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.

Advertisements

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Creating forms

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the casting workshop over the past week I have desperately been attempting to cast misshapen and deflated balloons that I have been keeping in the cupboard for weeks, just waiting for them to go down. It has been very difficult to do because obviously there is no solid shape to a balloon, its shape is always altering as the air inside is shifted and moulded accordingly.

I initially started making plaster molds by filling in the space around the balloon, to collect the detailed information of the wrinkles and bulges from the outside. A mold of a whole balloon had to be done in two pieces but as of the unpredictable shape, each cast had to be broken and split into many parts to get the balloon shaped cast out of it. It also didn’t help that I was casting a plaster balloon in a plaster mold, increasing the chance of sticking. After many many attempts and lots of broken plaster, I finally tried the alternative mode of creating a cast directly from filling a balloon with plaster, casting from the inside. A mode I initially dismissed because I didn’t think it would work but to my amazement it worked a treat.

63

Although I don’t get the detail of the balloon’s knotted end, the exact replication of the creases and stretch marks of the deflated balloon was almost perfect.

Reflection: Despite going through so many attempts using the first way I tried and getting almost no balloon results at all. I did get some really interesting spontaneously devised results with inconsistent shapes and textures that I never could have created if I’d thought about it aesthetically before. Since moving away from these accidental pieces of art, I discovered their evident relationship to the kind of desert, rock and sand forms I have been looking at since the beginning (see below). And once I’d realised this, I started enhancing their relevance and joining pieces together and thinking about the way they looked or could look. I also like how these forms tell a story, how they were intended to be discarded as simple molds for the result I wanted but due to lack of success, they have become pieces of art and sculpture in themselves. Plus, considering the implication of the balloon, these broken molds bare the skin and surrounding negative space of the balloon, leaving its inner shape hollow and empty – a notion I’ve been trying to depict in other works prior to this.

desert rock forms

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Live Bubble

Recently in my journal, I discovered the significance of the balloon within my work after looking at some beautiful glass blowings in the shape of bubbles in a small gallery in Berlin.

There is no arguing that we are always increasing our involvement with technology and the digital world unless you are making an active decision to cut down. I visualised this through the idea of the bubble; everyone has their own bubble of cyber reality going on in their heads and on the net, these bubbles are getting bigger and thicker skins everyday and everytime we interact with digital media, we get more reliant on it and it become more and more important to our lives. As of this, I thought about a sculptural piece that would initially be a layer of paper mache around a balloon to get the shape and then I’d build up many many layers around this balloon to translate the thickening of it’s skin.

I decided against the layering idea because after about 2 layers of newspaper, the shell around the balloon could hold itself but still felt extremely fragile which began taking on a new context. Without much thought, I threaded in some of the wires I’d acquired from a skip then placed it at the end of a ridge of sand like you can see in the pictures, as if the sand was seeping out of the balloon.

Reflection: It was just a quick experimental piece but came to be rather relevant when I reflected on what I’d done. The thin layer of newspaper so obviously expresses the media. The thin empty, hollowness of the balloon shape that represents our digitally obsessed minds is coated by a layer of ripped up and stuck together often toxic news that feeds everyones minds the same information whether it’s true or not. Leaving a hollow inner that suggests we have nothing inside our cyber reality and thoughts, it’s just an empty space encaptured by popular media. And then there is the addition of the wires, reinforcing the role of technology in this argument. The wires weave in and out of the media feeding through the hollow thoughts of the person and entangling and encompassing them within its web like a spider catching its careless, uninformed prey.

The sand coming from the foot of this visual description is exactly what it seems – all this absentmindedness and control from the media and technology will result in a world of barren desert and sand.

 

One Whole Blink – sand sculpture

This is a stock motion video made from oil sand, a brief exploration of the presence humans have had on the planet. In the life of the universe, our existence as a species is only here for a matter of seconds. We have come and will go. In the process we built cities and life but encouraged by our rapid use of the world’s resources, we will return to dirt and dust once again.

I made this piece from oil sand, as if remnants of oil and desert are all that our future holds and all that we are made from. The crumbling, dust like qualities of oil sand lends itself to this piece, the sculpture broke down quite naturally and fell into positions I would not have been able to create myself.

It’s interesting how quickly the ‘sand civilisation’ stopped looking like a civilisation as soon as I started breaking it and knocking it. Is this the same for our civilisation in reality? It’s breaking down a lot faster than it was created? Good things always take more time than the bad. However, I think that the buildings and materials we have used to create our civilisation on Earth will be around for thousands of years to come unless the heat on the planet rises to extraordinary levels as a result of some sort of asteroid collision or major solar flare.

Reflection: The skill and technicalities of the video are very poor. I did not have a tripod therefor each shot is slightly altered and not exact. I will use a tripod for sure in the future. Also, the image quality is poor and part of the reason I changed the colour so drastically. But, the orange and red colouring was also added to give the impression of heat like the magma core of Planet Earth, it could also arguable look like glitter which is interesting because glitter is such a cheap, kitsch, tacky material that has no depth to it, no structure and no purpose apart from its materialistic attractive value. Often used when depicting magic or things that aren’t real or things ‘out of this world’. Although, I find myself easily mesmerised by the changing synthetic colours. This could be metaphorically reflecting western life; we just get too distracted by the pretty colours to see what’s going on behind.