- Currently Untitled (Army of Black Dolls)
- Mixed Fabric
- Cotton thread
- Polyester Fibres
I’ve just started work on a brand spanking new project which is leading towards an exhibition towards the end of the spring. You’ll be able to follow the progress of this project in detail here on my blog.
As you can see from the pictures the work has commenced with the creation of these animal headpieces, or masks. They have been created from two sheets of A1 cartridge paper to the back of which I attached some extra string aluminium foil with PVA glue. The combination of foil and PVA ensures that the paper is malleable for long enough to shape and then strengthens the form markedly once it dries. You can see some of the details of this in the picture of the upturned form above
These forms are then been coated with 4 or 5 layers of papier mache to further reinforce the structure and hold the individual pieces in place.
Once fully cured I will start to work on the sculptural details of the pieces with a range of material including plaster, fabrics, latex and paint amongst others.
I’ll post further pictures in days and weeks to come. I hope you’ll enjoy following this work as it starts to evolve.
The roots from which Pandorum evolved are alluded to in the title:
Pan-dor-um: A disease founded by emotional triggers, a feeling of fear. Thinking you can’t be saved, you may find yourself in a state of Pandorum, or extreme fear of being alone. Thinking there is nothing left, usually causes craziness.**
Hopefully this, when combined with the Persistence of Memory sub-title, gives the spectator an indication of the that which lies at the heart of the work from my perspective as the creator as I will expand upon below.
The opportunity to install this work in the Stairwell Gallery in Durham was too good to miss: the stairwell space provides the perfect metaphor for a journey. The objects from which Pandorum in comprised can be seen as representative of memories, as alluded to in the title of the work, suspended at marked points in time throughout the journey through the stairwell.
Although representative of a journey the stairwell does not itself dictate the direction of the journey. The path is defined by the boundaries established around the stairs but the direction of travel, whether forwards and backwards, or up and down, is in the control of the audience. The objects with which one engages whilst traversing the stairwell are static which is befitting their role as metaphors for the memories which they represent as their place in time is fixed.
Using hair was important to the fabrication of this work and compounds the idea that these objects serve as being symbolic of memories. Although these locks of hair are of personal significance to the maker,they also offer the audience a key in to the themes which underpin this work. It has been well documented that in times gone by locks of hair were often kept as a tangible reminder of the deceased; in Victorian times, for example, these would be kept inside a devotional object such as a locket or woven into a necklace or bracelet. In a similar statement these synthetic locks of hair have been fused into the the lumps of clay from which they hang.
The suggestion that this act has been undertaken in order to preserve these memories is challenged by the removal of the hair from the context of the body. When detached from the body hair is one of those substances that becomes abject, it is perceived as being more gruesome, disgusting even, as it brings our attention the fine margin between dead and living. Being that this hair is synthetic causes the any abject impact upon the spectator to be dampened but the implication is still apparent.
These locks of hair are not just supported by the pieces of clay from which they hang; upon climbing the stairwell spectators will find themselves in a position from which to examine the objects more closely whereupon they will find that the locks are firmly embedded in their clay bases. At the point where the earth and the hair meet the boundaries between the self and the other are blurred reaffirming the abject nature of the work.
In understanding that the Romantic approach that I take to my work could lead to some spectators finding it impenetrable I always endeavour to create work that is visually engaging, that rouses the viewers conciousness. Of course Pandorum is multi-sensory as it engages spectators physically as well as visually; it is almost impossible to negotiate the stairwell without coming in to contact with the work.
The encounter between the beholder and the Pandorum is heightened by the tactile quality of the work and it’s overwhelming physical presence in the exhibition space. The tactile relation between the spectator and the work in this instance is intended to facilitate a greater understanding of the role of the maker in the work as this tactile experience is shared by both parties.
