Preparing work for Formal Assessment

Formal Assessment Submission:

Firstly blog will be submitted as a large part of my work, containing all reports, research, photographs and videos of work completed throughout Mixed Media Level 2.

Parcel 1 will contain all final/large pieces of work, preliminary work, Tutor Reports and a Critical Review.

Parcel 2 will contain all sketchbooks for the course. Assessment submission below.

Sketchbooks for all assignments (Parcel 2):

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Preliminary Work (Parcel 1):

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A3 folder containing the following pieces of work:

Assignment 2: Found Image and Text:

Assignment 2: Using Found Words and Images:

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Assignment 2: Word Painting: Exercises in materiality:

Assignment 2: Telling Your Story:

Assignment 4: Exercise Weaving:

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Tutor reports 1-5:

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Critical Review: Abstract Expressionism:

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Final or large pieces of work for submission (total of 8, 3 submitted online):

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Assignment 2: Final Painting – Telling Your Story, Autobiographical Book

 

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Assignment 2: Exercise in materiality for Word Painting

 

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Assignment 2: Final Painting – Word Painting

 

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Assignment 4: Final Painting – Object Painting

 

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Assignment 4: Final Painting – Fractured Image

 

Assignment 5: Large Piece: Diorama ‘Unspoken Journey’ Submitted via blog only

https://lauramarie363.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/assignment-5-larger-work/

Video of ‘Unspoken Journey’.

Assignment 5: Larger Piece: Objects and Combines ‘Nature Combined’ (Submitted via blog only)

https://lauramarie363.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/assignment-5-larger-work/

Video of ‘Nature Combined’

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Assignment 5: Final Project – Life’s Tug-of-war (submitted via blog only)

Assignment 5: Final Project – Life’s Tug-of-war (submitted via blog only)

https://lauramarie363.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/final-project/

Video of ‘Life’s Tug-of-war’.

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Critical Review

Abstract Expressionism

‘What if everything we see limited us to the existence of physical objects? Wouldn’t this instill meaningless?’

A Critical Review

by

Laura Sharpe

The gap between reality and the reality of painting widens with the beginning of Abstract Expressionism; a group of artists who began to look deeper within themselves in order to answer of future art.

‘…the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act – rather than as a space in which to reproduce, re-design, analyze or ‘express’ an object actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. The painter no longer approached his easel with an image in his mind; he went up to it with material in his hand to do something to that other piece of material in front of him. The image would be the result of that encounter.’ Stimulating words spoken by Harold Rosenberg who was the ‘unofficial’ spokesperson for the Abstract Expressionists.

The birth of the New York painters came about during the twentieth century following the close of the Second World War It seems only natural that when the physical world around you has been altered and devastated the artist eye turns away, why paint the environment which has affected the lives of so many in its path of devastation? What was once known as imagery has gone and connection alongside it, they looked for another answer to their world. Rotating their mind set and adapting to their surroundings, they began to look deep into themselves, acting, feeling, living using colour to explore this new way of creating. It seems only natural when what you have known disappears from around you to ask questions, to rediscover who you are and what is the purpose of your being? The Abstract Expressionists even began to question the existence of God and the pathway was a road to self-discovery, fuelling the use of abstract, colour and expression.

Without the restriction of objects, environment, rules and ways of creating socially acceptable art, isn’t it easier to explore the freedom of the mind?

Barnett Newman, one of the leading figures within the movement wrote: ‘We felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a World War, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of paintings that we were doing – flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello’.

So what were these artists trying to achieve with Abstract Expressionism?

A new and fresh expression predominately through the use of colour and movement, created with spontaneity and impulsion allowing the raw forms of the paint to become the paintings themselves.

“A painting is not a picture of an experience; it is an experience.” – Mark Rothko

Who were the major artists of this movement?

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Williem de Kooning (1904-1997), Franz Kline (1910-1962), Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and Clyfford Still (1904-1980). Together they broke away from the conventional approach to painting in both techniques and subject matter. Their concern stood with divulging their own personal psyches onto canvas using a spontaneous act underpinned by large physical actions which mirrors their monumental scale works.

Closely related to Abstract Expressionism is Colour Field painting and Action or gestural painting, although not to be confused with the movement of Abstract Expressionism itself as these are smaller branches within the movement.

