Paired Crits

June 21 – with Clare Parfree Clare and I had our paired crit tonight. I found it really useful and she has given me some really useful links to help me with my gap in theory. Clare suggested I look at Kristeva on the subject of abjection, which (I agree) is very prevalent in my “Shallow Graves” work – (carnivorous) plants with moralistic attachments. Obviously Kristeva is the ‘academic’ version of the Disgust book I’ve been reading That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion which seems to have been reworked here. Her thinking ties in well with Affluenza and Clare suggested that consumerism and ‘the abject’ was a really interesting area to be investigating. We also talked about ‘Othering’ which is another element that has occurs with disgust. Things being different to ourselves. Most of the reason we feel disgust (in a very simplistic way) is that we are reminded that we are (ourselves) animals, with animal urges and qualities – and also that we are mortal. We dislike anything that reminds us of animalistic qualities or differs from ourselves. We like to position ourselves away from animals – regarding them as ‘others’. Clare remembered a quote from Jane Eyre which speaks of animalism in a human form too. “In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing; and a quantity of dark grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face” (327-8). Clare als suggested I might be interested in Ana Mendieta as she did a lot of work with plants/landscape and the body. On further investigation she looks really interesting and I should look at her further later on. Google images for Ana Mendieta here Wikipedia for Ana Mendieta here We talked about the ‘stain’ that I want to put on my armchair and wondered if I should make it gooey and if we could think of anything I could use. I posited honey (influenced by Joan Livingstone’s work SOMA) but wondered if it would go mouldy. Perhaps I should look at resin – something that won’t go off – at least for now. If it were to be done as an installation later on, then perhaps I would do that! ____________________________________________________________________________________

August 21 – with Alexa Cox Alexa and I had our paired crit (from July) tonight – which was postponed at my request. I’ve taken some time out of the course recently and it was pretty hard to get my head back into thinking about the MA. I was blow away by the progression in Alexa’s work. She has been exploring techniques with glazes and her work just looks amazing. Whilst I have always liked Alexa’s work, I am an intense, saturated colour kind of girl – and Alexa’s work always looked a little too ethereal for me. I would say ‘without substance’ but that is not true, in any form – but I think maybe they remind me of an unformed idea or fleeting memory that you can’t quite grasp any hold on – and therefore I can’t really read into them. By placing layer on layer of her normal thin colours however, all the images now have substance. They retain the same delicacy as before, but now have substantial substance and depth in both colour and intrigue. Some of the canvases she showed me, I was unable to take my eyes off. I was locked into the image in ways I have not been before. This makes them both darker in colour and in meaning and I was transfixed. I have often heard Alexa talk about her love of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and, as it is quite short, I decided to read it to see the sorts of things other people obtain inspiration from. I felt unable to offer an advice or suggestions to Alexa at this time as her work has changed so dramatically in recent weeks. In my own practice I find it is important to finish that development process in my own head before being able to take on further input from others. I haven’t done too much practical work recently – but a lot of reading, so there wasn’t too much to talk about that she hadn’t seen before. However, we both felt it would be good to catch up again soon as we both value feedback and discussion with each other. When talking about my armchair, Alexa felt it looked like a helium balloon. This was good as I said I had been discussing kitsch with Emma and we had looked at Jeff Koons as an artist I should continue to look into deeper. Alexa suggested that the ‘creeping’ marks of the felt were very effective and did convey a feeling of ‘constriction’ and ‘envelopment’. We pondered whether the work was still too pretty or cute. But I am sort of happy with it being kitsch and being desirable but disgusting at the same time. She asked me how I had decided on the form, and I said I had looked at the shape ofa sundew and tried to translate that into an armchair hybrid – working on shape until I found something that looked ‘overinflated’ and therefore cute (animators use tricks such as large eyes and ears to make things look cute). We talked about the flipside of pristine balloons – of sagging withered balloons that could perhaps be reproduced and cast with latex etc. We also talked about collections/multiples of stuff – in relation to the ‘hoarding flytrap’ I wanted to make. Overflowing stuf that becomes crowding and claustrophobic. Alexa suggested a book ‘Crowds of Power’ bu Canetti which she often refers to. Hoarding is collecting and amassing to the extreme. We talked about invading, choking, crowding plants – such as Ivy, Bindweed etc. Look pretty, but are very destructuve. Seaweed and the way it touches you in an unseen, delicate but potentially malicious way – is it weed is it a stinger? Silkweeds in ponds. Alexa suggested looking at Kiki Smith And Antony Gormley – who is already on my radar and we talked about the talk I attended and how titling was important and how I felt I needed to make a ‘collective’ of pieces. This moved on to us talking about swarms, collectives, things squashed into spaces, things that are tied or contained. Items that are stuffed to bursting. Plagues… We talked about Rachel Whiteread and her use of negative spaces and absence of colour. The space has become the object and has therefore become cluttered. Gormley also likes to work with negative spaces (figures covered by the sea) and unseen spaces containing (or not containing – Land, Sea, Air) something – as described in a previous post. Alexa also suggested I look at Helga Steppan (who makes collections in the colour spectrum) and Anya Gallaccio (who also makes collective work). I talked about the idea I had to photograph everything that was attached to a wall in my house. Alexa suggested I should document the insides of drawers and cupboards and other people’s houses. Investigate groupings and colours in this way would be quick – as the felting is quite laborious (and probably too lengthy) for some things on the course. With regards to colour I talked about the 100 Pantone postcards I had bought recently. And the (very kitsch) blackboard matryoshka dolls I had bought with the intention to write on daily. Nether have materialised as work just yet, but I think they will be a really good way to snapshot my mood each day. I do want to continue with mood and depression as themes in my work, without having to deeply investigate my own. I recognise there is much general malaise and ennui in people’s lives and I like the idea of investigating the causes of these further. _________________________________________________________________________________

