I felt I was a strong position when I arrived at ArToll in March 2012 for a two week residency under the title of ‘Directional Forces 2012’ with other Professional Doctorate students and International artists.
I had not had much chance to make work between ‘Hanging Hams’ and the residency I mainly concentrated on finding materials to take with me. I tried not to think or plan too much the work that I was going to make as I wanted to respond genuinely to the title in the place.
Before the residency I experienced some understandable anxiety about producing work in a limited time frame in a new environment which was also going to be part of an exhibition. The studio spaces were very large, something I have little experience of, and they were initially quite daunting however I was intrigued about the effect of having dedicated time, mental and physical space would have on my work.
I felt that the first piece of work I wanted to make should be on a large scale to reflect the size of the space I was working in. I created a large patchwork of blankets, soaked them in PVA and arranged them over an assemblage of chairs.
This was the same method I had used for the ‘Hanging Hams’ that I considered had worked well for me. I spent a considerable amount of time making draped and folded classical shapes that I thought would work well once hardened and dried.
I did not anticipate the piece would take four days to dry so in that time I started to experiment with the other with materials I had brought, initially not in a particularly serious manner and with no end goal in sight.
This ‘playing around’ resulted in being quite serendipitous as it allowed me to be quite free; I didn’t feel particularly positive about what I was producing, pieces of felt covered with wax and pigment impressed with shapes, but it didn’t seem to matter as I felt I was just marking time whilst the real work was drying.
As the days went by I began to slow my pace, I was observing how another sculptors and artists were working in the studio and was surprised about the amount of time given to contemplation and just looking at the work. I began to do the same, really looking at the pieces I had produced.
I made another similar object and hung them together to see what they did once mounted on a white surface. The dialogue appeared to immediately emerge between the two objects, something other-worldly but with a corporeality that is very important to me.
The Meteorites 2012
What is interesting for me to notice is that the body is always present in the work even if it is only implied, for example when you look at and hold a Neolithic flint tool, you hold it the same way the maker held it five thousand years ago and you have a sense of the body in the tool.
The Plea 2012
In the same way I feel one can sense the body in these new, more abstract sculptures. Similarly with the casting I made of the stairs at Artoll, I once again used the felt and wax but the body is implied and present in the work.
The Descent 2012
This gallery contains 6 photos.
October 2011, inspired by finding two Edwardian plaster cast models of ham in a flea market and some old cream and pink wool blankets, I began to work on the idea of creating ‘meat’ from patch-working fabric together. The desire … Continue reading
In May 2011, The British Council asked me to be a consultant for the Fashion Road project which brought together fashion designers from five European Countries to collaborate with five young Armenian designers. The end product was to be a travelling fashion exhibition which is currently half way through it’s tour.
I was invited to Armenia for the launch, to give a lecture on Fashion Forecasting and to look at the rich culture of this fascinating country.
Bread Sellers at Garni Temple, May 2011
Shop at Garni Temple, May 2011
Shop at Garni Temple, May 2011
The Monastery or Garni Temple. Part building part hewn and carved out of the mountainside. It is quite astonishing and in an incredibly interesting setting.
Lots of public art in Yerevan and it’s better than most in London. ( I am thinking of the hideous ‘statue’ by City Airport, a travesty if it wasn’t so laughable).
The hotel in Yerevan was a bit grim, very 70’s and not in a hip way. When I opened the curtains in the morning I saw this huge mountain. I had to google it to see what it was called. Mount Ararat. The biblical mountain I thought was a figment of imagination. It is quite breath-taking even though it is in Turkey and many miles away from Yerevan. This is where they supposedly found Noah’s Arc…..
Armenia, is famous for it’s cognac, I didn’t know this. The brand is called Ararat, naturally. A guided tour followed by a tasting.
Four massive glasses later we were put back on a bus to the hotel!
Armenian State Art Gallery. The lecture theatre where I was presenting was at the top of this enormous ziggurat. It has a very impressive collection of glass. And no wifi which is a bit devastating when you are giving an interactive lecture.
