A Problem I’ve Been Having

I’ve become so intertwined with my work.

I guess this is good. The stuff is just me. The problem is its so me that I’m protective of it. I don’t want anyone to know.

Perhaps, however, if they did know the stories of the work, it would help them to appreciate said work. A title provides context, but is it enough? Do my titles need to be more revealing? Do my descriptions need to be more in-depth?

Or can I provide a hint and a little bit of context and rely on you to enjoy it anyway?

yel

 

Everything I Know About Him

(2013)

spent matches, collected circles, text on trace, war used binoculars, rusted soap dish.

 

Do I have to tell you who ‘him’ is and what it is I know?

This is what I’m struggling with right now.

 

Opening Night

‘Relics of Attachment Part I’ is an exhibition I’ve been organising with some fellow Student Curatorial Team members. It features a collection of artwork inspired by the concept of nostalgia and sentimental objects.

Tonight was the introduction to this project. There was a lot of footfall, a lot of interest, and generally a good feeling all round.

Take a look at our work.

Relics of attachment

RELICS OF ATTACHMENT PART I

A – Lucas Battich, Amsterdam Lelylaan Schiphol // Edinburgh Glasgow   

pmsrelics numbers

B – Lisa Gordon, Promises Light

C – Vivienne Russell, Five Seasons       

D – Cathy O’Brien, Empty Packages

E – Rachael Disbury, Everything I know about him

 

This project took a lot of time and planning but I feel our work is paying off. I love the buzz of all this organising. Curating ain’t so bad.

Installation

     pmsrelics4   Installation

 

Audience Opening Night

 

Curators
Our Team
We’re hosting a meeting tomorrow to encourage other artists to submit work for Part II of this project. The 14th of February should see a larger exhibition presented in the Cooper Gallery. So there’s really no time to relax for us!

Everything I’m Thinking Right Now

We were required to do a presentation of our work this week, complete with slides and talking within a lecture theatre. As nerve wracking as this was, it got me to think about the keys points of my work. I want to write these down and have them there to reflect on if ever I get lost in it. So I have.

 

 

My work surrounds ideas of ‘Obsessive Sentimentality’. To give context to this, a personal anecdote is required. Two years ago I took a trip to Paris and indulged in all the wonderful cliches of the place, running around with a beret for a week (go on, judge me). When I came back from Paris it was time to ditch my monthly contact lenses and change them for a fresh pair. I couldn’t. It’s this irrational attachment to a useless object that fascinates me. By disposing of those contact lenses, I’d have felt like I was losing something.

I’ve gone even further back this year, focusing on a collection of old specs. I’ve worn glasses since the age of six, so this is seven years worth.

 

Although the objects are personal objects, and I myself have these notions of nostalgia I’m discussing, the work is not intended as confessional. An idea is what I’m trying to express. The glasses have become something new. Their intended purpose is void. With the repeated image on the backboard in this glasses piece, a postcard picture meaning nothing to me but repeated hundreds of times, I am communicating that these glasses no longer see anything new, they are irrelevant in this respect. Their new purpose is simply to be kept. Someone has preserved these and given them importance. They are shells, and quite useless.

A good artist to reference at this point would be Sophie Calle.   http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/art-now-sophie-calle

With every passing year, Calle throws a birthday party inviting a number of guests, as customary they bring gifts for her. Instead of using these gifts for their individual conventional purposes, she would box them up and keep them, eventually displaying them in a cabinet. Calle made the decision that the purpose or use of these gifts was not important, it was the attachment and the idea of the ‘gift’ that was important to her. She assigned nostalgic feelings of appreciation and gratitude in each and by displaying them was able to look at them as such, rather than using them.

The presentation is key in this example and in my own work. There is a permanence in encapsulating something. When an object is preserved and framed in the confines of a box, it becomes important and provokes observation and interest. I am constantly framing, making box structures and displaying pieces while continually trying to keep the look clean and uncluttered. The stage of the frame assists the objects, emphasising the idea that they have been assigned a significant not originally intended for them.

