Tutorial with Caroline Wright 26_1_15

Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

Essential

  • 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

 Desirable

  • 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!
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Tutorial with Angela Rogers: 19.05.14

Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

At my last tutorial I had a to do list which was as follows:

  • To begin sketching plans for an installation, and deciding on all the possible materials which I could use.
  • Listing and sourcing the materials for installation and for dyeing and eco printing
  • To produce a lot of experiments with plant dyeing and printing
  • To host a collaborative event on Be Nice to Nettles week, and to create some pieces of art/installation work to go with it
  • To read more of Linda Weintraub’s To Life! book
  • To tweak my blog, as mentioned earlier

I had discussed the idea of an installation with Angela, and mentioned that I wanted to make a bed, however she reminded me that it was an exploratory project, so I shouldn’t have a definite idea of what I want to make, it may manifest in something entirely different.With this in mind, I decided to focus more on the other things I had hoped to try…dyeing, eco printing, working with nettles etc.

I had fun trying out the natural dyeing process, although I didn’t enjoy mordanting the fabric first, which meant using toxic chemicals, and for me, made the process less natural. Making the dyes was fun, from the treasure hunt to find plenty of vegetation, and the research into the plants, some of which were poisonous. The colours were often unpredictable too, and this made the activity more exciting once the fabric was added, and then removed to see the results.

Having purchased India Flint’s Eco Colour, I was very inspired to try the process of Eco Printing. I didn’t have any silk however, and had also run out of muslin, so I decided to have a go on some natural handmade paper. I had the idea of using the iron to press over the plants which were sandwiched in between tow sheets of this paper, and I did have some success with this. The process was also much quicker, and essentially steams the plants, as you would if they were bundled up in a steamer.

Angela recommended Linda Weintraub’s book To Life! Eco Art in pursuit of a sustainable planet which was a great read, and very pertinent to the area of art which interests me. From this, I identified an artist called Frans Krajcberg, who documents the landscape by using natural pigments, and taking sculpts of trees, rock and fossils using paper pulp. I liked the idea of this, and felt that I had already been aiming to do this with my own work.

I have tried different ways of doing this since, by using air drying clay to take impressions of trees, and then casting them with alginate before pouring over plaster of paris. These are new materials for me, and I have enjoyed the investigative and experimental process of finding out how to use them.

I also looked at the work of Bryan Nash Gill, who also documents a particular feature of the landscape ; trees. I had a go at taking some prints of logs, and this lead me to experiment with gelatin in an attempt to print from plants and lichens which I found whilst out walking and also picked from my garden.

I was inspired by Alice Maher’s Nettle Coat, and wanted to have ago at fixing nettles together to make a sort of drape (the bed was still at the back of my mind !) I noticed she had used pins, and try this time consuming process myself, however it didn’t work, and the leaves simply shrivelled up and broke into small pieces.

I then wondered if she had perhaps pressed the leaves first, so I managed to get some large pieces of MDF with nuts and bolts to make a big flower press, into which I laid a “blanket” of nettle leaves, some dandelion heads and a large Gunnera leaf from the garden. These are still in the press, as I’m leaving them as long as possible in the hope that they will bond together.

I wanted to have a go at making a 3D mould of a tree trunk, and found a small birch tree trunk which I wrapped in tissue paper. The result was quite pleasing, and then I noticed the pack of baby wipes in the studio, which I dipped in PVA and wrapped around a small gnarled log covered in tinder fungus. Again, a very satisfying result, although there was some residudal bark and dirt stuck into the surface.

I decided not to host a Be Nice to Nettles event, as, after the last disaster I had with them put me off…its something I may try next year instead!

Discussions and Recommendations

I submitted a small slide show of my work to Angela, and she was quite positive about what I had done. She thought I should leave the tissue paper trunk as is, and not bother spraying it white as this might affect the texture. I told her that I had sprayed the tinder fungus baby wipe sculpture white, to hide the dirt basically, and although I really like the final piece, it loses the transparency of the original pre-painted version. Angela suggested that maybe I should try something less crumbly if I wanted a cleaner result, which I could then leave with some transparency. I had hoped to illuminate the piece, so I will definitely have another attempt at this.

I had questions about my plaster casts of tree knots, as I wasn’t sure if they would be ok laid on a table just as they were, or whether they should be incorporated into a hanging, but Angela said it would be fine to display them as stand alone pieces. I mentioned the fact that I wanted to do a performance piece, and to use the ritual of dyeing as the focus. She advised me to dress up, and to take a look at a Book Burning performance which took place in Brighton last year, for inspiration.

