Monday, 26 December 2016

Assignment 4

Find a place of significance to you to create a site-specific artwork. Responding to features of the site, add a drawn element or select a found drawn element which you’ll extend to express something you find interesting about the site. Relate your art work to your research in your log and synthesise what you’ve learned about installative and environmental art with your own interests. 

Environmental Installations
 - Mostly not in a gallery. Photos to document.
Found Images
 - Visible but not seen. Defined by the environment but may be removed from the environment to inspire paper/canvas based images. Abstract possibilities.
- Made by working with what is already there. Andy Goldsworthy.
 - Graffiti. Something brought in to interact with what is already there, to change the way that you see what is there.

Louise Bourgeois is sculpture but it is immense so it interacts with the immediate environment.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye translated her world into paintings. Found images removed to paint?

My work for assignment 4:

A place of significance
It's December and it's cold so I'm going to take the easy option and keep close to home for this so I can keep warm. My house is a very significant place to me, and somewhere I know very well. There are several possible options but I started with the fire
 I sprayed one sheet of paper with melted candle wax aiming (not successfully) for flame like shapes.
 For another sheet I heated up the poker and used that to draw flames
 One of the poker marks was like a bird sitting on the stem of a plant.

 Lots of marks with the fire viewed through the paper.

 When I put the hot poker on the wax it ballooned over the paper.
 The marks look like flowers with burnt poker stems.
 I experimented with charcoal marks on the paper to indicate the fireplace but I'm not as keen on this. It's too busy and messy.

 It seemed only appropriate to burn the results.
The burnt paper makes some great shapes

I sponged on some red and yellow gouache 
and added red and yellow ink which makes it a bit brighter.
This is a scan over a black background. I don't think that it works as well. The black is too bold and pulls you into the holes in the page.

This lead me to look for other artists who use fire. I found these intricate patterns made by Donna Ruff. Kate McGwire is a sculptor who uses fire as part of her work such as in this book and this burnt map.
Steve Spazuk uses a mixture of fire and smoke to create very detailed but atmospheric pictures.
Ula Einstein has some fire drawings on paper velum and rice paper.

My next idea was to explore doing something in the area around my back door. It's a shared access way with the house next door and north facing so there's not much clutter. The house was built in 1899 and there are traces of past occupants, the horse shoe on the wall, painted over with modern white textured acrylic which has peeled off in places and been painted over with fresh white leaving islands of texture and seas of smoother wall.
I took some photos and made a montage.

Photography frustrates me so I went out with my sketchbook.

The only thing that I could think of doing was drawing with wool a tree like shape (it's approaching Christmas)
For me, at the moment, this feels like a dead end so I'm moving on.

My other place of significance is the crossroads by my house where they have just installed a bell shaped bollard which looks like it got lost on the way to the docks.

A visual mind map.

The binoculars idea appeals to me the most, the whole big brother, someone is watching you, concept. My idea is to stick a cutout onto the bollard. This will require me to pluck up some courage which I'm not sure that I have but here goes....

There is a lot of information about fly position on the net, I feel a bit like a criminal. I don't want my sticker to stay in place for very long, just enough to, hopefully, make a few people smile and to get some photos for you. It's either wallpaper paste or cornflour glue, both of which will dissolve in the rain. It's only a small piece of paper so it too should rot.


and a cutout stuck to my plan chest to see if it looks ok. The problem is that the bollard is not a flat surface to stick to but I'm hoping that because the image is small and an irregular shape it will be possible to hold it around the bollard. The other problem is that I don't want to spend lots of time applying it and I only get one chance to maintain the element of surprise which seems integral to the project. The flyposting websites talk of a feeling of adrenaline when the job is done but it's a part of the project which really doesn't appeal to me.

I did a test run on my bin using wallpaper paste.
 It's Christmas Day, not too many people around, it's now or never....
The photos aren't great quality because its getting dark and I was rushing. I need to go out tomorrow when the light is better. In hindsight it's too small, also maybe a bit low on the bollard, its not had time for the glue to dry so back out while it's still quiet....
 My sons preferred the look of it up here.

