Assignment 1


Picasso ‘Mandolin’ 1914

Can’t say I really ‘get’ this sculpture. It looks like a load of offcuts of wood nailed together with little obvious sense of composition.

Tatlin ‘Corner Relief’ 1915

This looks a bit more composed and interesting to me, although it is difficult to get a good sense of the sculpture from a small black and white image. It looks like he has incorporated a set square into this sculpture as well as using unidentifiable cuts of wood/metal(?)

Jean Arp ‘Forest’ 1916

This is a brightly coloured relief sculpture using cut rounded natural shapes in wood to give a layered image. I can’t say the sculpture appeals to me, looking a bit like a child’s toy, but I can see the potential in that method.

Max Ernst ‘Fruits of a long Experience’ 1919

The source of the inspiration for this piece is obvious, but why star constellations relate to workshop tools is beyond me? Again, as a sculpture it doesn’t appeal to me.


An interesting start going into a project where none of the research inspires me! However, the course notes suggest placing objects/pieces together in a way similar to project 1 to create an abstract piece, so I will gather my materials and see where I get to.

Initial thoughts

This is quite a daunting first assignment – with the option of doing pretty much anything at all, in any material, at any size (up to 600mmx600mm), it is hard to know where to begin! Using my own cut forms is all very well, but unless I cut out lots of random shapes, I don’t have any at the moment. Therefore a theme is needed to start with I think. This will at least allow me to cut shapes based on that theme and work from there.

I collected some objects together with suggested either a mechanical/industrial theme, or a cycling theme.


Sketchbook027 Sketchbook028

I tried some sketches and different arrangements, but nothing was grabbing me.

Going back to the notes, a curved surface was suggested using veneer or Formica. The only material I had to hand which could be curved was some thin clear plastic, once used as secondary glazing on a window.

I cut a strip of this and tried some arrangements and sketches.


The arrangements couldn’t be photographed because I needed both hands to hold the strip in place.

After much procrastination, I decided that I just needed to go for it and make a start.

First decision – to use a 500mm x 500mm baseboard.


Second decision – to use a strip of plastic secured to the baseboard by blocks of wood using screws. This had to be committed to as I couldn’t secure the plastic strip without screwing it down.


Now I had a starting point, it was easier to try different elements against that to see where to go next. I tried with cogs, circular saw blade, metal pieces, wooden shapes, but couldn’t get a cohesive design.


Then I tried some metal rods and it came together.

P1010988P1010988 P1010988 P1010989

I added a second bent plastic strip to fill the gap (I tried introducing other media, but nothing else seemed to work).


The only problem with this arrangement lies with the joining of the metal rods. If I had welding kit, the obvious way of doing this would be to weld the three pieces together. Not having that, the only other methods of joining that I could think of would be:

  1. Drilling holes through the plastic – not ideal as they wouldn’t then rest on each other which is what makes this arrangement work well
  2. Using wire to join them – not ideal as would disrupt the clean appearance
  3. Using gravity – this would limit the hanging options to one or two orientations – the best option I think though (if it works)

I was happy with these elements and their composition, so the next decision was how to prepare the surfaces. I thought it would be good to go with brightly coloured painted surfaces, so I tried photoshopping the picture of the assembled sculpture with different coloured backgrounds and wooden blocks.

SculptureA1 blueSculptureA1 whiteSculptureA1 yellow 4 colours

I decided to go with this version:

SculptureA1 orange

Drilling the angled holes to hold the metal rods was not easy and I ended up having to cut the blocks at the bottom so that they fitted flat to the baseboard. In retrospect, this effect could have been emphasised to give more pronounced angled blocks.

I primed the wood, painted with gesso, then several coats of acrylic paints (if I had known how many coats were required I would have gone for a background the colour of one of the tubes of paint rather than trying to mix the same colour many times over). I also made the mistake of drawing around some of my blocks, the lines of which still showed through after 3 coats of paint, so I had to paint the lines in white to enable the orange to cover them over. Maybe I need to get some less transparent paints.


The blocks were screwed to the base through countersunk holes, the plastic was screwed to the blocks using black wood screws and washers.

The moment of truth with hanging the piece and whether the metal rods would hold their position:


They were actually very firmly attached through screwing the wooden blocks to the baseboard so I needn’t have worried about this after all.

Some sketches of the final piece (the first in acrylic paints which didn’t work, the second in charcoal):

P1010994 P1010995

Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I think my choice of materials was good and the techniques I used for joining them are all sound. I could perhaps have used a greater range of materials, but I prefer clean uncluttered work and there would have been a danger of adding too much information if I had kept adding different materials.

I think the composition of this piece works well. The bright colours and silver metal bars make it a bold statement and the curved lines of the plastic give it some movement.

Quality of outcome

This piece was created through experimentation with different materials and their placement on the baseboard, the final result arrived at through balancing the different elements and ensuring a clean coherent arrangement. The finishing is all good and the colours bold and even.

Demonstration of creativity

This sculpture was again created to the course notes brief, using experimentation with the placement of different materials. In contrast to the first project though, I am much happier with the outcome of this piece and don’t feel that the brief has constrained this sculpture.


The sculpture was not intentionally influenced by my research, but was arrived at through thinking about different possibilities using the course notes brief.

My drawings of this sculpture are not very good and this area needs much more work.

This blog and my sketchbook form the basis of my reflection, research and critical thinking.

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