 

Similarly, text is a necessary component in my work. The use of titles, explanatory paragraphs and longer spiels of writing is an enjoyable aspect of my practise. I find myself getting obsessed with phrases, the same way I become attached to an object, I get attached to words and repeat them over and over. I sit on my studio floor and typetypetype, annoying studio mates with the pounding of my sentences. This gives a more active representation of the obsessive nature of this sentimentality. A phrase that has been in my head for a while is ‘Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.’ I love this because the words mean nothing. However it is an old typing exercise and so is remembered and has a significant purpose for so many people, and yet the content of the sentence itself is irrelevant. This echoes the idea of the object becoming a shell for ones own ideas to be projected on, rather than used for its original intention.

Often the work is quite ambiguous in appearance. I find titling helps provide more of a context. For example in my previous work with contact lenses, I had a cabinet of 84 bottles, some with lenses in them, and the title at the bottom read Everything I’ve Ever Seen, 2006 – 2011. This allows for a more interactive experience with the viewer. They see the piece and consider its meaning, they read the text and connect the ideas of sight with the bottles of lenses. They consider it for themselves. I strive for simplicity in the work while trying to maintain the ability to communicate ideas without being overbearing.

My current project continue these values and take them further. Rather than replying on the use of old object, which if overdone can definitely start to look kitsch, I have stripped back my concept to focus on the raw idea of this need to maintain something that has become useless. I am preserving banana peels

 

The bananas themselves are not important, it is the physical process and experimentation I am undertaking, the actions of maintaining an object that naturally has to decay. And I am liking the results. I am left with a collection of these funny shrivelled objects. And like the glasses project I am showing how they have changed and lost purpose. The difference with the bananas to the other objects I have worked with is that the change in then is physically apparent. They are no longer yellow, they are physically completely different to their starting point. This allows the concept to be clearer and more easily communicated than in my previous works.

Taking this further still, this semester I have been continuously collecting data. I have been recording my daily basic functions, and plan to develop this over the Christmas break (providing the dissertation doesn’t kill me). Although I still feel strongly about the work being 3 Dimensional and installation based, I won’t rule out the use of sound in this piece. Stay tuned for that one.

Symbols and Symbolism


‘Symbols and Symbolism’ is an exhibition currently in the Lower Foyer Gallery of the art college. It’s on until the 28th of March and is worth a look at. Yes, my work is in it, hence my promotion but theres also variety of other work there, from tutors and students in a variety of disciplines.

The exhibition focuses on ‘an exploration into the use of objects and images in art and the everyday, as a means of communication’. I think my art fits this concept quite well. I use objects a lot and my work usually has a heavier idea behind it. I try to communicate these ideas without throwing it in the face of the viewer. I want them to be interested and get a ‘feeling’ from my work. But I don’t necessarily want them to know what it’s about. My work is often personal, but rarely confessional.

I submitted a taster of my binoculars for this exhibition. Its a little assemblage of four of the replicas, the empty binocular case and a framed text piece.

It’s great seeing your own work presented in an exhibition as opposed to piled in the studio. I always try and keep my space kind of clear and formal so I can see my work in context.

So yeah, check it out!

 

25 Binoculars

Its a really boring task wrapping 25 awkward shapes in paper. Really boring. And its taken up a sizeable part of my week. Because it’s so boring. The best days in art school are the ones where you’re literally running between departments, fuelled by instant cappuccino and barely stopping to realise its got to 7pm. This week has had no such shine. Theres been a lot of dull important things to do. Like dissertation meetings and picking up/dropping off work at various places. Its caused a bit of a stall, but hopefully Monday I’ll be back with a buzz.

So yeah, I wrapped the binoculars and I really don’t want to look at them for a couple days. Hooray for the weekend. People keep asking “oh, so what does this mean?”. Perhaps I’m just a bit distracted this week because my explanations have been sounding a bit lacklustre and I’ve been getting irritated with the question in general. Its just my random thoughts… but in 3D and stuck on a wall.

I’ll try a more formal answer?

