3rd Yr Journal – Week 8

Taking inspiration from the visual nature of the mono-prints and researching the work of artist Simon Callery, I worked with a piece of large canvas within the corner space. Simon Callery makes work by laying canvas over archaeological dig land, draws and cuts around the shapes of rocks and indents and markings found underneath, repeats this process and hangs the resulting fabric pieces over each other vertically, making a kind of palimpsest where you can see the layers of canvas from viewing the work from the side but also you can see deeper layers from looking face on at the canvas by looking through the holes cut out of it (see work of Callery below).

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I did a very similar process to Callery by working on the land in that way, mapping its texture on the canvas with chalk and cut away at the shapes I wanted to. I also collected some rusty pieces of metal from the site and using commercial descaler I tried to do some rust staining however I am not sure I did the process correctly as the rust from the metal didn’t bleed very well but I think I’ll try it again.

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I also didn’t do multiple layers of the onsite landscape mapping like Callery does but it does resemble the mono-prints quite a lot which wasn’t expected or intended.

Following the making of the sheet map of the corner space, I rediscovered my interest in the dough making I was doing right at the beginning. However I was thinking a lot about the idea of barriers and their presence in order to divide and segrate the landscape and people. Barriers whether physical or metaphoric are like in between spaces in themselves as they are in neither of the two or more places they are dividing. The barrier itself is no-mans-land making it everyone’s? Artist Trinh T. Minh-ha works with the notion of the barrier a lot in her work and I have been doing a lot of research into her thoughts as part of my dissertation. The video below is a very inspirational interview that helped to clarify and inspire more of my thinking about the wall and barrier and spaces between. Watching this video was one of those moments where I felt really good about the work I was making and positive to listen to someone of such intelligence and well respected in the art and literature world, speak about similar subjects and approaches.

Minh-ha see’s Twilight as an in-between space, as well as walls, passages, the act of walking and explains it so beautifully! I love her references to in between places being places of passage from one place to another, and being places of transformation as you go from one state of being to the next. I especially like the relation between Jacob’s Ladder as a place of physical passage and her ideas about walking being a spiritual act of transformation and how the act of walking allows one to perceive the world around you differently, re-evaluate and contemplate. The passageway like Jacob’s Ladder being an interval in the lay out of Falmouth and a place where people walk up steps (steps having their own ancient symbolism), transforming in the void of unimportance that passageways carry. It is a “proximity that keeps the possibilities open, keeps the interval alive” Minh-ha explains. She also talks of border lines and barriers in relation to world politics and their limiting characteristics. The addition of walls and barriers restricting flow and growth also the interesting concept of going over or under a wall or barrier.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this going over or between things so decided to start making ladders from dough. The ladder is an ancient universal tool that comes in many shapes and sizes and from many different materials for functional reasons. All over the world the ladder can’t really be improved and is still used everyday with the fundamental use of getting from one place to another. Ladders are also interesting as they are objects that can be transported and carried and have no fixed location. They have no fixed home and aren’t tied to a specific person or identity. They can be carried long distances but their function is always the same. Ladders are things we take for granted. I like the concept that the ladder as an object can be transported anywhere and will always be recognised as these characteristics are important to my work – the ladder has no home and is always in an in-between and indefinite state plus pretty much all humans will recognise its function. Instinctively knowing to use it to ascend or descend or cross between.

I placed the ladders up against the wall to the Corner Space, I didn’t leave them there but I want to make more and do this. Leaving them leading up the wall may cause people to look over it, think about going over something, over the barrier between the nothing space and their place of passage, defying the division. They might ignore them and not think at all and continue in their passing down the path, they might even steal one. All these potentials and more have their own connotations and could be read in many ways but in a public art piece like this, where art is in the public realm, there is no knowing what will happen to it or who will see it and what they will think. It feels cohesive to put art in public spaces considering my strong links to the overlapping of culture and overall importance of people.

Obviously the ladders are made from dough as well which may intrigue people, remind them of a moment from their childhood or spark an association to something. As I’ve mentioned before, bread is also universal and ancient, so as a sculptural material it automatically brings common understanding and knowledge together creating an overlapping in itself due to the overlapping of people’s recognition within the objects.