Current projected aims and outcomes

My current projected aims and outcomes are as follows:

  • To do a performance of “The Magic Dyepot”
  • To add any finishing touches to the exploratory project
  • To choose 8 excerpts from my blog and edit them to fit A4
  • To source boxes large enough to fit my work
  • To complete my essay and reduce the word count of my PPP
  • To submit everything to OCA by 17th June

Tutorial with Angela Rogers 24.03.2014

Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

1) Complete Mapping the Territory – done

I have finally completed Mapping the Territory, and feel that I have done all that I can with this piece. It took a fair amount of time to complete, and I worked on it most evenings. The polyshrink pieces were very time consuming, as there were over 100 to make. Transporting the tree was a nightmare, and the polyshrinks kept falling off, but I managed to get it into work so that I could shoot it in the photography studio. I also took it to a small wooded area in the village to shoot it in natural surroundings. I also decided to go ahead and make the Pecha Kucha presentation, which actually took me about 9 hours. I don’t know why it took so long, I suppose sourcing the right images and finding a satisfying layout for each slide had something to do with it, also making sure I incorporated enough photographs of my tree and balanced it with images of the contextual elements which were branching and hanging from it. I’m certainly glad that I didn’t leave it until the night before the deadline! All the research and making process for the project has been documented in my blog, along some reflections and a list of websites and books which I looked at throughout the project. I feel quite pleased with what I have achieved for this piece and enjoyed the challenge of working to my own personal time constraints (to complete the piece before beginning the Exploratory Project).

2) Work on my Essay – unable

I haven’t actually done anything more to my essay since I last had a tutorial with Angela, as I have been focusing on completing Mapping the Territory instead. I think that, to a certain degree, the Exploratory Project will help the essay to evolve, as they are both based on invasive plants/weeds, so I think that the more I learn myself about their uses will aid me to be a more informed writer on the subject.  I won’t leave it too long to get back to, and meanwhile, am still reading Richard Mabey’s Weeds, which is a great book, but I am finding that I am very tired on evenings and am only managing about 4 pages before drifting off to sleep. I have also ordered Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson, as I thought that it might be useful for quotes etc. I also need to read more of Linda Weintraub’s To Life!… as I found it very useful for the Mapping the Territory Project, but I need to do more in depth reading and take some notes from it which I may be able to refer to in my essay.

It will probably literally become work to save for a rainy day, as the weather may prevent some of my making plans.

3) Start planning for my  Exploratory Project – done

I have written and submitted a rough draft of what I want to do for my exploratory project. I have begun by sourcing some equipment that I will need;

For Dyeing:

  • A small gas stove for my studio
  • A large cooking pot
  • Some Alum – ordered from Ebay, and should be arriving soon
  • A bag of lichen- picked with the help of my daughter at the weekend
  • 2 metres of muslin
  • Some old fashioned cauldrons

I still need some glass jars to contain my dyes, and some silk to dye too.                                I’m very apprehensive about how and when to begin, there is a lot of conflicting information on the web, so I think I will need to try a few methods and experiments to see what works best for me.

For the Installation:

  • A bundle of dried hogweed
  • Some thorns from Rosa Rogosa (although not nearly enough!)
  • Some holly leaves (not sure if they should be used as they aren’t really invasive, but more for their injurious qualities)

I looked for nettles at the weekend, but found that they were too small, about an inch tall. I’m hoping that they will be a bit bigger before the end of my project, as I may also host an event on Be Nice to Nettles Week (14th – 25th May) with installation, dyeing, possibly printing and food and drink sampling. Probably would aim for Thursday 23rd or Friday 24th May. Possible venues: Perth College Student union, Auchtergaven Primary School, my studio, or Plants with Purpose Nursery.

4) Update my blog – done, but still needs tweaking

I’m quite pleased with my blog, as I have been updating it a lot recently, and feel that it is pretty much where I want it, apart from blogging the Louise Bourgoise exhibition, which I need to source images for as I was only allowed to photograph the blurb on the labels. Also, one of my links doesn’t seem to work, for Written Assignments. I need to ask an acquaintance in IT if they can help with this, as I don’t know how to solve this problem without potentially undoing a lot of work by accident! I still have some of the blog set to private, so I need to trawl through the posts and change them to Password Protected instead.

