Initial research into artists

I have begun to investigate the way that artists have approached the city, hopefully some of their work will help me to develop my own ideas in relation to the topic.

Diana Cooper – Swarm (2003-2007)

This installation provides an interesting insight into the movement of a city. It incorporates some of the key features of a living city, not only its movements but its barriers also. The contrasting shapes capture the busyness of a city, while its monochrome seems to me to reflect the possible ‘coldness’ that a city can give off.

Toba Khedoori

Toba Khedoori

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Toba Khedoorikhedoori-19

Toba Khedoori records simple everyday objects and situations (largely those that could be seen in ‘the city’) and displays them in the centre of a large, stark piece of paper. The centrality of the images, coupled with the starkness of the paper and the muted, dark nature of the drawings, create a sense of isolation and loneliness which may perhaps offer a parallel to the nature of urban life and landscape.

Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread

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Rachel Whiteread ‘Mausoleum Under Construction’, 1992 © Rachel WhitereadRachel Whiteread ‘Study (Blue) for 'Floor'’, 1992 © Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread ‘B: Clapton Park Estate, Mandeville Street, London E5; Bakewell Court; Repton Court; March 1995’, 1996 © Rachel WhitereadRachel Whiteread ‘A: Clapton Park Estate, Mandeville Street, London E5; Ambergate Court; Norbury Court; October 1993’, 1996 © Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread’s work focuses on materiality and construction/destruction. She highlights objects and buildings giving them a stand alone identity and an almost a human like form and narrative. The deconstruction, isolation and demolition elements of the work highlight that which is overlooked, taken for granted and ignored when read as part of the large set of details within the city.

Luc Tuyman

Luc Tuymans polaroid paintings Luc TuymanLuc Tuymans. "Zoo." 2011. Oil on canvas

Luc Tuyman’s muted painting style creates a melancholy angle on details within the city. Tuyman distances us from the images with dull colours and a lack of description, creating a very cold and dark feel to his paintings. This lends itself to the truth that he attempts to highlight, using these simplistic, minimal everyday images as metaphors for more darker themes.

Llandaff cemetery

As a starting point for my project I walked around part of Llandaff cemetery, documenting some of the graves.

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Visiting the cemetery allowed me to consider the unity of all these people, of different ages, different time eras from different places in one area of land, lying side by side one another. What perhaps I found particularly interesting, maybe even upsetting, was the various conditions in which the graves had been kept – some were clean, untarnished, commemorated with flowers, whilst others lay hidden in ivy and brambles, cracked and broken – forgotten. I wondered who these people were, their hidden narratives and stories, their families and friends, and how it seems that their only mark now on the world was being slowly reclaimed by the ground.

I’m not quite sure how I can transfer this into visuals as yet, but will be considering this idea of hidden narratives, forgotten people and hidden histories.

Field briefing

Today we received our briefing for the new field project. The title is ‘the city’ and requires us to explore various elements of this theme. We are encouraged to think outside the box, explore the ins and outs of what a city is – what it means to not just look at the cities around us but to observe them, investigate them and really focus in on their various elements. Initially we have been asked to research three main areas before then focusing on the one that we find most interesting. The three areas are:

  • Migration
  • Power and technology
  • Hidden city

I’m looking forward to starting this project and will begin by exploring the work of other artists around these three main themes.

A visit to the Saatchi

I went up to visit a friend in London the other day, and took this opportunity to pop into the Saatchi Art gallery. Having never been there before I was pleasantly surprised and found a couple of artists that are quite fitting for my outside inside brief.

Lisa Milroy – Hardware, 1991

   Hardware, 1991

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This piece really stood out to me in the gallery, the vast number of individual pieces of ‘hardware’ – of handles, and door knobs and keyholes etc. create a particularly striking image, the painting offers a realistic representation, an almost three dimensional depiction of these pieces. What I find most interesting about the work is the impact that the repetition of the pieces, and their separation from any function offers a new way of engaging with the objects themselves. I found this piece and intend to look further into her work.

Bill Woodrow – Hoover Breakdown, 1979

Hoover Breakdwon, 1979

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This piece appealed to me because of the use of disassemblage, this process allows insight into everyday objects – shedding light on the multiple elements held within one object. It offers a new view on that which is overlooked and perhaps undervalued. It also prompts us to consider that which is broken down has its function taken from it. It is only when an object is taken apart can we really appreciate its complexity, yet this same process removes its use and causes it to become nothing but a set of parts.