 

 

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3rd Yr Journal – Week 7

In light of the concepts and ideas I talked about in my last entry. This week I did a lot of making. I made casts on Jacob’s Ladder by pushing terracotta clay into the L-shape where one step connects to the next one and others were made by folding clay around the edge of the steps.

I wasn’t sure what to do with these but I ended up taking the more interesting shapes to Brick Works in Penryn to get bisk fired. The more interesting shapes were the ones taken from the inside L-shape over the ones from the edge of the step. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the shapes themselves because I pretty much took them straight to Brick Works. It will be a couple of weeks before I get them back but it is quite nice to take things somewhere to be processed, it’s an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing, giving you space to move onto other things and have a fresh perspective of them when you get them back. I am really looking forward to seeing them as solid objects that could maybe be fitted back into their places on Jacob’s Ladder; not sure yet.

I also delved into some mono-printing. I thought the mono-print aesthetic looks quite similar to archaeological drawing. Sketchy but inky. The nature of mono-prints always seem to look like they are capturing something fleeting, unrefined and rustic so I thought I’d try to depict some of the shapes from my pub table top rubbings using the process.

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The images above are just a few of the many mono-prints I did. Some of the mono-prints were done directly onto enlarged photocopies of photos I’d taken at the corner spot to try and combine the two narratives in my work. The lack of human presence of the corner spot over layed with the traces of constant presence found in pub table tops. The pub tabletop traces over laying each other, shapes of the corner spot taken from the photos overlaying the traces plus other combinations. The ones above are my favourite ones, some didn’t work so well, too much ink or the layout of the images came out wrong but it was nice to visualise the two parallel ideas in my work together and on one flat piece of paper. I think they did work well, and I really like their rough quality. The shapes almost look paganistic or religious in some instances. Spell like and symbolic but the local people are to blame for these almost mystical symbols taken from the tables – spells people don’t even know they are casting as they absentmindedly scratch away at the paint or calve doodles.

I did mono-prints over a couple of days, in and out of writing dissertation as that is demanding quite a lot of time at the moment, and now the prints like the walls of my studio space. So I am semi surrounded by the traces of pub goers as I attempt to make work inspired by their doings. There is quite a strange and interesting layering to all the elements I am dealing with and I am still trying to work out how they fit together whether or not they fit together at all. Maybe they never will ‘fit together’ and will just co-exist and that’s how they are meant to be in the world just like people are when they live in and around each other – we don’t necessarily interact or have much to do with our neighbours a lot of the time but cover the same ground almost every day – so close to each other in the comfort of our houses but separated by walls – comes down to barriers again.  Barriers and objects or entities that separate and segregate people from being together in the same place at once however leaving traces on the common ground that layer up due to the collaboration of their oblivious creators who come together in acts of doing so.  Neighbours coming together from different backgrounds, opinions and homes to obliviously create traces and things in spaces that they all occupy in fleeting moments.

 

 

3rd Yr Journal – Week 6

I have been thinking a lot about space this week. What a space has to say and what it stands for and communicates in its relation to people and the landscape. In light of this I decided to photograph the space next to Jacob’s Ladder initially from across the valley like last week but this week I shot on a 35mm 1970’s Praktica film camera. I then photographed the space from behind the wall looking into it and the surrounding area, then I jumped the wall so that I actually went into the space and corner itself. Finally from that spot that I have been looking at for a while from the other side of the valley, I photographed in the opposite direction back at the place I’d initially seen it from. It was like a journey of breaking through layers and physical and imaginary barriers to finally reach a destination. Visualising these barriers or layers similarly to how I visualised ripples and layers in the past; layers that circle a specific point. I experienced stages of finally getting to the unnoticed, space in between and once I got there I wasn’t too sure what to do. I’d made the journey and finally made it into the space I’d been seeing for weeks, finally bridged the gap between a distant place or land of wonder to actually standing within it; quite strange. So I just documented it through photography.

 

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All these concepts and thoughts seem to keep leading loosely to elements of migration. This coming to a new place imagined and seen from a distance, breaching barriers as the journey goes on and not quite knowing what to do once you are somewhere you’ve potentially imagined for a while. Another barrier present in my work was the presence of me sitting on the step on Jacob’s Ladder two weeks ago. I obstructed the flow of people on the steps and they unquestionably moved around me on that public place of passing. Like avoiding obstacles on a pathway. The place of passage offering obstacles or barriers that obstruct and change the flow of people passing through. I’m thinking maybe I could work with this concept and implement not me as a person but something else onto the place of passage that causes people to change their passage or root down the steps or on the pathway etc. I could insert my plaster cast copy of one of the steps onto Jacob’s Ladder and somehow document it’s effects of the public as they pass.