September 24 – with Jennifer Mawby Jennifer and I had our paired crit tonight. Jennifer has been revisiting some earlier work – which she does frequently – to go back to reevaluate and see where common paths and ideas and her journey of ideas is progressing. Jennifer felt that my work was best when I’ve disordered things with materials. She particularly liked the collar I had made in the past and felt that it was successful because of the physicality of the piece and the discomfort and potential for physical pain. It might be an idea to revisit the depression and physical item/effect further on my journey. Jennifer felt that the chair wasn’t as strong as the collar. Perhaps this is because it is unfinished, or because it doesn’t appear to tally with the themes of the collar as a continuation. In its present form, there is no element of pain – as I have yet to put the metal into the piece. But it is possible that this will not be conveyed even with the metal and it is something I should be aware of. Jennifer wondered why I had discarded ceramics after my BA 20+ years ago. I certainly recognise this is where I get my love of an intimacy with the material from, and why it needs to be an intricate and involving process. And probably this is why I perceive something to have value when it takes a long time to create (as ceramics is very labour-intensive). She wondered whether I should start to incorporate ceramics into my work. Perhaps this would make the work more distinctive and would make decisions easier to make in terms of executing an idea and provide a more coherent body of work that is recognisable. Textiles and ceramics? At present I can see there is a consistency with textiles and metal. The chair is due to have metal included – so perhaps this is something I should continue with to create a more unique style. My work needs to be distinctive and consistent and about me – what speaks to me. Taking the textile and metal parameters and working within them gives work a specific style and consistency. It also helps to make it more interesting. Jennifer liked my previous ideas about restrictive garments that had a metaphorical link to psychological struggles. Often my work is too much like a simile and not a metaphor – concentrate on bringing work more towards the metaphorical. Keep enough ‘mystique’ and ‘space’ around the item to allow for viewer interpretation. Similes often allow only one way or a narrow way of reading the piece – so it is important to keep as much openness as possible. Maybe collect found items that can be woven into the item. Perhaps make socks that are part ceramic and part textile. Create a garment that says what it needs to say. Perhaps, by avoiding ceramics (and it’s time-critical, labour-intensive processes) I am missing out on a whole area that would make my work special. Dismiss nothing. Consider everything. Be single-minded about what I am doing if I believe it to be the right path of exploration. Accept that some pieces on the WRONG path need to be made to travel onto the RIGHT path. Reflection and revisiting work seems to be crucial to creating a coherent body of work for Jennifer and this is something I will try to apply to my own work. Yesterday I began painting my garage interior white. I do not intend to use this space for a studio as such, but more as a place for reflection. Where I can hang and leave work when it is finished, to photograph, to reflect over. It will be possible to paint in here if I wish to use large canvases. I know that if I had a studio away from my house, that I rented, I would not use it. I like to work in my house with my creature comforts around me. Here I feel most creative – where everything I might need is at my fingertips. It is my house and my space and I will use it as I see fit – and at present my kitchen and other appropriate areas of the house fufil my needs. But the use of a more empty space for viewing my work is something I currently lack and I am excited to see how this influences my work and reflection. My garage is for my car and is not suitable for use as a full-time studio, but as an extra option – a possibility to make large paintings or larger sculptures – and certainly as a white cube place for me to reflect, it will be ideal.


October 23 – with Sarah Lundy Sarah and I had our paired crit tonight.