Vladimir Kozin – Lock, 2013

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Leonid Sokov – Absurd Lock, 1977 – 2006

This idea of locks interests me – they are symbolic of security and privacy, they provide the option of control to those who claim ownership over the space or thing that the lock protects. These pieces allow us to consider the real value of such commonplace objects, the function that they provide and the meaning that they hold. The second piece ‘Absurd Lock’ is particularly interesting, it takes the common lock and distorts it in such a way as to deny it of its sole purpose. This prompts us to analyse the mechanism, how it works – and in this case why it can not work. I look at this and feel an element of frustration, read at face value this object offers protection, a barrier and a level of security, but on further inspection we come to realise that none of these functions are possible – it violates the perception of security that we initially understood it to provide.

I link these ideas back to the use of the zip and clasps on the handbags of dementia patients, and the impression of security and privacy that they provide to their owners.

Constellation – Term 1

The first term of Constellation lectures have been interesting, providing information that I can take and apply to my own practise. As well as this, it has offered me insight into other specialisation pathways and subject areas that I knew nothing about before. The following lectures were of particular interest to me:

  • “The Sensorial Object – Curation of an exhibition: A makers perspective” with Dr Natasha Mayo  

This lecture focused on the necessary considerations when curating an exhibition and the importance of the material values of objects in an exhibition. It gave insight into the process of putting an exhibition in place, for example the relationship between the subject matter and the venue . As well as a brief overview of the procedure of putting an exhibition in place, the lecture also looked at the content of the exhibition, ‘the sensorial object’  – something which actually coincided with my project brief somewhat The welsh artist Ainsley Hillard came up in the lecture and is someone that I would like to research further.

  • “Teenage Kicks – Cultural Approaches to Dr Martens Boots” with Cath Davies

This was the first in a set of lectures investigating ‘meaning’. Its intention was to investigate the importance of the cultural connotations of objects – highlighting the fact that all objects have symbolic meanings, embedded in their history, production and function. It was a lecture that I thoroughly enjoyed, a somewhat enlightening one that enabled me to begin to understand the important messages that a simple objects can generate. This particular lecture was highlighting the history of the ‘Doc Martin’ boot, tracking their change in status since their creation. The lecture investigated the importance of historical narrative, and how this impacts the statement that is made when wearing them.

  • “The Literal and the Phenomenal in Art and Design” with Dr Mahnaz Shah

This lecture was really interesting and focused on limits, boundaries and freeing our thinking. It prompted us to reconsider what we consider to be literal and phenomenal – for example questioning our ability to ever be true to the literal, as can be seen by our use of metaphorical language such as the use of ‘huge’, ‘possible’ and other words that engage in our imagination. The lecture encouraged us to think about thinking itself, and only when we philosophize and dwell on our world can we really start to conceptualise effectively in our practises, the best thing we can do is to get rid of the boundaries.

“Thought can only advance by freeing itself from the shackles of its own subjective boundaries” – Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

Assessment Feedback and moving forward

The end of the first term saw the formative assessment of our first project. I was really pleased with how mine went and was able to discuss with two of the tutors how I could move the work forward. It was suggested that I began to focus my work down one avenue. The work I have done so far has opened up lots of ideas, but now I need to choose one to focus on and develop. We also discussed the possibility of moving away from some of the painting work that I was doing and look back at the drawing work that I have done. The idea of the zip we all felt was a strong concept and one that I will continue to develop – I also intend to look at displaying the dissected bag parts, but need to investigate more effective ways of doing this. I may also begin to look into the possibility of looking back into the relevance of the content of the bag – exploring the handbags relevance as a biographical object as well as a metaphor for the relationship between identity and dementia.

Painting work

I have been responding to the ‘handbag parts’ through paint, exploring further the use of printing from paintings – but also looking to create more representational pieces. I enjoyed doing these pieces, however I am not sure whether to take them forward further. The representational paintings aren’t adding anything to the concept or imagery being focused on, and although I think the isolation of the handbag components and the grouping of them works well, I think that this may be stronger kept as a collection of objects – rather than a painting of objects. The prints were interesting to explore in color, but again I think that I prefer the black and white paintings that I did earlier on in the project.

This piece (below) is my favourite painting piece so far, and so I think I will put this forward as part of the formative assessment.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This piece is a further development of the earlier prints of paintings that I did in the project, but I feel it has more form and a stronger composition to the works that I was producing beforehand. Through the abstraction of the objects, I hope to remove the viewer from the original source of the imagery (the actual handbag) and create a sense of distance, hopefully reflecting in some way the distance dementia puts between a person and familiarity. I am not certain that this piece will be used for definite in the final assessment, and I recognise that it is not a fully developed outcome, but I will propose it for the formative assessment and discuss feedback with the tutors.