For the first time I am working simultaneously in two and three dimensions where the work in both dimensions feeds into each other. It feels at last that things are coming together.
Whilst making the three dimensional representations of the figurine mentioned in previous posts I am making large scale work on paper using paint, charcoal, pastel and collage.
Creating replicas or versions of the figurine is revealing.
Over the last year or so I have been attempting to express ideas about autobiography and the past by making drawings and paintings of objects with personal significance. I am currently focusing my exploration on one particular object – the figurine in the image. This process is interesting as I map out ideas in charcoal and paint but recently it all stepped up a gear when I responded in three dimensions.
I explained to my tutor that I had never been allowed (by my mother) to hold the object as a child for fear of damaging it (sensible move on her part – I was pretty clumsy). My tutor noticed I had taken a photograph of my hand touching the figurine and suggested I explore this physical connection.
Well that was it! I photocopied multiple images of the figurine ( I had previously taken photos from several angles trying to capture its importance – but not touching it!) I found other – non emotionally valuable ornaments and covered them with the image of the figurine (see my last post).
Instinctively I covered them in a very rough way – with no obvious skill or careful cutting or matching up of the image. I scrunched the paper up distorting the image and crudely stuck it together with tape. I wanted to create something that looked rushed and made with a desperation to see an idea manifested . This seems to mirror my strong emotional reaction – of desperately trying to manifest a sense of the past. This process felt like I was re-visiting childhood and I remembered that I had used objects – played with them – moved them around re-ordering them – to make sense of real life scenarios. So here I am working again with the transitional object of early childhood. Experiencing the materiality of it, the physical expression of processing emotions. It feels very powerful as if re-enacting, and very liberating too in the way that play for a child feels completely liberating.
I have collected a few more ornaments from charity shops and am playing with the idea of multiplying the experience of re-enacting and of heightening the significance of the figurine to ‘important’ and ‘valuable’ through replication. The re-processing and identity stealing that goes on with the charity shop ornaments is also interesting – the appropriation that I talked about in my last post – there is a power in this. And I’m thinking about the parallels of covering up and hiding unwanted realities; of reinventing truths.
It puts me in mind of Mark Dions’ work Thames Dig (1999) when thousands of fragments of pottery, plastic etc were extracted from the shore of the Thames and sifted before being displayed as part of Dion’s work in the Tate . Dion and a team of volunteers literally collected things that had come to the surface – naturally sifted to the top. But ‘sifting’ is not purely an act of chance – it can also articulate the way in which we use the memory of past events, places and objects to explain our past and self perceptions. We literally sift through credible material evidence to create our own selective version of the past.
My wrapping of these ornaments is an interruption and intentional sabotage of the chance sifting process to suggest our need to re-invent past events to fit our changing sense of self.
I am currently reading Contemporary Art and Memory by Joan Gibbons
During last weeks tutorial my tutor picked up on the fact that the object of fascination – the figurine – had been denied to me fully as a child due to my clumsiness. I could look but not touch I was told – and pretty much obeyed orders but did have to stroke it! The thing about the figurine is that it is so touchable – it is crafted in such a way that it perfectly typifies the beautiful softness and contours of a child’s body.
I thought on – the denial; of being prohibited – this is really strong for me and echos through my pre-occupation with the loss of childhood – as an adult; and the loss of a child – my cousin- as I explained last time.
This has culminated in a three dimensional outcome. I have taken some pot figurines which I have studied in the past and that once belonged to my parents-in-law and re-appropriated them using photocopies of ‘my’ figurine.(I’m not sure if this is ‘re-appropriation’ or simply ‘appropriation’?).
This expresses very much my desire to summon up the past – to bring to light that which has been buried in my sub-conscious – and which I am sure is universally experienced. The results are interesting – the figurine is distorted as if forced through some kind of time warp.
I’m looking at how objects reflect a sense of ourselves and project our desires. Today I have been working with images of the figurine. I am exploring the meanings that this object holds for me; visually interpreting it to express ideas about relationships, loss and memory. The process relates to Winnicott’s ideas on the transitional object and I see the figurine as such an object. As a small child the figurine enabled me to comprehend my relationship with my twin and deal with the loss of my cousin who drowned aged two. I have only realised this through the process of studying the figurine.
I wanted to create a repetition of the object in an attempt to express the sensation of repeatedly recalling the past. So I have been creating a collage of multiple images and tied them together with drawn marks. This process put me in mind of the physical connections of twins and the unconscious, non – articulated emotional bonds we hold as children. I felt a sense of emotional connection with my twin and cousin very strongly whilst making this work. I wonder how I can measure my success or failure in articulating these feelings?
Last week our year group had peer group crits. We each in turn talked about our progress – one month in to the module – Resolution of Pracrice. We answered questions from our tutor and fellow students and in this process considered our work from new perspectives and developed new ideas.
I listened to my peers as they talked about their work and motivations and I feel enriched and moved by their stories and integrity. Afterwards we continued our conversations – it feels great to share!
This is a point in time to savour – to enjoy and also to respect this privileged position – this is space for us to be heard and supported, enabled to develop our practice.
I’m at a point with my work that I have got to the crux of an idea and am clear about my working methods, materials and processes employed to express this idea.
I have embraced the idea of failing, of returning to the work and persevering, and am engaged as much with the process as the thought of the outcome.
My work is about loss or perhaps about the lost – as this contains the notion of things being returned and found.