The work of Richard Tuttle has become of real interest to me whilst exploring this theme. His piece ‘8th Paper Octagonal’ has always interested me when I saw it in the Tate Modern last year, and it is now something that has begun to inform the work I am creating in this project. This very simple, minimalistic piece is fascinating in the way that it plays with our perception. Its physical presence is very much real and yet within the space it occupies it is very easily overlooked, it sits silently on the wall holding a strange and empty identity – something that I think again resonates with ideas of dementia and identity (or a lack of).
(8th paper octagonal)
This is the piece I am paying particular attention to however here are some other pieces of his work, demonstrating the minimalist style that he adopts.
Richard Tuttles minimalist style of working is something that I am attempting to explore in the paper embossing that I am experimenting with – trying to capture a sense of the presence of something, without the actual ‘something’ being at all present.
Thursday 27th of November was the last day of our first term study skills rotations, these study skills sessions have been really beneficial in enabling us to better understand the ways of thinking, analyzing and writing that will useful for all areas both practical and theoretical of our studies.
On the 20th of November we had a session on academic writing and referencing, this will come in handy in particular when completing my essay on the controversy of the baby cage.It was helpful to have a reminder on how to layout and reference an essay properly as its been a while since I last wrote one! In this session we were asked to read the introduction of a past essay in groups and following this summarise the main points into a short paragraph – this I found to be particularly handy as I often struggle writing short pieces, and with the 500 word essay due soon it was a good chance to practise this necessary skill.
Our final study skills session last Thursday was really interesting and I have taken a lot from this session that I can bring forward to into my everyday practise. It was called ‘approaches to analysing visual and material culture’, its aim was to teach us how to analyse and break down an image before considering theoretical links, in order that we may better understand how to read art pieces. We learnt this through the system of ‘Caths Columns’, which taught us to break down an image by firstly describing the various components, then analysing the connotations that each component had before then having to research evidence in support of these claims. We put this into practise by analysing the imagery used in three of the James Bond movie posters – it was fascinating to unpick each individual element of these posters, and realising the social significance of each part of the imagery – this fully allowed us to understand the system and I am most definitely going to be using this when analysing imagery in the future – this session has made a massive impact to the way I approach images, I have found this session one of the most beneficial.
As part of this brief, investigating handbags and their links with identity, I decided to briefly explore the textural qualities of some of the handbags themselves. Considering also the similarities between the textures of the handbag and the textures of skin.
Although I have decided not to pursue this area of experimentation further, it did allow me insight into the full identity of the handbag – and was able to look at the interesting textural connection between the handbag and the owner. However, I find the work done on the emotional and symbolic nature of the handbag more interesting than the exploration of its physical and textural qualities.
Alongside my work I have also been looking at the work of Cornelia Parker, in particular her piece ‘Cold dark matter: An exploded view’.
The first piece ‘Cold dark matter: An exploded view’ explores the imagery and the symbolism of the ‘everyday’ shed – and how this is disturbed through its destruction and re-assemblance. In the audio transcript alongside this piece on the Tate’s website, Parker highlights the following points about her work:
“The garden shed came about because I was trying to find something universal and archetypal and that we all identified with and that was familiar to us. It’s not the house but it’s this kind of attic-y private place at the bottom of the garden which we put all our left-over stuff in. And so it seemed like a depository rather than the place that you live.”
“And so that’s what I was trying to do, to organise something that was totally beyond our control and emotional control”
The ideas that Parker has behind her work are very interesting and something that I feel could be drawn upon in my project. It seems that the shed and the handbag have a number of similarities, both are familiar places in which to store ‘stuff’ in, a private and personal space in which to assemble objects of emotional and practical importance. What Parker succeeds in doing is taking this holding place full of objects and completely destroying its comfort, privacy, security and purpose. This is an idea that I would like to see forming some of the work that I am doing.
Having turned towards the exploration of the symbolic potential of the handbag, I decided to return to some of the initial ideas I had on exploring the content of handbag. Although, admittedly this avenue of experimentation does not excite me as much as what I have previously been looking at, I feel that it is still important that I at least brush upon the use of a handbag as potentially a ‘carrier of self’.
I looked at the work of Italian photographer Camilla Catrambone, in particular her series of ‘Family Portraits’.
Her work attempts to introduce us to her family members by photographing them through the significant objects that they have owned. The work is an interesting angle on portrait photography and allows us to explore and analyse her family members and their lives through their possessions.
This is something that I attempted to begin investigating, but instead looking at possessions within handbags. I explored the content of my own, my mothers’ and my sisters’ handbags – photographed them and then documented them through painting and drawing. Here are some of the photographs and works that I gathered from this.
I regret not taking higher quality photographs, but my intention was to mainly work from these images to produce paintings and drawings.
Another interesting artist working with similar content is the Chinese conceptual artist Song Dong, with his piece ‘Waste Not’, in which we see a vast collection of his mothers belongings. This piece looks at the idea of collection, hoarding and extending oneself through objects.
I have begun, and intend to further explore, abstract works in the style of Philip Guston. I think that this way of working is an effective way of communicating ideas of a distance in identity between an individual with dementia and a third party, by playing with the amount of detail that I put into an image I am able to attempt to alter the way in which the objects are perceived. I think some of these pieces achieve this more than others, for example the painting with the black background and white shapes is more visually effective, in my opinion, than the slightly more representative one without a background. I would like to develop this working with white on a black background as it begins to toy with the idea of the importance of surrounding in developing identity.
What I have also begun to explore is the use of printmaking from the paintings I am doing, pressing paper over the wet paint to take a trace of the image, furthering its abstraction and distancing the image further from its original source. This has begun to develop my main area of interest, the concept of taking the identity of something as far away from the original source as possible. I think this met with the print pieces, I am especially pleased with the painting print seen last in this series of images, I think it is works well as a composition and also delivers the concept in quite an effective way.