It’s very strange to read over and reflect back on my thoughts or ideas about my current work. Last week I received my feedback from my formative assessment about my viva presentation; overall I was satisfied with the comments. I realise that my skills are very well developed; this has always been a focal area in my practice due to my training and background. However, most recently I’m struggling with my work, what is the work about? What is its context? I have to define a research question relatable to my current practice. What have I done? What needs to be done? What’s next with my work?
I have a tendency to make and make, continuous making that results in a large body of work; however I don’t spend enough time with the work and analyse individual pieces. My ideas and context are unclear. The work possesses vulnerable and awkward attributes that are translated in raw forms. The work consists of play and a that transgression from soft to firm. All works relate and refer back to the body; shape and form engage my current practice. I wonder whether my obsession with perfection and how the body is viewed is the driving force for the work. There is a strong element of gender and feminine aesthetic engaged with the work and the making process. My use of materials, the organic, industrial and domestic objects; all of which are explored and have a strong relationship with one another.
There are two elements that are current key fixtures in my work; the relationship between process and object and the relationship between sculpture and performance. I realise that I can continue to explore both aspects and that they feed into one another in my work. Working with diverse and a range of materials allows me to explore ideas though play and process. It’s difficult to always have a conceptual reason for the work; however I do understand how my work needs a central core and focus of context. Materials and process are the focal point of my practice; my work involves a rich and diverse working method that contributes to the making. Through research and analytical discovery I can begin to question my work.
I’ve began working with foam; manipulating their form using elastic bands and bungee ropes that cause distress and tension of the material. These pieces were always experimental and playful, however I now see them as elements of the body. The creases and bulging of the foam portrays fat, flesh and skin. I’m curious to explore casting and the contrast between soft and hard forms. These three dimensional forms are currently on a small scale and act as marquettes for large scale casts. Using bronze and lead in particular is my material preference, the softness and precious quality of the bronze with the contrast of the heavy and toxic use of molten lead.
I’m currently working with the ceramic shell and sand casting methods to cast the foam forms. The foam pieces in the ceramic shell will be direct burn outs as their size is small enough; whilst the larger foam forms are cast using the sand mould method. The question that always surfaces is whether the forms need to be left in their raw form or cast to solid form? Is the process the work? By casting the forms, does that mean they’re the finished piece? How can we judge/decide when work is finished?
What is my work? What is the context? What is it about the body that I want to say? What do you want the audience to experience? Am I overthinking the work? By analysing my work, I need to spend time with a piece and analyse how I can manipulate and challenge the work. I have a tendency to continue making and making and making, avoiding the purpose of what my aims are. If I don’t understand my own work how do I expect my audience to understand the work? Spending time with my own work, analysing and observing the qualities and breaking down one singular piece at a time. There is a sexual tendency that evokes the work, an analyzation of the relationship with the body, awkwardness of the body, the issue of being uncomfortable in your own skin. The work has a dark aesthetic.
My use of nude tights plays a crucial role in the current work but how can I exploit this? Do I try other forms of tights? Black tights, fishnet tights, stockings, this would take the work in a completely new direction. Why tights? Is it the female association that’s important? The colours of balloons can translate and read differently, the white balloons read neutrally and give a sense of purity. What about trying red? Is there a feminine aesthetic to the work? What do the balloons represent? Breasts or male genitals? These questions I ask challenge my thinking and conceptual understanding of my own work. I’ve realized how the body plays a core role and important aspect in my current practice. The tights forms with expanding form have a child scale, they have an awkward presence. Do I need to change the scale? The legs need to be longer and of an adult scale.
Sarah Lucas’ use of the figure and the cast is an interesting concept and her practice feeds directly into my own work at times. The forms using tights and filling provokes an aesthetic rawness and vulnerability. I can relate to the provocative aspect and challenging nature of her work. As I’ve been working with the tights and expanding foam I’ve noticed that the marks appear on the surface; they look like cellulite or stretch marks. This quality is alluring and real; we all have these imperfections that we try to conceal and hide but these pieces celebrate and exploit. The interesting aspect is the element of performance and time, the material changes the form.
Are the pieces the finished work or the documentation? There is a strong and unavoidable relationship between sculpture and performance. There is an awkward element in my work, an uncomfortable aspect. The work has developed a challenge between the struggle of me and the materials; this translates with the struggle between me and my own body. This is also translating through working with the foam pieces; the manipulation of the foam using elastic bands. There’s an element of tension from the material, the bulging and creases portray a fleshy representation. What I’m curious to explore further is the casting element; the possibilities of turning the soft and squidgy foam material into a solid form. I want to explore bronze and lead, their weight and qualities would offer the foam forms a different quality and presence.
During the term I have had discussions with both my tutors and peers about my work and how process is a crucial element in the making of my work. Therefore I felt the need to film some of my work as I was making and the transformation of material during its transition of stages over time. Whilst working with the bread dough, I realized how I was witnessing its transformation and movement of the materials but how would my audience? Was this even important or relevant to the work? Should the process become the work and not the finished piece? All these questions came to mind and are continuously questioned during and after the making stages and processes. After working with the expanding foam and how it engaged with the tights, the process of expansion was alluring due to the nature of the material. The foam changed the tights shape, size and form. I was draping the tights over objects that would guide the foam to form and hold its shape when hardened. The expanding foam has a very fleshy, soft tendency and portrays weight, however the work, if lifted or touched is light and hard. I filmed the process from the beginning when I released the expanding foam into the tights until the point when the foam stops oozing from the cavity. I have not yet had the chance to edit the video footage; my aim is to create a time lapse of what happened during the process. The question is whether the work is the aftermath and finished piece after the filming process or is the film the work? Is there a sculptural performance happening?