Better with a hat? I was in such a panic to take the photo that I didn't notice at first that the binoculars were falling off.
 As it's New Year I tried a party hat too. This time I straightened the binoculars before I too the photo.

It's too small and the marks aren't bold enough. I simplified the shapes and lines but not enough, a passer by needs to stop and examine it to get the message, most people aren't that observant and don't have enough time, especially at a busy junction. On the plus side, I do feel quite pleased with myself for actually going through with it.

The first piece drawing with the poker was in my view more successful.
The finished piece is, to me, more pleasing but also the methods I used to get there were more experimental. The binoculars is tight little drawing, I didn't learn very much from the execution of the drawing though I think that I gained a lot from the execution of the project.

Reflection on Assignment 4
It has taken me a lot longer than I expected to complete this module and much of that time has been spent thinking and researching because what I have been asked to do is so different from the sort of work that I have done before.

I really enjoyed looking for naturally occurring drawings, I can’t stop, it made me think differently about what a drawing is. Interacting with the environment was a lot harder. It gives you a much greater respect for land artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Cornelia Konrads. I generally lack confidence in my work and that is exacerbated by trying to create something in public, I don’t like to reveal anything until I have resolved it to my satisfaction, you can’t do that in a public space. It is good to be taken out of my (very small) comfort zone but difficult to allow ideas to develop, the temptation is to play it safe and that doesn’t lead to making an interesting or innovative piece of art.

What I have learnt is that the best ideas are often the simplest. They need to be well executed and clear, ambiguity and vagueness doesn’t work in environmental art, you don’t get very long to attract attention and engage the viewer. The rise in popularity of environmental art may in part be due to its accessibility, both physical (you don’t need to go into a gallery to see it) and academically (many of the ideas can be understood by someone who doesn’t consider themselves to be interested in art)

Because I chose to work in my own home I found Project 3, installation less challenging. I like the final piece with the cut-out mice and I would like to take this idea further, it allows me to engage with a wider audience without risking showing too much of myself, I want my art to speak for itself. I used the same techniques for my final assignment piece. They didn’t work as well as I would have liked because I couldn’t test the cut-outs on the bollard for size and positioning and I didn’t design them simply enough so they are hard to read. Nobody stopped me or challenged me when I was applying the paper to the bollard so I have no excuse for not developing it properly apart from my own cowardice.

I am conflicted between doing planned, controlled, safe work that I like (the cut-outs) and work that is experimental which I don’t always understand. The fire drawing has become something that I am visually pleased with and that grew out of messing around without any clear idea of what I wanted to make. Although it is innovative for me it stops short of having any meaning beyond fire burns paper and controlled fire can make a pretty picture if you add paint. Is it acceptable to retrospectively apply meaning? It could be about cleansing and catharsis, or destruction.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Study visit - Rauschenberg

Rauschenberg features big on this course so I felt I had to go and see the exhibition. I was busy last weekend when there was the OCA study visit but going alone gave me plenty of time to sit and ponder. From my earlier research I felt that Rauschenberg wasn't visually my cup of tea but it's often difficult to get a feel from the net. Whilst I see the point of the Retroactive II which is used extensively in the publicity material it irritates me because the image of Kennedy is so large and dominating and the woman in the top right hand corner isn't properly reflected in the mirror which is me deliberately missing the point and isn't a reasonable reaction.

On the recommendation of Red Squirel on the forum I watched the Artsnight documentary before I went which gave me a better view of Rauschenberg as a person although I'm not sure how much I should be allowing that to influence my interpretation of him as an artist.