My work is about memory, nostalgia and obsessive sentimentality. This piece again is about the assignment of emotion to an object and about the dilution of the objects original value or purpose. Its the memory attached to the object that is important, the thing itself could really be anything. Hence why I’ve covered objects up here and multiplied them, to kind of highlight this loss of significance in the object itself and the importance of personal attachment. I’ve taken away the aesthetic and the purpose, you can’t use them if they’re wrapped up. Get me?

Anyone else think sometimes things are nice without an explanation?

 

“ah-ow”

Advice to anyone working in a metal workshop. After welding two large strips of metal together, do not proceed to rest your palm on the point of contact. It hurts.

Also… If this does happen, don’t try to ‘be strong’ and carry on working, run it under some cold water.

Otherwise you’re just being an idiot. Like me.

I did eventually wander back to the studio, to chill it and craft a make-shift bandage out of scrap canvas and masking tape. That’ll do.

My hands are actually a wreck right now. They’re sore, burnt, bloody, my fingertips are permanently black from the metalwork, little splinters of wood litter my palms from woodwork and theres tiny little scratches generally all over. (Plus, I sliced my finger open yesterday while making an apple pie. This did not help). Battlewounds? I do enjoy being dramatic… Suffering for my art and all that… Not quite Marina Abramović style just yet.

I ran away from the workshop before the technician found out about this incident. It was a very stupid mistake and I want to at least appear like I know what I’m doing. So my productivity slowed down after this little event today. But tomorrow is sculpture day! I’m planning to go down to the plaster room and make multiples of my old binoculars. I was advised that to cast the originals would severely damage them. Soooo, that means I have to make a clay replica of them. I haven’t used clay since I ‘sculpted’ a depiction of my cat when I was 9. It was pretty sweet. Clay is such a manipulable substance, a lot of fun to use but easy to get impatient with I think. It’s just the basic shape I’m recreating in clay, I plan to cover the binoculars in paper so what’s visible will be just the silhouette.

I think the plan is to pop the clay into the kiln, create a cast of the finished model and then produce about 20 or so replicas of the binoculars. Then I’ll cover each in old text and arrange them on shelves, hiding the original pair somewhere in the arrangement. Eee I can’t wait to get on with starting another aspect of this project. Tomorrow better be a good day.

There is no ‘Right Track’

But I think I’m on it.

It’s 4 weeks into the semester and I’m having so much fun. Things are just working. I had a meeting with my tutor Graham Fagon this week, he’s been very encouraging to talk to so far. I explained to him my ideas and the things I wanted to do this semester, he seemed genuinely enthusiastic about my plans which is always quite motivating. I’m hoping to have a little collection of work by the end of the semester as opposed to just one final piece. So I’m actually working on 4 or 5 different pieces at the moment. Although related in theme and style, the medium and aesthetic will vary.

Today, I finished the grid for my bottle project. This is a very exciting development. Having been in woodwork all week I’ve spent most of the afternoon scratching at my hands getting paranoid about skelfs. It was oddly satisfying when at half past 5 today I pulled a 2mm splinter of wood out of my palm.

          

I did a little test run, attaching it to the wall and arranging the 84 bottles. I’ve not yet tried the contact lenses in the piece yet and there are a couple of other accompanying factors to create before this ‘Everything I’ve Ever Seen’ work is complete. But the work is steady and so far successful.

I’m also planning to work with a pair of binoculars I acquired last year. After all that musing on the irrational stowing of emotion within an object, I started covering some of the objects I had lying around in paper. It’s kind of a ‘presentation vs. preservation’ thing. Why do we keep things? For the aesthetic and purpose, or to preserve something more abstract?

I’m thinking about casting these binoculars, so I can play about with multiples of them. In my head I see shelves of the same object, covered in paper. It’s such an interesting shape to work with. I don’t want to damage the binoculars though. They date back to 1918 and WWI. First thing Monday morning I’m heading down to Sculpture to figure out my options.

So yeah there’s no specific track I should be on right now. But I’m making work and I’m loving it.