There is a wealth of inspiration in Armenia, everywhere I looked something captured my attention.
Gök Jami or The Blue Mosque, Yerevan.
Gök Jami or The Blue Mosque, Yerevan.
Gök Jami or The Blue Mosque, Yerevan.
Bizarre architectural hybrid.
Strangely similar to the junction boxes of Tokyo.
Pleats and folds.
The most interesting part of this trip was to the Sergei Paradjanov museum in Yerevan. I had seen one of his films, ‘The Colour Of Pomegranates’, 1968.
His sculptural work however was a surprise to me as it bore a resemblance to my miniature works.
These were made when he was imprisoned by the Soviet government.
His films contain beautifully crafted surreal vignettes of music dancing and storytelling. The costumes and makeup are incredible and designed by the director himself.
At the Work In Progress exhibition (images in previous post) artist Sarah Taylor asked me the question ‘Where is the abject?‘ This led me to look at the works by the artists that interested me with a different critical stance.
I began to see that it was the abject which made works such as Berlinde De Bruycke and Louise Bourgeois so powerful and through this there was a dawning awareness that I was keeping the abject in abeyance even though I instinctively felt it to be an important part of my work.
Berlinde De Bruycke, ‘Animal’ 2004
Louise Bourgeois, ‘Temper Tantrum’ 2000
According to Gaston Bachelard in ‘The Poetics of Space’, 1994 reluctance to reveal the abject is natural. In the chapter draws, chests and wardrobes he describes the casket as a metaphor for the psyche.
The casket contains things that are unforgettable,unforgettable to us but also for those to whom we are going to give our treasures. Here is the past, the present and the future condensed. Thus the casket is the memory of what is immemorial.
If we take advantage of images to indulge in psychology, we find every important recollection…is set in it’s little casket. The pure recollection, the image that belongs to us alone, we do not want to communicate; we only give its picturesque details.
This has resonance with me and I can agree that giving up the hidden meaning is a difficult matter. However the artist may come to a point, the point at which I now find myself, where the object becomes meaningless and shallow without the abject. Bachelard goes on to say,
Julia Kristeva talks about the rupture that gives birth to a new and more meaningful status for the artist in The Power of Horror An Essay on Abjection, 1982.
When the boundary between subject and object is shaken, and when even the limit between inside and outside becomes uncertain, the narrative is what is challenged first. If it continues nevertheless, its makeup changes; its linearity is shattered, it proceeds by flashes, enigmas, short cuts, incompletion, tangles and cuts. At a later stage, the unbearable identity of the narrator and of the surroundings that are supposed to sustain him can no longer be narrated but cries out or is decried with maximal stylistic intensity (language of violence, of obscenity, or of a rhetoric that relates the text to poetry). The narrative yields a crying out theme that, when it tends to coincide with the incandescent states of boundary-subjectivity that I have called abjection, is the crying-out theme or suffering-horror.
After this research I began to feel that my work is now at a point where it is about to ‘shaken’.
I decided that I was going to remake the miniature scenes of Advocaat at Ashdown and Beaujolais 71 giving space for the abject to emerge….
The Illusion Of Madam Beulah, 2011
Saw IV, 2011
The Ambition, 2011
She Came In Through The Out Door, 2011
There is quite a lot to digest here. References to cutting and sawing are obvious, however in this body of work I begin to discover a freer way of working letting my consciousness roam through the process of making rather than pinning an idea down to an exact finished product.
The piece Three Sisters I is now represented here as another work.
Don’t Walk Away, 2011
The last image I want to put with this group is only a sketch and needs a lot more thought but here it is nevertheless.
Cuban Wedding Ring, Sketch. 2011
Thank you WordPress for losing my last two attempts at updating my blog! It’s probably for this reason (among a few) that I had lost patience however here I am, back with extra resolve and a big reminder to myself to save written text to avoid it disappearing:)
This is an abbreviated record of the past 14 months of my work interspersed with photographs, thoughts inspirational images/quotes etc.
