The reality of juxtaposition.
It has been just over 3 months since my Degree Show at Wimbledon College of Art (UAL). I had so much planned once this was over, so many projects I wanted to get started but in truth I have been like a fly trapped in a milk bottle – buzzing around wildly but achieving very little. It has been said to me that in order to make progress it is best to focus on one thing at a time. This is all well and good, but I think for many of artists this is just not viable. I need to earn some income, I need (and want) to produce some art, I want (and need) to collaborate, exhibit and experiment. I also have a family, so hence have all the activities and responsibilities that entails. So my mission in respect to my art practice these days is to try and focus on just a few things at a time, and to try to relax into it more.
I have recently been playing with making small collages, physical and digital. They have tended to try and evoke a sense of place, a quick escape route in my head. One is based in Spain; Andalucia region. I have juxtaposed and transferred images of photographs I had taken on past holidays onto a solid oak wood block that I had previously primed with a mixture of rabbit glue and marble dust. It is relatively small; approximately 27 cm square. In keeping with my usual practice, I painted and drew upon this. I wanted the surface and image to be deliberately rough and incomplete in parts – as if an artefact with the surface showing through in places – like touching the walls of an old city, the heat of the sun bleaching the paintwork and drawing delicate cracks upon its history.
The other is a ‘New Zealand’ digital collage -in a wildish sort of state. I am from New Zealand originally but have not been back there for quite a number of years. Living in London, whilst I love it, there is a reassuring primal ruggedness about New Zealand which I miss and wanted to capture.
It is lovely being back in the studio now that my studies have finished for the academic year. Then again, my research continues on, both in my practice and reading.
During my lock-down walks I had been taking photographs of the urban environment, specifically focusing on what I considered to be natural collage occurring within nature.
Focusing on some of the common themes that occur within collage, I have selected a few of these photographs where I paint within these images.
‘Oil and water’ begins from a photo of an oil slick in a puddle. The bits of leaves and dirt contained within the oily visage suggest an elusive world of colour and mystery, similar to the ocean or an aquarium.
‘Surface’ focuses on the ruptured and peeling shapes and textures emerging on the surface of an old metal post.
‘Leaves on the ground’ reveal a contrast of the shapes and colours of the leaves juxtaposed and layered against the more subdued colour and gritty quality of the ground.
My own imaginings and way of thinking play a key role in these works starting from the selection and capturing of the photographs in the first place to the intervention and transformation using paint. There is a meditative connection between the activities of walking, observing, photographing and painting and in all aspects, the body is some way involved.
It has been a very long time since I’ve posted a blog on account of the Masters of Research degree I have been doing at UAL Central Saint Martins. Who would have thought all that has happened has happened and of course this has greatly impacted my studies. It was all going very well and I was thoroughly enjoying it and then suddenly we were impacted with 4 weeks of strikes. It really wasn’t that much longer after that when we all went into Coronavirus lockdown. I’m not going to bore the pants off people to detail the specific issues and fallout of this – we all know in one way or another. So instead I will briefly outline my current research interest which closely relates to my art practice.
My art practice primarily explores painting combined with photography, collage and montage. As part of this, the fragment is a key component, whether this be singularly, collectively or as a kind of absence and rupture. I am interested in exploring the use of fragment; the juxtaposition, the edges, the layers and rupture. What is the power of the fragment and what are the influences and considerations at play? What does it tell us about ourselves and what does it bring to learning and knowledge.
For my coursework I am currently in the middle of writing an essay looking at this and as a kind of metalanguage I am looking at the use of the fragment in writing as a methodology of acquiring knowledge.
In the next academic year I will be working on my final big project and at this point I am fairly sure it will build upon this. I am interested in producing something performative (probably a written piece) which will hopefully demonstrate the different tropes and mechanisms of how the fragment is used but nothing is set in stone. I have a fair few months to dwell over my ideas and to let them drift to different places.
As a way of illustrating some of my thoughts I am including a few photographs where the fragment could be seen to juxtapose, converge, rupture and be absent.
It has been a few months since I have written a blog post. As expected my studies have been dominating leaving very little time for the creation of new art works. My brain has been firing on all cylinders though and I just hope that the inspiration that I am soaking up at some point will be able to be translated in my art.
As I have been spending so little time in my studio, when I am there I can’t commit to anything very time-consuming. This in a way ends up being a kind of freedom as I just ‘go for it’ in terms of experimentation and materials. I’ve being producing little studies using the back of torn cereal and fruit packets as my surfaces, playing with collage, tape and acrylic paint.
I like the idea of using these normally thrown away materials in conjunction with these quick kind of throw-away mixed-media studies. There is a relevant but dynamic temporality about it all and feels like a groundswell of change.
It’s less of a blog today and more of a collection of thoughts in relation to some of my recent works.
Bursts of colour, bright scattered patterns, abstract shapes, the collision of photography, collage and paint.
This connects to that, the inbetween stretches its reach until it touches the other, moments overflow, stutter for a bit and then drop a level.
Semi recognisable figures hover and fade, double and repeat, hover and fade again.
Lines, diagonals push forth and change directions.
Acidic green sits against warm orange and yellow, light pierces the surface.
My mind will probably go faster but the making of art is likely to slow down. This is my expectation as I prepare to start my Masters of Research in Art: Theory and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins. My first lecture is next week.
The plan is to keep my studio practice going as much as I can although it won’t be easy as it is meant to be an intensive course. It will require a discipline to get myself to my studio in the first place but it’s important that I do as I’m hoping that my research will feed into and inform my practice and vice-versa.
As usual summer has interrupted my studio practice but I’ve made some progress over the last couple of weeks exploring my collage and paint endeavours. I have been enjoying working on my more simplistic work where I start with painting an acrylic ground and then follow it with collage. These works seem to have an energy and purity to them. There is something about the way the physical collage interrupts the paint and creates an opening that I would like to explore more.
In contrast to this I have also embarked upon mainly collage pieces which I shall be adding minimal paint to at some point with a view to playing with the connections between the shapes, light and shadows. This mainly focuses on interiors which I have deconstructed and then repeated bits of in places. These are more studies than finished works and as I work on them I am inclined to do all this digitally in future as I think the images lends themselves to be slick graphic works on paper (much like looking through the windows of a modern building).