Pepper and Play

I’ve continued to play in the studio by adding to and altering my sculptures and space. After the sound experiment I did with hitting the cybal with my clay headed sticks I decided to upscale it and get more people involved.

It was amazing to be part of it and everyone involved agrees that it was insanely liberating as we all bounced off each others movements, sounds and decisions. The energy each of us created in the space was centred around the drum and collectively created and felt. We all individually interpreted the moment and created what it could hold between us. We agreed that each of us got lost in the making of the piece as if it captivated our entire attention. That is interesting to think about – something that captures and almost imprisons our entire attention. Like tunnel vision – tunnel vision can happen when the brain tries to block out the surrounding environment, in some cases this is a result of trauma.

I really like the element of sensorial collaboration and collective making. This idea of bringing smaller elements together to create larger things seems to be reoccuring in my work. I’ve been bringing small objects or materials together in my sculptures to create a more substantial form. It is interesting also how so many people instantly perceive my sculptures as bodily and figurative like creatures even though no heads or limbs are obvious or purposely implemented. It is just a lot of organic matter strapped and tied together on to one structure.  But maybe I could also connect them somehow – with fabric that’s printed or drawn onto or stitched into or dyed, burnt, strapped, cut, folded, pleated, hung, stuffed.

Below is a video of some fun I had in the installation room. I brought my work into the room with no prior ideas of how I will arrange the sculptures. Initially I found it really difficult to know what to do with them and a lot of the day was spent just sitting and looking at all my things. Eventually I started playing with some ideas I’ve had about grating vegetables and spices over my sculptures and this became the focus of my time in there. The performativity of cooking has become significant plus the consideration for the vegetable or substance. I like the idea that lots of little elements have gone into making the sculptures but then I break up a whole object by grating it onto them so that the process happens in the opposite direction. Some thing made from lots of tiny pieces and something being broken up into tiny pieces in the same place.

Markets also have similar characteristics to my sculptures. The market is where scattered people, produce and objects momentarily come together in one place to create something bigger. At the market culture, race and history are overlapped and irrelevant as the core purpose of the market is exchange and not politics. The market is centred around material and exchange. The hustle and bustle, sounds and smells and sights all combine together to create and comprehend the multisensory environment of the market which is something I find very exciting. The act of bringing separate and disparate objects together in one space  – like a scaled down version of globalisation.

Here are some photos from Falmouth Farmers Market. I like the way all the produce; specifically fruit and veg are presented at the market – all the colours and shapes are really cool. The shape of fruit also can’t be categorised also each shape and vegetable is going to be different from everyone before it and everyone after it. The dimensions can never be reproduced exactly.

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Moving Forward – January

Since hand-in last week, many things have unexpectedly changed and swapped and jumped about in my brain. After spending a fair bit of time alone this weekend and a slightly uncomfortable drawing session with a friend where I was pushed to think about what I truly desire creatively, I have come to a bit of a turning point.

I have been reflecting on the past couple of years of studio practise and noticed the gaps. Gaps meaning breaks from the studio and what I find myself doing creatively in those periods like holidays and just after hand ins… In times of rest or simply away from marked studio work I seem to always come back to a specific figurative drawing style using chalk and oil pastels. I do it and feel relaxed and under no pressure to evoke a meaning or convey a critical context. I’ve realised that this is actually the kind of work I enjoy. Therefor I have started to activate this style and new found freedom and real enjoyment of it. Play, enjoyment and honesty with my work has been on my mind ever since I had a tutorial with Hew Locke when he asked me if I enjoy making the things I make and I couldn’t honestly say I did.

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I also had my feedback tutorial with artist and lecturer Lucy Willow who I have known for the past couple of years and she knows my practise well. She said it was evident in that play and passion weren’t present at the moment and was confused by the way I presented the work and why I’d done it all. She was right, I didn’t really enjoy making last terms studio work and found myself over thinking it, reading too much and trying too hard to give it a meaning before I’d even made it. She told me to relax and just have fun, let the material lead me, play, put things together and not over think it. She also assured me that the meanings and contexts can come after and that the work will speak to me naturally and evoke the meanings I naturally and instinctively gave to it when it’s ready- a more positive process than the one I was following before.

The beginning of creative freedom:

I have a load of different materials and objects in my space. Most are either found organic matter or materials I have manipulated like dough and bread, hay and stuffing. I have started tying and arranging the separate objects together around metal structures I twisted and welded in the workshop. I let my hands and eyes lead me avoiding the temptation to bring in contextual references or seeking reasons and meaning for the creations and shapes.

