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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Reflection: Real and Illusory Spaces

Looking at illusory spaces, temporary art and using the environment as a large part of an installation has been refreshing. It’s taken me further away again from my previous thinking of ‘what is art’?

I’ve enjoyed this research and been stimulated by considering the questions asked in this project.

Moving forward to the exercise I am asked ‘whether or how your findings might affect or inform your own practice?’.

All of the artists I’ve researched use a large, non-art space such as the natural world as the starting point for their ideas. The natural environment becomes their studio; informing the artists work, decisions and placing these within the landscape rather than on a canvas. During my work on Objects and Images to produce ‘Nature Combined’ I felt that this particular tree and the close surrounds became my focus and interest.

Where as a studio based artist would have their materials to hand, the outdoor artist is able to utilise their environment to give them what they need, Goldsworthy is an excellent example of how to use natural products to their full potential. Kaikkonen uses man made objects which are found and mixes them with the natural environment. Although all working with different materials within the natural world the process is creating and using media is very similar to that of an artist with a canvas.

Focusing on art within non-art spaces draws me to the fact that these works of art focus on the beauty of the natural world, all that encompasses, even when recorded within photography, there is a multi dimensional sense.

As I reflect on my work so far for assignment 5 I have focused on the natural form of the tree, the shape and its textural qualities within ‘Nature Combined’. In my last exercise I focused on feelings, changes both internally and externally, again based on a natural process. My diorama ‘Unspoken Journey’ seeks to draw on the inner feelings, movements, changes and put these into a physical piece of art, I had to draw on my inner senses and make decisions around the appropriate media to convey these. Goldsworthy does the same, he draws on the environment and what lies beneath, choosing sticks and leaves to create his art. The thought of working with the natural world is exciting.

 

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Research: Real and Illusory Spaces and Places

What is a ‘work of art’?

As I delve deeper into the Mixed Media course the research and exercises seem so far away from what I have previously known and studied throughout Painting 1 and Exploring Concepts. This course takes me further from the and I feel I visualise within a different manner, feeling, responding, building relationships with work as well as seeing.

This has triggered questions throughout the assignments, as to what constitutes a work of art? Why do I like particular art and not others? What is too distant for me to connect to?

Prior to this course I was content to paint, work on a flat and single plane to create something that is representational, beautiful and though provoking – this is what I would have called art. This is still art in some respects and in my personal work I enjoy becoming inspired and painting with freedom and vigour. However I now see this is only a small part of art, in particular fairly abstract installations such as object paintings, combines would not have drawn my attention. But in essence these works are just as expressive in other ways and I feel a new found sense of appreciation for the visualisation which occurs outside of the box. When I view work, in which ever form it presents itself, there is now a process behind it which enters my head – Concept/idea, how this has been researched and explored, the presentation of the idea into a form, why has the artist chosen this form? and finally the information entering the viewer – what is triggered? is this how the artist wants the piece to be viewed or have they left it to interpretation? A circle of information processed when viewing a piece of art is intriguing and clever, to me this achieves success. This is what art is all about.

Where is the work of art?

The work of art can be anywhere the artist feels is appropriate to the work. The location of art work can completely change the expression and perception, if the work is moved into a gallery or eventually framed, is this taking away any information from its original location? We are so used to seeing works of art in galleries, online and in books, this has become almost expected. If the art work was originally created elsewhere in a location appropriate to its being (not a studio as such) then aren’t we going to miss something? The place could have been the inspiration for the work and could have directly informed the work, at the same time if this were to happen, the art would remain only with the artist and subsequently a limited circle of information passed through documentation. Again more questions, surely this is the decision of the artist and their inspiration behind the work?

Once the original work is gone, can a copy (its likeness or image) replace it?

Given the nature of this research and the temporary factor, no I don’t believe it can. As in the folder, work can be documented, discussed, photographed or reproduced, if the work is time or environment sensitive then documenting is important to capture but this cannot be seen in the same form as the viewer itself, particularly in cases of Andrew Goldsworthy and his outdoor, environmental temporary art works.