‘The best works are often those with the fewest and simplest elements – pictures that are almost obvious, until you look at them a little more and things begin to happen.” – Clyfford Still

With no restrictions to how the artists would work, Jackson Pollock, perhaps the most famous and representative artist of Abstract Expressionism, developed a radical new technique, pouring, dripping and throwing thinned paint onto raw canvas laid on the ground rather than an easel. Pollock would use his hands and sticks defying the traditional artist instruments; the brush, stretcher and easel.

Applying paint liberally and literally by using his whole entire body, he worked close to the canvas, being part of the canvas and painting. Pollock created a variety of works all using the technique of Abstract Expressionism; his work has the look of freedom, showing high elements of movement, chaos and intrigue.

What does Abstract Expressionism look like?

We can look at a piece of art and describe it, but to fully be able to understand the meanings, influences, concepts and ideas we need to delve deeper into the paintings, from an Artists point of view this is what Abstract Expressionism looks like:

“Although the composition and function of color are two of the most important factors in determining the qualitative content of a painting, the reciprocal relation of color to color produces a phenomenon of a more mysterious order. This new phenomenon is psychological. A high sensitivity is necessary in order to expand color into the sphere of the surreal without losing creative ground. Color stimulates certain moods in us. It awakens joy or fear in accordance with its configuration. In fact, the whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color. Our entire being is nourished by it. This mystic quality of color should likewise find expression in a work of art.”  – Hans Hofmann.

“My canvases are not full because they are full of colors but because color makes the fullness. The fullness thereof is what I am involved in. It is interesting to me to notice how difficult it is for people to take the intense heat and blaze of my color. If my paintings were empty they could take them with ease.” – Barnett Newman.

“My concern is with the fullness that comes from emotion, not with its initial explosion, or its emotional fallout, or with the glow of its expenditure. The fact is, I am an intuitive painter, a direct painter…I present no dogma, no system, no demonstrations. I have no formal solutions…I work only out of high passion.”  – Barnett Newman.

Jackson Pollock

Pollock always struggled to master the traditional techniques of painting, later in his artist career he took an alternative route which allowed him to make the painting itself its own subject. Feeling energized by this he created some of his best works from 1947 to 1951:

Summertime: Number 9A 1948 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

Image 1: ‘Summertime: Number 9A’ 1948 Jackson Pollock

Pollock expresses himself and his energy within this ‘Action Painting’. Even though the process of the technique allows the outcome to be completely momentary, it is interesting that when you view ‘Summertime’ a number of other more recognisable images can be seen, I see letters, numbers, figures and dancers, mixed with fast movements and never-ending changes.

Pollock expresses himself and his energy within this ‘Action Painting’. Even though the process of the technique allows the outcome to be completely momentary, it is interesting that when you view ‘Summertime’ a number of other more recognisable images can be seen, I see letters, numbers, figures and dancers, mixed with fast movements and never-ending changes.

Number 14 1951 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

Image 2: ‘Number 14’ 1951 Jackson Pollock

This particular painting of Pollock’s was created at the time he altered his colour palette, he began to work in darker colours, mainly black oils using them generously across his un-primed canvases. This particular series of paintings were referred to as his ‘Black Pouring’s’, unfortunately these paintings did not sell and triggered another change in his working methods to which he created more colourful pieces with a figurative subject which were more successful in the commercial world of art.

Again a number of images can be seen within ‘Number 14’, peacocks, mountains, rivers, African shapes and patterns. Even though this piece is very dark with strong contrast to the un-primed canvas, I see images which could be described as meditative.

‘I hardly ever stretch my canvas before painting; I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.’

‘…the painting has a life of its own; I try to let it come through’.

Jackson Pollock.

Refreshing and a direct insight into Pollock’s way of working, colour, emotion, feeling, passion and working closely, almost in the painting itself seem to be the most important elements of this style. Could this explain why there is not a commonality of styles, a lack of clear focal point and inconsistency in subjects?

Of course, the work of Abstract Expressionists is personal to them, their thoughts, and feelings and overall how they choose to relate and adapt to their surroundings and being. Therefore this resulted in a variety of outcomes and inspirations within the expressive movement.