Like much of my work Pandorum’s abstract appearance allows for a multitude of interpretations. This analysis of the work is not intended to be prescriptive, to dictate to spectators what they should think about, or take away from Pandorum.** This definition was obtained from the Urban Dictionary. This may not be considered by some as a valid or reliable source of reference, but this is an artwork not an academic paper. It’s a source which reflects the fact that I am immersed in a post-modern world of pastiche and popular culture.
I discovered this work by Olek via Norwegian Crafts. I love the way in which Olek lives her work crocheting everything around her. Her artist statement says; ‘A loop after a loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet. Life and art are inseparable‘. I think I’m jealous. Olek appears to live her art they way I’d love to if I wasn’t so worried about paying the bills.
I can see comparisons between her work and my own, particularly with some of the craft based works I’ve undertaken such as those for Jazzcakes and 20-21. Olek takes the idea of repetitive process to a much farther extreme than I have ever done though as she continually crochets anything and everything around her.
I dabbled with crocheting a couple of years ago. I got the basic gist of it but only had one 2 hour lesson and so never really took it any further. I always associate the process with bright colours, much like you can see in Oleks work above and there is something about the tactile quality of crochet that I can’t quite put my finger on but it really appeals to me. Perhaps if I ever find the time to develop my skills I’ll be able to find a place for it in my practice.
You can check out more of Olek’s wonderful work here: www.agataolek.com/home.html
I stumbled across these lovely paper sculptures by Toronto based artist Jennifer Sciarrino this afternoon. The photographs of them are wonderful in as much as they really do obscure the scale of the work. I get the impression from other photographs on Jennifer’s website that these sculptures are actually quite small but you’d be forgiven for thinking they were a good couple of metres tall if you’d only seen these images.
Entitled Supposed Stalagmites these sculptures take their main point of reference from the natural world. Jennifer’s website states that she is interested in mimicry which is something I dabbled with in the early days of my practice. You won’t find any images of those works on here however, as I was never really satisfied with the outcomes. Maybe one day I will have the guts to post up a few images of those works for the world to see. Sciarrino does a much better job of dealing with mimicry so I suggest you go and check out some more of her wonderful work here: www.jennsciarrino.com
As the studio gets slowly but steadily filled from top to bottom, and front to back, with artworks I’m finding it increasingly difficult to make new work whilst the space around me disappears. As a result I’ve found myself scaling down my work to accommodate these changed circumstances. It’s been an interesting process but the results have been quite exciting. The reduction in space has also set my mind wandering in to the realm of the temopral so watch this space for further developments.
I do love this work by Emilie Faif, not just for her use of multiples as regular readers might imagine, but also for what is quite a unique approach to textile art. I’m particularly taken by those works (like that pictured third from top here) that make use of fans to fill the fabric with air rather than traditional polyseter fibres and the like.
Faif is really the epitome of what is to be a post-modern artist. By all accounts she is primarily a textile artist but she is comfortable dipping in and out of other media as is necessary. Go and have a good rummage around her website where you’ll find a glut of fantastic sculptures and installations that will beguile and enthrall you.
I just discovered the work of Rowan Mersh via the Central Station community website. I love his aesthetic, style and also the concepts that appear to be the catalyst for some of his works.
Fabric Sculptures Series 2 for example uses tumours as source of inspiration to create wearable artworks that explore the notion of mutations in the context of the female form. The majority of work that I have come across that takes similar points of reference as their catalyst seem to result in more grotesque outcomes. Despite my own love of the grotesque it’s really refreshing to come across work that presents more traditionally attractive.
The Future Landscapes (top) also interest me greatly. The photos posted on Rowans website only give detail views of these works but I’d be intrigued to see the whole images as I would imagine this would change my perception of them greatly as they are wall mounted works. Apparently these were created using a technique that the artist devised himself to permanently form any given fabric into any given shape. This is something I might have to investigate for myself. I’m familiar with basic Shibhori techniques but as far as I’m these are most effective with man made fabrics.
You should definitely go check out Rowan’s website as there are plenty more fabulous works on there: www.rowanmersh.com