Current projected aims and outcomes

My current projected aims and outcomes are as follows:

  • To begin sketching plans for the installation, and deciding on all the possible materials which I could use.
  • Listing and sourcing the materials for installation and for dyeing and eco printing
  • To produce a lot of experiments with plant dyeing and printing
  • To host a collaborative event on Be Nice to Nettles week, and to create some pieces of art/installation work to go with it
  • To read more of Linda Weintraub’s To Life! book
  • To tweak my blog, as mentioned earlier

Discussions and Recommendations

Angela said that she had been reading my blog, and congratulated me on the effort that I had put into it.

We started talking about the Exploratory Project, and she was interested in why I wanted to use the potentially harmful plants to work with. I told her of my fascination yet fear of the Giant Hogweed, and that I had learned of someone who makes woodwind instruments from Hogweed, which attracted me to the idea of using it as a material to conquer my fears.

I discussed my idea of making a bed, but Angela reminded me that I shouldn’t be to firm in what I want to achieve as a final piece, which did come as a relief to me, as most of my work these days seems to come about by part planning, part serendipity.

I also mentioned my concerns around where to build the piece, where to position it, how to transport it etc. Angela advised me to take a look at the work of Ron Mueck who plays with scale to create uncanny effects, and perhaps my bed doesn’t need to be full size. This would give the piece more of a magical property, which might also tie in with the folklore and mythology which surround some of the plants I might use.

I was advised to think of the whole investigative process of the dyeing and making as a potential performace piece in itself, and not to worry about having finished pieces as such. The ritualistic process; searching, collecting, preparing, dyeing, constructing, mending etc could be another angle which I might want to explore. Angela also suggested that perhaps I might want to create my own personal subversive taxonomy of plants, giving them labels for uses and traits which I felt that they deserved.

Above all, I must not worry about the end result.

I asked about the Research journal, and the 8 blog posts which were required. Angela advised me to look not only at books around the materials which I am going to work with, but also around the contemporary art context. For example, I should position my practice within Art and Today, something which I had already considered but not noted in my blog. Also I should read Linda weintraub’s To Life! and pin down the artists which I feel I have a connection with and read more about them and discover what it is about them that I admire or relate to.

Also I mentioned the final evidence required to be sent to OCA Barnsley, and was told that I could send photographs and video, as well as samples of materials which I have been using.

I felt that tonight’s tutorial has been very useful, and it has left me with a very positive feeling in the direction which I am following with my art.

Tutorial with Caroline Wright 3.3.14

Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

Last time I had a tutorial with Caroline we discussed the use of footage of cells (blastocyte)  which I had found on the net and edited, but wasn’t sure whether this was permitted for copyright reasons. As it was just one of many components within a finished piece, Caroline felt that it was fine, so I went ahead and used it within my piece. We also talked about keeping the piece minimal and calming, so I made a few versions of the final, two which were minimal, and two which used video special effects filters.

I investigated the work of David Kefford, who makes assemblages as advised by Caroline, and added him into my blog.

We had a Making Day, which I had been a bit uncertain about, but although it was a long day, I enjoyed it and produced  piece of work which I felt satisfied with.

Caroline said that she  thought my blog was quite good, although I didn’t really mention much about Philosophy or theory. This is an area which is quite new to me, but Caroline said that I would come across theories that would be relevant to my practice. I have been reading about Darwin, and also Ernst Haeckel who had similar theories of evolution. I have also looked at Deep Ecology Theory and sentience of plants recently.

Current projected aims and outcomes

My main aims at present are to :

1)     Complete Mapping the Territory

2)     Work on my Essay

3)     Start planning for my  Exploratory Project

4)     Update my blog

Mapping the Territory

I have started Mapping the Territory and feel quite positive about the progress to date. I began by using softtware called Coggle, which allowed me to draw a map digitally, and made it easy to get an overall plan sorted out.

I had visions of creating a box, a kind of Pandora’s box, which contained all the Eco art problems which I wanted to solve, but having cut out a few templates, I decided that I had too much info to put inside it, and it would end up having not a lot of aesthetic appeal!

Having drawn a tree for my Elkin’s History of art map, I felt that it was an appropriate route to follow, as I had already reflected on the potential of adding leaves using post it notes, which could then be removed or replaced if necessary.  I have made a 3D tree using twigs which I have collected bound together and papier-mached. I want to keep the feel of this piece quite minimal so I will paint it either blue-grey or grey-green, and write text and questions on the branches in white. I have made little words which I want to hang on the branches from frosted polyshrink (written in white) so that they aren’t garish, and can’t be seen unless you look closely at them.  I think that I’m about half way through this piece, but I keep feeling that I need to add more and more each week as I am discovering more all the time!