Not all followers of Pollock’s used his extreme methods of ‘action painting’ or believed in the impulsivity of his approach to the canvas, however taking influence from the speed of his creations and tools was Cy Twombly. Twombly was influenced by both Pollock and Abstract Expressionism; an artist of the next generation grew out of the roots of the abstract expressionist movement. Twombly moved across the 20th Century and into the 21st Century linked and linked to the movement by his expressive, gestural use of line and paint. Twombly was a large scale painter who uses graffiti style, calligraphy and scribble marks to create his art works.

Cy Twombly

In his early work, irregular chalk scribbles almost becoming letters seems to dominate his work, later moving towards smears and drips of colourful paint in the 1960s. Twombly would apply paint with a brush, brush handle and the tips of his fingers which is evident within his graphite scribbles of earlier paintings. From the middle of the 1970s, his lines frequently take the form of text introducing written language into the images, balanced against the painted elements. His words are clumsy, scrawls with doodles and unreadable scribbles. In the later years of his life Twomby created his ‘Bacchus’ series and these sit within the Tate Gallery. Large crimson swirls, painted with a brush tied to the end of long a pole, are in fashioned within Twomby’s famous swirling calligraphic style, expressing drunkenness and abandonment. The crimson representing the colour of wine and blood, the flow of blood secretes within the fast cascades of line down the canvas.

Untitled (Bacchus) 2008 by Cy Twombly 1928-2011

Image 3: ‘Untitled (Bacchus)’ Cy Twombly 2008

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Image 4: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe

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Image 4: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe

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Image 5: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe

Whilst undertaking these pieces of work I became increasing free and expressive wanting to layer different mediums, exploring movements, shape and ignoring any sense of depth or illusion. 

Abstract Expressionism has influenced communities across the globe from the East to West and continued to capture artists of the next generation. This is evident in the influence on and by Jackson Pollock.

‘What if everything we see limited us to the existence of physical objects? Wouldn’t this instill meaningless?’

Triggered by the devastation of the Second World Ward, came a change in method and approach to the canvas. Therefore Pollock confirms within his work and methodology that, yes artists have been limited to the physical world, and if they adopted one single viewpoint of their environment and allowed this to influence them entirely in their depiction of art there is an element of meaninglessness.

That is not to say that the physical world does not have a positive impact on Art and particular movements, of course it does, it brings inspiration in itself, however Pollock proves we do not need to use this entirely and without it, we can look deeper.

The research and work undertaken within the Mixed Media course and in particular Abstract Expressionism and Mark Making has strengthened my own conviction and informed my approach to my art practice. It has allowed me to increase in confidence and make informed decisions enabling movement on the journey of physical approach and my canvas, but also to apply this evidence to the physical world approaching it with an open mind. Throughout the course I have used a variety of materials as well as the traditional mediums, making use of ‘unordinary’ tools such as wire, discarded wood and plastic bags. Looking deeper into the function of materials to support me in creating the physical objects and outcomes I require rather than dismissing these functionary and worthless objects. Bringing the concept of looking deeper by the abstract expressionists into the creating of contemporary art within the twentieth century.

‘Arte Povera’ is a movement that made an appearance within the 1960s, making use of daily materials such as papers, soil and other objects which were seen as worthless and bringing this into the use of art. You could say that Abstract Expressionism has given rise to many different routes within art and particularly opened doors for an exciting world of contemporary art. My final pieces within this course show particular use of ‘common’ objects and bring these to the for front of my thinking. Moving towards the context of Arte Povera, drawing on many physical sources around me and the concepts of the Abstract Expressionists underpin my work for Mixed Media Level 2.

References

 

