Summary of the Field Project

The field project has been really interesting to undertake – working with other students has been an eye opening experience, both enriching and challenging. Our brief was city and we were to work on our own research, create an interdisciplinary response and then a multidisciplinary response.

I became interested in exploring the ‘hidden city’ and my individual area of research was the overlooked details of the floors of a city, I began researching this through the recording of walks through the city. I then undertook a video project with Davida and explored ‘hidden city’ through the use of video projection which I then produced large scale layered drawings from.

We then began to work on interdisciplinary group projects, myself, Charlotte Davis and Victoria McLeod-Periton worked together as a group of three and continued to research into ‘the hidden city’. We were exploring, similarly to my own personal research area, the hidden details of a city – but looked to one particular area of the city, exploring the details that surrounded us. We wanted to create a busy piece, that concentrated the colour, pattern, imagery and sound of a small area of the city in order to highlight the amount of information that presents itself to us within a city. We worked in quite a playful way, allowing ourselves to be free in the way that we presented the imagery – I worked in a way that I don’t usually work and really enjoyed producing the outcome.

The biggest challenge of the field project was probably the multidisciplinary group work that we undertook. We were encouraged to engage in a challenge area and the emphasis was put on the response that we wanted to achieve through our work. As a group we became interested in exploring hidden agencies of power within a city, comparing a capitalist city like Cardiff with historic communist areas such as Russia.

We researched into the nature of advertising and propaganda, exploring how the two can be seen to crossover. We researched the work of propaganda artists working in communist Russia and explored how the messages underlying the propaganda posters and advertisements we found around Cardiff could easily be paralleled in terms of their promotion of an ideological way of living.

We then attempted to create a piece that reconciled these two kinds of societies, and their similar ideological promotion techniques, creating a poster – that could act as the beginning of a fictional campaign, of the city of Cardiff if it was to use the direct design and propaganda techniques of the communist Russian propagandists. Through the combination of imagery from a place of communism and capitalism we hoped to create an awareness of how the two societies work, and how all systems – although different in the way they manifest themselves – seem to have the same underlying intentions and patterns.

Summary of the Subject project

The brief set for the subject project was ‘Inside/Outside’, this was a very open theme that we were able to take in a number of directions. I decided that I wanted to explore the Internal and External elements of an individuals’ identity, and was particularly interested in exploring the affect that an internal illness such as dementia had on the external sense of identity. This was something of a personal issue, as my Grandmother suffers from the illness – because of this, however, I was able to explore the theme with some personal insight. I began looking into dementia, and came across an interesting article on the attachment of women with dementia to their handbag. My work began to flow from the object of the handbag and its relevance to a female sufferer of dementia.

I began to dissect and explore the handbag as a metaphor, using it to represent the effect that dementia has on the sufferer – a key idea was the way that an internal breakdown could be visualised materially. I separated the handbags that I had collected, into parts, and used paint and drawing to explore how I could represent the separate parts of the handbags in a way that would reflect the barrier between a dementia sufferer and the rest of the world.

I began to move away from the painting work that I was doing, as it wasn’t successfully conveying that idea of identity and the removal of it. I instead began to explore the handbag as an object of security – and became particularly interested in exploring the sense of ownership, control and privacy that the object of the zip provided in the minds of the dementia sufferer, who were unable themselves to be comforted in the security of their own sense of self.

I have also been interested in exploring the separation of the parts of the handbag, and how this offered a parallel to the removal of identity and function occurring in dementia sufferers. I looked to explore the work of Cornelia Parker, and her exploration of object through the bold installation work she produces.

My work began to look at installation as a way of conveying a sense of absent presence, that I felt was of significant importance to the identity of someone with dementia. The separation of the bag into parts, and its display occupying a space, presented an object with its function and purpose removed – an object that had now become a series of parts – no longer with a cohesive sense of identity. This to me is something that I hope reflects the unravelling of identity and ‘self’ that occurs throughout the process of dementia, and the impact that this has on the way that we are then able to relate to the sufferer once they lose that overall identity.