Advocaat at Ashdown 2011
Beaujolais 71, 2011
Work In Progress Exhibition, 2011 AVA Gallery, UEL.
Whilst on Susak I visited a tiny museum in the old town dedicated to the traditional dress of the island. Each of the Croatian islands have a completely different style of dress, the Susak tradition is one of vibrant colour, heavily petticoated skirt with lavish beading and embroidery .
The pieces above are made of modern materials in the traditional style. There were also some handmade antique examples.
On my return to the dreary London Summer I was cutting up some dragon fruit for dessert and was instantly reminded of the Susak costumes.
I made this film sketch in my kitchen.
I wanted to capture the colour of the unusual local dress with its clash of fuschia, orange, yellow, red, turquoise, and pink.
Subsequently I was asked to make a short film for Loop film Festival in Barcelona in May 2011 so I remade the film and named it ‘Le Coupe’.
The film recognises the creative energy expended in the kitchen by women making food and pleasing others. For many years I had a great interest in cooking creatively and sharing it with loved ones and friends. Since I have been making sculpture my time making food in the kitchen has diminished to the point where it now holds very little interest for me.
Filming a domestic act, something which is typically ephemeral and fleeting, repositions it as an art form rather than a functional chore.
Since July, I have been looking at this scene, trying to decide how to proceed.
I have had various thoughts about this work; what material to make the main body, should I incorporate the ‘creepy legs’ which were in my original sketch, and how do I ensure it doesn’t end up looking like upholstery.
The influences behind this are the relationship between myself and my two sisters, magic shows and mind readers but also on another level there are echos of Gaudi and the beautiful vaulted ceilings of The Pedrera.
I have in my clothing archive a 1930’s shirt front which I found in the flea market at Porte De Vanves in Paris which fitted perfectly over the chair and was the only addition to the sculpture that I still thought interesting after a few month’s consideration.
I have not yet resolved the use of red patent leather after my first piece of work ‘Ercol Easy Jodphur’ and I still it very alluring so I decided that I should continue to use it for this piece.
The following images are of the work in progress. It is slowly coming together and I am now clearer bout how this will look when it is finished.
Getting the correct ‘fit’ over the chairs is causing some problems at the moment. The collection of chairs I have all look the same, but have been produced in different factories over three decades so the measurements vary from chair to chair.
The ‘shirt’ will be made from white leather and grow out of the right hand chair.
There are still a few more decisions to be made about additions final piece but they will probably be decided on at the next or final stage of making.
Cedric Christie, co-curator of the Susak Expo 2010 invited myself, Hedley Roberts and Hedley’s daughter Beulah to make some work around the title ‘Family’. After seeing images of the isalnd we decided that we would drive to Croatia along with some of the other contributing artists and make some site specific work. The journey took us through the flat plains of Nothern France, the crazy German Autobahn and the incredible mountains of Austria and Slovinia.
Susak is a remote pile of rock and sand three hours ferry ride from Rjieka, Croatia. It has only a few native inhabitants but the population swells during the Summer months. The village streets are ancient and narrow, there are no cars on the island and everything is transported on wheelbarrows.
The island’s forests of tall bamboo mostly obscure your view as you walk about it so it was serendipitous that we came across the local tip for furniture and white goods hidden in a clearing.
I was especially happy to find such a source on this remote island. I was toying with the idea of making another piece of work around the ‘Three Sisters’ theme. I had been looking at some photgraphic research that has been ongoing for a few years. The research had begun as photographs of candid glimpses into foreign domestic environments, but has now evolved to pictures of stairs through doorways. This interest started in a town called Aigle in Switzerland, they images of which sadly no longer exist, however I have been able to find similar examples in Barcelona and Ibiza.