The most recent Frieze Magazine published this month (October 2018) is centred around decolonization and the migrant and refugee situation across the world. I have read most of the content and it has birthed more links between my work and the potential of it relating to these issues. Although I initially started off working with ideas on culture and the potential of it being an intangible archaeological palimpsest, my work has continued on these lines but has started touching on ideas on the displacement of  culture and people, movement and overlapping of people over time and space. Which is why the migrant crisis is becoming increasingly relevant but my ideas over all rooted in the idea of the overlapping of people in one place in general.

Last year, I watched ‘Human Flow’ a documentary by Ai Wei Wei which was an epic documentary film observing and exposing the reality of the migrant and refugee crisis aimed at revealing its horrors and truth to the West. It was incredible but unimposing, an observational, calm undramatic exposure to the situation that I believe avoided fetishisation of the crisis and any overly dramatic cinematography and music to enforce ‘wow factors’ so often found in Western cinema and film. It let the content speak for itself.

With the reading, thinking and watching in mind, it made me see the area of Jacob’s Ladder and the empty space next to it as a kind of miniscule narrative discovered in my direct surroundings that embodies similar characteristics as the wider, hyperobject of the migrant crisis or colonialism. I am finding larger important narratives in the smaller local physical and social landscape to understand and communicate the bigger picture is a respectable way to inquire.  

From what I can gather as a white person never having been to a refugee camp, they are portrayed as a kind of place between places. Like a place of passage between A and B just like Jacob’s Ladder is. A place of refuge or temporal settlement between two potentials just like the pub is. However, I am aware of the problematics of associating a refugee camp with a British pub, two extremely high contrasting locations, environments and histories.

It is interesting to consider the similarities with the palimpsest of culture in terms of refugee camps and places of passage. Places where people are brought together and create context, history and impressions on each other, time, space, objects and the landscape. Places of layers and a growing history and past. In a Frieze article called ‘Impermanent Inheritance’ by Suzanne Harris-Brandts, she suggests that “the camp is an artefact of the 20th Century” which does challenge the contemporary notion of the artefact and its parameters however does so under colonial circumstances once again. The West getting to decide the importance and unimportance of things and under it’s righteous identification system despite the impressive challenge of the notion. But it also caught my eye due to its use of its archaeological terminology.  Describing a social and physical landscape as an artefact follows suit with being able to describe culture under the archaeological term of palimpsest; it is just another example of challenging archaeological terminology.

This week I have essentially learnt that my work aims to understand the distant by exploring the direct. Discovering local metaphorical narratives that help to understand the stories and lives of people outside of my own.

In terms of practical ventures I’ve had this week, they are still in development of previous work and ideas.

I have begun moulding the shapes discovered and unearthed from my pub table top rubbings from clay, giving them a physicality and presence within a 3D context to see how they differ and change. So far I have started to view them as creatures and characters birthed from the palimpsest, palimpsest being the mother that bares stories, history and narratives through the marks and traces she allows in her dimensional space brought to life through the fingertips and presence of people. A space between people and the physical world around them, the palimpsestal dimension giving life to history and time through physical traces. The space between the person and their surroundings.

 

For some reason I have the desire to cast the shapes in a metal of some sort for a heavier more tactile, definite presence in reality rather than in the illusive, conceptual world I talked about above.

I also did some collages in attempt to visually combine archaeology with culture and landscape with a slightly scientific overall feel however I found it difficult to visually link archaeological drawings into images of people and landscape to make it aesthetically pleasing.

3rd Yr Journal – week 5

I did a lot of research this week and idea generation. I’ve started to get excited by film and the interaction of people and how I can embody the concepts I’ve been working with such as the bringing people together to create a palimpsestal moment or place or object. Potentially using common ground such as universally understood materials like dough, straw and clay or in a place like a pub or on the Jacob’s Ladder steps or a park. I’m not certain what will come about in the next couple of weeks but it feels as if more photography and video are likely.

