Fine Art and Photography BA (Hons)
Well it all came together in the end, and I submitted 6 pieces of work for my degree show. There are four fine art pieces and two photography.
After a lot of negotiating I was given a room in the corner of the gallery which has been customised for my needs. I wanted to give the impression of a small church. This fits with my Virgin Mary related work as well as creating a small, intimate space which my painting can dominate.
Both my painting and my photography work make up an installation in the space, entitled Stella Maris. The painting sits at one end of the space and the photography is on the other three walls. This consists of four panels covered in photographs and found items and images . These are attached to the wall using mirror screws and are intended to mimic the stained glass windows in a church. At the end opposite the painting, there is a large portrait of a woman recreating a pose from a renaissance painting of the Virgin Mary.
Around the other side of a partition wall from this installation is a model of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is a 3-D representation of a painting I made in the second year and it is entitled The Soul of Soulless Conditions. It is made from a medical model, with a candle on top representing the flame, and a sword and roses attached. In this space there is also my cross-stitch entitled Labyrinth, which is positioned in the doorway and can be seen from the entrance of the gallery.
I have one other piece of work in a different gallery and that is my small tin of grass entitled A Little Piece of Home. It needed natural light and so it had to be positioned in a different place. This stands alone on a plinth.
Things have been pretty busy lately with my deadlines approaching. Last week I had to leave my studio, which has been my home for the last 9 months or so. I have been mainly concentrating on my photography work, which means photos shoots and lots of collage making. I recently had 5 of my photography images uploaded to Source magazine and thought I would share them, and my statement, with you here.
I am a conceptual photographer and artist and make work based on themes associated with death and religion. At the same time my work is more easily read as a celebration of life, while questioning what may happen beyond. History and religious symbolism all play a part in illustrating the concepts behind the work, which come from the burden of my own mortality and the struggle with my atheist beliefs.
This year I have been particularly interested in the otherworldliness of the sea, as part of an ongoing search, and have reused found images of the Virgin Mary as she is so strongly connected with the sea in Christian mythology.
I have finally finished work on my painting, which will be part of the work I put forward for the degree show. It was quite an intense week of painting, as I raced to finish before the colours I had mixed dried up. Because I paint in blocks of colour, it means that I could never remix exactly the same shade again, so once I start I need to keep going, and because neatness is so important in my work, I need to keep all shades I mix available to me in case I smudge. These self-imposed rules are both helpful and a hindrance to me when I work, especially when I find myself in the studio on a Sunday during the Easter break! Next I need to make the painting into a banner, which means I will need to buy some poles on which to hang it. The thought of cutting it up is nerve-wracking.
Other things I have been working on lately include the facebook presence for the University of Chester Degree Show. I am trying to encourage students to share links to their blogs, facebook pages and websites, as well as photos of their work and news of their degree show plans. Inspired by the Degrees Unedited facebook page, I am also putting into place a series of banner images showing Chester University students work, displayed for one week at a time. You can take a look at the page here http://www.facebook.com/pages/UNTITLED-University-of-Chester-Degree-Show-2012/369087713126240 and I hope to get the first banner image up some time later this week.
I have also just applied for my first ever residency. I hope to find one after I graduate and this first application was for a residency that really captured my interest. I have not really had much luck with the things I have applied for lately, I have just received a letter informing me that I have not got through to the second round of the John Moores Painting Prize, but I am happy just to have had the judging panel view my work. Fingers crossed that I get an interview, and now that this first application is out of the way I feel much more confidant to apply for more.
This week me and my friend held an exhibition of our work in progress. All fine art students have to hold an exhibition at some point before the degree show, but we wanted to do something different from a traditional exhibition, and so we used the exhibition space as a working studio. This meant that we based ourselves in the space for the duration of the exhibition and continued to make work. We provided information about the work that we chose to show in the space, and shared our plans for how the work will progress. It was great to see my work spaced out rather than crammed into my studio space (I do have rather a lot of stuff in there!) and it gave me a clearer view of what to submit for the degree show.
I made use of the extra space to plot the route for my pilgrimage walk from Chester to Sheffield, which I have decided to make in May. I had several OS maps pinned to the wall, which got a lot of attention at the exhibition opening. I am still developing my ideas for how the pilgrimage should be illustrated in a gallery setting, but I now think that I would like to make use of the maps in the final piece. I also displayed my completed cross-stitches for the first time, one adapted from my painting The Heart of a Heartless World and the other based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur entitled Labyrinth. I do not want to include both pieces in the degree show, but I would like to find a place for Labyrinth, as I think it is quite an unusual use of a traditional craft technique.
Having spent the week working in a different environment, I will be glad to get back to my own studio space. I see now the importance of feeling comfortable in my work space. To be in a familiar environment, which is still clearly defined as a workspace, helps me to focus on my work and motivates me to be there.
I have not had much time to blog lately; I have had to really pick up the pace with my work as the degree show looms ever closer.
I have mostly been working on my painting and developing ideas for my work. I had intended to put my painting and my photography work together to form an installation, but I have now decided to keep them separate. This has thrown up all kinds of problems about how it will now work. Both my photography work and my fine art work have been based on the Virgin Mary and her relationship with the sea, so I still want the work to be positioned together, or at least close by. The photography work will take the form of panels of images all related to the Virgin Mary. This includes my own photography work as well as collages, found and appropriated images, contact sheets etc. The result is an eclectic mix of images. I aim to make a set of panels which will be mounted on a wall.
My other two projects are progressing nicely. I have been buying and planning for my planned pilgrimage, although I now think that I will postpone it until May to allow longer for my ideas to develop. I am also working on my Sheffield Steel photography project. I need to get back into the darkroom to start developing some of the photographs of factories that I shot the last time I was in Sheffield.
Generally I think that my work is moving along nicely, it’s just a case of juggling it all at the moment.