If all art works had a temporary nature, where would art be today? It would be far less exciting for the viewers as documentation would become the majority of art, even though the temporary pieces are intriguing and inviting, reading and viewing photographs of them could only reach a certain point in comparison to stepping close to a physical work.

What is the art work is not documented? The work would only remain with the artist themselves, if this is the case? Then how can the circle of information possibly happen? It can’t, there is no viewer that is not the artist therefore there can be no other interpretation, leaving the artist stuck in their own thoughts and ideas and essentially a finished work but viewed in a blinkered fashion due to them being the creator. This raised the question – is the viewer essential to the art process? I believe so, or would art be a purely egotistic work? There are so many questions here and it is all down to personal perception and preference…

I believe so and I am sure many would disagree, but part of the circle of information is to foresee how this works information will be processed by the viewer and what this will trigger? Isn’t this part of the excitement of creating? For the artist and those that view the work?

Andrew Goldsworthy (1929 – 2001) a British sculptor and photographer producing art work which is site-specific (within its own environment – an environmental artist). Goldsworthy created sculptures and land art in natural and urban settings, constantly working with the temporary image requires a certain attitude of thought and insight into the world and there is not doubt that Goldsworthy epitomises this.

In the Guardian Goldsworthy was interviewed and was asked ‘You must be an optimist to make art that vanishes?’ He replied ‘Working with change is to also work with the future. The work doesn’t necessarily predict what will happen but does embrace change whether it be growth or decay. This is an act of optimism.’ Rather than implying he is an optimist he talks about his work being optimistic.

Looking deeper into the inspiration of Goldsworthy:

‘I want to get under the surface. When I work with a leaf, rock or stick, it’s not just that material itself, it is an opening into the processes of life within and around it. When I leave it, the process continues.’

Reading the words of Goldsworthy underpins his excitement of working with his chosen materials and in conjunction with the rhythm and flow of everything. He clearly understands time, change, growth and development in an alternative way to other artists. Allowing his work to develop naturally, including the possibility of disintegration over time takes an insightful mind.

As discussed above, he records his work through visual images, he does not require words or permanency to convey his work and its development – photography is his record.

Watching videos of Goldsworthy creating, altering and ‘understanding the land with his hands’ enable me to understand the work and his processes further. I am pleased that he has made these recordings as well as his photographs.

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Red Maple Leaves

 

Francisco Infante- Arana (1943) was one of the leaders of Russian Kinetic art. The Russian artist, made work which uses mirrors in the landscape, the mirrors have a transformative effect. In particular he used geometric shapes with his objects in line with his influence by constructivism. Infante-Arana foresees the natural environment and the surrounds, similar to that of Goldsworthy, this allows him to create sculptural land art which with the use of the mirror is able to reflection the natural features restructured the land.

The mirrors are installed in the landscape and the resulting image/art is documented using the form of photographs, this allows the viewer to see the large scale art and its effects on the landscape.

 

THE MOMENT OF ETERNITY № 1

The Moment of Eternity No1, 1974

 

 

 

 

 

Walter de Maria (1935-2013) An artist connected with minimal, conceptual and land art.

The Lightning Field

This piece is created by the careful placement of 400 steel rods within the New Mexico desert. The rods were placed during 1977.

The result was captured by a photograph in which the sky is vibrantly illuminated by the electricity drawn down into the field to the rods. De Maria’s aim was to find a new way to express nature in an impressive manor. De Maria accomplishes this, the light flows over the field lighting the sky and its surrounds showing beauty in an alternative way whilst capturing nature in essence which is rarely seen.

Kaarina Kaikkonen a Finnish Installation artist.

 

 

Kaikkonen works on large installation pieces and has taken part in numerous private and group exhibitions in Finland and internationally.