I thought of these sculptures as potential landscapes and did some close up video documentation of their textures and shape – potentially for green screen video overlaying of me climbing them or something similar.

This pulsing and rocking element to the sculpture makes it look and feel like a create even more. It rocks on its own just from people passing or walking by it. Quite an interesting tension and characteristic.

The organic matter and objects I have brought together in the work are sourced from all over the world. With some objects from Central America, Norway, England and Canada. A fellow student and I had a conversation about the sculptures and we realised this kind of attempt I am performing at trying to link distant objects and matter that aren’t from the same origin. The trapping and tying of the natural materials around a metal skeletal form is like I am trying to bond them to a steady centre of which all of it can stand secure as one being. We concluded this similar to the current universal need for connectivity and acceptance of all people coming together in crisis, migration and globalisation.

Another reflection was about the presence of pod or bud like objects and shapes. The figurative drawings I’ve been doing have plump, round, bud like heads but exaggerated, distorted bodies. Also many of my objects are seed pods, shells or stones of a kind which all encompass an element of containment and birth or regrowth. Associating with ideas like: reincarnation, reproduction, growth, nature, spreading seeds through nature, the weather, collecting, health, food, nutrients, sharing…

Sharing is an interesting idea; when trees or plants produce seeds they are allowing their DNA and part of themselves to be spread and shared intuitively throughout the ecosystem, landscape and habitat. A metaphor for the need for humans to spread their nutrients and kindness and part of themselves with each other and the rest of nature. Like exchanges of each person or body. Humans like seeds spreading their goodness to their habitat. Figurative drawings and the seed idea now connecting.

I also found that some of the objects in my space were quite musical so I have been playing around with their potential.

I like how marks were left on the cymbal from the air dry clay on the stick ends. A collaborative sound making process that is also traced and documented on the instrument of choice. It felt good to play with someone and bounce of the intuition of the others choices and decision making when it came to deciding the fate of the object.

I am enjoying the performative elements of my work and space and making process and will continue to document my movements and discoveries. The body feels like it may become quite important.

3rd Yr Journal – Week 9, 10, 11, 12

I feel like I’m not moving particularly quickly through my thoughts and ideas. I don’t feel like I’ve come very far from my original idea but maybe that’s just my perspective. Anyhow, I had a tutorial with artist Hew Locke this week and it was really useful because he reminded me to have fun with my work and not worry too much about it. He said I was in danger of it becoming too serious and not enjoyable which is fair to say as joy should be a factor of making as that’s when you get the best results? I don’t know, but it encouraged me to stop thinking and just make and enjoy and stop worrying so much about whether or not EVERYTHING is perfectly politically correct and communicating the right thing before I’ve even made it.

As of this, I have spent the remaining weeks playing and making as well as naturally starting to think about future ideas that will hopefully be implemented in the coming projects in second term. Ideas came naturally through making and play.

The image of the white sheet above is of some fabric that I dyed with rust. I used pieces of metal I found at the ‘corner place’ to dye the fabric using a simple technique involving salt and vinegar. Then I drew around some dough ladders onto the fabric. The photos to the right are of the ceramics and metal I found at the ‘corner place’ laid on top of the fabric. They are laid out neatly and spaced apart a bit like artifacts of the ‘corner place’.

Please click on images for description…

 

I tied all the dough ladders together using strips of canvas from the drawing I did on the floor at the ‘corner place’. It’s like a net of ladders now, giving the ladders a completely different function – they are now in a net that is used to catch things not reach or get over things. It is very delicate and quite heavy due to the ladders getting damp and dense. Now it is like a rhizome of interconnected ladders leading to one and other in every angle with no specific destiny.

 

The pieces of grease proof paper on the image above on the right are some of the ones I used to bake the dough ladders on, I love how the moisture has seeped into the paper and left stains and traces, they are so beautiful. An interesting way of image making and arguable drawing. The moisture traces of the bread…

Above I have draped the now net like ladders over the palimpsestual Jacob’s Ladder step cast as if they are falling down the step freely. A waterfall of dough ladders. The left arrangement of the step and ladders in the corner looks more interesting in a photo however the right arrangement look better in real life. The corner arrangement has more of a link to my work as it encompasses the idea of the ‘corner place’ that is next to Jacob’s Ladder as well.

I have also been taking recording of conversations I’ve been having with people when I directly ask them if they have any stories that involve staircases or ladders. It is interesting because every single story I have received is about people when they were a kid going down the staircase or ladder in some way; no stories have involved people going up and they are always recited with a kind of nostalgia. I heard, “yes but when I was a kid…” many times. An interesting observation about what comes to mind when people think of the ladder or staircase. I did these recordings in social moments when people have just eaten dinner together and are then just relaxing and chatting. Relaxed social moments when people are sitting around in a group sharing stories and ideas.

