Since last week my mind has been all over the place; last week was so overwhelming due to continuous studio work, foundry workshops and the gap critique that I was involved in. However, I finally feel that my practice has evolved and matured. I witnessed this on Thursday, the set-up, space and environment gave me the opportunity to engage with the space and my work. The process and materials capture the works spirit and freedom, the work captures a moment of the artist’s thoughts and conceptual thinking. Taking a step back from my work and reading, observing my relationship with my materials resembles the way by which I have a relationship with my body. There is no acceptance, the possibility of change and need for improvement; the endless worries. There is a sense of confinement and restriction that comes across in the work. Flesh, bulges, creases, the skin tone colours and the resemblance of fat. I need to explore the expanding foam further and the performance element by recording the work through it’s transition.
Further research areas I need to consider are Francis Bacon and Jenny Saville, both of which are painters, interestingly. Thinking about the visual aesthetic of my work, I can see that there is a strong balance of human elements and domestic or found objects. I watched an interesting documentary ‘The life of Francis Bacon,’ his use of bold, violent colours and rawness of the material on canvas is alluring. Bacon works with an accidental approach, but how can you re-create an accident? As seen in my previous blog post the Ivor Davies exhibition was fantastic and inspirational, the bold use of materials and range of work was empowering.
The last few weeks have been chaotic but liberating, I have so many ideas and materials that I wish to work with; however with formative assessment’s scheduled for two weeks, self control is crucial. I’ve began a journey that is developing at a very quick pace that is exciting and liberates my practice; I relate to an element of comfort. After discussions and meetings about my research degree proposal, my ideas and topic has been recognised and I feel excitement and confidence to pursue my interests and passion. The foundry environment and the process of casting has shaped my practice; and having the opportunity to continue working with mould making and cast metal emphasises the importance of industry.
I’m currently working with foam forms that have been manipulated using elastic bands, there is resemblance to fat; the squidgy material and tightness, bulging overhang of the foam. They will be direct burnouts using the ceramic shell process and will be cast in bronze.
What an amazing experience I had today visiting the Silent Explosion exhibition of Ivor Davies’ work at the National Museum in Cardiff; also the chance to hear about the work from the curator of the exhibition, Judit Bodor. The first glance of the work is mesmerising and overwhelming with excitement of the use of materials, scale and composition. I found it interesting that the work was in reverse chronological order and began with Davies’ latest works, dating back to his earlier works alongside the destruction. Ivor Davies is mostly known as a welsh painter but is also a welsh historian and welsh activist. The work in the exhibition has a diverse range of paintings that have a clear influence and connection to sculpture at glance, performative documentation and a strong archive collection.
As Judit Bodor explained briefly about the work, the artist Ivor Davies and the curatorial factors that feed into the birth of the exhibition; the work began to clarify my understanding of the connection between the avant-garde periods, destruction, welsh heritage and culture and abstraction in his earlier works. The use of materials was the crucial point for me in the work, the destruction in creation and material transformation was compelling and as a viewer drew me to them. I naturally wanted to touch the surfaces, there was a comforting old smell from the work. It’s interesting and clear that there is destruction in creation, a coherent theme and contextual influence in the work. Davies continued to use traditional media of canvas for his paintings; however the material transformation and use of organic materials and objects emphasises the deterioration. How can you decide as to whether the work should be left in it’s raw form, to deteriorate or to take control and stabilize the work? As the viewer, the work took on a performative element and had a clear visual look of time and destruction.
A personal favourite of mine was Davies’ latest works ‘Death and Taxes,’ 2014 of mixed media collage, tax records and files on canvas. They were found moldering in his garage; an interesting concept as the idea of taxes suggests neglect and death suggests decay or disintegration, both of which happen over time. As you walk into the second room you’re meet with a 14 minute installation projection of the film ‘Adam on St Agnes Eve’, the earliest known performance art events staged in Wales on the 21st January, 1968. The performance projects from three white screens onto the surfaces of multiple hand-made white cardboard boxes that create very alluring shadows. The strong red and green lighting in the dark room was unnerving. What was interesting to hear from Judit was how difficult it was to translate a historical performance with a contemporary approach. The re-writing of the instructions of the performance specifically for this exhibition will influence future exhibition re-creations.
The captivating moment in the exhibition is the archive detailing Davies’ contribution to the avant-garde movement, in particular the landmark Destruction in Art Symposium that took place in London, 1966. Davies collected over 350 documents and items; what interested me is that every collected item whether random or non coherent was archived and is a part of the exhibition. The documentation is visually beautiful, a personal moment for a viewer. The hand written letters, drawings, newspaper articles, photographs, in particular the still life’s are compelling. The exhibition closes with Davies’ early works from the destructive beginning; linking back to his childhood drawings made during the Second World War. It was interesting that some of the work had never been in the public eye. I personally found the paintings enduring and had a clear understanding of the process of slow self-destruction through the process of making.