Kaikkonen takes used clothing from the mountains of rags residing in Prato’s hangars and uses this as her artistic material for her public installations. The clothes are hung from elements of the environment such as windows, displayed on the stone walls, draped on cords strung between walls or over water. There is interesting contrast between the old, empty rags which have been found and the vivid colours that they still portray. The clothing is connected to one another at the sleeve, appearing flat and as we would recognise it. At a glance the clothing gives the impression of small figures holding hands, unity and continuity is created.

The transformation of clothing to art is mesmerising and interesting. Kaikkonen’s work is vibrant, textural, temporary and based on environment. She brings the remnants of one environment, recycles them, places in another and uses photography to effectively capture her installations. Her work is about more than this, the way in which the clothing is positioned gives emphasis on unity and relationships.

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Exercise: Planning a Diorama

Exploring the work of artists creating Three-Dimensional Tableaux, Dioramas and optical art it is clear all of the above are based around creating illusions in different ways.

Illusion in art can be added in many different ways, from subtle perspectives allowing play on the subject matter to distorted shapes continually stimulating the viewer drawing them into a web of optical pattern. Shadow play, distorting mirrors, obscurities and perspective are all ways in which illusion can be incorporated into art to create a Diorama.

Drawing on the research completed on various artists I cast my eye over each one of them, I feel there is a personal element to their work, by this I mean that the work create provokes strong personal points of view and feelings from the viewers. The Chapman brothers used commercial companies and ethics to draw this from there viewer, this subject could touch many given the well known characters used.

Roubaud uses world events, in a cut throat manner, making it impossible for a viewer not to relate on an emotional level.

Riley and Kidner strip this all back and approach the viewer differently, reaching out to them in a purely visual sense, provoking a different emotional response which could be more personal? Less fuelled by the scene set by the artist.

The common factor here is the emotion and personal response by drawing in the viewer to what would seem a ‘personal viewing’. My piece needs to have this affect and as researched, there are many ways in which to do this.

My starting point for this exercise was my own personal experience I have had recently during the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy, something that affects a large amount of the population, in terms of new life – everyone. Everyone can relate to this subject in one way or another, so why not look deeper and embed this within a diorama?

Physically what I see and feel is different, it is unique and it has had a profound affect on daily life. Emotions are high and low and with that comes the movement from within, new beginnings being created and grown, there are so many elements to this subject which I am experiencing first hand. This can be a positive and negative story for some, but how do I respond this this idea?

Looking back on the artists I have research, none of which give direct inspiration for the idea. So I looked deeper, there are artists which I immediately draw on for inspiration in recent exhibitions; Dragomir Misina, Peter Dickinson and David Moxon, contemporary artists who explore texture, colour, mark making and the process of painting itself. They work with a balance of chaos and order, creating layers and marks which allow the viewer to open gateways when viewing their work.

In particular Misina bases his paintings on a narrative, which informs the course of his paintings. However, during the process of painting, he uses marks and layers to escape from the world of this particular narrative, to allow the viewer to observed them for what they are rather than what they should mean.

I want to tell a story and open up a private world, exploring abstract layers, marks with an element of figure due to the nature of the story, ensuring a certain amount of distance is kept between the story and the diorama allows viewers to connect on an emotional and personal level.

The previous exercise was a very open piece in its physical structure and meaning, therefore to work on a private piece will allow further exploration in terms of structure. Private elements which can be explored within this piece are other dimensions which may have been experienced through memory, sound or through different levels of consciousness. All of these are private to the artist but are open to the viewer for interpretation and experience.

I began by capturing my private experience on paper, drawing and painting. Capturing something of the experience I have had and the journey I continue to have.

This consisted of mixed media sketches, a wire drawing of a figure entwined in the flowers and further wire and mixed media ideas incorporating a figure.

Hints of figures captured in pencil and then using watercolour to layer marks and texture on top.

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Watercolour allows for the pure essence of the figure to show but allows for further work to appear. Watercolour is not a medium I have utilised fully within this course, it has subtle but powerful qualities which reflect my experiences within this exercise.