I re-researched into the word Palimpsest and discovered the Latin breakdown of the word’s origin: ‘palin’ meaning again, and ‘psestos’ meaning scraped or rubbed away. I realised that this idea of rubbing or scraping away relates to the step on Jacob’s Ladder more than I realised – of course people have collectively sanded away the granite on the steps, which reinforced and sparked ideas about scraping and rubbing away. Which simultaneously reinforced the rubbings I did of the pub table tops. I’m not sure how I will implement this yet but I have some ideas for doing some filming in a pub of people collectively doing something or me interacting with people who just happened to come to the pub that evening. Maybe some form of collective image making or activity or I could lay down some paper or fabric on the table to collect the marks made by people at the pub.

I also expanded further on thinking about Palimpsestal places; where people, especially from different backgrounds and cultures, collide in the their physical and non-physical presence to alter and change a location. Thinking of places that have experiences a lot of change from layers or time, people, building and alterations. Noticing ghostly remains of dry patches on the floor where things have been and then removed after it has rained. Remains and traces of lost buildings on the side of others still present, echos of sounds like ripples of the original sounds from a mass of people like cheering, chinese whispers, reincarnation.

I thought about more conceptual palimpsests like myths and rituals that have traveled through time and place to be reworked and altered to suit different situations until the originals show through only in glimmers. Stories that get modified by different people over time. Our whole experience of the world is a palimpsest, it could be seen as a whole progression of palimpsestic reality, where the old is partly stripped away, reused and edited for the present. Memories are palimpsests as they are edited and changed by other thoughts, and people and opinions and thoughts and knowledge all the time, plus it is thought that every time you re-think of a memory, you are remembering the last time you thought of it, not the original one. Everyday we wake up with a new memory of the day before – that day scraped from the present, making way for the new layer or the new present moment and new day.

I need to discover or create a place where traces of people’s presence are found that were created over separate moments in time.

This week I also cast my flimsy Jacob’s Ladder modroc step mold in plaster:

It was quite difficult to deal with the large, floppy, damp modroc mould as I wanted to cast it in either concrete or plaster which is super heavy and powerful compared to the weak modroc. It was a bit of a challenge but with some pieces of wood, clay, newspaper to stuff the shape of the step into place and a lot of sealant and vaseline to protect the modroc and stop the plaster from sticking to the mould, I managed to create the cast. There is beautiful texture to the plaster step but up close you can see the tiny holes of the modroc fabric plus the little overlaps of the way I lay the layers onto it. I imagined the step to be more accurate and true to the step but being able to see the layers of material I used to make it adds to its layered history and visually deepens the story of the step.

Very close to where Jacob’s Ladder sits in the hill side is a plot of land that perches almost invisibly behind the methodist church to the side of Jacob’s Ladder. The plot of land is extremely steep and has been catching my eye for a while. It’s an intriguing spot as you don’t know it’s there when you are on the Ladder because there is a wall that divides you from the plot and the steps. A wall that very few people will be able to see over due to its height, also no one is likely to consider looking over it as it’s almost essential that you watch you footing when you are going up or down the steps as they are so steep. Also, due to it being such a definite place of passage, it’s not important what is behind this wall. The only place to view the plot of land, is from the other side of the valley and even then it’s unnoticable due to it’s complete uselessness and lack of importance. People pass it all the time and don’t even realise it exists. At the moment this place isn’t obviously related to my ideas but it could be an interesting location to work with because of its characteristics being: only visible from afar, useless, forgotten, next to something used all the time. These two places are so close but opposites in the way the public interacts with them; one being all the time and the other not at all.

I took two short videos of this place of interest and are both from a distance, across the valley using a really bad quality zoomed night vision camera that can take normal videos in daylight. I’m not sure which one portrays it better, the first one doesn’t show any context to where it is in scale and landscape which could be interesting if seen by people from Falmouth to see whether they know where it is. And the second video sort of pans across close up rooftops and trees to find it somewhere in the middle, but continues to travel across the landscape after. The second gives it more of a setting, making it less mysterious and random or secretive. It makes me want to make a mockumentary about ‘the corner place’ to try and give it some sort of importance or false history next to something so well known and full of history and so often used in people’s lives.