  • Harold Rosenberg, 1952 ‘The World History of Art’ Page 834
  • Hugh Honour & John Fleming
  • Barnett Newman, 2012 ‘The Art Imperative: The Secret Power of Art’ Page 29
  • Phillip Romero
  • Jackson Pollock, 1947 ‘The World History of Art’ Page 835
  • Hugh Honour & John Fleming
  • Image 1: ‘Summertime: Number 9A’ 1948 Jackson Pollock
  • www.tate.org.uk
  • Image 2: ‘Number 14’ 1951 Jackson Pollock
  • www.tate.org.uk
  • Image 3: ‘Untitled (Bacchus)’ Cy Twombly 2008
  • www.tate.org.uk
  • Image 4: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe
  • Lauramarie363.wordpress.com
  • Image 5: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe
  • Lauramarie363.wordpress.com
  • Image 6: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe
  • Lauramarie363.wordpress.com
  • Mark Rothko, ‘A painting as an Experience’
  • http://www.metmuseum.org
  • Clyfford Still ‘Art Now Magazine’
  • Hans Hofmann ‘International Journal of Research –GRANTHAALAYAH’ Page 1 www.granthaalayah.com
  • Barnett Newman, ‘Barnett Newman’ Page 106
  • Ann Tempkin
  • Barnett Newman
  • http://www.theartstory.org/movement-color-field-painting.htm

 

 

 

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Final Reflections Assignment 5

Assignment 5 has been the most diverse section of the Mixed Media course as well as the most challenging. I feel the sections of the course moved forward onto the next exercise but unlike the other assignments they moved back and forth and allowed me to take elements of others and push these forward, rather than completely discarding the previous work. Due to this way of working I felt progression and it felt easier to work on the areas that have been highlighted to me in feedback.

First Exercise: Objects and Combines – ‘Nature Combined’

Initially, proving difficult to work around found images, working around an object seemed just as daunting. With a comfort zone of working with painting and flat pieces of work mixing the two appeared difficult at first. Allowing the painting to take the lead and hold a subject and information gave me a stepping stone in then working around an appropriate object for the exercise. Again with an interest in exploring contrast of environments and sounds and the tree as the main form, I decided to use parts of branches as the object, deciding on how to present these took some time. I wanted the response to the object to be informed and relevant. The tree is the essence of the piece and taking influence from Rauschenberg and his simple placements of his objects within his combines I wanted to ensure as the painting is complex in areas that the form and placement of the object remained simple. Placing the branches on the painting within the center allows the viewer to look around the painting and draw relevance onto the object at many different points.

Using manufactured string coloured in bright orange and yellow seemed the natural choice, the piece is based around the surrounds of the tree, a street, cars, sounds of passing traffic and building works. The harsh colour of the string twisting around the tree pulling it in different directions and restraining it allowed me to draw on the meaning of the painting and push this into the object, again it is significant.

I have learnt a lot in this painting about allowing sounds and noises to influence my hand, working from videos taken and listening carefully to the different levels of noise, making decisions around how this should be presented within a painting.

Combines has been placed within the section of multi-dimensional image. The object physically transforms the two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional one. The object allowed the painting to take further meaning and vice versa. Looking at ‘nature combined’ I am taken into another dimension of experience.

Second Exercise: Three dimensional tableau or diorama – ‘Unspoken Journey’

This exercise could have so many different 0utcomes given the research completed prior to undertaking this exercise. I did not want to create a story using objects/figures/other small elements as this would not have interested me. It took something deeper to be able to this piece; I had to think different again to anything I had created before.

I moved into a more personal space to become inspired for this exercise, I wanted to express a very personal experience and give the viewer an insight into a private world. Starting with drawing, mark making and then experiencing texture and colour, I allowed myself to become freer with this piece. Shape, line and marks seemed ok within the sketchbook; choosing colour for the pieces was difficult as there was no object influencing my decision as such. I decided to work with a bright palette, one of watercolour due to the qualities of watercolour and the changes in colour linking to emotions. But this was not the difficult part, it was the aspect of the three-dimensional composition which blocked me, how could I put this into a small diorama which was not just a box?

‘Unspoken journey’ based around changes, physically, emotionally and a private journey, I wanted the piece to be small and intimate, only to be seen through peering into the piece. I included the figure amongst the marks and textures, in a loose and free way; I did not want the diorama to become an obvious visual story with life drawings at different stages. The piece needed to convey movement, change and drawing on emotions. Allowing the viewer to experience the piece, unlike the figure diorama’s the viewer can interpret the piece how they want and take from it what they see and resonate with. Throughout the sketchbook work I looked at line, continuous line, I find this works well for expression within personal pieces and I wanted to take this and use it within my final piece. Wool and pen had been used within preliminary work, taking this a step further; wire seemed like a good choice; delicate, easily manipulated but strong enough to hold its form. The wire wrapped the outside of the paper cylinder, slowly moving into the story working with the figures and other elements inside. Suggesting movement and change, I enjoy looking at this piece; I feel it conveys my personal journey without falling into the trap of using obvious figurative elements or three-dimensional form.