Essay

I have already written 1300 plus words of my essay, although it is a very rough draft. Eco Art is a huge topic, so it is necessary that I find a focus which can help me aid my practice, and which excites me.

I recently purchased the book To Life: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (UCA Press). Within the book there are statements which other people have made about Eco Art, so I need to pinpoint what is interesting about it to me.

I feel that the invasive plants topic is a big focus, having had experience working with willow and the desire to use other species in my art. I also have an interest in using plants to produce dyes, but I don’t know if this is too much to include in the essay.I am going to stick to about 3 artists to discuss in the essay, and these artists will be contemporary Eco artists who I will try to correspond with, having already made contact with Nicole Dextras who creates garments from knotweed and other invasive plants.

I mentioned my questions over the artists who use invasive plants , but leave their sculptures to die or disintegrate naturally, as there are some really strict laws around some of these plants, especially Japanese Knotweed. This could be something that I investigate within my essay to better inform my practice.

Thinking Ahead

For my exploratory project, I am hoping to use invasive plants and weeds to create sculpture or installation and also prints or dyes. I don’t want to think too heavily at the moment, but, at the same time, I  think I do need to plan a few bits and pieces… for instance plants which will bloom / grow within the twelve weeks so that the living sculpture is not just a heap of soil! Also possibly thinking of working a ritualistic element into the piece, and need to look at the calendar to see if there is any coincidence with festivals, customs or traditions which I can incorporate into it.

Blog

My blog looks a bit bare from a viewer’s point of view as I have kept all of my research and some of my other posts private. I just felt that I wanted to hold some of this stuff back, for the time being anyway. I need to change my settings to Password enabled, and email Angela and Caroline the password so that they can view the rest of the blog.

Discussion and recommendations

We discussed the personal Practice Plan and Caroline said that she though it was quite good, and that the timeline diagrams were clear and easy to understand.

She mentioned my interest in residencies abroad, and I mentioned a project which I had seen in Mexico, although it did incur expenses. She told me to be very wary of residencies which you have to pay for, as quite often it was more of a holiday property let which you were actually paying for, rather than the experience itself.

She advised me to start making connections with organisations, because often, over time, projects can be devised which suit both parties, and can evlove on a flexible basis.

I mentioned Eco organisations which I had noticed online such as WEADS, and Caroline said that I should add these into my plan.

She liked the fact which I had thought carefully about the Dunkeld Art Exhibition and the type of artist/exhibit it attracts, and said that it was important to evaluate art venues and exhibtion spaces before committing to exhibit in them.

We discussed the importance of an online presence, and the fact that I need to plan for a website now, by looking at websites which I like, and trying to design one of my own to suit my practice.

Caroline said that I should approach local art associations with a view to giviung a talk about my work, although I feel at present that I don’t really have enough work that I would be happy to show.

I have the idea of planning a project with the local primary school, and although Caroline thought that it was a positive idea, she advised me to consider myself as a professional, and to be seen as a professional rather than someone’s mum who is helping out.

She also told me to consider joining the Scottish Artist’s Union, which has many benfits for members, includinf Public Liability Insurance.

I was advised to make a few adjustments to my PPP and then to shelve it for future until the submission date. It will be revisited and updated regularly from now on.

Tutorial with Angela Rogers 24_02_14

Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

  • Since the last tutorial I have made my blog public, but need to address the issue of the private posts.
  • I completed the Take Two Influences project and was fairly pleased with the result.
  • I haven’t had a great deal of time to do practical work, however on making day I created a piece which consisted of  a couple of monoprints on perspex which were hung one in front of another. This is one way which has explored using printmaking into installation/3D, although I also have a few new ideas. I recently came across the work of India Flint who uses an Eco-printing technique, which involves plants being used to print onto fabric. This could also bridge the gap between nature and print, more specifically weeds or wild flowers, so I am very keen to have a go. I would also like to use print as imprint, and maybe take casts from tree bark, or natural objects, which I could then use to make plaster or resin objects.
  • I sourced Nature Cure by Richard Mabey as Angela had advised, and also found some of his other books.I am currently reading his book “Weeds”- a really interesting and useful read which is very pertinent to my practice.

Current projected aims and outcomes

My main aims at present are to :

1)     Complete Mapping the Territory

2)     Work on my Essay

3)     Start planning for my  Exploratory Project

4)     Update my blog

Mapping the Territory

I have started Mapping the Territory and feel quite positive about the progress to date. I began by using softtware called Coggle, which allowed me to draw a map digitally, and made it easy to get an overall plan sorted out.