Visually, The Corner Place looks more interesting to me when in black and white, it looks a bit spooky as if something bad has happened there.

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3rd Yr Journal – Week 4

There has been a lot of discovery through process in the past week. I really latched onto the concept of palimpsest and have been manifesting its parameter and circumference in order to translate it into my own context and to understand it in my own way. As of this, I have begun taking rubbings from […]

There has been a lot of discovery through process in the past week. I really latched onto the concept of palimpsest and have been manifesting its parameter and circumference in order to translate it into my own context and to understand it in my own way.

As of this, I have begun taking rubbings from pub table tops using newsprint paper and a soft pencil. It came to me that pub table tops are palimpsests; they have been marked and edited and stained over time by many different people, they are artefacts of contemporary culture.

 

Below are some of the most interesting rubbings. I’m not sure what I will do with them yet and how I will manipulate them further. I just know I’d like to transfer the marks somehow.

 

It is also interesting to consider the origin and history of ‘the pub’. Obviously ‘pub’ stands for ‘public house’, a place of all people meeting, a place of gathering. The home for the public, which relates back to thoughts I had on the domestic, and communal, universally relatable materials such as the dough, straw and clay. I like these links to the coming together of people and the communal place where history, background, ethnicity and identity are blended.

Pubs originate from Roman times however, and were more commonly named taverns or ale houses. They were often built on the sides of long Roman roads so that the legionary troops could stop for a drink. And it was ale and other alcoholic drinks served as they were safer to drink than water due to their brewing process. So pubs were originally just a place of passing – just a stop off point on a longer journey.

In light of palimpsest, places of passing through and pubs, I decided to cast one of the steps on Jacobs Ladder just off the moor in Falmouth. The notoriously steep and long old staircase lead to the Jacob’s Ladder Inn at the top.

 

 

 

I see the steps as palimpsests in themselves. The concave dips worn away from the original step shape tell of people and time. The thousands of people who have walked up and down the steps since their creation makes them a kind of slowly manipulated collective art piece. An abstract physical timeline. I was also attracted to Jacob’s Ladder as of course the steps embody the layering element of the palimpsest concept. This is a seemingly simple observation but its interesting to think of the staircase as a whole but also as individual layers carved separately from the soles and feet of people and animals. Each individual palimpsest layered up to make one very large more complex one.

I think it is important to mention as well what the origin and reason for Jacob’s Ladder to be made was and the fact it has no biblical relevance or associations, despite there being a greek mythology about Jacob and his ladder – expand! It was simply installed by a man named Jacob Hamblen in…. , a builder, tallow chandler and property owner to facilitate access between his business – at the bottom – and some of his property – at the top. It was just a means of getting from A to B, just simply an access root for passing from one place to another quicker than going round.

It is interesting to consider Jacob’s Ladder as a place of passing through – the people and interactions I had whilst on the step for 6 hours were varied. Some people passed  multiple times; walking with a group first, then running down then walking back up and running down again with someone else. One woman was going up it for exercise and said that last year she did the ladder 10 times one after another! Many, almost all people asked what I was doing and although I was making an absolute mess, no one commented on it in a negative way. There were also people who completely ignored what I was doing. I had a very uncomfortable encounter with a 70 year old man who insinuated the gross things he would do to me, to warm me up, had he got me “behind the wall”, which was extremely unpleasant and shocking. Over all I realised that the activity I was doing gives a reason to communicate, such a narrow pass that you are almost forced to interact. Because it is a staircase, it is maybe easier to talk because it is inevitably going to be a short encounter making it easier to start one – the place of passing bares no obligation to chat or stay for a while if one does not want to. This is a well known stereotypical observation of the british awkwardness and reluctance to have anything more than small talk, as more than small talk is out of the comfort zone. It also made it a kind of safe place for the old man to make an oppressive comment as there was no one else around at the time and I feel he would be less likely to say something like that had I been on the street at the bottom of the ladder.

Down a slightly different root, I have begun re-looking at the photos and sketches I did at the archaeological dig I went to in August.

