: http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/discover-wild-plants-nature/plant-fungi-species/himalayan-balsam [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Orchard, P. (2018). Alder Gall Mite featured on the The Nature of Dorset. [online] Natureofdorset.co.uk. Available at: http://www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species/alder-gall-mite [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Natureinthedales.org.uk. (2018). Nature in the Dales – White-clawed crayfish. [online] Available at: http://www.natureinthedales.org.uk/species/invertebrates/white-clawed-crayfish [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].