Both: written text and art work
If the nature of the gaze has multiple, shifting possibilities, what perspectives are possible and how might it feel to encounter each? Can a text successfully invoke some element of the very emotions it describes, rendering reading as an active and participatory experience?
These thoughts have crystallised into a piece of creative writing poised mid-way between document and art work. Into something that talks with several voices and has ideas that loop back and forth; a collaging of perspectives colliding, interrupting, disrupting, only to come back into clear focus once again.
I cannot supply the physical book-object I’d like — palm-sized, beautifully bound, textured off-white paper — but I can offer a digital substitute laid out to my exacting demands.
Must a sculptural invention be real or not???
The question I’m forced to consider is how can one enhance the beauty of nature? Does creating a physical sculpture make a positive or negative statement? If a thing exists in reality, it’s tangible, touchable, and available to immerse oneself in but practicalities place many sculptures out-of-bounds, too precious, easily damaged, or dangerous to be touched.
This makes me ask myself if it’s necessary to construct the real object or if this stage can sometimes be discarded?
My ‘Installations that never were’ were born out of the frustration of submitting proposals which are rejected, never to see the light of day. But I now see they offer a way forward where work is produced as a subtle, light touch, virtual composition rather than a truthful, more physically forceful experience. This changes the outcome but in what feels like a positive way for the issues I’m currently thinking about. My cynical side asks how much of life truthfully takes place in the real anyway rather than in some kind of mediated fantasy. From this perspective, the approach simply shifts the results more firmly and obviously into the realm of fiction.
I’m not saying the scaffold pieces should never be made but they would communicate something very different and are perhaps for another time and place.
Here’s my final proposal for Riverhill, not in its final form or method of execution but a work in progress maquette. It will exist as an online digital image, a physical collage, and as a free postcard hand out. The digital offering is accessed by triggering a QR (Quick Response) code with one’s phone, causing my virtual image to appear so the spectator can compare it with the natural reality of the real location before them.
Marginal spaces + trees =?
At Riverhill I find myself drawn to transitional spaces and the forms of trees. Marginal, in-between places such as footpaths and gateways allow navigation from one area to another. Superficially, they’re modest, inconsequential, and easily overlooked but their worn, eroded surfaces reveal a long history of usage, a legacy of thousands of small daily man-made and environmental actions. Positioning sculpture in such a place draws attention to it forging connections between historical events, the recent endeavours of myself as artist, and the now instant of spectatorship where each image is ultimately remade afresh every time someone views the work.
I’m also fascinated by the way clusters of tree branches reach upwards in dense, disorganised groupings to cut abruptly across the frame of the landscape. Perhaps the lure is recognising a certain symbiosis in form between this and the characteristics of some of the small scaffolding sculptures in the ‘Installations that never were’ series?
I’m seduced and somewhat obsessed with the idea of working with scaffolding. It’s a re-usable component capable of infinite reconstruction and re-configuration so fits with my general interest collage. It also has vast untapped potential and offers the means to create multiple disparate forms other than the uniform structures it’s actually designed for. I’ve put forward a number of proposals involving scaffolding, none of which have been successful, and something seems to stop me pushing ahead full force with this project — perhaps both signs? The natural beauty of Riverhill feels like it forces the issue to an unavoidable head. In a nutshell, my dilemma; is it necessary to make the sculptural intervention at all or does making a small maquette eradicate the need to construct the real object? Perhaps the scaffold piece can be made in certain circumstances but for now stopping at the maquette is actually more suited to the message I wish to communicate? The maquette is a modest, light touch that makes the full-scale version feel somewhat self-indulgent, wasteful, and an unnecessarily dominant act.
I’ve been lucky enough to participate in Thread, Paper, Cloth, a collaborative project between Rosie James and Clare Smith. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take time experimenting and chatting in the company of like-minded artists, with no pre-conceptions as to where the end results lead other than to explore the simple joys of materials and making.
I spent the last session working with a book I’ve owned for some time but never read — Folding Techniques for Designers by Paul Jackson. Designed with architects in mind, it offers ideas for manipulating paper, transforming it from flat surface to sculptural object. Some of the results appear here. Each paper became softer once repeatedly re-worked – cartridge paper took on a soft, almost suede-like texture. Thin brown paper was perhaps the most satisfying and malleable to work with holding fine folds very effectively. Tracing paper was the most demanding, jagged and quite harsh on the hands when manipulated but delivering crisp, well-defined creases with a translucent shell-like finish that subtly glows when struck by light.
Jackson’s book demands time to work steadily through the examples given to hone skills before leaping to the exciting stage of creating oneself. Those who know me appreciate I find this level of patience excruciating so this project is perhaps an exercise in self-restraint. If successful, however, its results could get their first airing at Brewery Tap in a small aside to the main event called ‘pint sized’ where artists respond to the challenge ‘what could fit into a pint-sized glass?’ A small paper intervention perhaps methinks?
More images of the work created by participating artists can be found here.
Link to Clare Smith’s blog on A-N
Am I writing this post because I feel motivated or does writing this post motivate me?
I’m not missing the MA course as such since it finished but I am missing something — I feel somewhat directionless. Perhaps it’s because deadlines are now self-imposed — whether I finish the thing today or tomorrow doesn’t really matter — leading to a certain fatigue of the brain and inability to act?
The thought of writing (and indeed of reading as research) seems too much effort contemplated in abstraction, but once embarked upon I seem unable to stop. Perhaps this is a clue; that thinking is best replaced with doing with the self-discipline to write regularly, spurring myself away from obfuscation towards more positive results???
I’m aware of the echo of past tutorial voices — ‘be discerning; only write down what it’s essential to say’ — but such instructions refer to another time and place. Perhaps now is the time to supplant them with the determination to write in a way that’s useful to me and which helps truly shape my practice?
Those bored by my ramblings may wish to avoid this blog in future.