Totterdown Arts Trail

There is one thing I managed to squeeze in in-between teaching. In November I got involved in an event called the Totterdown Arts Trail. The weekend of the 19th/20th, me and my auntie-in-law opened up our home to the people of Totterdown and showcased our art work! What a feeling it was to open up our home like that and have people wander in and admire our artwork! I’d chose to exhibit in the hallway of our house, setting up The Great British Caravan along one wall and placing two older paintings (Two Up, Two Down and The Outhouse) on the others. As visitors came in and out they could also take a look at my cards just below the mirror. We had plenty of visitors and lots of kind words. It was lovely to speak to new people and hear their views of my work. It’s the first time I’ve put myself out there like that. I’ve had exhibitions before, but usually the work is left and you don’t hear the opinions of the people who see it. I wasn’t expecting to sell. I was proud to be showcasing myself in Bristol, proud that I had professional cards with my name and artwork on, (cards that had envelopes and cellophane wrap!) and after selling a few of those I was very happy.

However in the very last hour of the two day event, interest started to grow in my paintings! A lady walked in asking ‘where’s the lady who paints the caravans?’ I’d never been described as that before, word was spreading! She loved my paintings. She was about to buy a few cards, but I thought what the hell, I’ll ask her how much she’d be willing to pay. She ended up getting herself a bargain, she was so happy- saying she’d put it in her kitchen. I suppose it was good karma because minutes later another lady came in enquiring about the caravan painting with the E.U flag- and she was happy to pay full price! What a feeling! Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, a lady who I’d spoke to earlier came back wanting to buy one of my older paintings- Two Up, Two Down. She said ‘it was the most striking thing she’d seen on the whole arts trail!’ What a compliment! She paid full price and took it home to put somewhere everyone could see it. So in just an hour I’d sold three paintings! Some might I’m an artist.

4th Plinth

The plan with these ornaments, as it was before; I want to place them on plinths, placing art works on plinths is a very “fine art” thing do. This was something that was mentioned when getting feedback on my piece; Untitled (Ornamental Figure), again the titling; a very fine art thing to do. I agreed with the majority that generally I don’t like works being Untitled however for this piece they kind of liked it. It’s very fine art way of titling, yet it was almost emphasizing the setting that the piece was in. They said that it was a statement about being made by an artist- for a contemporary art setting. When I began making the work, the use of the plinth was about taking these figures out of their home context yet bringing back somewhat of their original context by using the wallpaper. This is what I intend to bring through in the next series of  plinthed ornaments.

When I began thinking about the plinth some more I remembered the 4th Plinth; situated in London’s Trafalgar square. The plinth was originally intended to hold an equestrian statue of William IV, but remained bare due to insufficient funds. Since 1999, the plinth has become a home to temporary contemporary art works. Contemporary artists are commissioned to make works for the plinth. Some of these artist include Antony GormleyYinka Shonibare and one of my faves Rachel Whiteread! Her piece Monument is pictured above. The newest addition is Katharina Fritsch’s: Hahn/Cock. The big blue cockerel also pictured above. I really like the idea behind the 4th plinth and I think it relates really well with what I’m doing here with my wallpapered plinths.

I found some really interesting articles about it too: This one about Rachel Whiteread: http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2001/may/27/features.magazine47

and this one about the latest Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock where it says; For Fritsch, colour is what transforms a sculpture from a naturalistic ornament into a symbol. “It evens it out, makes it abstract – like a visual sign, an icon. That is important: my work is always on the borderline between a detailed sculpture and a sign.  http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/jul/24/katharina-fritsch-fourth-plinth-cockerel-sculpture

The Lights are on but Nobody’s Home- Progress

I began painting the lamp last week but wasn’t sure how well it was going to turn out. Now that the bottom half of the lamp has been painted, and the paint on the shade has fully dried I’m pretty pleased with the results! I particularly like that you can see the detail of the cracked paint.  The plinth I feel may be a little bit too tall for this piece now? I was very unsure about the light and how that functions for the look of the piece along with it’s role within the concept but the more I see it the more I’m liking it!

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?

Barnaby Barford

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 

Magnolia Fun

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!

Alex Lowery

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.

Nottingham Castle and the Contemporary

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.

Empty

IMG_2537I was on a role on last Thursday, once I had the objects and more importantly the frames I could finally make the pieces I had been planning on making for a while now. First was this one, which stemmed from similar ideas to the magnolia piece. I saw a shelf in TKmaxx full of empty frames (there is a photo somewhere in a post previous), when I saw all these frames I immediately saw the emptiness. I saw the frames that potentially could hold the memories, the celebrations, the memorable moments. But for now they were empty. The photo frame as an object holds our most memorable moments,  the house as an object holds almost all of our memories. An empty house is empty of its memories.