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Not concerned with the colour palette at this stage, focusing on the media and figure, shapes and marks.

Tonal figure study.

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Choosing a subject which is more private than visual could make this exercise more difficult than it needs to be. However the artists dioramas did not inspire or provoke thoughts and I have to explore topics which are interesting and motivational to me.

Capturing the experience of energy, physical change and anxiety I used a wide range of media to put this within my sketchbook. Using cotton to create the outline of a figure, curves and knots were important to convey feelings of the change. Using hessian and wool to add texture, knitted elements and complex marks. The figure entwined in in marks, mixed media in a subtle manner.

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Thread and wool to convey energy, feelings and emotions, exploring other media.

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This subject inspired an oil painting, exploring the rich saturated colours, texture and many layers. A dreamy visual image, concentrating on the positive feelings and thoughts of the subject. An enriching time which explores new ventures and excitement, bright and bold colours enhance the positives and the mark making creates a base for the negative. Bringing the colour palette forward into my diorama, watercolour would be the preferred media due to its translucent qualities, visually allowing marks to move back and forth.

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Moving to liquid watercolour rather than solid to improve saturation and contrast. I was focusing on the figure moving to a more abstract way of working. At this stage I have only explored media and ideas around marks and the abstract use of the figure.

The subject explored is extremely personal, in a less direct way than some of the artists I have looked at, I want to reflect this in how the work is presented. A closed and private form? The figure is used subtly and it would be interesting to use elements of the figure in a three dimensional abstract form within the piece as a way of drawing in the viewer to the private diorama.

Wanting the diorama to be fairly private the size of the piece should be fairly small, intimate and allow the viewer to just look into the world of the piece.

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A small folded piece of cardboard – how can I use this to create a private viewing of my diorama? A box could close the small diorama off and prevent light and shadows which could add interest to the shape.

The final Diorama needs to present in a professional manner more so than within previous exercises, it needs to stand alone and have impact. Is cardboard the most emphatic material or could this be strengthened?

Working on watercolour paper would prove the most suitable base for the watercolours. Bending the paper around the three sides of card would create a curve appropriate to the piece, similar to the shape of the work of Roubaud.

Creating more curves of paper within the card could draw the viewer in more, moving the eye back and forth in and out of the diorama. The subject of the piece has many feelings as well as the physical aspects.

After sketching designs for the diorama I have naturally moved towards creating an overall curved piece, the card seems pointless and does not add anything of meaning. Looking at media used within my preliminary pieces I wonder if any of these elements could be used to strengthen or add to the piece externally?

I began to work on watercolour paper with a bold palette, strong, feminine and reflective of the subject of the piece. Using my life drawing figures I wanted them to become part of the painting but not to dominate the story, this piece is abstract with elements and hints of figure to indicate presence and to allow the viewer to determined their own emotional and visual link to the work.

Using mark making to find a solution to this exercise relating back and forth to my preliminary work and thoughts for guidance in creating this final piece: My experience, in myself, physically, emotionally and changes, another place in my consciousness, a private experience. Enclosed, looking in to, changes internally overpowering changes externally. Putting this into a piece in an abstract manner… So I decided to put together a reasonably small scale piece, plain on the outside, busy on the inside, allowing the viewer to peer in discreetly.

Mark making would create texture, movement and the hint of figures throughout the cylinder of painted walls. I wanted to reflect the outer changes of the experience by adding curves and movement. Moving further from my preliminary work I decided on wire, stronger than wool or thread, keeping its shape and more emphatic.

I wanted the paper to be encircled by the feeling of change, I wrapped the wire around the cylinder painting curving it, knotting it and allowing it to strengthen the overall piece by adding support.

Enjoying working with the wire, yet still allowing the outside of the diorama to appear fairly simple.