I have also made a short experimental film called Pigeon Colonization – The Ladder, The Corner. In the film I recite one of my poems over changing footage I took of the ‘corner place’. I make breaks in the video to link to each time I say “next line”. I say ‘next line’ after every line of the poem which was initially said as an accident when I was practising the reading. By saying next line before moving on to the actual next line of the poem I create a kind of repetitive bridge – a bit like a ladder, like a staircase of repeated words that rhythmically leads you through the story. You can find the written version of the poem in my sketchbook. I experimented a lot with the visuals because initially this poem was meant for a different film which I will explain later. I’m not sure if the poem is read in a fitting way for the film, the way I read it is quite matter of fact and I’m not sure If I like this. In the original film, I wanted to add text that would tell the poem and the reader would have to read to follow. I worry that a voice is too specific and holds too many associations to gender, class, country etc and I think it would be best for the reader to read the poem to themselves as if listening to their own words not mine. To change it, I’d keep how an image only appears when ‘next line’ is said but try out how this would work throughout the whole video.

Ideally I’d like to project the video onto the arrangement of the ladders some way. Using photoshop I have tried to imagine what the film if I did this. The video would be much more distorted than this in real life but I think I’d like the way the images would dance over the bodies of the ladders connecting the two together through layering.

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The original video was a 16mm stock motion video shot on Jacob’s Ladder. It was of all the bread ladders slowly making their way down the path way that leads off Jacob’s Ladder; the path that runs across the back of the ‘corner place’. The video took hours of work and saw the ladders dance down the slope and into a pile. Then I shot some footage of people walking down the stairs at Jacob’s Ladder and finally took video of the ladders being thrown over the wall into the ‘corner place’ with the help of a friend. I haven’t got the film because I misplaced it over Christmas while doing some filming in Costa Rica and unfortunately left it there. It was found and is very kindly being posted but hasn’t arrived yet.

 

 

CAST Residency August 2018

The month long studio residency I did at CAST (http://c-a-s-t.org.uk/) throughout August was an extremely interesting, eye opening and experimental time. The work I produced was some of my favourite work to date and I believe the freedom, lack on subconscious need to fit a mark scheme, the size of the studio space and time alone was essential to these outcomes and very effective.

Having been super interested in colonialism for the past 12 Months since a fantastically moving and inspiring exchange to Vancouver, Canada last August, I felt I began evoking the challenging thoughts and concepts I’ve wanted to communicate.

A short film also accompanied the installation, click link below to watch:

‘Locally Sourced’ video link on Vimeo

It was a very methodic and rhythmic process of plodding through thought without pressure of expectation to an end point that seemed to make sense.

The video piece was presented on a laptop at the side of the installation however, if the opportunity arose where I could put the instillation together again, I would like to run the video through a TV with better headphones. It is an experimental digital film exploring a scaled down scenario relating to the colonialism found in England. A scene on the left showing ‘up country people’ from more privileged, educated backgrounds undertaking an archaeological dig in southern Cornwall. Scene on the right of mainly local Cornish folk enjoying the annual ancient pagan festival held in Helston in early May known as Helston Flora festival. There is a juxtaposition of the two. The story is always the same, the highly educated privileged academics on the left, digging up the ancient local history of those on the right, with those on the right likely to never obtain or gain access to the findings of their history on the left. A scaled down metaphor of the structure of Anthropological and Archaeological scientific findings ingrained into social structure and lack of accessibility given to the less privileged. In parts of the video, I insert my own presence into the scenario through the sound of my voice. I did this to explore this kind of chain of research happening. By not eliminating myself from the storyboard, you are presented with: the artist studying the archaeologists and there being a direct connection between me and the archaeologists due to the communicative exchange, and then the archaeologists arguably studying the histories of the people on the right yet there is a disconnect between the reality of what they are digging for and the current reality of these people generations later. The archaeologists arguably digging in the land of the local’s ancestors yet lacking connected with the the locals of now – I something that is continuously repeated throughout this field. Also, by inserting the presence of the artist into the left scene with the archaeologists, I highlight the reality of the artist sharing the same privilege as the scientists; also disconnected from the reality of the native, local persons.

I was basically experimenting with representing social power and privilege structures found constantly interwoven into society all over the world but here specifically in Britain. And doing so in an experimental documentary kind of way.