I had visions of creating a box, a kind of Pandora’s box, which contained all the Eco art problems which I wanted to solve, but having cut out a few templates, I decided that I had too much info to put inside it, and it would end up having not a lot of aesthetic appeal!

Having drawn a tree for my Elkin’s History of art map, I felt that it was an appropriate route to follow, as I had already reflected on the potential of adding leaves using post it notes, which could then be removed or replaced if necessary.  I have made a 3D tree using twigs which I have collected bound together and papier-mached. I want to keep the feel of this piece quite minimal so I will paint it either blue-grey or grey-green, and write text and questions on the branches in white. I have made little words which I want to hang on the branches from frosted polyshrink (written in white) so that they aren’t garish, and can’t be seen unless you look closely at them.  I think that I’m about half way through this piece, but I keep feeling that I need to add more and more each week as I am discovering more all the time!

Essay

I spoke with Angela about my essay, and she was a bit concerned that I had already written 1300 plus words. It was a very rough draft, and I had felt that I wanted to keep writing while I was in the mood and had a bit of time. Angela reminded me of the diagrams which she had posted and told me to make some of my own, because this would help to establish a focus for the essay.  We both agreed that my interest in Eco Art is a huge topic, so it is necessary to find a focus which can help me aid my practice, and which excites me.

I will also set the scene about the Eco Art Movement, and Angela recommended a book: To Life: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (UCA Press). She suggested I look at statements which other people have made about Eco Art, and pinpoint what is interesting about it to me.

I feel that the invasive plants topic is a big focus, having had experience working with willow and the desire to use other species in my art. I also have an interest in using plants to produce dyes, but I don’t know if this is too much to include in the essay. Angela recommended that I stick to about 3 artists to discuss in the essay, and these artists will be contemporary Eco artists who I will try to correspond with, having already made contact with Nicole Dextras who creates garments from knotweed and other invasive plants.

I mentioned my questions over the artists who use invasive plants , but leave their sculptures to die or disintegrate naturally, as there are some really strict laws around some of these plants, especially Japanese Knotweed. Angela suggested that this could be something that I investigate within my essay to better inform my practice.

Angela also talked about playing with words, and mentioned clothing (as I had been looking at weeds which are draped, hung, or fashioned into garments) and “widow’s weeds”, as well as a French term which meant dressing with weeds, which I must try to look up.

Thinking Ahead

For my exploratory project, I am hoping to use invasive plants and weeds to create sculpture or installation and also prints or dyes. I don’t want to think too heavily at the moment, but, at the same time, I  think I do need to plan a few bits and pieces… for instance plants which will bloom / grow within the twelve weeks so that the living sculpture is not just a heap of soil! Also possibly thinking of working a ritualistic element into the piece, and need to look at the calendar to see if there is any coincidence with festivals, customs or traditions which I can incorporate into it.

Blog

My blog looks a bit bare from a viewer’s point of view as I have kept all of my research and some of my other posts private. I just felt that I wanted to hold some of this stuff back, for the time being anyway. Angela advised me to mark the page as being private, rather than not found, as it seemed to look quite sparse otherwise. I need to change my settings to Password enabled, and email Angela and Caroline the password so that they can view the rest of the blog.

Discussion and recommendations

We discussed my review of Koon’s Puppy, and Angela felt that I had not put across my personal opinion, rather I had simply described the piece in a neutral way. I suppose I wasn’t quite sure what was required, and I thought we had to write an article as if for a review but more in the style of a neutral type of report, which was not what I should have done. I did think that Koon’s Puppy could have perhaps been at home at the Chelsea Flower Show (had it been smaller, of course) and I personally hate bedding plants, so it didn’t appeal to me as a natural piece, with its garish colours etc, but I think that Koons used the brightly coloured bedding plants to create the kitsch value which some of us love and others hate.

  • Angela said that it is important that I hone my “critical eye” , and that I should look at other pieces which are made from plants, or pieces which relate to my work, and think about them in a critical sense.
  • The essay, as mentioned before…focussing more specifically and using the diagrams to do this.
  • Buying the book : To Life: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (UCA Press)
  • My blog: changing the privacy setting to passwords and trying to fix the page not found problem.

