For this assignment, I had a Skype tutorial with my tutor to talk through the work I had produced. These notes are from this tutorial, the short written report my tutor provided and thinking about what we discussed afterwards.
My tutor was pleased with my progress from my first assignment, and I have made good steps forward from my first assignment. So he is going to push me and direct me to help me to be self critical and make decisions to re-jig sculptures if they are not making sense, to give them more life.
It was clear that I need to spend a lot more time reflecting on the sculptures I have produced, both in terms of working out what works/doesn’t work and why, and also to consider how other people will respond to the sculpture/what meaning it portrays.
Project 3: Building three-dimensional structures
My tutor thought that ‘The flick’ was too staged, too illustrative. When the viewer comes along, are they convinced my the scenario? Does the hovering of the hand work more successfully than the staged metal domino’s? He suggested that taking the boxes away might achieve a more successful or different outcome. Does this create a more unusual sculpture – what would the hand be pointing at?
In producing this sculpture I had an idea in mind and, although this idea changed as I went along, I did end up producing the sculpture I had envisaged. What my tutor is saying is that I need to question these ideas as I go along and be prepared to change this, drastically if necessary.
He suggested that in modelling the hand and placing it in a situation that implies realism, I could have cast my hand instead. Has the process of modelling it given it a sense of the uncanny to the hand? I particularly like the marks from the modelling process, I think they make the hand work, and I didn’t want it to be too real. But maybe as my tutor suggests, putting the hand in the situation it is in, makes it need to be more real? Maybe its situation means that the non-realness is lost. I think the hand on it’s own does work better as a sculpture and maybe I was being too constrained by the brief in keeping some constructed elements in the work. The modelled hand provides more of a sense of the unreal, which is then removed by the staged metal dominoes. He suggested that I look at the drawings of Egon Schiele to see the sense of the human form describing something beyond itself. Looking at his work, they certainly have an energy and expressiveness, with an interesting use of unreal colours. They have passion and convey a message, but they are not pictures I would have hanging on my wall – something I will come back to at the end of this post.
The bonfire sculpture is again an illustrative piece with a hand striking a match to light the pile of matches. He pushed me to describe the contrast between the constructed metaphor for a bonfire and the hand – there is something curious in terms of scale with the height of the fire and the hand – there is a sense of narrative between the two things – there is something interesting in putting the two elements together which works. However, the match lighting the matchbox feels a bit jokey, or kitsch, which doesn’t fit in with the rest of the sculpture. He suggested that if it was a maquette for a larger sculpture, it could be similar to a Claes Oldenburg sculpture due to this.
I am setting myself too strong a conceptual brief which I am sticking to rigidly. What would happen if the two elements in this sculpture were fused together? I am being very illustrative of my ideas, more time needs to be spent playing with the materials.
My tutor suggested looking at artists who deal with sculpture as a representation of an idea, such as Michael Craig Martin – This artist relies on belief of the artist and viewer and believes that these are key to a piece of art. In his work ‘An Oak Tree’ he “de-constructed the work of art in such a way as to reveal its single basic and essential element”, the belief that a glass of water on a shelf was in fact an oak tree. Do I get it? No. Do I like it? No, not really! Again, something to come back to.
Another artist he suggested I look at was Ryan Gander – whilst I like some of his work, ‘More really shiny things that don’t mean anything, 2011’ for instance looks interesting and I see the message it is presenting, or ‘Tell my mother not to worry (II) 2012’ has a playful way of using unexpected materials. However, other work such as ‘The way things collide (macaroon, meet stool), 2012’ or ‘Associative Ghost Template # 3, 2012’, I don’t “get” – they don’t seem to be saying anything to me and they don’t seem to be that interesting in themselves.
Other artists my tutor suggested to look at were William Tucker and Paul McCarthy. William Tucker’s work looks sterile to me – I can’t see the ‘story’ in much of his work and the imagery of it does not appeal to me. Equally Paul McCarthy’s work is also not appealing – why create silicone sculptures of White Snow Dwarf’s? – unless I am missing something from the images, they don’t appear to be saying anything much? The silicone looks eaten away in places on these models which introduces some interesting textures, but as a whole they don’t appeal to me any more than a plastic model of the dwarf would in a Disney store.
Narrative/illustrative art is art which tells a story – this used to be the case with much art up to the twentieth century, but it seems to be frowned upon now. Should it be?
Project 4: Large drawings from maquettes
I wasn’t a fan of my drawings made with a brush on a long stick and thought they looked like a bit of a dogs dinner, but my tutor thought they had more life and potential, and that the pastel drawings of the bronze hand were not convincing and felt lifeless in comparison.
He is trying to get me to introduce energy into my work – I am so aware of what I am doing, it is sometimes important to do things which are outside my comfort zone.
The drawings of the matchboxes could lead on to something else, whereas the others more records of the sculptures which don’t take you anywhere, or make you look at them in a different way. I need to look at these kind of drawings as a means to develop the sculptures.
Assignment 2: Large stacked structures
I need to think about how the viewer ‘reads’ my work, what does the symbolism ‘English’ in the matchbox mean? In this case it was what the matchbox had written on it and so had no ‘meaning’ for me when I was making it, but for someone else viewing it, that text could be very significant. It could be challenging something about Britishness, or entering into a social/political debate. I have a lot of thinking to do about my next sculptures! I have to be willing to challenge myself with what the meaning of my work might be.
I need to spend more time on reflection of the work and be much more self-critical – points covered in the notes above.
In my research, he advised that I choose a few artists to research and comment on that I am passionate about, and to do this in much greater depth than I have been doing so far.
My sketchbook needs to be used in greater depth for the next assignment.
I think my tutor is trying to lead me down the road to conceptual art – a route I am prepared to try, but I am very wary of! Obviously art should have meaning or mystery, but when the meaning becomes all and the beauty / interest of the sculpture goes, then that is when I get off! I can’t see the point of art which cannot be appreciated without a story behind it – I think that story can reinforce / add to the art, but I think a piece of art should stand up on it’s own, with no knowledge of why that piece of art was created, or what it intends to depict. I don’t want to be producing “poncey” art!
I want to produce art that can be appreciated by the masses. That may not be very ‘modern’, but that is the art I enjoy, and so I can aim for little else I think. The art I produce could have much deeper meaning for those who understood it / thought about it more, but I don’t want to produce work which alienates people and reinforces the ‘all modern art is rubbish’ point of view.
My tutor advised me to just concentrate on modelling and responding to the materials in the next stage of the course and see where it leads me.