Setting up the Setting

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?

D.I.Y Wallpapering

Onto the next mission today! I posted in an earlier blog post my future plan of action;  “I feel my next step after the table might be to try and create a similar set up like last year. Create the piece- take photos, then cover again in magnolia. BUT have the image of BEFORE next to space.” So today I began the process of building a new set up or “setting” as I have started calling them (Lee Kit, an artist from the Venice Biennale, describes his installations this way.)

So my first ever attempt at wallpapering today, without my Grandma Jean, who after today’s experience I have to say is the master of wallpapering! It wasn’t bad for a first attempt- but it you could tell I was pretty amateur. There was a fair few bumps, which all came from me struggling with the pattern matching up! However on the whole I’m pretty impressed with it and had fun doing it! Was pleased to finally get wallpapering in the studio. Might have to do more in the future. Get some more practice!

I’m excited to get creating set-ups/settings now! I’ve got the backdrop, now I just need to add the objects. I’ve thought about one setting, a hallway with coats, a table and lamp combo, plus a couple of pictures/photos maybe? Then takes photographs of the setting. Keep these photos then go over the whole set up in a thick layer of magnolia paint. There is a possibility of filming the process of me painting over the setting. I want to show the magnolia piece alongside the original photograph or film. If the magnolia paint isn’t so successful I might want to try stripping back the scene, taking away the majority of the objects leaving the holes in the walls of photo frames and scrapping away the wallpaper? See how that looks compared to the magnolia piece.

100th Blog Post!

I wish I had something really special to post about on my 100th blog post, I don’t have anything majorly special unfortunately! But got to crack on with the Blogging!  Would like to thank everyone who takes the time to read my crazy thoughts and my constant obsession with the home. Thank you!

So on Thursday actually got myself back in the studio! It was really good to get making again! Just trying a few things out and playing with a few ideas. I first decided to re-work a cast I made way back in 1st year, it’s a silicone mould used to make a  plaster cast of a miniature house. I started playing around with the cast, chipping away at it. This chipping away meant a build up of plaster excess began to surround the house. This reminded me of Lara Almarcegui’s piece from the Venice Biennale. It really dealt with this idea of the fragility of our homes. The way the front steps just fell off like that. It also reminded of some photos I took the other day similar to Almarcegui’s work. The rumble, the fragility, “the past forever expunged from the present”. What I also like about making this piece was the making of the material- plaster. Got a real satisfaction creating the right consistency, it also has a massive relevance personally- as my dad is a plasterer. It’s a real important part when building a home. I think there might be something special here with my use of plaster. Rachel Whiteread is also a massive lover of the material too! Also wanted to mention (photo below) Matta Clark, an artist I found recently. Another great reference here.

Venice Biennale- Art Eurovision

So the Venice Biennale! I had the great pleasure of visiting the beautiful island of Venice a few weeks ago and with everything going on at uni I still haven’t had the time to write about it! Not good enough really when I literally could not not write it. The amount of art work I saw there was insane! It really got me straight back into the world of contemporary art. During two fully packed days we explored both main sites at the Giardini and the Arsenale. The sites were huge, with two main galleries and then each country having their own pavilion gallery space on site. From around the world each country was represented by their chosen artist- hence why I’m coining the term Art Eurovision. I love Eurovision so it’s not an insult from me. I just felt whilst walking around each pavilion, I was seeing artist’s work representing their country, so it felt a bit like Eurovision but for art works. I must have seen thousands of pieces by some incredible artists. It was an exhausting few days but well worth it.

So who won Art Eurovision for me? Has to be Bill Culbert. He was representing New Zealand with his exhibition Front Door Out Back. I loved this exhibition. His work with found furniture objects really inspired me. 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 was just something I really liked about the impact these objects had on me when seeing them reinvented using these lights. I really enjoyed seeing his works outside in the space, again putting those wardrobes out of context further. He seemed to be playing on the inside/outside theme referring to the title of the exhibition.

Lee Kit was another artist’s work which intrigued me. His work seemed definitely to focus on the domestic. He also played on this inside/outside notion. Watching the video explaining his work I noted down that he liked to call his installations –“settings” a term I might want to use. Jessica Jackson Hutchins again using furniture items- she had covered over them with paint they kind of looked like huge spillages onto the objects. I noted down from the caption next to her works- “often pulled from her home, they are marked by years of use.” And also- “humanity’s grandest gestures and noblest thoughts may linger, in modest form, in its living rooms.” Love these statements!

Robert Gober’s Dollhouse 4 is something I usually would really enjoy. But seeing the dolls house made me realise that it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t reaching far enough in what he was trying to say- he was touching on similar things that I’m referring to; “a blank screen onto which the viewer can project her (interest use of her here) own ghastly memories.” It just wasn’t enough though. This is something I felt I could say in a much better way. I had a similar feeling with Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser miniature houses. When I walked in the room I thought; yes, brilliant I will love this, but as much as I enjoyed the formation of the multitude of houses, again it wasn’t enough. It was also a disappointment to me to read that in fact the artists themselves didn’t make the minitures; they were a collection from a man named Peter Fritz.

I was very excited to see the name Simryn Gill when I arrived at the Australia Pavilion. I was unaware beforehand that Gill was Australian but in the past I have seen and loved her piece Dalam, 2001. I hadn’t known much about the artist before my visit here but talking to one of the gallery assistants I learnt that she in fact lived in Malaysia before marrying and Australian and therefore becoming an Australian citizen for the past 30 or so years. Gill’s work is very much about transition. It’s really interesting to me considering I’ve moved to Australia myself and this piece- Here Art Grows on Tree, gill has taken little bits of all the books shown on display in the exhibition to create a vast wall of what look like little leaves or insects. All the books she used had some relevance to transition and/or movement. Really interesting!

In the Spanish Pavilion was the work of Lara Almarcegui. There was a real awe in her work for me. Walking into the space I was greeted with huge mounds of broken materials. Seeing the mass amount of raw material, piled up in ruins like that really broke down the fragility of our treasured spaces for me. It broke down the house to just its material qualities. Almarcegui uses the terms urban decay, abandoned spaces and structures in the process of transformation to describe her work.

And lastly I want to just mention the pleasant surprise of finding the Portugal Pavilion outside, in a boat, by the sea! I loved this! And even better inside was a mass of blue textile material decorated with magical lighting so you felt like you were under the sea!


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.