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Wow….. suddenly I am acutely aware that I am at the end of a three-year process (well about two years and eight months to be more precise!). I am also very aware that this course has been about so much more than fine-art for me, it was a complete change of direction and a real step into the unknown. I probably hadn’t actually realised how much I really like making things until I took on the degree and also how therapeutic it is for me. As a child I was really creative, but in someways I thought much of that had dissolved in the great soup of life………

Anyway, more seriously and as I have already blogged recently, the pressure is really on! Our assessments are in two days time, which means we have precisely TOMORROW to tidy things up ready for the big day…… if you didn’t catch that fellow cohorteers…. THERE IS ONLY TOMORROW LEFT!!!!!!!

Curation wise, my installation is ready and I am fairly happy with it, although Monday I realised that it would benefit from some extra light. The space is ‘brightly and whitely’ painted, but it still requires a little more ‘zing’. I tried some experiments with powerful battery lights, which did yield results, but not to the extent that I wanted. Experimenting did make me aware of the possibilities though.

(As can be seen in the pics above, i think the light behind the spheres creates a really interesting ‘glow’, but it’s not a guaranteed science using battery lights, especially as there is a lot of sunlight coming into the studios).

So part of my task yesterday was sourcing some better lights, but this transferred over to today and even as I sit here now, it is not a problem that I have managed to solve. The closest I have come to a solution is through using halogen work lights (although I think health and safety will have a heart attack due to the fact that they get so hot!). Another possible solution is to follow up a contact with a DJ and sound shop tomorrow morning, which I hope may yield results.

I also completed my picket fence yesterday, which has a dual purpose of being sculpturally significant as part of the narrative of the work, but which will also act as a deterrent to get too close to it. In this particular situation, with a large pile of huge balls, I was concerned that someone (or someones child) might manage to disturb the arrangement only to then experience a small avalanche! Its not that they would kill or even maim anyone, but it would probably detract from both their and my experience of the Final Show!

My picket fence was initially made with squared off uprights, as that was the way I managed to get them cut at BQ. It was only after putting it together that I realised that the tops needed to be rounded off, as they would then better fit into the theme of ‘spheres and circles’ that the work tends to reflect. It was a bit soul-destroying starting over again, but I think in the end it was worth it.

More Recent Inspiration.

During the period leading up to the final show I have come across some really interesting and inspiring work by other artists. A particularly interesting series of works is by a male sculptor called Romain Langloir. He casts in bronze what appear to be giant rocks and boulders, broken in half (or more accurately pulled apart). In the act of showing the symbolic act of ‘pulling apart’ the rocks, he creates a sense that the inside of the boulders are made of chewing gum or toffee. This gives a completely amazing effect…….

Another artist that I feel that I can connect with is called Ernest Neto. This example of Neto’s work is a little like something I had imagined making over the last two years, for a final piece. I had imagined a wooden structure, perhaps ‘shrine-like’ where people could sit and meditate (or just sit!). I had discussed it with a more advanced student, who had also made quite a large structure himself, but I think it got lost before it even got onto paper. I like the idea that as a piece of art, it also brings the spectator into the piece.

Neto’s work is extremely different to the type of work I have created for my final piece, which appears to positively exclude the spectator! Part of my reasoning to position my picket fence into the space rather than on the periphery of it though, was an attempt to bring the spectator into the space, but at a safe distance. I think that if I get an opportunity to make another largish installation, it would be one where the spectator could move through the piece.

 

 


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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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