So here it goes again! For the third and final time it’s the start of the new term. As usual, I’ve already had a small breakdown. Third year is bringing with it all that I expected- stress and a lot of pressure. If I’m honest, I’ve been feeling a little bit deflated by the whole thing. As much I know I am passionate about my interest in the home. Making work isn’t as fun as it always was- there is a lot more pressure now. I just have to get over that though and get making and enjoying the last bit of my degree! Easier said than done I know.

So after my summer of reading; lots of reading, where I am I with my practice now? Before I started writing my statement I felt really confident in knowing where I was with it all but when it came down to writing it in just 500 words what my intentions were for the next half of the year, it was really difficult! Here’s what I wrote:

I have a clear understanding that my practice revolves around the home. I am aware that the passion for my practice derives from the study of the domestic; the human habitat. Like theorists George Perec and Gaston Bachelard I acknowledge the privacy and comfort the space entitles us. More recently I’m considering the home as a fragile space that cannot be untouched by time. I’m beginning to see the house very much as an object of time. Exploring histories of homes and considering the layering of lives that have formed there. My work seems to be focusing towards the time when a house lays empty; void of human presence.  I’m interested in the movement of one home to the next. The gap in between when the house stands empty.
 A house seems to appear empty when it goes up for sale. When a house is for sale it becomes just that; a sale. It is no longer our private space. It becomes a public space. Images become available on the internet. However these images again lack human life. Their belongings are there, but the photos don’t show any people. I’m really interested as to why these images don’t include the people. Likewise in show rooms and adverts in home magazines, again people-less. Artist’s like Michael Raedecker and George Shaw are well known for their ability to create human presence without including any figures in their paintings. It’s this notion I want to portray within my practice. Exploring this further I’m applying to gain some work experience as an estate agent. I’m unsure of how work will progress; I intend to explore in 2D the collaging of images from newspapers/magazines and then allow work to accumulate through documentation of working at the estate agents.
 When one moves into a house we never consider the previous occupants; we just focus on making the place our own. Like artist Lisa Selby, it’s interesting to me to think about the choices we make in the possessions we chose to take with us and the ones we leave behind. Working with found objects like Selby is a way in which I can see my practice developing. I hope to manipulate found objects, be it by deconstructing furniture items and recreating them into something new or, stemming from a previous piece, breaking down these objects- sanding them down, to reveal the bare underneath, therefore removing the remissness of human touch. As a starting point I may well find it useful to consider the making process I experimented with in this talked of earlier piece- covering found objects in a thick layer of magnolia paint- again a process that removes the remissness of a time gone by.
 Another artist whose work really intrigued me at the Venice Biennale is Bill Culbert. Using found objects from the home he completely throws them out of context when he cuts through them with huge bars of industrial lighting. There is something about Culbert’s work that I feel is crucial to where I want my making process to progress. It could be his use of lighting? Lighting is essential within a home. From an experience I had with an abandoned cottage over summer I saw the affect lighting has. I recalled- without lights, without objects, the house became eerie; it didn’t possess any qualities of home.

 So there it is. There is a lot there, maybe too much. There is a lot going on in my head, which is good but need to figure out, probably through making, what I’m really getting at. I’m excited to get some work experience in the estate agents and see where that takes me. I really hope I like it! It’s career option number one at the moment.

There’s also a few other notes than didn’t quite make it into the statement so here’s a little bit about descriptive sounds that I’ve been thinking about. It starts with an amazing quote from George Perec- the master philosopher of home.

“I would like there to exist places that are stable, unmoving, intangible, untouched and almost untouchable, unchanging, deep rooted” George Perec. These spaces don’t exist. “spaces are fragile: time is going to wear them away,”
 When you leave a home it’s going to change, it only stays the same in your memories; something which Bachelard considers when he recalls his childhood home. We can all probably recall our childhood home; however it’s only in this memory that that room still exists. Those furnishings, wall coverings have all gone. I began to think of description when considering this. During a sound workshop way back in 1st year I recorded voice clips of peers describing their room back in their family home. I really like these descriptions. I feel my practice could be greatly influenced by these recordings. The use of description could be played out into a blank setting of a room perhaps. This would allow the listener to create their own image of the rooms described. Work relating to this would be Susan Hiller’s piece Witness, a piece I really enjoyed at Tate Britain back in 2011. 

Yelena Popova

I had the privilege to spend this Monday just gone enjoying a painting workshop put on by Yelena Popova.  Before the workshop we had been told to prepare 3 images to show the group-

An image of your favourite painting before 20th century.

An image of your favourite painting after 20th century

An image of your own painting.