My initial idea was to create a ‘jumble’ of stepladders, reminiscent of Escher’s steps, leading to the projected door and stairs of one of my own step images. However, without transport is was going to be an impossible task to drag the theatre steps I had found up the many stone steps or the isalnd to the gallery space at the top of the town. This is a work I am now making in London, but for the purposes of the Susak Expo, the tip once again obligingly provided three worn out ladders of descending size which perfectly represented my sibling theme.
I used oil bars of gold, ivory and scarlet rubbed the colour into the weather beaten wood of the ladders. The medieval design of the street gave me a cool and shaded space to work on an incredibly hot day.
The following images are of the work in progess.
Whilst in Susak I was also working on another ‘Three Sisters’ piece made from folded paper.
The island was very quiet and especially so during the hottest hours. I began to play with a new fold during the stillness of the midday siesta.
This fold is similar to the one I have previously used however instead of being based on parallel lines it is based on a star formation.
As I put these folds on the balcony to photograph them I noticed how the washing on the line was quietly wafting in the breeze and I began to formulate an idea of attaching the pieces of paper together so they flipped an floated around, changing the light and shadow on their facets.
I also wanted the paper to be powerfully coloured; fluorescent orange has been a prevalent colour in my work over the past five years and I thought it would sit perfectly against the turquoise skies of Susak.
The final installation did not allow for the contrast of fluorescent orange and blue sky but I was very happy with the traditional green woodwork framing of the piece, also it’s positioning in the window allowed for it to move in the breeze as I had anticipated.
I have already said in my introduction that the folding is one branch of the work I am currently making. The other current piece of work in progress is a ‘dress’ for three arch backed 60’s chairs.
This work continues from the ‘Ercol Easy Jodhpur’ piece and the Conjoin:me sculptures my collaboration work with Hedley Roberts.
The chairs I decided to use are the same style that I sat on for virtually every meal until the age of 18. The style Ercol ‘Quaker’ and was produced in vast numbers in the 60’s and 70’s.
There are some other influences in this piece of work which hopefully will start to reveal themselves once the basic pattern cutting has been resolved. Here are some images I was looking at. They relate to my Grandmothers time on stage with her uncle the escapologist and illusionist Charlie Morritt and will be enmeshed in the final piece.
I intend to engraft the ‘Creepy Legs’ into the main body of the sculpture, the legs will be dressed will grown into the chair covering. I enjoy the fact that they are reminiscent of the dismembered legs of a magician’s assistant during the illustion of being sawn in half.
I found this piece Florence Deleac’s work when researching for the current sculpture. It has similarities to my work yet it derives from a completely different place.
There is a certain amount of trust which happens throughout the process of making a piece of work. If I consider that mistakes can hold new avenues of exploration then I am more open to taking risks. Intuition, or as it can also be described the subconscious measuring of the work in process against everything that has ever inspired or engaged me.
I initially made a pattern to cover one chair by taping paper to it and tracing through the main shapes with a pencil. At some points, if the shape made it impossible for me to do this I had to take measurements and transfer them to the pattern. I then constructed a crude pattern and used calico to make a toile or a mock-up of the pattern.
This is the toiling stage where mock ups are made in calico.
This is a process commonly used in fashion for pattern cutting. One can expect to make many toiles to get the pattern right and it reduces the expense of wasting fabric before mistakes are resolved.
The single calico ‘cell’ is complete. The next stage is to begin to find a way to join three seperate chairs together.
The chairs have many distinct details that it was essential not to lose as their character and particular styling is important to the work. Therefore the pattern cutting I have had to use is more akin to that of upholstery which is quite a different discipline even though the basic rules are the same.
It is important that each piece is joined integrally, that one chair elides into the other rather than them looking as if they have been crudely bolted together.
Should I decide to add other elements to this basic pattern the same process applies.
Finally, with some expert help from Helen Bailey, the toile of the three chairs joined together. This forms the basis of the sculpture ‘The Three Sisters’ and will be the core of Summer 2010’s studio work.