Tutorial with Caroline Wright 18.11.13

Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

1) Last time I spoke to Caroline, she asked me where I felt I would position my practice within contemporary art, did I feel that I was perhaps a Postmodernist? I have often struggled with the definition of Postmodernism, having my own ideas in my head of what it meant, but being scared to try to verbalise them. I found a simple definition of Postmodernism to compare my ideas with, so that I could be clearer on answering her questions.

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism   :

Postmodernism is a word that describes a kind of response to culture and thought. The term has been used in many different ways at different times, but there are some things in common.

Postmodernism rejects the idea of objective truth and universal social progress. Starting with the 18th century Enlightenment, and for more than a century, there was widespread belief that science, and knowledge, would improve the world. Social progress would be inevitable. Modernism in particular held these beliefs.

Postmodernism challenges all this certainty. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from modernist approaches that had previously been dominant. Postmodernism has influenced many cultural fields, including literary criticism, philosophy, sociology, linguistics, architecture, visual arts, and music.

Although the term was first used around 1870, its modern appearance was to express criticism of modern architecture. In 1949 the term was used to describe a dissatisfaction with modern architecture, leading to the postmodern architecture movement.[1] Postmodern architecture returns to surface ornament, historical reference in decorative forms, and non-orthogonal angles (less box-like shapes).

Postmodernist ideas can be seen in philosophy, the analysis of culture and society, literature, architecture, and design. Changes in history, law and culture came in the late 20th century. These developments were a re-evaluation of the entire Western value system: (love, marriage, popular culture, and a shift from industrial to service economy). All that took place since the 1950s and 1960s, and are described with the term Postmodernity,[2] as opposed to Postmodernism, a term referring to an opinion or movement. Whereas something being “Postmodernist” would make it part of the movement, its being “Postmodern” would place it in the period of time since the 1950s, making it a part of contemporary history.

The term “Postmodernism” is often used to refer to different, sometimes contradictory concepts. Conventional definitions follow:

  • Compact Oxford English Dictionary: “a style and concept in the arts characterized by distrust of theories and ideologies and by the drawing of attention to conventions”.[3]
  • Merriam-Webster: Either “of, relating to, or being an era after a modern one”, or “of, relating to, or being any of various movements in reaction to modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional materials and forms (as in architecture) or by ironic self-reference and absurdity (as in literature)”, or finally “of, relating to, or being a theory that involves a radical reappraisal of modern assumptions about culture, identity, history, or language”.[4]
  • American Heritage Dictionary: “Of or relating to art, architecture, or literature that reacts against earlier modernist principles, as by reintroducing traditional or classical elements of style or by carrying modernist styles or practices to extremes: ‘It [a roadhouse] is so architecturally interesting … with its postmodern wooden booths and sculptural clock.'”[5]

I suppose what I understand as Postmodernism is the recycling of what is historical in a contemporary context, and the challenging of what is tasteful or acceptable by mass population. I think in many ways I am a Postmodernist at heart, with my often cynical views on life and distrust of establishments, and with some of the objects which can be found around my home, for example the Tretchikoff prints, vintage clothing and very large collection of vintage dolls ranging from kewpie dolls to Sindy, all of which I find beautiful in a nostalgic kind of way. On reflection,  especially of late, I think that my current work could be described as Postmodernist because of the way that found objects and materials which would be overlooked by many have been used and almost glorified within the art that I am making.

2) Caroline asked me to take a look at the work of Dorothy Cross, in particular her jellyfish film. Unfortunately I was only able to find a small clip of this within one of her lectures I found online, however I did form the following opinion whilst watching the video; the figure in the water looked almost lifeless, she was so relaxed and calm and her skin so pale, which seemed to contradict the threatening and dangerous situation which I would imagine she is putting herself in. The movement of her hair under the water looks beautiful and replicates the movement of the jellyfish tendrils, which almost made me feel like the film was putting me in a trance. I think that the main point which I will take from the film is that it makes me question our relationship with nature, as it challenges my preconceptions of the dangers which lurk in the sea.

3) It was also recommended that I look at the “Fit to Survive” film by Curious, which showed footage of the Pacific Trash Vortex. This film was shot from under the ocean, looking up at the island of plastic and rubbish which is floating, and although the subject matter is one of the most horrendous man-made inflictions on the earth, the structure appears as if it is an installation of beauty from beneath the water, with the way the light shines through the debris creating interesting shapes and colours.