No for the physical instillation, I’d like to start by highlighting the the materials I worked with. With a combination of hay and ship sails as the main material used in the work I can begin by mentioning the material implications of the home and away. Home being the hay and away being the ship sails. Already the essence of journey is implied. My intentions of using the hay was to communicate a sort of rural, traditional folk imagery with relevance to the working class and ‘common people’ of Britain which follows suit with the rest of the world; it’s not likely that hay or straw would spark associations with the upper classes of the world. I then explored tying the hay into bundles which naturally bared relevance to imagery within tribalism, paganism, witchcraft and unidentifiable mythical creatures. This helped stitch together loose thoughts on indigenous peoples, cultures and religions of England before it began being colonised by Europe starting with the Romans in 43 AD, and since then these cultures and religions have continued to decrease.

The sails on the other hand were sourced from a local sail maker in Falmouth who gave me a bunch of cut-offs and scraps from his workshop. After being glued together in collage fashion, they became striking, flag like and conveyed an essense of pride and power. My intentions with the sails revolve around an air of Britain’s subconscious Colonial pride; the sails representing that over sea voyage, journey and conquering that took place during colonial conquest. However, I wanted to communicate this in a kind of subtly tribal fashion. I’m not entirely sure of the reasoning and link between presenting the sails in a way that looks like stretched or hung animal skin but it’s along the lines of challenging what England would present in terms of a skin that represents them. The sail/ flag imagery representing Britain as rooted in colonialism, patriarchy and taking what is not theirs to take. Rather than presenting say an indigenous animal skin that is worshipped and honoured for giving every part of itself up for the likes of human consumption and use. Britain as a nation has no care for nature the way other cultures around the world do and these are the cultures that Britain aimed to destroy.

Finally, an element of the installation was a metal dustbin filled with carved apples bobbing in water. This may remind you of that old traditional village feit game, apple bobbing yet these 53 apples have the 53 commonwealth country outlines carved into them. With this I aim to challenge the notion and approach that the predominantly christian community that fueled Britain’s desire to conquer had when they spread their mark around the world… absentmindedly biting into whatever country they picked up next.

It was a passionate and interesting endeavor that flowed through many circles of thought. It was also a massive help and step forward into 3rd year where I will continue to manifest the same themes.

Reality Underpass – Sculpture

Bringing together the balloon forms in all their variety and a collaboration of found items, I created this sculpture/installation. The vague idea behind this piece is the ‘slipping through’ ‘unnoticed slipping under’ ‘underpassing’ of reality in our modern world. The idea was to use sand to represent true reality that passes underneath the arches and bridges of fast pace, quickest route technology and media that are drawing us over the away from reality in it’s purest form.

The rest of the sculpture has been completely up to my hands and mind at the time of creation. I moved the material and objects around the room in search of a positioning that I felt was right, and continued this process throughout the course of the sculpture.

I do really enjoy this intuitive way of working but as long as I have all the right tools and possible materials to use at hand and all my options around me. And as a result I got the large sculpture below that uses: oil sand, plaster mold and casts, found wires, found cushioning, found wood, melted keyboards, a plinth filled with sand,  polystyrene packaging in a bag and a projector and cameras.

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The projected scene onto the sculpture is a ‘live’ video of the sculpture in the space, the video can only go on as long as the sculpture lasts and thanks to technology, because I am videoing directly what I can see onto the thing I’m seeing, the projected image multiplies and plays back into itself. It creates senses of non stop, forever and continuation, expanding on ideas of constant digital attachment that will go on forever, it’s a bit like a black hole. Also, time in the video gets slower as the video goes further into repeat, there’s something fascinating  and disorientating about something in real time being repeated and changing in sync.

Again in this sculpture I intended for there to be a feeling of system or network going on. The veins of reality pumped into the solid balloon forms and seeping from synthetic substances like polystyrene or wire. The half bitty half clear foam softening and cushioning the weight of the hollow balloon molds that have been mutated to resemble rock formations. The key boards like a control panel for all of it, melted and distorted but still controlling the system of reality and roots of modern life. The video projection ensuring its long living stability and presence, repetition and technological overcast on the flow of the sculpture and modern life.

Using sand in my sculptures and using a process of placement and arrangement demonstrates the temporary and ephemerality of the moment of creation. You cannot move the sculpture without taking it apart and breaking it’s state, the sculpture has been built using lots of different elements especially considering the sand that has been molded into a shape there and then. The ephemerality of the sculpture combined with the reliance of the projection, on the sculpture (because the projection is OF the sculpture) both bare temporal elements that reflect the state of humans on the earth. The momentary existence and blink of an eyelid that we live for in the eyes of the universe is like the building and then breaking down of this sculpture.