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At the time I was thinking a lot about the fact that Anthropologists’ job is to watch, research and observer other people! I began finding this concept quite bazaar and frustrating as I’d never heard much about anthropologists who study anyone other than indigenous or native tribes men. I couldn’t help considering the kind of colonial undercurrents of the ology, the appropriateness of it and the potential interference, false informity and the historical eurocentrism that comes with treating these communities and cultures as ‘the other’ then continuing to represent them as ‘the other’ throughout the entire Western world. After some research, I realised that now there are studies done by anthropologists of non tribal or native peoples; a lot in fact. But I decided I wanted to be a part of this and challenge the entire concept of anthropology. My ideal setting would have been me studying a group of Anthropologists, and to study them in a way that encompassesses anthropological processes but also to use more artistic ones and explore the ways I could study them as it to treat them as a tribe themselves whilst they are at work carrying out research on another group of people. I wanted to collect data and research on the way they interact with each other, the social hierarchy, common language, common background, beliefs systems and thoughts, gestures, eating habits and anything else that became important during the research project. I wanted the anthropologists to in a way get a taste of their own medicine, but despite this still being a dream project for me. It meant that I’d have to arrange going on a research trip with a bunch of scientists along with all the barriers that come with that and I didn’t feel like I had the time frame to do it in my last year of study.

This is why I decided to at least do a practise on a group of archaeologists down here in Cornwall. To do a study of a arguably similar group of people doing slightly different work but their practises overlap and include practical field work in a changing environment.

Although this was my original idea, I started thinking about the sketches I did there for a different reason. I photocopied the sketches and drew gradients like what you find of maps onto the figures as if to map their bodies like you would a landscape. This then instantly looked like ripples and of course portrays a layering effect on them making links between the figures as a landscape with layers just like the earth. Ripples are things that spread in waves of energy, weakening as they get further apart from the epicentre or source of the energy flow. Places and people become connected by the effects of a ripple, like people affect other people in their actions, interactions and movements in the world which affect others who could be close by or far away. The energy of our existence affects other people by the way we use it, who we make connections with and where we travel in time and space.

I’d really like to create something that people interact with that will alter as a result of human interaction as it’s passed from person to person; whether a space or object. This will be a creation of a palimpsest and is done so from the ripple of energy that will manipulate it.

I looked at the work of Pierre Huyghe this week and he uses similar ideas but in a slightly different angle. He conceives the conditions for an environment but leaves it at that. He creates spaces where an unpredictable non-regular cycle of events will ripple out from its centre to create variations avoiding linearity. People and other living animals are essential to his environments as they basically have a mind of their own that will in-turn, form the present moment of the exhibition or art piece just from chance. It is also considered that due to the environment having been given space to grow and breath will take on its own life and events, it is difficult to distinguish what is ‘meant’ to be happening in the space and whether something is an accident or a result of the outside world of the art piece coming in.

3rd Yr Journal – Week 3

I’ve been struggling the past couple of days to find a rhythm and grasp what the relevance of my materials have to ideas of colonialism and anthropology, the celts, christian history or art or the influence of religion and so on and so on. Until I realised that I have been getting too lost in the information and academia of the concepts I’m working with. I have also given myself too much to think about and all the subject areas are extremely vast. To try to counteract this and take away some of the intense factual ideas I’ve been working with, I have decided to forget the previous research I’ve done, block it out for a few days and focus on the form and physicality of what’s in front of me. I headed to the library and did some artist research.

Dorothy Cross’s work found its way into my life and help to shine a light over the poeticness and ambiguity of form and material. By simply saying how a form can encourage the “viewer to ask more intimate questions that are often buried deep in our consciousness” has helped to remind me of the importance and beauty of form and material and how these realisation of what a material can do come from making with the material not thinking and planning what to do with it.

“residue is a key word in the artist’s vocabulary, she has always shown tenderness towards remnants , leavings, and detritus, and her imagination returns again and again to leavings, traces, artifacts, ordinary articles packed with memories and dreams” reminding me that the artist definitely benefits from having a relationship with the materials she or he is using like being ‘tender’ towards them or rough or careless which helps me to consider the relationship I have with mine. I have realised I am delicate with them but not overly precious, suggesting that they are not only ephemeral in literal terms but also ephemeral in terms of my value to towards them.