4) Caroline suggested that I try to combine my interest in printmaking with my interest in 3D, by experimenting with print onto 3D surfaces. I did try some printing onto strips of plastic milk cartons, but only one layer, as I found it did take ages to dry. I also experimented with marbling, due to my interest in the sea I thought that this was the best techniques to replicate the tides. Again i printed onto milk cartons, but I wanted to use white ink, as I like the minimal aesthetic of it, so it was a bit obscure, although when held up the the light it did become more visible. I also experimented marbling onto acetate, and I really loved the result of this technique, especially when held up to the light. Perhaps this is something i may take further in future.

Current projected aims and outcomes

  • To get footage of cells from phone to computer for projection onto “Dolly”
  • To complete Frame Form and Fracture before the Making Day
  • To investigate a way of getting a wifi connection in my studio before the Making Day
  • To decide what i want to try and what I hope to achieve from the making day
  • Read more about philosophy in contemporary art

Discussion and recommendations

Caroline asked me about the current project, Frame Form Fracture, and I discussed my initial ideas with her, from how I discovered the bike frame, to the dilemma of whether to use chicken wire for the building of the sheep’s head, and where I plan to go next with the piece. I told her that I planned to project footage of cells (blastocyte)  which I had found on the net and edited, but wasn’t sure whether this was permitted for copyright reasons. She said it was a question which she had faced many times from students, but due to the fact the piece was being made by a student on a college course, and was just one of many components within a finished piece, it should be fine, and I would not be marked down for this.

I also ran the second idea past her; the use of a bicycle wheel as a type of mobile, suspended above the sheep, with mirrors hanging down which had been printed on. Caroline thought that perhaps this would create too many elements within the piece, spoiling the minimal and calming, ethereal effect that the white paint had created. Reflecting on this, I have to say that I absolutely agree, as I have always been inspired by the “whiteness” of Robert Ryman’s paintings and the simple, serene effect that they have on the viewer, hence overworking the piece with too many components would counteract the aesthetic simplicity which I had strove to achieve initially.

Caroline asked if I had spoken to the rest of my group about the project, and I mentioned that we had had an initial chat about what we were doing or going to do. She suggested I speak to Mark about his research into the use of concrete, and how it is being combined with many different materials top give it different uses, one example being the combination of concrete and silk to make curtains! It would be useful to talk to him about bringing different materials together to transform their potential.

Caroline asked me if I knew of an artist named David Kefford, whose works are a combination of everyday objects, often using very mundane materials such as plasticine and gaffer tape to fix them together. I hadn’t heard of him, but Caroline showed me his website, where I saw some of his amazing assemblages and also caught a glimpse of some very interesting two dimensional work.

I asked Caroline briefly about the Making Day, and whether we were being assessed on what we made, and if we were expected to have a definite outcome in terms of a piece of work produced, or whether we could experiment with a technique which we had never tried before. Caroline said that we weren’t actually being assessed, it was more about simulating the experience of being in a studio with fellow students whilst working, and the bonus of the sporadic feedback, comments and support from the others who were also making art. She thought that trying out a new technique would be a good plan, as the results could also be shared with peers and we would all learn from each other, almost by osmosis.

The final question which I wanted to ask Caroline was if she could cast her eyes over this blog, and whether my depth of research was sufficient. She said that so far the work I had done was good, however the only missing element was the theoretical side, where I might want to look at (for example) Henri Le Febvre’s philosophy on site and space. Philosophy is not my strong point, however I have obtained a few books on the subject in an attempt to understand more about it and how it can relate to my work. Caroline said that by the second year of the course, we will be more familiar with philosophical theories, and have identified some which fit best with our work, and key texts will drive us forward at that stage.

I’m pleased to have spoken to Caroline and got her valuable feedback before going any further with this assignment. I shall now concentrate on the projection and play of shadows around the piece instead.

Tutorial with Angela Rogers 7.10.13

Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

I’m not sure if I need to reflect from the last tutorial, (with Caroline) as this is the first tutorial with Angela.  Since my last tutorial, I have spent time preparing my studio as a suitable workspace, and feel that it is as ready as it can be for the moment, although I predict that it will be rather cold in Winter despite all the insulation!

I have gathered lots of conkers while they are available, which I may use in a sculpture or installation.

I have done some Gyotaku, a process which I was keen to try, but had never been able to make the workshops which were advertised once a year in Dundee. I sourced a Youtube tutorial, and a contact at the fish counter in Tesco provided me with some “waste”. I printed 3 types of fish, and, feeling more confident with the process, I moved on to printing an octopus, and held an evening workshop for students, who all seem to enjoy the process.

(I am fascinated by octopus, and would like to build a 3D octopus using plastic milk bottles.)