The beginning of the week proved to be a difficult start; I felt stuck and frustrated by my work. I think that I’m over thinking and over analysing every aspect, which is important and crucial to my practice; however it can become over bearing and over powering at times. Does it have to be a finished piece? What does that mean? I sometimes rush my thinking and making, I need to take the time to develop, the work deserves that time and process of development. Overall this week has been crazy, hectic and overwhelming yet satisfying. I had a positive and inspiring informal chat with Dr Ashley Morgan about my ideas for a research degree. The ideas and research topic to a certain extent is established but what is my question? What is my method? The elements for the proposal application have to become focused; therefore further reading is essential.
The recent work is very experimental and has allows me to engage with the materials and the process aspect of the pieces. Working with a range of materials; exploring their abilities and my own. Form is an important and is significant in the work through play and manipulation. After my tutorial with Holly Davey on Wednesday we discussed that the materials I use I know their abilities. I need to experiment with materials that I don’t know what they will do and the unknown outcome. Working with the expanding foam was exciting and the process of the expansion in the tights as forms. The next step is to film the process – what does that show me and the viewer? Will the process become the work? There is a performance quality about the work due to the materials that are being explored; the bread dough and expanding foam.
The opportunity came to be apart of the gap critique’s within the fine art group; a perfect opportunity to display my work in an open space away from my studio work space. The work was in need of space and the opportunity to breathe; it also allowed me to work with display, lighting and in a public space. The positioning of the pieces in such a large space was daunting at first; my thoughts where whether the space would drown the work and if the work was strong enough to withstand the space? It had been quite a while since my work had been out of the studio context; I’d started to question my practice and my ability to exhibit. The exhibiting of the tights forms and bread pieces were overall a success and engaged with the space and their surroundings. I had positive and interesting references of my work from my peers; it’s always interesting listening to the viewer’s thoughts of the work and their own interpretation of its context.
I’m back in the foundry; an environment I feel most at home in. I don’t know what it is about the foundry that I’m drawn to; the heat, the possibility of danger, the process, the fact that it is associated and has a male domineering presence. This is an interesting aspect to think about and discuss and happens to link in with my research ideas and proposal for a PhD. The role of women in the foundry and women in sculpture as a whole ignites and has a key influence on my practice as a female sculptor. It’s strange when I say that I’m a sculptor because artists feel a burden when they have to put a name on their practice i.e. a painter or a ceramicist. I always find myself returning to traditional sculptural techniques and processes, the making absorbs the work.
Again the element of surprise and the unknown outcome becomes apart of the casting process. I decided to play around with the mummified hot dog sausages, producing a vinyl (hot rubber) mould of them. The detail of the creases and wrinkles were captured. It’s always a parculiar process turning an object into a wax replica but the process of mould making and the mould making itself is the part that excites me.
I’ve found this week quite challenging and mentally draining at times; the work is developing, however I feel overwhelmed by ideas and certain elements of my practice. It could be due to the fact that formative assessments are around the corner and the term is drifting by very quickly. I’ve been exploring bread dough, the scale and qualities as a material, the rising process is the element that needs development. I’m continuously analyzing my work and how I want to perceive the work and how an audience would perceive the work. At times, I don’t understand my work, what am I trying to achieve? The important element is the relationship I have with the materials. Physicality , interaction, the notion of play, process are all key elements.
My work needs the space to breathe and come to life, the opportunity to engage with an audience and develop an understanding and relationship between the space and work. Next week I have the opportunity to develop my work in a large open space with natural light. This is the perfect time to exploit a space and trust my work and the materials. The bread dough will be the challenging aspect and unpredictable. Recently I’ve been researching Damien Meade, Lynda Benglis and Rebecca Ackroyd. I’m particularly interested in the forms that Benglis creates with molten liquids.
‘Boundaries’, Lynda Benglis
We had a real informative seminar with artist and tutor Marc Gubb this week about funding in the arts. After listening to him and hearing about his previous work and funding opportunities, it inspired me and also made the process of applying for funding less daunting. Connections and communication is key to success and having the dedication, commitment and drive to achieve. My passion and drive has always been evident and the key to my practice. Over the next few weeks I’m going to apply for the residencies that I’ve come across recently through research; this will help me gain further experience and confidence of the application process. The tutorial with Judit Bodor gave me the boost that I needed to ask myself those certain questions when I create the work. Why do I use certain objects? For example, the chair with the bread dough, is it because of the softness, an everyday object or purely because it happened to be lying around at the time. Do I need to record the process? Will the viewer understand what happened to the bread dough? I need to give subtle hints, enough to make a suggestion of the process but the remainder of the experience should be left to the audiences imagination. When does the work end? Does it have to end? Documentation is crucial throughout, especially with certain materials I’m working with and their development over time.
Canadian artist Linda Carreiro was the visitor for our research seminar this week, she was brilliant and inspiring and her knowledge and presentation was valuable. Her work and use of materials is what my interest was drawn too, the fragility of the paper that she used for her print work and the physicality and interaction that’s involved in her practice. Typography is a key element and conceptual idea through language and the body. However, it’s always interesting to capture an element from an artist’s practice that can relate to your own practice.
Why does my work have to be something? It’s about my relationship with the materials; trusting myself, trusting their ability, pushing and testing boundaries. What’s next? What am I doing?