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.

 

 

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 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.

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.