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.