Whilst painting the inner areas I simply painted what I felt, marks, changing colours drifting into one another, some areas more overpowering than others, I was conscious not to create a piece with an ‘all over’ feel and stopped when I felt the image could easily become too complex and loose its way.

Neither did I want the piece to become too overwhelmed with figure image, as the physical has become slightly more abstracted.

I placed the piece onto mount card, however it seems empty at the bottom, this is far from what this work is all about, therefore I began to paint the bottom piece and attach this. A plain white base is not appropriate to the subject and drops away from the viewer instead of continuing the story.

Wrapping the final piece in white card, adding the bottom layer of colour and mark and allowing the wire to spill from the outside into the cylinder. After weeks of perseverance with this exercise here is the finished Diorama ‘Unspoken Journey’.

Achieving the following;

  • More complex on the outside then inside
  • Privacy – in size and shape chosen
  • Figurative element
  • Areas of rest for the viewers eye
  • Series of marks and media
  • Movement
  • Change – continuing story
  • External shape with wire

I will return to this exercise later and look at it with a fresh eye in regards to improvement and learning.

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Research: Three-Dimensional Tableaux or Diorama

Learning about three-dimensional tableaux or diorama’s, it immediately poses questions; ‘Are three-dimensional scenes more engaging than painting scenes’? ‘What effects can the surrounds of a three-dimensional scene or diorama have on it? Such as lighting etc’?

Looking at the work of the artists mentioned and others there are very different outcomes, some artists were concerned with creating scenes and drawing in the viewer whilst others focused on the three-dimensional affect and form of the work. Here is the work of artists researched under these topics:

Franz Roubaud (1956 – 1929)

A Russian artist who focused on creating large, panoramic paintings, Roubaud would recreate scenes and paint onto a cylinder shape base.

The size of the paintings would be up to 115 metres in length and 15 metres wide, due to the size of the paintings they would need to be hung in specially built pavilions.

Roubaud would explore the subject matter of famous battles, in particular he  ‘The Seige of Sevastopol’ (1854-1855) which can be viewed from a platform curving in unison with the painting, allowing it to be viewed at close range which works well given the size of the diorama. It becomes an interactive experience, looking closer at the diorama, you can see that Roubaud has used appropriate objects such as; cannon balls, cannons, logs, glass, fortifications and the actual painting sits behind. The angle in which Roubaud has chosen to paint is from a top view, looking down over the scene as a distant observer, it is similar to a photograph or scene you would expect to see on a documentary, as well as art, it could be seen as educational due to its depiction.

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The Siege of Sevastopol

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Panorama Museum

Jake and Dino Chapman, also known as the Chapman brothers are English born visual artists. Similar to the work of Roubaud, the Chapman brothers create shocking images, delivered in a way that it unlike any other. I personally find their work disturbing, they are blatant and unexpected, in this way their work can be seen to be in contrast to Roubaud’s, as he paints famous scenes of war and politics. The Chapman brothers touch on war and politics but add a contemporary twist and branch out to other themes such as religion, morality and the use of iconic symbols and characters.

An example of their unexpected work is a series of three-dimensional pieces titled ‘The Sum of All Evil’, these pieces are based on the well known food chain – McDonalds .

‘We’re making work that contradicts the idea that art is inherently good and based on idealism.’
Jake Chapman in conversation with Sarah Kent.

The works are miniature three-dimensional scenes, created with models of the famous chains icons and throwing them into a work which represents the affects of consumerism. Focusing on the negative impact the company has on the work and resources. The scenes are unmistakable, and the use of well recognised figures allows all viewers to relate on some level to the work. This series of work plays on the viewer, provoking feelings of controversy, hostility and moral with room for humour. It almost makes me think of a child’s bedroom with miniature characters involved in imagination play.

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Jean-Pierre Vasarely (1934–2002)

Varsarely, known in the art world as Yvaral. Yvaral was a French artist who focused on Optical Art and Kinetic Art from 1954 onwards. His father also an artist – Victor Varsarely.