“When she turns to the dead past, her work reactivates its shadows and its corpses through the magic of relics. She establishes lines to the past, through buildings and objects and achievements that have been abandoned”. I found this quote relevant and inspiring to my own practise as it talks of working with the past, in the present and what the relationship between the two time periods could mean. Essentially I am exploring how the past has affected the present and in doing so, I am reminding the present of the past. Like giving the past and present agency or status as if they were tangible objects or consciousnesses in their own right that have memory and opinion to what they’d like to take from the past and what they’d like to leave there. I guess this is similar to the structure of colonialism in a way as one agent takes what it wants from another agent to create a new currency of existence whether its tangible or not. But what if the past could also still take from the present or future? What is a theoretical example of this?

I’ve also looked physically at the work of Tony Cragg for inspiration on form, shape and structure. You can see evidence of this in my sketchbook.  He often works with very permanent materials and I was attracted to the pieces that although are made as permanent objects, seem and look random or impermanent in their spaces in galleries etc. I was attracted to the sculptures that looked random and almost give off the feeling that they could get away if they wanted to; this is a juxtaposition between material and form. A permanent material evoked in a transient, temporal way.

Then I developed and approached my small delicate dough objects in a different way, displaying them on blocks of oolitic limestone.

 

Experimenting with arrangement and positioning. I also added some hay and two metal drum kit cymbals to the structures.

More experimenting I did today was to make marks using charcoal onto the dough:

 

Which made the browned dough seem like tiny landscapes or lands. The charcoal gave them depth and pattern that follows the natural shapes and lines found in the baked dough. They are quite beautiful and when photographed on matt black paper appear ancient and important somehow even though they are extremely easy, cheap and uncomplicated to make. But what defines important – delicate, cheap and uncomplicated can be just as important as expensive, strong and complex objects.

I also positioned the dough shapes within some of my hay sculptures – a completely different and opposing material to the oolitic limestone:

 

The oolithic limestone also added interesting context to the work but I’m not sure what to think about it yet. “Oolitic limestone is made up of small spheres called ooiliths that are stuck together by lime mud. They form when calcium carbonate is deposited on the surface of sand grains rolled (by waves) around on a shallow sea floor.” (quote from google search). It is “precipitated from warm, supersaturated marine water. A pure oolitic limestone with spar cement. The oolites are white, rounded, and concentrically layered, in the sand sized range.” which gives me lots of things to think about, from circular objects to its layering qualities and the process in which it’s formed. It’s creation heavily involves the ocean and the movement of waves and energy and through the layering up of shells and sediment on the ocean floor you get circular textures in the stone. Layering like the layering of history being deposited on the ocean floor to create solid stone created over time. Cultural history like layers of addition and change to create the current state of a material that can be manipulated, carved, chipped and sculpted either by nature or human hands – much like culture can be. We are chipping away, manipulating and sculpting society all the time without even realising it. Society like layered earth constantly being manipulated and changed.

In a tutorial with David Paton, I was made aware of the concept of palimpsest. The concept originated from ancient Greece and Rome and describes the process of scraping away layers of animal fat from animal skin which was used to write on. Ink would penetrate the animal skin and stain it so when a layer is scraped off to remove a mistake for example, the ink was so strong that it would leave traces of the original text all the way through the layers of skin so that despite trying to remove the mistake, you will still be able to see the original marks underneath. This concept has now been adopted and used in an archaeological context to describe objects that portray visual timelines. For example, the walls of an ancient cave may have hundreds of engravings or drawings or markings on them, but they wouldn’t have all been made in the same 10 minutes 10,000 years ago. The walls have been added to overtime by different people, resulting in walls  that can now be described as a palimpsest. They are things that present time through physical change and alteration that can still be seen. This concept made clear how important layers are in my work to represent historical and time based change.

In the video above, I transfer rubble and mud that I collected from an archaeological excavation site between the dough sculptures. Here the dough acts as a vessel and kind of bowl that can hold a material. The mud from the site that is likely to not have seen sunlight for hundreds of years leaves traces in each of the dough sculptures it’s poured out of, the dirt collects around the bumps and textures of the dough like history leaving its mark throughout the social landscapes it interacts with. Transferring but leaving traces, anything that is transferred leaves remnants and traces in the metaphorical vessel that held it before.