I found it quite a challenge to select each one; particularly the pre 20th century painting. On a course like mine, where art history is spoke little about, it was nice to think about it within my practice. I began thinking about all the great painters; Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet etc… Then William Turner sprang to mind! I have always admired his ability to create such incredible skies. I had a tab open with Gerhard Richter’s work up and I noticed how similar Turner’s work; his painting style, compares with Richter’s contemporary style.  It wasn’t a Richter painting I chose for my favourite 20th century image, although he came close, it was my all time favourite: George Shaw. I have always admired his skill and his ability to paint the human presence without using any figures in the painting. The one I chose of my own was the painting I feel has spurred my painting style to date. I remember my tutor at foundation first dripping the paint over my precious and carefully detailed image. I was mortified. I think that was one of the most important influences in my painting now!

At the workshop itself it was exciting to be discussing art history alongside contemporary. It allowed me to further ideas I’d been having regarding the reason why we paint when other methods can be carried out so much easier. We discussed the process of making paint, how that has developed throughout history. What paint is more suitable. When discussing the two images we brought in of our favourite paintings, we were asked to create a narrative between the two. It was interesting that Yelena pointed out that both my artist’s are considered great painters of British landscape. That obvious link hadn’t even crossed my mind. They represent their time. I had concerned myself with the two painters painting unpeopled images with the hint of their presence. I obviously enjoy great British landscape painters!

An important thing I took with me from the morning of the workshop was Yelena’s way in which she thought we should think about a painting. Giving us these questions to ask:

  • Year it was made?
  • Materials?
  • Size?
  • Who is it for?
  • Subject Matter?
  • Where it’s been installed?
  • Artist’s intention?
  • What is happening at that time when it was made?

It was interesting to think about these things. Especially what was happening when the work is made. It can have a huge impact in what the artist produces. Shaw and Turner are representing the time they live in.

We later began talking about Hybrids (A thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture.) Yelena explained to us how she felt hybrids could be used in contemporary art by repainting old masters, like artists before us have, such as Picasso after Monet and stain glass painters Gilbert and George. An artist I was really interested in was Sigrid Holmwood. She paints traditional images but transforms them into contemporary images by using florescent colours! This is a really interesting way of working! I was also reminded of Hockney’s work I saw at the Guggenheim. His work looking at classic religious painting and transforming that into contemporary painting.

In the afternoon we were able to visit Yelena Popova’s studio space! It was amazing! Such a huge space to work in, so organised and reflected the artist herself so well. We saw her minimalistic paintings, whereby she uses diluted paints onto linen canvas. She explained that the linen provided a such nicer surface to work on in her opinion. Some things I noted down in the space: “Most organised artist I’ve ever seen,” “I’ve got this board.. That’s not a good way to work” and “It’s better to do 50 bad drawings instead of 50 bad paintings.” Yelena was very keen to draw before painting. In her minimalist paintings drawing is an important process. However when we began to draw, in preparation for a hybrid we wanted to produce, I found it a strange process for me to start with a drawing. It had been a long time since I drew a detailed image without just slapping the paint on. At the time I began to draw an image on my tea/dinner; relating to the ideas I’d been having earlier. I thought I would use the time to draw that. It turns out it’s quite a long process to draw pasta! I compared my hybrid to still life images of fruit bowls.


Pyschogeography and Urban Emptiness

I’ve had such an inspiring day! I’ve been on a road trip to Walsall and Birmingham, visiting THE NEW ART GALLERY,Walsall. A fantastic art space, exhibiting a show I couldn’t wait to see called THERE IS A PLACE… It definitely lived up to my expectations! If not more. I gasped as I walked in and saw two huge canvases of George Shaw’s. I’m beginning to be his number one fan. I adore his work. I love how down to earth he is about it too. Every piece of work in the exhibition complemented one another. I fell in love with Laura Oldfield Ford and Graham Chorlton’s work. I loved the way Oldfield Ford used text and quirky font in her pieces, especially her use of dates. They reminded me of diary entries. I enjoyed that her work seemed less precious due to its frayed edges of the cartridge paper she used. What I liked about Chorlton’s work was his painting style. He uses acrylic, washed down and dripped down the canvas in areas; a paint style I have been missing and need to get back into!

I’ve had so many ideas today and felt confident about my practice and what I want to do. Create a human presence without the figures, nostalgia, memories, places that have importance to me, use diary entries, and take film photographs, collage, and get painting!

One last quote from George Shaw: “I paint the paintings of all the times and all the thoughts I lack the language to describe.”

Turner Prize

Upset George Shaw didn’t win the Turner Prize! It would have been fantastic if a painter won this year. Especially one that has influenced my work so much over the last year. He’s the winner in my eyes and I’m so looking forward to see his work at the Baltic next week along with the other artists nominated for the prize! Lets see if the winner, Martin Boyce, can wow me with his work.