Since doing my recent installation sculptural work, I have realised that I need to refine my working ideas. The subject of the anthropocene, climate change, the apocalypse, technology/information world and the desert and reality and living more and using technology less is what all my ideas revolve around and that is a lot to consider, it is such a huge mass of subjects. However, from the materials I am drawn to collecting and the general outcomes of my installations and sculptures, it seems palpable to say that I am constantly creating divergence and friction between organic substance and the synthetic, mass manufactured. I see that sometimes the contrasting materials work fluidly together and other times they seem to move abruptly against each other, constantly showing their differences and reflecting the way they work together in the wider world. From this point onwards, my sculptural and aesthetic awareness will be with this notion of division and juxtaposition of organic forms and natural life and that of the bold, damaging, now so familiar world of man made products, mass production and remnants of human existence.

Live Sandthropocene

This was an extremely enjoyable but mega piece of work. There are lots of different elements to the piece that I brought all together in attempt to create a spontaneous installation. I wanted to include my ‘Live’ video and some previous sculpture I’d done like the newspaper balloon and experiments I’d done with melting computer keyboards.

I was going for the less prepared, freer, spontaneous approach to the day it took making this because I’ve been aware how much planning and preparation I seem to do with every piece so to just bring all elements together and see what I get seemed like a new, interesting way of working.

Melted Electrical Equipment:

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Notions of shrivelling and drying up are strong in my thoughts and ideas, directly reflecting the state of the human social sculpture and mind as well as the physical changes the world is facing. I thought it appropriate to deliberately destroy these pieces of well recognised technology the way I argue they are changing us. Although they link quite clearly to some sort of apocalypse, the physical presence of a melted and damaged piece of plastic like these finds an eerie, uncomfortable realm within us that concludes that this is not ok. In the flesh, the sculptures make you feel uncomfortable. Everyone knows that electrical equipment, plus fire (which is the obvious cause for the damage here) is definitely bad, with relation to danger, explosions, fumes and waste. But why do we so easily recognise this matter, opposed to realising, noticing and therefore caring that we are doing the exact same thing to the planet? The sculptures are sickly and fairly repulsive as the keys bare bubbles, dirty textures and scorched fluid edges, it may be fascinating but also uncomfortable.

Above are some photos of the impromptu ‘oil sand’, wire and melted technology  sculpture I put together inspired by ideas of the anthropocene, climate change and the crumbling of social interaction. I didn’t plan what I was going to make and it was a really enjoyable process rather than trying to match something to an idea or drawing which can get frustrating when it doesn’t go to plan.

The sand staircases in the sculpture are part of an experiment I did a few weeks ago where I made a mould that works in the same way as a sandcastle bucket. I fill it with sand and turn it over and out comes a staircase. The staircases were part of an original idea: sand is a key material seen through this body of work as of the relevance to the future of our planet if it continues to be abused and dry out due to climate change. Plus it is extremely crumbly and obviously wouldn’t be a very good material for building stairs. Imagine trying to climb a sand staircase, you would just fall through it as it crumbles into a pile – you would get no where – a bit like our future in this case.

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The previous elements of sculpture then became part of an installation after I added a projector showing the previous video I made called ‘Live’. I also experimented with lights for the first time and to my surprise, thanks to the wires I received some amazing shadows cast all over the walls.

Reflection: The addition of the lights was not intended to create these shadows but I think they were a real asset to the outcome. They have connotations with remnants and impression and trace which could all be linked to the human presence on Earth. The shadows are visually very interesting and add a sense of mystery and ghostly eeriness to the installation like this is a scene from a terrible, very serious story that has yet to happen, the tangles and ambiguous trails of sand are part of a bigger picture. Some sort of system is indicated through the improvised shapes crawling and sprawling across the floor. When I stepped back to look at the piece at the end I could vaguely trace out the shape of a human body; the paper mache balloon being the head leading down to the sand as the torso and wires to staircases as the limbs. Reinforcing the possible apocalyptic future for the human race suggesting we end in piles of sand and tangled wires leading no where.

As of all this, I have been made aware from others and consider myself that it may be too much. There is too much going on. I had feedback suggesting that either the video or the melted keyboards weren’t needed. And possibly that the floor piece would have been fine on it’s own and the wall aspects distracted from the detail it bares below.

However, I really liked the process and seeing how it developed so think I will do similar things in the future but keep in mind the risk of over complicating and crowding, sometimes less is more.