A physical piece which appears private and guarded.

Third Project – Real and Illusory spaces and places – ‘Discarded’

This project was the most difficult of all, even though the finished piece appears the most simple of them all. With the enjoyment of working with the tree to produce a combine, I moved back to this. I have always enjoyed the work of Andy Goldsworthy and his approach to his work I allowed him to influence my choices, alongside other researched artists. Looking closer into the subject and the surroundings of the garden and the tree itself, surrounded by upheaval, changes, discarded materials and objects this seemed ample to allow me to create ‘Discarded’.

This piece involved creating, videoing and moving around the tree rather than painting, sketching or exploring composition. Within this piece I wanted to include a sense of restriction, suffocating and the pressure of the manmade work and materials on the natural world. In particular the different in natural wood in comparison to manufactured wood, as these were the objects around the tree. The meaning to the piece is to visual represent contrast in the two worlds in an alternative way, we see gardens every day which show this contrast, but looking in particular at the not so pretty – the discarded and the changes and effects this can have.

Pulling together discarded shed wood, I used materials from around the garden to wrap and tie these together; rags and plastic bags. Giving significance to the restriction of the wood and the tree. Due to the location of the tree and the size of the trunk this placed restrictions on how wide and large the wood wrap could be. I made a maquette to allow myself to visually see the form on a simple and small scale. The making of the maquette and the main piece was fun; I captured this making process on video. With each piece of wood I checked the looseness, pulling and twist to get the feeling of tightness and restricting, keeping in mind the significance of this to the project.

I continue to look at this piece as the weather and environment change around it; given the form and materials it won’t change as dramatically as the work of Goldsworthy, especially as manufactured materials have been incorporated. During this assignment almost every exercise has been a first for me and this provides a freedom which has proved interesting and successful in my personal development. Collectively this part of the course has produced a range of different outcomes, pushing me to provide ideas and develop these into combines, shaped forms and stories.

 

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Revisiting ‘Discarded’

After a short space of time I revisited my diorama ‘Discarded’.

Further rubble had been placed around the tree and the wood was less visible, constant changes. It will be interesting to leave this for a long period of time and watch how the garden and weather affect this piece.

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Final Project

Arriving at a decision about my final piece of work for the course has been an interesting process and absorbed time and many thoughts. The course requires a ‘highly ambitious’ ‘inventive work’, this piece needs to be informed from other pieces throughout this assignment and the research completed to answer constant questions throughout my work.

Usually I would begin work soon after the penultimate exercise, aware that this work requires planning and reflection over the entire course, I became anxious and wanted to have a line of enquiry to complete this large piece/series of work.

Today I assembled all of the pieces from the last 4 assignments and took some time to go through all of my sketchbooks before beginning any preparations for the final work. It has been an extremely challenging course and my pathway and approach to sketchbooks, logbooks and exercises has been challenged, changed and re-thought many times. This has pushed me far beyond what I thought I could do at the beginning of this course and to use other methods of communicating my ideas.

Each step for me has been large, to continue to improve areas personally and professionally. In particular areas that return to me are;

  • Ask myself – why am I making this decision?
  • Look deeper into each exercise
  • Stop – Don’t overwork for the sake of the ‘finished look’
  • Use emphatic materials – what is the work beyond the material choices I make?
  • Presentation

And so I return to my final project with this guidance in mind. From Assignment 2 certain elements have captured me;

  • Assignment 2; Autobiographical book, a personal piece about identity and emotion, unfolding thoughts using text and image. – Thought provoking.
  • Assignment 3: Conveying a message with image and use of words to bring further interest and dramatic meaning to a piece. – Obvious meanings.
  • Assignment 4: Extensive focus on mark making and line, looking deeper into emotions and producing a continuous line. – Texture and layers
  • Assignment 5: Shape, form and enhancing work through a range of compositions and settings. – Form, composition and combinations.

Personal, layers, texture, emotion, message, line/marks and shape/form.

