Thursday, 29 September 2016

Part 4 - Project 1 - Found images

I found it difficult to get a reasonable photo of this piece of wire that had broken loose from a concrete fence. The line changed depending upon which angle it was viewed from.

Below are marks I found on the tarmac at Silverstone which I suspect were made by someone spraying something from a car and were incidental rather than deliberate. I'm not sure that they count but they seem primeval almost like cave paintings so I'm including them.
The silhouette of tree branches was given as an example in the brief for this project so I feel a bit that I'm cheating here but I was attracted to the dark lines of the branches against the canopy of leaves here.

I found these fantastically twisted branches.

 There were these fallen logs with lines of peeling bark.
and sweeping lines on the top of this tree stump which looks as though it has been painted though I'm not sure whether its some sort of rot or fungus.

Tree roots

Ivy growing up a tree.

This is another incidental man made image.
 It looks like an a semi abstract landscape. Again possibly stretching the brief a bit here.

The wind blowing the grasses and nettles at the base of this fence make sweeping lines as it scratches the weathered wood.

Another fence running over uneven ground reflects the line of the land beneath. (sorry not a great photo here)
This field runs alongside a small stream which burst its banks in the recent heavy rains and drew a line of leaves and debris in the grass.
If Donald Urquhart can draw in water with poles then the pillars of the Charring Cross Railway Bridge in the Thames must count as drawing too.

I made some drawings from my images. First some simple experiments prompted by the loose wires.
 I feel that there is some potential to do something with these but I haven't found it yet
The tree stump which looks like a flower, there are many repeated patterns in nature.
 the twisted branches 
 and the ripples from the bridge supports

I liked the twisted branches best so I developed the drawing using charcoal and a rubber

Best with a hint of green pastel for the background I think.

I'm quite pleased with this. It does have a rather illustrative quality, I could see it as the cover of a book or part of the forest from a children's book with furry characters hiding. It is quite old fashioned in feel, sort of Toad of Toad Hall.


I didn't expect to but I've really enjoyed this exercise. It's a good way to find inspiration for new work and I think it could be a useful exercise when I'm uninspired and blocked to get me working again. The marks in nature are actually quite difficult to reproduce without making them look stilted and selfconcious, this is an encouragement to relax my hand and loosen up with my mark making.

Tutor feedback
Suggested that I asked myself questions about the works;

Why do I consider this a drawing/or not?
This is contentious and the answer will depend on who you ask, but for me at the moment I define a drawing as being primarily about line. Something that is created by the artist thinking about the boundaries and edges rather than mass and volumes. This is why I don't classify the side of this lorry as a drawing.

Am I looking at the landscape differently?

Yes. I'm drilling deeper into what I see, not just looking at the surface and the overall view but isolating elements and assigning different values and meaning to what I see there.
What is the difference between a found drawing and a studio drawing? 
In a found drawing you work with what you have. The art is in spotting the drawing, like a hidden shape in a children's comic. It's more like photography in that the basic elements are there whether you see them or not, they depend on the way that they are interpreted. A studio drawing is about control inventing shapes and lines, making decisions. The studio drawing may be of a found drawing but if that is the case then there is still potential for the artist to change the lines, adding something in or leaving it out. There is more choice, the lines are interpreted and translated with varying degrees of accuracy, either accidental or deliberate.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Part 4 - Environmental interventions research.

I was lucky to have been told about the BBC 4 documentary about land art, Forest Field and Sky whilst it was still available to watch online. These photos give a flavour of the programme.

Struggling to find anything much about Donald Urquhart and the link in the course notes no longer works. The only photo that I could find of Birked Scar was in this report from 2009 about the dissolution of the trust that managed the sculpture trail. There are some discussions elsewhere online about some of the sculptures looking tired and a number of initiatives to revitalise it. I guess natural sculptures which are exposed to the elements (especially in Aberdeen) need care and attention if they are to survive. I found this short piece about Glimpse in which he wrapped paper around tree trunks at the same level. This is a very simple idea which confuses the eye and makes the trees appear to float in space. There is something quite beguiling about the installation which I am struggling to pin down.  He also made Lines/Plane; Larus/Cygnus  which is difficult to fully appreciate from photographs. There are some more photos here with a descriptive explanation by Gavin Morrison. I wonder if the swans are using the plinth to nest. Donald Urquhart seems to have had some success with drawings of film stars (a more comprehensive list here) which are very graphic. Again there is a simplicity about his work, pared down, with no unnecessary detail, I suspect that they may have influenced David Downton, however his drawings are glamorous whereas Donald Urquhart's show the unglamourous and rather seedy side of celebrity. I don't know enough about the back story of Urquhart's fallen stars to understand all the references that he makes but as a group the portraits are rather depressing.