I did like Blueprint with its ghost figures though I wondered how it was created. Multiple exposures? This is the first half of a print designed to exist in passing time could be relevant for the next part of the course but I don't see much information about it's contents.
Black painting using sheets of paint soaked newspaper. Some are whole sheets some are fragments. Were the fragments torn before application or peeled off? Was this early stage subtraction leading to the Erased De Kooning (which was rather unspectacular in real life, I think that the associated X-rays and examination, found elsewhere, are more interesting).
Why was Scatoli Personali considered so offensive? They seem very innocuous to me.
Automobile tyre print works because of it's size, it's big enough to defend it's own space.
Dirt Painting (for John Cage) is unexpectedly beautiful. I like the shape of the cracks and the subtle colour.
Charlene, like many of his combines, may have mellowed with the patina of age. I think that it looks better in a good photograph than in real life.

Without seeing the documentary I would have had no idea of the imagery of Monogram It doesn't speak to me, although the placing of the tennis ball behind the goat is amusing.
There are some interesting marks in Pantomime but I don't understand the relevance of the fans Yve-Alain Bois says"I find all the objects grafted on the late Combines, no matter how protruding, strangely inactive, and perhaps all the more so if they themselves are destined to move like the electric fans of Pantomime, 1961," (Coldbacon) I guess that if they were moving, drying the paint, they would seem more relevant.
The illustrations for Dante's Inferno are lovely. Delicate, subtle colours and interesting use of bolder dark lines at times. I'm not familiar with the story so I can't understand the references but I can see the influence of this work in modern illustrations. The traces of the rubbing to reveal the transfer give a drawn quality to the work.

Estate was my favourite painting in the exhibition. Because it's large and in portrait format it's difficult to appreciate online. 
It's quite amazing that Mud Muse was made to work and continues to work more than 40 years later.
(on my computer this video only works if you click on arrow at the bottom left NOT the big arrow in the middle of the screen!)
We have all seen the shapes of The Cardboards but overlooked them. His skill, and bravery, was to lift them out of the trash and onto the gallery wall where they are actually looked at. 
A drawing of the interesting middle bit of Untitled (Cardboard)

For me Rauschenberg's importance was in his willingness to try new things and experiment. I don't always like the "finished" works, they seem untidy and a bit slapdash, but they provided a starting point which other artists have moved forward. When the world encourages artists to find a sale and stick to it (e.g. Michael Craig Martin) it's good to see that it can be possible to work diversely and have success. It is fascinating to see how one person can prepare the ground for so many other people.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

The links supplied are from the National Museum of Australia and the Museum of Contemporary Art and I also found this short piece from the Khan Academy  Which has a link to show just how big Earths Creation is. An impressive piece of work for an elderly lady.

There is an apparent freedom to her work but she is working within the constraints of her cultural upbringing and training. It is fascinating to think that different people, separated across the world, can  come to the same conclusions in an artistic sense. She is Monet and Jackson Pollock but from an Aboriginal viewpoint. She painted what she saw either the micro view of Yam beans or roots or the mystical world of Aboriginal culture, translating body painting to canvas.

Aborigines can teach us about being present in our world, to appreciate what we see and what we've got.  We are products of our environment and we can either fight that or embrace it. This feeds directly into my parallel project which is about my surrounding environment but with my literal English education I see people and buildings rather than shapes and colour. I need to look again.

George Shaw and Ken Howard make landscapes that are rooted in Place, but both work figuratively. Lowry's work was almost reportage of his environment. Maggi Hamblings Wave series are slightly more abstract.

Are Kngwarreye's pictures paintings in that they are made from paint, or drawings in that they are formed from lines and marks rather than flat areas of colour? I think that they can sit in both camps, they are on the divide between the genres.

I found a bit more information here in the Independent's obituary and here where the writer speculates about a shared collective unconsciousness and wonders whether "progress" has moved us away from our soul. There are some helpful teachers notes about a past exhibition. This Australian Government web post gives a bit more information on the background culture which created Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

Is it wrong that I see traces of Kngwarreye's work Sacred Grasses in this photo of frosted English grass?