Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial
- Seed packet linoprints : design and print multiples of (by hand)
- Make a small scale bed using hogweed and other injurious plants
- Get posters printed and postcards (for feedback) of same design
- Finish off Fanzines and print copies
- Get another large canvas frame made up for work to hang on
- Keep blog updated
- Get email invites sent to SNH staff to sample the weed refreshments on Friday 14th
- Finalise drinks / cocktail menu…spin the wheel to pick a drink?
All of the above done
- Source hogweed seeds (if there are any left!) and use to make another piece
- Distribute lots of posters advertising the exhibition.
- Make badges for fanzines
- Source soda syphon
- Posters were distributed, but other pieces of work were made instead of using hogweed seeds.
- No time for badge-making unfortunately, due to time-consuming ordering process of badge parts.
- Used other cocktail paraphernalia instead of soda syphon.
Discussions and Recommendations
We began by discussing the work which I had uploaded into GDrive, firstly the lichen painting . I showed Caroline the photos of all the lichen which I had collected, and my interest in how the lichen adorns the trees, and the ethereal and fragile quality it holds. She compared it to a mesh/wool babies blanket, airy yet warm, in fact probably very warm when layers of it were built up.
I showed the painting which I had started, which was approximately 1metre square, and mentioned that I was unsure whether to keep going with it, or if I would be wasting time better spent on other pieces.
Caroline noted that it had a very flat, graphic quality to it, which was different to the fluffy, hairy lichen seen growing on trees. I had used pressed lichen as inspiration for this piece, and had noticed parts of the lichen folding over, creating very geometric shapes. I began to paint some of these in, then added others of my own, stylizing it as I went along.
I think that it has a very scientific, molecular appearance to it, almost alien in some ways. This “alien” quality is what I feel about the lichen- it looks like it some kind of alien organism, especially when it is flattened and ceases to be “fluffy”.
Caroline recommended that I keep going with the painting, as I would never know if it were successful otherwise.
Next we discussed the second piece- a sculptural trunk-like structure made of lichen wrapped around a cardboard tube. It will eventually be removed and will hopefully be strong enough to be hung and illuminated, which will also show the beauty of the negative spaces between the joins.
My ideas and inspirations for this were varied. Firstly, I had recently joined a Deforestation page on Facebook, and I had the idea of creating shells where trees once were, eg. By using lichen wrapped around a tree, but with the tree absent.
My second inspiration was the Birnam Oak, the last remaining tree in the ancient Birnam Wood, where Shakespeare visited and found inspiration for his play Macbeth. In the play, three witches prophesy that :
“Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill Shall come against him.”
Unfortunately for Macbeth, this comes true, as an army of warriors disguise themselves with trees from Birnam Wood and march to Dunsinane to confront him. I thought that these hollow, lichen structures might also represent the warriors in disguise.
Caroline said that it is important to document all of these ideas in my journal, even if I decide not to use all of them. Referencing stories, literature, poetry, and music is all very important to enrich our knowledge and inspiration for art. The connection with the witches also reminded her of the performance which I did last year with the dyeing and the cauldron, so a lot of these aspects seemed to link together.
I also mentioned the fact that Himalayan Balsam grows near to the Birnam Oak, and we discussed the way landscaping has changed environments over time, and I wondered if any large estates or houses nearby were responsible for planting it.
Caroline recognized a few themes appearing in my work – threat, from invasive plants, and battle (Macbeth), the tension between absence and presence, positive and negative, which I find myself playing with when I paint, and the absences/presences in the landscape…the trees which were once present and now are absent, the negative spaces between the lichen, and the leaves on trees.
Caroline advised me to read about space, and I told her that I had been reading Lefebvre’s The Production of Space for the last assignment, although I had not yet read the whole book. She said bringing more complexity of meanings to my work was important – like multiple layers which the viewer could interpret in different ways. She said my work had the beginnings of this, but much more depth could still be added.
She mentioned Lucy Lippard, and said that she may (or may not) be relevant to read in the context of taming the landscape.
I talked about building paper pulp (which once came from trees) around tubular structures, making large scale lichen shapes which might capture the texture and form of some of the various lichens. Caroline said that perhaps I should talk to Debjani about how she used laser cutting techniques within her recent work – although perhaps this might not be relevant to the more organic /natural materials/themes which interest me.
Current projected aims and outcomes
- To keep going with the painting
- To read more of Lefebvre, and look at any philosophy/theory of negative/positive space
- To clean and press the Oakmoss lichen, and to continue harvesting more and preparing it each week.
- To collect shredded paper and make paper pulp sculptures of lichen
- To keep up with my blogging
- To tidy my studio!