In the absence of anything concrete about Birked Scar I looked at David Nash's Ash Dome which sounds like it may be something similar. Ash Dome is clearly a labour of love tend by the artist over many years, I feel that a choice has to be made with environmental art whether the weathering process (and inevitable ultimate destruction) is part of the evolution of the piece or something to be staved off with maintenance. It's intriguing that the site should be so secret and maybe that is some of the charm of the piece. There have been some lovely photographs taken of the trees over the years which fully utilise the differences of the piece made by the weather and the seasons. In 2013 he had an exhibition at Kew. The nature of his work is shaped by the wood that he uses and it's good to see that he uses fallen trees and dead wood as his starting point rather than killing living trees.

I'm not so excited by Richard Long's  A line made by walking but you can see his process of thought as he moves on to make lines (and other shapes) with other arranged materials. His work seems to be more about the thought process and the ideas behind a piece and less about the look of the finished image (or the photograph) though A line in the Himalayas is beautiful.
Incidentally, whilst researching for the next project I found a "Line Made by Water" which is entirely natural and scoured into the track by a recent storm.
It links with Waterlines which intrigue me. They are so delicate for something made by mud. I assume that the black lines are the black paper but where did he hold the paper? there should be finger marks, and how did he keep the paper safe while travelling, avoiding folding it or rubbing the mud off it?

Tony Cragg seems to have moved away from the practice of land art but his early works are developed from quite simple ideas, I have a tendency to overcomplicate things and bring in too many elements. The figures in the photographs date them and are a distraction from the ideas (back in the 1970's we made art with stones)
I prefer his drawings the repetitive lines and the way that they flow. Again the simplicity of the idea, repeated to emphasise it. You feel that you are looking into a vortex. After I had written this I went to the Tate and found that Stack is currently on display.

Andy Goldsworthy's work is discussed here in The Independent and here in The Guardian. He produces work that is more visually appealing than the other listed artists. It is more colourful and looks like something anyone could have done if they had thought of the idea. So often art is critiqued because it is something that anyone could do, yet I haven't seen that criticism levelled at Goldsworthy, is that because he generally manipulates the environment and sells the photos rather than making permanent works? Or is it because we know that we do not have such clever ideas and it is his ideas that he is selling. This website has a number of images of works by artists that I have studied with OCA I found it while I was looking for a good picture of Roof in the National Gallery in Washington DC which I was lucky to see for myself last year. They haven't shown a great photo in their description and I didn't take my own photo. This website has a better image. The structures appear to seep through the glass co existing with it but also defying it. Is it saying that the natural world will prevail against our flimsy man made structures?
In a woodland near me someone has installed a number of little doors in the bases of old trees which have been coppiced. There's another one that I forgot to photograph which says tooth fairy on it. They may be a bit twee but I find them charming. Is this art? The doors are beautifully made and sympathetically installed. It is bringing materials in to change the environment so I guess it's not quite the same as Goldsworthy's work but it does make you stop and look and maybe see the woodland in a different way?

Cornelia Konrads work Passage appeared on Colossal I love the way that it stops you in your tracks as you try and make sense of what you are looking at. I was also rather taken with Grass Works, it would take some work to keep the grass trimmed neatly and Precarious Time. She is an artist who succeeds in manipulating the ordinary to make you look at it more carefully. Simple ideas well executed.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Further research

Following on from the narrative project in part 2 my tutor suggested that I do further experiments drawing onto sewn materials. 
This was the first sewing randomly with random materials. 

Afterwards, linking with my parallel project  I drew the outline of a house in ink to connect the papers.
It looks better as a small image.
I found bark from a silver birch when I was out walking. It is very thin and rolls up unless secured so I sewed it onto khandi watercolour paper in the window motif from my parallel project and added a brightly coloured leaf. This is my favourite because it is simple and uncluttered.
The leaf worked really well so I sewed leaf shapes on different materials. For the base I used a thick paper serviette which I picked up when I was having a meal somewhere.
To link the different materials I flicked red and yellow paint at the picture.