Work throughout this course:

Particular focus and enjoyment from the last 3 exercises ‘Unspoken Journey’, ‘Nature combined’ and ‘Discarded’ a theme emerges, natural and concrete world. Living within the rural county of Wiltshire there is always strong feelings towards new construction and old rubbish building up within the remaining green areas.

I remain part of this, mourning the loss of the quiet and open spaces that surround me and the memories of a time lost forever.

From graffiti to housing, the impact can vary, both continue to come together, in more beautiful ways at times – a concrete wall can become art for another, architecture can compliment nature. Glass buildings reflecting the sky’s and urban art to compliment surfaces.

Somehow people and nature have come together and become one. When you look closely at everyday things, often beauty is to be found. No matter how much we try to subdue nature, it still comes shining through.

A poem by W.H. Auden writes about nature and the manmade world within a subtle way that resonates with me.

‘As I Walked Out One Evening’

W. H. Auden, 19071973

As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   ‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on.

Auden makes comparisons between the manmade and the natural, he uses a subtle play on words to create this world. Reading through the poem it pulls me back and forth between the two realms similar to a tug-of-war, who will rise to the win? street or wheat? the river or railway? Using single words to represent the natural world and one world to represent the manmade world. They are used in contrast but looking deeper they have similarities, the wheat falls to the edges of the street and the rivers and railways have more physical similarities as in they are linear and can be used for transportation purposes.

The continued sense of mixing these two worlds throughout the poem initially give the tug-of-war push and pull but as I move towards the end of the poem I can see that underpinning this poem is time and how this makes no distinction between the two realms.

Taking inspiration from this for my work I look deeper into how this line of enquiry can be pursued within my final project.

My proposal for this project:

For this piece I will explore further the subject of realms of nature and the manmade world, in particular the contrast of the two and sense of a tug-of-war. Using the combination of object and image with focus on texture and shape. Meaning and materials are of importance within this piece.

Mark making, listening and using visual aids such a photography and video has become an integral part of my way of working and approaching exercises. This method allows me to look holistically at the subject.

Artists who I have found particularly interesting in their work with the environment and creating work which is environmental is Andy Goldsworthy and Kaarina Kaikkonen and their use of media from within the environment.
Other artists who work with the environment are:

Anne Bevan a contemporary artist who searches for the most emphatic materials she can find to create or recreate shapes and moulds of the marks of nature.

Moon pool sculpture on forest floor

Bevan creates this artwork in response to the site that it remains, picking up the changes in environment and light as time moves on.

Moon pool sculpture on forest floor at sunrise Moon pool sculpture on forest floor pictured at night

Bevan considers the materials she has chosen and their properties, learning of how she and the environment can manipulate it to show the meaning of the piece.

Bevan enjoys the process of making the work, as she believes that casting and taking moulds helps her to analyse and understand things. Bevan says ‘Taking a cast is like taking a print – it is the shadow of the original object.’

For Moon Pool, she cast water.

I can relate to her process of making and how the physical creating and moulding can relate your hands and mind to the piece further.

I began to explore this subject within my sketchbook, using photographs, videos and found images.

A selection of photographs of close surroundings where nature meets manmade. These photographs will be used as a starting point for sketches and exploration of texture and mark making.

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Constantly exploring the natural and manmade world using discarded materials, images, paint and thread.

Previously I used thread within my pictorial boxes to represent confusion and chaos – feelings and within an object painting:

Listening to the sounds within the videos taken outdoors I records the sounds by listening and following with a pen, later I used a machine to pierce thread through a discarded rag within the card. This replicated the sounds using relevant materials and shapes, as opposed to tangling and pulling at the thread.

Each piece of sketchbook exploration moves forward into how to represent the idea of the natural and manmade world combining whilst still contrasting in certain ways. The materials used are important as they are influenced by the artists researched, discarded materials found within the appropriate location. Mixed with images of photographs I have taken and textures and line explored.

What is this piece beyond the material choices that I make?

This piece is not entirely based upon materials, it requires the viewer to interpret the piece. Techniques used – weaving and layering give the impression of revealing and exposing, this is influenced by the videos of the drain, nature exposing and revealing itself beyond the harsh lines of the drain. Creating layers allows the view to look further into the piece and deeper into the images and natural elements that lie beneath, gently unfolding. Tug-of-war affect in a visual sense.

