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Our assessments for our final degree pieces are happening in a few days and it’s a frantic time for everyone. The technician’s time seems to be very limited and access to power in the workshops is also difficult due to the lack of technician’s time…… Also with no technicians, no one can get up above two steps on a small step-ladder. It’s all a perfect recipe for end of degree anxiety!!!! But we all carry on. Yesterday a student got told by a maintenance member of staff that she couldn’t hammer nails into a wall that she had been hammering nails into for the last three or four days!!!…….. Luckily our Head of Fine Arts got on the case quickly and sorted it out, with a normal sensible service being resumed without too much chaos…….. or the student in question having a breakdown! Welcome to the Degree Show!!! To add to my personal anxiety around setting up my own degree-piece, I managed to lose my wallet. It contained my pass / door entry card for Uni and all of my bank cards etc….. Not helpful just at this point in time…… I had put off reporting it for a few days, then finally cancelled my cards yesterday only to find it down the sofa today….. Welcome to Degree Show anxiety!!!

 

On a positive note, I feel I have been very lucky finding a whole strata of sculpture that really excites me on the internet. It’s weird, suddenly there’s a whole load of inspiring stuff, but I am at the end of my course and am likely to end up in a situation where I am without the great resources at Uni to make big sculpture….. That is, unless on go on to do a Master’s which I am not sure I can cope with……..Damn and blast this cruel world!!!

 

I have been particularly excited by work by Nacho Carbonell and especially his sculptures in his ‘Tree Chair’s Family’ series.

 

Nacho Carbonnell says,
“Tree Chair issues from a fairytale-like
fantasy about a wooden chair that looks
out of the window one day and realizes
that it used to be just like the trees
outside. Yearning to return to its former
state, the chair grows to become a hybrid
tree-chair. Users can choose to sit on it
‘normally’ but can also climb into the
upper part via the ladder, from which
position they can observe events below
from a safe place on high or – even
better – can roll up and take a nap…”
From: (http://nachocarbonell.com/work/2014/12/03/tree-chairs-family)

 

I also completely love JonLuc Cornec’s Sheep installations. The sculptures forming the installations are made from 1960’s/1970’s telephones handsets and cables. Cornec calls the overall study ‘TrubuT’

Sheep 2015

Corec’s explains that the sculptural ideas regarding the sheep just fell into place… the perfect heads needed no alteration, the cable for the phones worked perfectly for wool. He even found that when the ring tones were slowed down, they sounded like an electronic ‘baa!’

 

Anyway, blog suspended for now…… I’m off to Uni to paint picket fencing I made yesterday for my installation….the stupidity of it all!


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After solving my astro-turf nightmare and it was delivered, I took it into Uni and laid it. I have now learned never to underestimate the magical powers of fake grass. As soon as I cut it roughly to size I had a collection of students sitting on it as if it were a pinic area. Everyone appeared very relaxed apart from myself; ….. I really wanted to experience it’s ‘virginal plastic fakery’ minus any human beings….. even really nice ones! Actually, I guess if I am honest they were really helpful, as when I began to place my sculptural pieces I got plenty of feedback as to what they felt worked and what didn’t. Although I had an idea of the form of my installation, I knew the exact structure of it wasnt going to be clear until I was in the space.

Having ideas around others’ work has become of real interest to me of late. I can see the potential in myself to see others’ work and want to offer my own ideas on how to display it and sometimes even on its evolution as a piece of work. I have generally exerted self-control and chosen to view this as a ‘no-go’ area as it feels so dangerous, but more recently I have been interested in, and more open to, listening to others views on my own work. Today a young female student made some comments that may have normally caused me to feel defensive, but I tried to deal with the comments / suggestions more objectively and at the end of the conversation felt her ideas had been exceptionally helpful (Thanks Becs).

Anyway, as I began to unravel the more exact structure of my installation one of the mantras I had in my mind was ‘not to make it overly complicated’ (despite it being quite a complex piece anyway). After discussing elements with another student, I started to feel that there were elements of it that I needed to review. One of these elements were a small pair of earth covered mummies that although were significant in meaning, did seem to change the energy of the piece. At this moment in time I have decided to leave them out as although the piece has a narrative which involves them to a degree, in terms of the aesthetics of the installation, the shapes work together better without them. Also I do not feel that the overall narrative necessarily loses out.

