The past week has passed by incredibly fast! We have the first formative assessment of the course on the 9th of December, and as it draws near the time seems to pass faster! I seem to have an ever growing list of things that I want to accomplish in a week, yet my week seems to be shrinking!! I recognise that this feeling is often present when I am feeling particularly inspired and driven within my practise. Whilst there is an anxious sense of wanting to get everything done now- it is a good feeling. There is a sense of desire to be in my practise as much as possible; but this can be difficult to juggle when you have a family!
Speaking of juggling, this week I have spent it juggling different works. Pushing ongoing works forward whilst also engaging with new concepts- mainly due to the fact that I have started to take part in some workshops developing new skills in plaster work, mould making and also, (I’m incredibly excited about this…) Bronze casting! I felt that this was an incredible opportunity that I really needed to embrace. It is a material I hadn’t considered working with previously, but I think that it could add an interesting dynamic to my practise. I often work with the body as material, which is often temporary and fragile- yet Bronze exists in opposition to these qualities. I thought it could be interesting to juxtapose these qualities together. Bronze also seems to be a very traditional material, heavily associated with history and monuments. Yet my usual work seems to have a spontaneity in it’s temporariness- so the permanence of bronze could show my concepts in a whole new way. I am excited to see how this exploration may allow my thoughts to branch out. I have been thinking a lot recently about the feminine and femininity, and Bronze casting in the foundry setting seems to be perceived as such a typically masculine thing to do. I like the idea of challenging this notion in my work. To explore femininity using typically masculine materials seems to have an irony to it!
Whilst developing these new skills I have continued to work on the hairy underwear works previously mentioned. There is a strange quality to them that I really like, but the Tulle I have used to make the underwear is so see through that they are difficult to see!! (Seems obvious really!) I like that they seem to be there, whilst not fully being there. I like the ephemeral quality to them. The absence that the see through Tulle creates seems to be quite powerful visually. I feel that they create a space which the mind wants to fill; maybe with your own body- or a body in mind. But the fact is that they are very difficult to see. Admittedly the studio walls are white, and so you would expect them to disappear on them; but no matter where I place them, or on whatever colour- they are difficult for the eye to pick up. Also, the meshy pattern seems to make the hairs disappear too.
During a plaster workshop we used scrim- and it struck me that it could work as replacement for the tulle. Originally, when I first began working on this piece I imagined that I would used a material that had a rigidity to it. The tulle didn’t have that rigidity that I’d hoped for, but the scrim does. It also has the opacity that I was looking for, and because it is an off-white colour it is visible against the white wall. It is actually a natural colour- sort of skin like. The more I work with it the more I love it! It is actually much easier to work with. The rigidity means that the aerator (wig making tool) moves thought it much more easily. I found working with the tulle became very irritating, and so I didn’t want to do it- even though I wanted the completed piece. With the scrim I am able to work faster- which means that the quality of the way the hairs are attached is better.
I have considering why I am using head hair rather than actual body hair. I think that because of the positioning of the hair it speaks of body hair without it actually being body hair. I quite like how odd the long hairs look falling from the underwear. I like how the move with the breeze. They become animated, and so they have a surreal quality to them. There is a sense of the familiar / unfamiliar. I think if they were actual pubic hairs that there wouldn’t be as much of the sense of wonder that I feel when I look at these. Moving forward I’m thinking that maybe I could make more of them, with varying amounts of hair and in varying lengths. The reason for this: maybe it would make a suggestion of the differences between people’s bodies; but whilst they differ there is also a continuity in the basic makeup of the body. We are all different, but also the same! I like the contradiction in that! It reminds me of the quote from Margaret Mead, ‘Always remember you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.’
Thinking back to the hairy knickers I need to think about how they would be displayed. I think by using different methods of display in a space will help me to understand how they could best be shown. Maybe it would also help me to better understand them. I have wondered if they could be worn but I would find that too exposing for myself to wear them. It is definitely worth considering. That way they would become performative objects. I am also thinking about suspending them so they exist in the space at the height you would wear them. That way they may actually bring the absence of the body into the piece more. But then again I like being able to meet the details of the hairs at eye level. I think the only way to resolve this would be to actually try it out.