We began talking about my iPad drawings and the photographs of mess and clutter. Sarah said these photographs created as sense of claustrophobia (which I was delighted at, as this is what I was intending. She said the viewpoint created a suffocating proximity – in that there is usually space between you and the clutter. Being that close to it is very confrontational. Mess/clutter is usually something that is semi-dormant, that is tucked out of the way. But I have taken this mess and made it clean and clinical and spacious and as though I am tidying up with lines. Oddly, with clutter and mess,  having things that belong with one another (tins in a mess, a bowl with stuff in) gives them an order, even though they are in disorder. Sarah said that the drawing I had made of the plant stem tied up (my favourite one) reminded her of Japanese Sumi-e ink wash paintings. We discussed my intention to work over the same photograph time and again, adding different layers and and overlaying different drawings etc as experiments and agreed it was a good plan.

Sarah was interested in the madness quotes I had sewn on the painted felt and fabric. She was interested how the poets’ quotes have visual metaphors for mental illness and it is like they are painting pictures with their words. She particularly liked the photograph of the reverse of one of the pieces, where the text is therefore reversed (back to front) and it is red thread on grey felt. That this was a messy distortion and that things are better when they don’t quite resemble what they should do and are too hard to read. The red thread on the grey background also confuses they eye and makes the words jump about a bit.

Sarah suggested I look at Pierre Bismuth – whom she had seen give a talk. He appears to have obliterated the faces of famous actors/actresses by scribbling over them, but Sarah explained that he draws over the face whilst the film is moving (not a still – although it seems to be presented that way at the end) and picks a point on the face that he follows with the pen. This then makes it a trace of movement, rather than obliteration. She also suggested I look at ‘In Absentia’ by the Quay Brothers – at around 10 mins in.

We talked about what to do with the colour swatches once my dairy is complete. She suggested that perhaps the colours could be represented proportionally – i.e. how important or prevalent they were during the day. These could be represented sculpturally too. (perhaps in shapes that convey the emotion of the colour on that day).

I was fascinated by Sarah’s work with the eggs. I loved the pattern of the ink that had been run over the top of the egg – I thought it had been injected into the egg, but this is perhaps another area Sarah could explore. We also talked about the degradation of the egg (or lack of it) and the fantastic patterns it made as it solidified and ‘glazed’ – something it is used for in cooking. I wondered what would happen if Sarah tried to accelerate this process with a hairdrier or something. What would happen if you tried to comb it? Applying feminine ‘beautification’ processes to an egg – that has such messages of innocence and potential. Perhaps I was influenced by the womb and ovaries that she created from a thong and a pair of eggs – such a simple arrangement that said so much about being a woman. I talked (a lot) about comfortable knickers vs thongs and that there was a ‘societal’ pressure to wear such things – to really ‘be’ a woman – and that pressure begins at a time when puberty kicks in (harking back to the thong and eggs). I loved this piece, I thought it was laden with messages on so many levels that would speak to many women in different ways about both fertility and femininity. I reminded Sarah that she obviously had an obsession with eggs, as I remembered one of her earliest blog posts was a pyramid of eggs on a toilet seat. We also spoke about Antony Gormley’s Land Sea and Air – where lead cases where made: one containing  stone, one water and one nothing… had similarities to eggs. You could boil one, leave one raw and blow out the contents of another and from the outside you would not be able to tell which one was which.


November 11- Paired crit with Jo.

Jo and I had our paired crit today. In some ways it was rather late on in the process before hand in for us to be able to act on much we discussed. So instead we decided to reflect on the work we had produced and talk about where we might take our work next as well as talking a little about how we had been progressing with research and sharing tips about Kindle books and referencing them.

Jo felt it was good that my colour diaries were not solely about emotion – but were about noticing everyday things. Acknowledging that emotion may influence the colours chosen, they are not the reason for it.

I was enamored by Jo’s sketches of her daughter. The fluidity of the lines suggest the flux of change that is going on within the adolescent subject. Some of the sketches – from interesting lower angles – suggest growth and development of the subject’s identity as well as a change in the dominance and power in their relationship. We talked about possibly using the images Jo has already taken to continue to work on. Perhaps layering them with other images or marks. If the photography continues, it should be further developed in the shower room as before, perhaps projecting colours or images onto her muse to reveal messages about identity and psyche. Perhaps some of the interesting angles of the photographs could be transferred to the canvas to create a tense claustrophobic piece full of the angst her daughter feels at this time of her life.

We talked about how I progress my colour diaries and simplification abstracts. See where they take me. Perhaps the palettes could then be chosen around a theme? However, this may make them too aesthetically pleasing and Jo felt it was right that there should be some dischords present. Perhaps try grouping coloured geometric (3d) shapes together – perhaps their shape could be influenced by synaesthesia?

Jo suggested I look at James Fisher and how he’s interpreted someone else’s delirium visually.

This page ‘I Came Here A Stranger, As A Stranger I Depart’ notes his interpretation of combining two pieces of writing to develop a body of work.

We both felt that my sculptural (work-intensive) pieces have generally been ignored (not just by me) during this module and have not progressed as I had intended – which is a disappointment. Perhaps I will be able to return to them at a later date.


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