This past week has become very much focused on the what, how and why? What is my context? How can I achieve this? Why am I using the materials/objects in my work? I’ve been researching artists Martin Creed, Robert Morris, Sol Lewitt and Meret Oppenheim; focusing on the idea of changing the function of materials and objects and how my work seems to have developed a strong connection between industry and the domestic. The materials such as balloons, steel, soil that I’m currently working with relate to everyday life, you can recognise them but my aim is to challenge their function and everyday purpose. What’s interesting for me is when art becomes a live event instead of a display of static objects; life and movement becomes a focal point in the consciousness of the work. I’ve mentioned the connection and focus on industry and domestic; my tutorial with Holly Davey we discussed how my relationship and observation of certain materials in relation to their context. How do I read their context? My use of steel and focus on form, scale and weight lead me to the discovery of how this material becomes a domestic material; my connection and history with steel stems from my childhood, surroundings and this sense of comfort. This is a complete contrast to how the viewer would read or connect with the work; we relate steel to industry, its masculine aesthetic and a male dominated environment. This has continued to be a reoccurring question and point of contact in my practice. As a female sculptor using ‘masculine’ associated materials on a large scale, challenging that notion of weight and gravity.
Another focus has now become the change of function of materials and how I can connect, play and disrupt their function. I’ve started using balloons, sheets of tarpaulin and water that suspend from 10ft high steel tripods; but in what context do I want this work to sit? Inside or outside? This decision will change their visual aesthetic and appearance. There’s a clear essence of play in the work and how I work, play and explore materials. The use of balloons in particular questions play and colour; Creed’s work and his aesthetic with his use of the balloons disrupts space and allows the audience to engage with a physical experience.
Martin Creed, Work No. 200 Half the air in a given space. 1998
How do I wish the viewer to experience the work? Does these need to be both a visual and physical experience? The height and scale of the work will be a challenge for me and hopefully the viewer; the juxtaposition of materials emerging in an open space will explore play, form, colour, and weight. Oppenheim’s work explores the juxtaposition of everyday objects, which were often domestic into sculptural assemblages. Her use of fur relates back to my use of human hair and how I seem to refer back to organic elements in my work; the soil, grass and lard. These materials challenge traditional sculptural materials and form an expansive context that questions the familiar and unfamiliar, the organic and manmade and the phenomenology of materials.
Meret Oppenheim, Fur covered cup, saucer and spoon. 1936
Over the next few weeks a continuation of exploring materials and the jarring of relationships will emerge from experimental works in the studio; I need to form an understanding and a conclusion of what materials are overall successful to suspend from these steel tripods. Referring back to my previous work, the use of materials, objects and processes; my aim is to abstract and expand their qualities and possibilities to uncover both a visual and physical experience. Steel has been such a versatile material for me to work with; the scale, weight and colour of the work. How can I change the function of these materials? Connecting material to domestic and industry; what do these materials communicate to us?