This is the sort of project I love; concerns from my existing practice colliding with an external provocation (in this case, to respond to the collection of Maidstone Museum) to trigger a new idea.
I’ve chosen to re-imagine what a modern day Vanitas painting could look like.
I like to play the sound bite word game. In this case it’s helped me cut to the core of what’s important about the challenge. It’s a way to spend time exploring the idea – getting to know it better – similar to what takes place when making a piece of work. I used the approach on the process of painting itself and I realise I’m more interested in the visceral feelings the process of painting provokes than the skill itself.
The painting word game
Bleed, bloom, rivulet, disperse, feathered edges
Flick, drip, trickle, pour, drown
Immerse, wash, scrub clean
Erode, damage, obliterate
Pearlescent, glossy, matt
Silvered, glisten, gleam
Black, tarry negation
Slide, slither, trickle
Dark, doom, gloom
Control – not
For this series of work, the individual pictures chosen for inclusion are vitally important. It’s easy to be sloppy with a collage constructed from lots of material but ultimately if each isn’t carefully chosen with a specific purpose in mind the overall impact proved weak and biased towards the graphic. In this case, the purpose is two-fold; the sort of material that appears in traditional Vanitas alongside a concern central to my personal practice with the fractured passive female form.
A method of composition is slowly revealing itself; painstaking layers built up gradually following apparently accurate perspectives that are in fact truthfully ‘off’.
After experimenting with various scales, I’ve settled on something that is small, jewel-like and demands careful looking at 25.4 x 25.4cm. I think the only alternative is something assertively huge in size – anything in between feels like a pointless compromise. The format chosen is square – neutral – a deliberate distancing from both traditional portrait and landscape formats. The work will be displayed unframed mounted on split-battening – another conscious break from traditional approaches.
I can see this series expanding, perhaps to six or ten pieces to see how / if the process shifts over an extended number of pieces. This should keep me busy over the winter!