The above artists focus on three-dimensional and dioramas, whereas Yvaral focuses on planes using paint and optical illusions.

Yvaral studied Graphic Art and publicity in Paris, later beginning to experiment with geometrical abstract art. He produced paintings which would suggest movement using effects such as projection and recession.

Jean-Pierre Yvaral ‘Ambiguous Structure No.92’, 1969 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

Ambiguous Structure No.92 – 1969

Julio Le Parc (1928)

Another artist who focuses on Optical and Kinetic Art and a significant figure within Argentinean modern art.  Le Parc was the founder of GRAV (Groupe de Recherche de l’Art Visuel). GRAV emerged during the 1960s in Paris, GRAV believed in anonymous and impersonal art, they rejected any form of self indulgence within art and therefore rejected abstract expressionism. The starting point was that art was not just visual but was also sociological. They sought to break down the distance between the art and the public, the movement brought the public closer to art, GRAVs intention to involve the viewer was successful and the public now felt a greater influence over exhibitions, participating within the art work more activity. As part of their plan to involve the public within the art world, Le Parc provided questionnaires to the public at his exhibitions, dropping the barriers of egotism and separation which they detested.

Julio Le Parc ‘Virtual Forms in Various Situations’, 1965 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

Virtual Forms in Various Situations – 1965

Reaching this point in my research I can see that GRAV require less emotion response than the three-dimensional and Diorama works. Optical art requires an individual response whereas the work of the Chapman brothers ask for a rollercoaster of emotions whilst viewing their pieces.

Bridgette Riley (1931)

Riley developed her Optical Art during the 1960s, giving the viewer not only the colour and shape, but a visual effect to par take in when viewing her work. Their are many images of her work over time showing progressing and moving towards Op-Art, I find her journey interesting, as the start is so very far away from where she remains now.

Riley continues to explore the visual image for its qualities affecting sight. The visual disorientation of movement, dynamic interference and shimmer can be achieved by her black and white as well as her coloured paintings exemplifies this style. This is clear by viewing in books and online, her work can grow to a fairly large scale and I can only image viewing a piece in person can have an even stronger visual effect.

Bridget Riley ‘Elongated Triangles 5’, 1971 © Bridget Riley 2015. All rights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert, London

Elongated Triangles 5 1971

Bridget Riley ‘Fête’, 1989 © Bridget Riley 2015. All rights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert, London

Fete 1989

Michael Kidner (1917 – 2009)

‘Unless you read a painting as a feeling, then you don’t get anything at all’

-Michael Kinder

Kidner based his work on theory, numbers, shapes and distortion of his work in order to extract reactions from his viewers.

Michael Kidner ‘Four Colour Wave’, 1965
© The estate of Michael Kidner

Four Colour Wave – 1965

 

Michael Kidner ‘Rotational Circles’, 1960–4
© The estate of Michael Kidner

Rotational Circles 1960-4

 

Kidners and Riley’s use of geometric shapes within their work may appear similar, however there are different agendas behind their creations. Riley’s work is not based on theory, she works within this method because of the visual interest it creates and purely an optical way of thinking, whereas Kidner created optical art with a shape theory dictating the outcome. In contrast to this the earlier quote links them both into the same way of thinking within this method.

The quote underpins the difference between the abstract expressionists and the optical artists. On first viewing Op art you would presume the artists drive would be to create a visually stimulating and confusing art work, whereas following research this is not entirely their goal. Op artists broke away from the egotistic values of other artists and wanted the viewer to have an emotional response, this is just provoked within a different way. As artists create their work they are driven and influenced by many elements around them, some knowingly and others subconsciously, as well as life experiences, their personal interests and other art movements at that time or prior to their art career. Politics and world events creep in here, they influence everyone, change lives directly or in directly. Therefore whether the work is based on physical wars like Roubaud’s direct response,  commercial wars like the Chapman brothers or indirectly on art movements there are many influences around the different approached to the canvas.

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