Handbag Installation

The idea behind the handbag installation

I am returning, with the idea of an installation, to the use of the object of the handbag as a metaphor – using it to reflect the process of dementia and its impact on the identity of a sufferer. By separating handbags into parts, and then presenting them hanging in a space, I hope to present the viewer with the sense of an absent presence. I hope through this to reflect the impact that loss of purpose and the removal of intended function can have on the way that we relate to a ‘thing’.

Dementia as an illness removes the overall binding sense of identity, leaving behind a trace of the person – still with some memories, abilities and experiences retained, but there is little cohesion and it is difficult to fully see the person they were before. The person is still very much present, but there is an element of emptiness that creates a barrier between how you relate to the individual. And although there will be elements of the individual that are still recognisable, these elements seem somewhat separate and the overall identity of the person is lost – this is what I am looking to mirror in my installation piece.


The work I have been doing with the handbag pieces has been mainly focused on 2D, and so I wanted to experiment with the hanging of these pieces within a space. Unfortunately, and I recognise this as a poor time management on my part, but I have been unable to experiment with the installation in a suitable space – and so had to turn my room into the installation space, this has enabled me to visualise the piece and decide whether it would be successful but I haven’t explored it as ‘finally’ as I would have liked to. Having said this, I am really happy with how it works as a piece. I grouped three bags together and hung them – I tried 2 of them on the same level and the other (red bag) I explored the possibility of layering the bag by distancing the pieces behind one another. I found however, that they looked better hanging next to one another as this highlighted the idea of separation a lot more. I am going to further explore the best ways to arrange these pieces but am happy with how the outcome looks – obviously it will be easier to judge once I am in a space without any surrounding distractions.

Dismantled Readymades

My proposal now is to create an installation piece, making use of disassembled pieces of handbag. The idea I have at the moment is to explore how I can hang the pieces together to create assemblages of pieces of separated handbag, like I have previously been exploring through drawing and on a smaller scale on paper/board. But now to develop a piece that doesn’t just sit on a wall but occupies a space – I feel that this way it will create more of a sense of presence and will confront the viewer as a set of  suspended 3D objects.

I have been exploring artists who work in this way.

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp, 'Fountain' 1917, replica 1964

“The theory behind the readymade was explained in an article, anonymous but almost certainly by Duchamp himself, in the May 1917 issue of the avant-gardemagazine The Blind Man run by Duchamp and two friends:

Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, and placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object.

There are three important points here: first, that the choice of object is itself a creative act. Secondly, that by cancelling the ‘useful’ function of an object it becomes art. Thirdly, that the presentation and addition of a title to the object have given it ‘a new thought’, a new meaning. Duchamp’s readymades also asserted the principle that what is art is defined by the artist.”taken from the Tate website, in reference to Duchamp’s readymades.

Cornelia Parker 

Cornelia Parker ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’, 1988–9 © Cornelia ParkerCornelia Parker ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’, 1991 © Cornelia Parker

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I briefly looked at Cornelia Parker’s work before – but want to explore her work again as I feel it has become really relevant to the work that I am now looking into doing. Her work is characterized by her dynamic use of objects, objects that are displayed in an explosive and confrontational way and yet still exist quite absently. It explores the fragile nature of materiality and existence, and prompts us to question the substance of things. Her work has been quite an influence in the way I am considering setting out the installation pieces I hope to do – and I wish to reflect the sort of ‘absent presence’ that Parker captures, the sense of an object but an object that does not exist in its fullness. Its main core removed and becoming a series of parts.

Zips and Clasps – Final Outcome 2

For my second final outcome (my first being the installation), I have decided to create drawings of clasps and zips, as this is the area of the work that I feel has been the strongest. I have been inspired by the work of Lisa Milroy and have decided to use a collection of images of zips, clasps and buttons from handbag, and present them together as a series of drawings. These pieces will be done with white pencil/chalk on black paper, from the drawings that I have done this seems to me to be the most aesthetically strong. Also, it makes reference to the anonymity of the background and the highlighting of objects as I have seen in Milroy’s work. I wanted to produce drawings that weren’t bold as stand alone drawings, but fairly delicate cold drawings that look to isolate the symbol of security represented by these objects. I felt this was achieved quite well with simple black and white images working as individual drawings and as a collective set of objects following the same narrative of ‘security’.

Here are the drawings that I have been doing.