Assignment 3 – Tutor feedback

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).

Project 5

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.

Project 6

“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?

Assignment 3

“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

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.

My thoughts

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.

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