So with fake grass down, my piece is starting to come together….

Also, although I had a round low plinth to show my mummies, it seems really well placed under one of the earth spheres and I really appreciate the combination of surface and form…

I really like the way in which I feel all the spherical, hemispherical (and round pieces) work together, just in terms of their form, apart from any narrative / meaning.

In terms of Health and Safety, my only real anxiety was my three high pyramid of spheres, which I was conscious of as having the potential to slip and move. Although I don’t think this would seriously hurt anyone, it would be a shock – and also a pain for me as the owner of the (potentially failed) work! I tried to put wooden wedges under the spheres, but this didn’t yield great results. In the end I found that rolled up lengths of fake-grass, bound with fishing line created flexible tube-wedges which I could wrap around the bases of the bottom spheres. This worked really well and the structure ended up being very stable. The line remained invisible.

The last thing I want to note in this blog, is the great atmosphere in the studios at the moment between the majority of the students. Our level of student inter-cooperation has been through many phases over the last few years. In the initial year we all seemed to really gel, but his ‘gelling’ seemed to suffer as we all independently got on with our own work. At the moment there is a really healthy feeling again and we once again seem to be working as a ‘group’, assisting each other where needed in the preparation for the final show. it doesn’t feel possible that we have completed three years together ……….


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was bound to happen, but my order for astroturf from the internet became confused and I now have two rolls of astroturf arriving tomorrow!!! I just have to make sure the correct one gets sent back….. (Anyone need 4×5 metres of astroturf if it all goes bottoms up???!!!) After dealing with this I went into Uni to see what I could get on with. After due consideration, I went with the idea of trying to mount an earth covered half-hemisphere on the side wall of my installation. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I think I finally made a passable job of it. I reckon I would want to come up with a better approach if it was going in the Tate, but given the circumstances it’s not bad!

I came up with the idea of a wooden ‘T’ structure which had two large nails (with their points blunted a little) protruding and slightly bending upwards. The theory behind this was, that as I had packed the hemisphere with polystyrene and it was a light papier-mache structure anyway, that it should slide onto the nails which would then also pull it further to the wall because of their angle. I drew in a large breath and glued the ‘T’section / bracket to my gleaming white and freshly painted wall. After deciding which way the hemisphere would look best I slowly offered it to the bracket and slid it down onto the nails with good effect. The process had worked in exactly the way I wanted it to, which I must admit is quite an unusual occurrence! Due to having slight artistic OCD though, I did have to remove it again a couple of times and try it in other positions until I was satisfied I would never be able to get it to be 100% perfect. I will just have to put up with 93.72% which I dont think is bad for a degree show and a student with OCD!

The actual finished piece looks like this –


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This is the point we have all been waiting for….the final show…. a major marker of the completion of our degrees. Yesterday started to throw up some technical problems for me and I realised that with a bit more fore-thought, I could have had a much less stressful experience!

When I embarked on making the sculptural elements / forms for my final show, at that point I had not had a full understanding of how it was all going to come together. My art is often the result of chance happenings; the evolution of my piece was like this and I had not considered the finer points of putting it all together for display. In many ways I like the fact that my art is not too considered and planned, as I find that an exciting element in my experience of making. The reverse is also true (especially in this case) as a bit more planning may have led to a ‘smoother’ curatory experience.

The major glitch yesterday, was that the ‘flying’ sculptures I had created and happily hung in the workshop on thickish wire, were quite difficult to hang on the fishing / invisible line I had purchased. I had seen this as a fairly straightforward affair, but had under-estimated how difficult it was going to be to get them hanging and balanced. Also in piercing them with an extra long home-made needle I had created to thread the line, one had started to become a little damaged. All the problems are repairable, but as stated, a little fore thought would have made life a lot easier. It also made me think that I need to consider the longer term durability of my art works.

(Shows problems with slight damage occuring).

Although I am now awaiting my astro-turf to arrive, I also made the decision to paint the front of my space and the public walkway outside of it. It seemed a bit silly not to use available time to complete any tasks possible. I am totally aware that however much we complete now, the next seven or eight days leading up to the formal assessment and Final Show will be busy and frantic!

Further curatorial considerations I am pondering at the moment, are around how many of my structures to put into my space. I am very aware that in the past I have over-done it… I think that it is only once my astro turf floor covering is down, that I will really be able to judge this further.


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