Following sketchbook exploration I look to achieve a final piece with my ideas. This piece is not a painting, I want to convey my ideas within a piece which allows shape and combination. Kaikkonen and Goldsworthy explore materials which are appropriate to an environment within the chosen environment, I felt this was explored within my Diorama which is still sitting within the corner of the garden. I want to look back further taking on the idea of telling a story, which allowed me to explore a concertina book style piece, a shape within this style would be more appropriate to suggest a ‘tug-of-war’ visual pushing and pulling.

Using the work of contemporary artist Anna Bevan as inspiration, she recreates shapes from the natural work with materials that bring another concept to her work. During this course there has been exploration of shape and sculpture alongside painting and flat planes. A play between painting and sculpture, I want to bring this into my final project by allowing another element of shape and form to work with the images and weave. Using air drying clay I took an imprint of the cement and wheelbarrow tyre, both interesting and different textures. Using acrylic I painted on top to resemble cement, unfortunately I feel that true cement would prove too heavy on my work and therefore clay and paint could create a close model.

Exploring composition within my sketchbook. A simple shape seems logical, to enable the elements to take a concertina form.

After this exploration I feel ready to begin working on my final project.

Working within the garden and garden studio to create this piece as the environment is important to the project.

Pressing clay into the tyre on the wheelbarrow, sewing sounds into discarded materials worn by the environment and a collection of found images and my own photographs taken earlier in this project. I moved forward to look at creating a ‘tug-of-war’ from both sides allowing them to sit side by side, close but yet far.

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This final project has certainly, for me been an ambitious piece of work. Unlike any other work but incorporating a number of elements and techniques learnt over the course of the assignment.

I think it fits the requirement of being highly inventive and works with the areas of interest to myself; natural and manmade objects and other pieces which I have found particularly satisfying such as ‘unspoken journey’ and ‘nature combined’, I feel this piece has brought the course to a natural end. Creating a free standing work has always been a constant source of challenge for me during this course, with this final piece I feel it has taken a shape which has allowed me to have satisfaction in its finished form.

Appropriately hanging within the garden studio where surrounding noises can be heard within the video I look at it and I feel very gratified that ‘Life’s Tug-of-war’ is the outcome of a course which I have been continually and very challenged by.

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Assignment 5: Larger Work

Assignment 5 has shown to be very different to the other sections in terms of ways of working, outcomes and more of an emphasis on ‘making’ in dimension.

I have explored personal, private and interesting subjects within this assessment and although the initial ideas have taken a while to reach me, once I have proceeded the exercises have flowed. I feel I look too far ahead, judging what is not made or created yet, this in tern cuts out creativity, natural pathways and progression.

Looking at the pieces that have been created for all three exercises, they seem to work well together in terms of shape and materiality. Each exercise demanded a full investigation into the form, details and execution, I was not able to just take the ideas so far and leave them. I worked through the ideas for each until the final complete piece of work. Doing this involved use of video, photo, maquette, drawing to sounds and very private thoughts and feelings conveyed within a range of mark making.

The first two exercises ‘Objects and Combines’ and ‘Diorama’ are two pieces in which I have utilised a range of working and show two very different outcomes and forms, so I’m submitting them as the two substantial pieces to demonstrate my understanding of the multi-dimensional image or scene. The posts for each work within this Assignment section fully explains the process and the work entailed to reach these outcomes.

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‘Unspoken journey’ Diorama

 

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‘Unspoken journey’

 

‘Objects and Combines’ – moving back to this piece, mounting the painting on white hardboard and placing the branches within the centre of the piece. The painting can still be viewed and yet move around the branches in response to the environment surrounding the tree.

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‘Nature Combined’

 

Taking to reflect over the work created during this assignment before moving onto the final piece.

 

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Exercise ‘Non-art’ Spaces

Having never created a site specific piece of art before, I feel there are so many snippets of ideas within my head that need to be put down on paper before working out where I need to begin with this exercise.

 

Looking at other areas around the garden that would be suitable to use as part of a site specific piece of art.

 

Interestingly I found lights still tangled in the tree from Christmas, links me back to my – how does the environment effect nature question.

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There seem to be so many options of different environments to use for my site specific piece, I feel I am becoming absorbed by the image of the tree rather than the actual environment and how this can represent my idea.

