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