Before I go onto talking about new works for this year, I just wanted to reflect on last year, show you some of the artworks produced by the amazing children I worked with. Working in four diverse schools across Bristol provided me with an amazing experience. Reflecting back on the year I learnt so much and picked up so many skills. It cemented my motive to teach and I know that teaching art is where I want to be. I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone I worked with and the children I (hopefully!) inspired.
So what’s been keeping me so busy all this time? The reason it took me so long to update my blog was mostly due to how busy I am in my new job. I mentioned I had a few things up my sleeve for this year and this was one of the big ones! Relocating to Bristol in September I began this incredibly exciting job. I now teach primary school kids fun and engaging art lessons. I am an Art Specialist teacher, teaching alongside the curriculum throughout the academic year of 2016-17. Travelling to four different schools all over Bristol, can be quite a challenge- I have a lot of names to remember to say the least. I plan and independently lead what I hope are really creative lessons that the kids love. It’s a testing yet thoroughly enjoyable role- most of the time! But I do love it when a child comes over bursting with pride with what they have achieved that lesson. Or I see one of them in the corridor, they ask if they have art that afternoon- which they do, and they give me a huge smile and say YES! We’ve made some pretty cool things already, these are some of my favourites.
And then the biggest risk of all, probably the most exciting one, was the blue drip! Hoping to make the plinth and the figurine become more of a sculpture as one rather than two separate pieces I’ve continued the dripping process onto the plinth. Dunking the object into the paint at first, then pouring paint directly onto the object from above it flows onto the plinth and creates this beautiful fold upon the figurine. The paint is allowed to pour freely which creates a pool on the floor. This was extremely successful! People walking past were mesmerised by the process- I only hope tomorrow the paint hasn’t cracked as it’s dried!
This week has been a fantastic week for lectures! And for my very last lecture I was honoured to hear the wonderfully humble Richard Wentworth talk about his life as an artist. Richard Wentworth is sort of like Tom Jones is in the music industry to art. He constantly named dropped as these were his friends. He taught Damien Hirst and many more of the Young British Artist’s. And in a conversation with my friend he mentioned going to David’s party and the David he was referring to was David Hockney! Incredible. The talk he gave was extremely wise- he said he’s never seen himself as clever but maybe he’s smart. Here are some of the lovely insightful words he spoke:
- Life is long and weird.
- My son is 34 and that’s a piece of space that belongs to someone else.
- The sixties weren’t like people said- but it was nice, it seemed timeless then. It was very cold.
- Children live in the crotch zone.
- English pop art desired America.
- I’m interested in why things look like they look, what things mean, what we take for granted.
- Artist’s see that the world is sad before most people do.
- In London (where he has lived for the last 60 years) everything is someone’s decision. Nothing is natural. We make the world the way it is.
- I am the past- at the edge of a culture.
He really was insightful, here’s an interesting quote I found from him answering the question; What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? “Have an interesting life.” Lots of people have said that to me, and I think it’s the most important thing to know when you’re young. If your life is completely boring, and you’ve got a nice swimming pool, then I don’t see the point.
What seems like ages ago now I started wallpapering to create a setting within the studio that represented a home like environment. I wanted to create a similar set up like last year with the magnolia piece I began with then. This time I planned to have the image of before next to space. I began the process of building a new set up or “setting” as I have started calling them. That’s when I began the wallpapering mission! I got a bit side-tracked by my grandmas ornaments during this process but at the moment I’m a bit confused with what it is that I really want to make; so I decided to return to this idea and try and complete it rather than leave it half way through- as I tend to do. So at the back of my mind I’d been thinking about this setting and had come to the conclusion that I wanted it to take the form of a hallway- including coat hook, with coats, maybe a table and lamp, which I then scrapped to just a picture at the side of the coats. Yesterday I put the coat hooks up and asked to borrow a few friends coats- and well-ahh the hallway was made.
However it didn’t really have that effect. It was still just a wallpapered board, with coats, within a studio environment. I think that’s the hardest thing within my practice- replicating reality. It’s very hard. You can only really do that with a photograph. My mum made a good point though; that the photograph does do what it says on the tin. It does capture that moment; but does it actually say too much? It’s the art work supposed to question that reality. Creating this setting isn’t what I want to do. A setting is too much to replicate. Using forgotten objects provokes the memories of a time gone by without the need for a whole setting?
Was given this fantastic reference yesterday by Andy; one of the lovely technicians at uni. I checked out the artist last night and was amazed by the work. I also realised that I had actually seen one of his works at the Laing Gallery when I went up to Newcastle a couple of years ago. Barnaby works with ceramics and porcelain figures creating a narrative and addressing contemporary life within that narrative. These works are a great reference to my current works! I’ve picked a few favourite works to show above, I think have a lot of relevance to my work currently, there’s a lot more to look at on his website: http://www.barnabybarford.co.uk/image_gallery/galleries
In the previous post I mentioned that my next step was to begin wallpapering the plinth, which is what I started today! Before I set to work on the wallpapering though I thought I would experiment with magnolia paint again! Since the In Every Dwelling piece I’ve really felt the need to re-create the notion of glossing over a time gone by, and erasing the past with a layer of magnolia paint. I really enjoy the work I produce in this way! I began with the task of painting over the blue plinth changing it to magnolia. Placing the ornament, as it was, just on top of the magnolia plinth I felt just wasn’t enough. So I began to paint the ornament magnolia too, then furthering this painting method to just dunking it into the paint pot! I loved it! The way it dripped with paint and the way in which you could almost make out the face but not quite. The dunking process meant the bottom half of the ornament wasn’t covered completely with the paint, just the dripping. It wasn’t intentional, I had originally wanted to dunk the whole figure but seeing it this way there was something I liked about seeing some of the previous form; emphasized a time gone by!
Trying to get back into it all again today, which is all I seem to do at the moment! I really did enjoy everything arty way back in 1st year. I’ve just been reading through my old note books. I just need to do more, make more, even if it’s rubbish! I also found this artist Alex Lowery who paints “flattened spaces, simplified forms.” Windowless houses basically. I really like these images! They relate to the piece I did in 1st year “Private Viewing” the painting I placed along side the piece I realise is a bit like Rachel Whiteread- a house you can’t see into. I was really concerned with this idea of privacy then. Considering the images of our homes, how they become available on the internet, for all to see, when our house is up for sale.
Super keen art day yesterday! Went to two gallery openings! Saw the new show at the Castle and went to the opening night at the Nottingham Contemporary. Geoffrey Farmer’s; Let’s Make the Water Turn Black was a fantastic show, some really great lighting/sound and I saw some great use of domestic objects! You really got immersed into the space. I also managed to get a few sneaky photos at the Castle of a few of my favourite pieces there.
I particularly liked Karen Fraser’s work. She’d photographed three ornamental figures, which from the titles- Charity Shop Decollation No.1, 2 and 3; I can presume she collected from charity shops. I was really intrigued by the way she chose to document these works; firstly her process of beheading the figures; choosing only the head to photograph and secondly her choice to photograph the objects and not show them in there original state. Something I could perhaps consider; photographing my objects/empty spaces as a way of documenting and presenting? I was also really excited about this piece because recently my grandma has decided to move house which means many of her unwanted ornaments will we coming my way! It’s funny how she kept them all this time but she no longer wants them?
Other artists whose work I liked were Bob Robinson and Chloe Ashley. I liked the sculptural miss-match of Robinson’s objects; something I hope to do using furniture items! I liked the subject matter, seemingly of the domestic which Ashley portrayed in her photography, I particular enjoyed the way in which she presented the photograph. The doubled up paper protruded the image into something much more than the original image.