However – one question I need to answer is why? Why am I making the choices that I am? I move back to my sketchbook in order for me to find a route to explore as there are so many pieces of information I am thinking about in relation to this project.

After looking back over my thoughts I pick out the elements which are important to me:

Kaarina Kaikkonen – Her use of recycled, appropriate elements mixed with struggles of daily life within their environment.

Garden/Studio Area – Personal to me; the studio is where I work and am at my most productive. Usually a calm area but at the moment it is in chaos, physical upheaval and this effects myself, disturbs the calm of the natural environment. A reminder of how natural this really is, in a way it is processed by human for enjoyment, yet we preserve it as nature.

The contrast of the two interests me, the restriction of one to another, the need of one for another. The seen and unseen.

A number of elements stand out at me, a fairly small tree – enclosed between 3 different fences, the broken wood lying around it, as well as the other various items of debris which have been moved here due to the upheaval – Decorative garden items, pots and bamboo sticks.

We restrict the tree even more so, disregard it, suffocate it.

Human Vs Nature.

The broken wood is interesting, it is a processed wood which has been snapped or sawn for use inside the house, jagged, slightly colourful from remnants of paint. Nails still remain.

Like Kaikkonen taking the wood and using these as a physical element to show daily life and its effects on the tree.

How can I do this?

Suffocation, strangling, surrounding, strength, as well as the contrast in physical qualities of the two woods.

  • Hanging
  • Wrapping
  • Placing
  • Attaching

What I need the site specific art to show:

  • Tension
  • Pulling
  • Contrast
  • Disruption

I began to examine the processed wood, connecting with the material and knowing its physical qualities as a starting point to creating the site art.

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Using methods explored in previous work, firstly to design my idea, secondly put together a maquette – this allows me to work with the idea physically before moving onto the actual piece.

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Working within the environment of the garden I created this maquette using air drying clay, wooden sticks and wire. A simple tree form with broken, processed wood surrounding the trunk and moving up the tree. Undertaking this process allows me to look deeper into the form and use my hands in a more practical way, stepping away from drawing and photographs within my book.

Connecting with the site for my land art further, by videoing the area, I can hear nature, the rubbish and visually examine the surrounds of the tree. The tree is fairly isolated as it is, even more so with elements of work debris and manufactured objects at its base.

I began to work to using the manufactured wood which had been sawn and left within the vicinity of the garden, jagged with nails remaining, it was in contrast to the tree. Initially for the maquette I used wire to bind the wood, a man made element, but is it the most appropriate and emphatic material? Gathering scrap materials from around the site – would they work? Plastic carrier bags used to move rubble and an old towel to wipe feet when moving indoors? More appropriate and in keeping with my project of Human Vs Nature.

 

Again working within the garden I pulled the wood together using the rags and bags, weaving and knotting, not concerned with being neat as the whole environment of the garden/site/building site is messy and unrefined. The wood reflect this.

Working closely with the tree to tie the wood around the lower trunk, the part of the tree which is mostly suffocated and exposed to human access. The trunk was fairly slim and I used two rows of wood to cover a larger area, giving more coverage and thus further impact.

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‘Discarded’

 

The overall piece is fairly subtle – wood on wood, the materials used to tie the planks of wood together draw attention to it.

The materials that I chose to work with were restrictive in their physical qualities when bound together, this made applying the materials to the tree fairly difficult and again less able to move around into other positions.

Looking at my site specific piece I am pleased with some elements and not others.

What worked:

  • Materials were appropriate and relevant
  • Held its position on the tree
  • Contrast of leaves and trunk to plastic, rag and processed wood
  • Restriction and tension are present
  • Using the drawing, maquette and making process
  • Connecting with my environment, working within it and listening to it

What is not working:

  • Scale – fairly small, could have a larger impact on bigger tree
  • More wood – an other layer added could have further impact visually

However, using a larger tree would result in going to the local park in an area surrounded by greenery, which is not in keeping with the concern for this piece.

You could say the privacy of the garden reflects the privacy of the site piece and has a personal meaning rather than a larger, public piece of land art would convey.

I am not finished with this yet, I want to leave the art, see how it progresses and changes with its environment over time.

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