Current projected aims and outcomes

These are some of my current projected aims. Some of these were identified before the tutorial and others became apparent during the tutorial.

  • To make my MA Fine art Journal blog available publicly.

My blog will be available to the public this evening. The settings need to be adjusted and this can be done at work. Personally, I feel that the blog is a really useful way of documenting and recording all of my thoughts and processes as well as my written assignments, and is somewhere that I can access all of my work easily so that I can reflect upon and evaluate my journey.  Also I feel that it will be useful to share with others on my course, and hopefully receive some feedback from them.

  • To photograph my final piece for Take Two Influences and post it on my blog, and also share it on G Drive

I need to try to book the photography studio at work and borrow an SLR to photograph my piece. If this ios not possible, I need to set up in my studio and take the photos there.

  • To explore the use of 3D structures within my practice, and to try to combine this with my preferred medium which is printmaking.

Having completed the Take Two Influences assignment, I feel that I discovered some new processes which have excited me, and may possibly be a route that I want to pursue further. I enjoyed working with plastic bottles, and would like to explore printing or painting onto them, with a view to illuminating the final structure. I  need to source some bottles through local businesses, friends and family to build a stock of material to work with.

Caroline and Angela both seemed to agree that I would make sense to try to combine my passion for printmaking with 3D, so I need to start experimenting by printing onto different surfaces. This is best done in my studio at home. I don’t have an etching press, but I do have a couple of antique book binding presses which may or may not be useful. I will also experiment by monoprinting with soft plastic (bags or sheeting) or also fabric.

  • To start reading books which consider our relationships with nature.

I have already started reading books which have a connection with nature, although they are more focussed on art and science:

Art and Science Now;  and Creative Encounters: New conversations in science, education and the arts

I tend to get enthusiastic in the library, and hoover up as many books which I think may be of use to me. They are generally all very interesting, but I do also tend to have a few books on the go at once, which can be confusing! I aim to source the reading recommended by Angela, and concentrate on that one book for the near future, which will perhaps lead me in a more specific direction.

Discussion and recommendations

Angela started by asking me to share my personal circumstances with her, and I informed her that I worked 4 days at Perth College, and also have 2 young children. She said that I would have to be careful in my planning, and think ahead. She also noted that I have holidays over summer, which will be a great opportunity to get work done.

After reading my “Reflecting on Theory and Practice”, she said that I had referred to a great deal of techniques which interested me, and I should be careful not to spread myself too thin.  It is obvious that my main inspiration is nature, but I need to consolidate my thoughts as it is such a wide area, I need to focus more specifically.

Angela emphasised the fact that I would need to do some reading around the subject. She asked me to think about my definition of nature, and what it means to me. Is there such a thing as nature? It is certainly a contested term. Are we driven by our instincts and feelings?

It was suggested that I read “Nature Cure” by Richard Maybe, which describes how nature and the environment in which he was living affected his mental wellbeing.

I was asked to consider my own relationship with nature, and to speak to Clare Parfree in the previous MA cohort.

What are my criteria for discarding an object? An overworked piece came to mind, but usually this has happened when I have been using acrylics. With printmaking, it is quite a rapid process, so if I don’t particularly like the result, I can keep it within a sketchbook, with a view to perhaps using it in future, or cutting it up to use within a collage.  I look at the colours used, whether they have worked together, the patterns, composition etc as criteria, and also whether the piece is serving a purpose or needs to convey a message. Angela warned me that there is also the flip side to the sponteneity of print, which is the lack of intention rather than planning the piece, and that a balance needs to be struck. I totally understand this, and need to ensure that the sponteneity of some of the abstracts needs to be reigned in, it’s more about your work having some content as there are ways that I can lead the media towards a desired end result.

Angela found the variety of artists which inspire me encouraging, and she agreed that Peter Gentenaar’s work was inspiring. She found it interesting that I had mentioned Robert Ryman because of his minimalism, whom I admire for his experimentation with a variety of media and surfaces to produce his white paintings. She suggested that perhaps I take influence from him with some of my work, by limiting myself either with materials or colour.

Angela also encouraged me to take, for example, three of the artists which I have mentioned and as an exercise explore their similarities and differences, this is to hone your critical eye, decide if they have any similarity, eg. Michelle Lougee and Peter Gentenaar both work 3 dimensionally, and there work is inspired by organic forms etc. This seems like a valuable analytical exercise which I plan to undertake soon.

I found this morning’s tutorial very useful, and it has made me think that I need to organize myself with to do lists, and work through these points to better inform my working practice.