As of this I’ve started to see the dough shapes as islands of meaning in themselves. Each having their own individual markings and landscape. I’ll never make the same one twice, hand crafted like culture and society. Little representations floating out into the sea of culture or tossed into the wild ocean by god where they go on their own journey, either sinking, breaking, disintegrating, eaten or smashed. They all have their own journey like the history of every country, continent, cultural group, family, person. Like a simple general representation of the concept of the voyage or journey that everything is forced take having been given the gift of life or presence in the world. So I made this experimental video below that I’d like to add some sort of narrative poetry to in the future to attempt to convey these ideas. Poetry like a charm or story, I’d like to create a fictional narrative for the dough pieces that maybe evokes a sense of the beginning of culture or abstract story about how time or society began. This creation of abstract symbolic scenario making or story telling is popular within native Canadian story telling where no gods or specific beings are presented as the creators but animals and nature being the ones that brought about human life, time and culture.

 

 

3rd Yr Journal – Week 1 & 2

After arriving a couple of days late back to uni because I was doing a spiritual residency retreat aimed at female artists, run by amazing artist collective Fourthland (website: http://fourthland.co.uk/). I was a little up in the clouds and it has taken the first couple of weeks of my final year of Fine Art study to get settled back into the mind set and rhythm of university life and tempo as well as working weekends in a kitchen, catching up with friends and keeping up to date with domestic duties of a chaotic busy student house. But this overwhelming business has become an exciting challenge.

The ideas stated in the previous post about my experience and work from the CAST Studio Residency are feeding into the work I’ve made in the past couple of weeks. In Portugal where the Spiritual Artist Residency Retreat was held, I was lucky enough to find a snake skin. The shedded skin of a snake and colonial sail/flag hangings made in the residency are linked for obvious reasons but the nature of the snake skin having once been around the snakes body and now abandoned on the floor, valueless inspired an investigation into other ways ‘the skin of Britain’ could be represented. So, in light of the well known christian ceremony ‘Holy Communion’ where one breaks and eats bread that supposedly represents the flesh of Jesus Christ and drinks red wine that represents his blood, I began baking dough.

 

 

 

The textures, beautiful variety of browns and shapes that were produced is always different and in the process I aimed to stretch the dough to almost ripping point to reveal cracks and bare holes that could lead to further layers beneath to imply a sort of exposure to something beneath. However, purposely giving the dough this nature makes it delicate and fragile. What does this imply about the skin of Britain? That it’s weak and easily broken, that you can see through to the layers beneath through the cracks? It’s brittle and ridged, not flexible, there’s no chance of change now it’s been baked for so long?

What I also need to keep in mind is the colour of the dough. Does the fact that the dough shows many different skin colours change it’s status in terms of what I am exploring, are the bubbles, blotches and tones relevant?

Taking this idea of dough and skin forward, is Britain’s deep rooted christian culture like a thick, bready, rotten, stagnant kind of armour that is tied to each new generation that enters the world in Britain due to the structure and eurocentric approach of it’s Western society? So I have begun making myself a bready body armour that will be tied together using palm tree leaf fibres, referencing the leaves that the Bibles states were laid on the ground when Mary rode into Jerusalem on a Donkey. This is as far as I’ve got with these ideas at the moment but the dough I have been baking for the body armour has leaves mixed into it for experimental disruption of the dough texture and strength.

 

 

 

I’ve also been weaving straw into a flat structure I found at the side of the road and have added layers of clay to some of the straw sculptures I made at the CAST residency.

 

 

It’s still unclear what the reasons are for these pieces but one observation is how all of the objects I am making contain and relate to layers of some sort. Like building up a weave through slowly adding new layers. Straw sculptures coated in clay; a material once soft and paste like, now dry and crumbly. Both pieces have layers made of weak materials. I have not made any thing that is permanent or solid, all the materials are susceptible to damage from fire, water or a powerful blow. They are very organic but ephemeral objects and materials, something temporal or unsecure. All the materials I am using are fairly domestic, like the straw and clay being very similar to Kob for building houses, straw used for roofing or farming and dough for the obvious reasons relating to food. The universal creation of a home? Due to the universal nature of the materials, am I questioning a lack of specific location or grounding in one place. Or is it about the universality of the home being non specific but that home is always found in the earth, anywhere on earth? The universality and similarity of all cultures as all religions, cultures and countries are likely to recognise dough as a food product? Universal language. The singularity and unitedness of all humans regardless of race, ethnicity or religion etc and finding comfort in the same materials.