Studio 606

New academic year, new white space. I spent a week last semester painting the walls and scrubbing the floor of 606, in preparation for the previous 4th years degree show, so it’s only fitting I should inherit the studio.

Here it is, my new canvas.

I’ve moved some stuff in now. The addition of some collected objects and a pot of coffee has it suddenly feeling more ‘Rachael’. Last week was a bit lacking in productivity on account of 21st birthday related excitement. It was a fantastic week otherwise though. And following that high I’m now ready to make a start with the semester.

I find it easier to think about my stuff when I isolate and arrange my objects into compositions. Things look better when they’re displayed more formally, objects begin to become artworks when they stop being used for their original purpose, so I spent today putting shelves up and playing.

This is what I do.

I’m not completely consumed by any one idea yet but I have that exciting feeling that I’m onto something.

Things I’m thinking about:

Empty jewellery boxes

Old spectacles

Collecting information

Bananas

Obsessive sentimentality

Hyper recording of data

 

Make of that what you will. There’s a lot of little ideas floating around, I just need to grab and develop them.

 

‘Things’

Sentimentality in materiality. What am I going on about now?

People are constantly trying to keep hold of the past. We assign memories and significance to objects, allowing them to represent events in our lives. Having a physical reminder of something provides comfort and reassurance that we did something, we saw someplace or we knew someone. Memory is not enough. Its odd really, and sort of a luxury. We accumulate all this unnecessary tac, give it power.

Would you notice if these things were gone? Do you look at them daily? Or is it just a comfort that you still have that old concert ticket stub? The memory itself is fading so the object is used to keep it alive somehow. Perhaps its even vanity. To prove you’re a certain type of person. Your ‘things’ can say a lot about you, and therefore its a selective process in deciding what to surround yourself in.

Personally I’m overly sentimental. I have a good memory for colour and image. This is handy, but can be annoying and provoke a lot of overanalysis. Getting ready in the morning would be a lot less of an ordeal if I didn’t attach memory so freely. I can look at any article of clothing in my wardrobe and instantly recall its triumphs and downfalls. I’ll use this as an excuse for my constant need to buy new clothes. But never throwing away the old ones of course.

This is all just musing really. About the importance placed on often unnecessary material objects. How people tie themselves to their ‘things’ whether the things themselves are valuable or not. Bellow is a photograph of a few of my possessions. I’ve covered some up and even though their appearance is hidden their sentiment is unchanged to me. Its not for aesthetic value that we collect and horde, but for personal comfort. Three of those objects are second hand. Which addresses another habit of mine. Being nostalgic about times I have not even lived through. Talk about clinging onto the past…

 

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Now playing: Sentimental Heart – She and Him – YouTube
via FoxyTunes

The Push

Deadlines are approaching. Sometimes the panic becomes a background thing and all thats felt is a drive to finish. It’ll get done, because it has to. This past week I’ve probably done the work I’d normally do in 3 weeks. I’ve been up before 9 every morning and have been staying in uni til around 7. And it feels good. The capsules themselves took a while to make so its good to get onto more resolved work.

This was basically my blank canvas at the start of last week. It was a little bit daunting, the prospect of having to actually do something creative with these perfect circles I’d made. I was feeling a little precious about ruining them, which isn’t a feeling I often get in my artwork. I usually enjoy the ‘happy accidents’ and the unpredictability of experimentation. I managed to overcome the fear anyway.

Inside each box is a variety of typed text, assorted found objects, and histological images. Quite the mix. The objects range from some shells and an old boot picked up on Musselburgh beach last Winter, to some spent matches of my Grandpas, refound in our garage over summer. This variety links back to the mix of articles found in those old encyclopoaedias I read over summer, and also to the patchwork way our minds work. I like the way memory works, keeping fragments of events and giving seemingly unimportant things signifficance. I think the theme of memory and this idea of remnants of things lost, creeps up a lot in my work.

The histological images are courtesy of my friend Scott and his uni studies. I like that to me they’re pretty and look like planets but theres this whole other importance and relevance to human life that lingers. It seems to work with the layering of theme and different aspects of knowledge I’ve got throughout this project.

One of my six in-progress capsules. Still a bit rough in terms of finish but I’ve got the objects installed and the lighting pretty much sorted, so its on its way.

Bring on assessment, I guess.

 

Artist’s Statement

A wee bit of official stuff for you! This week there’s a Recorded Tutorial. Basically we’ve to present the current state of our studio work and talk about our progress complete with a written report on what we’re doing and intend to do. Its a bit wordy and maybe a bit too ‘arty’ for some, but thats art school…

This semester my work has taken the form of Assemblage Art. Having scavenged and collected a store of objects from human teeth to a pair of 1919 binoculars, I was drawn to the overall concept of ‘free association’, an unconscious associating of seemingly unrelated objects. In the summer of this year I began collecting old encyclopaedias’. These books fascinated me with the apparent jumble of issues; academic tutorials on physics would be followed by an article on ‘How to Bake a Chicken Pie’. I am interested in the idea of seemingly unrelated issues being channeled together and therefore being assigned a common theme. Although the issues in these books did not flow by subject matter, their common factor was simply that they had been bound together in this book for others to observe. This excited my interest in documenting and presentation, I have always been fascinated by the ability to simply change a setting and thereby completely alter a context; one of the most famous examples of this would be Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’.


When something is put into a gallery space, and even more so when it is put into an isolated framework, the level of significance and the way in which it is viewed is completely changed. In my artwork I have a great interest in framing and documenting smaller works, I enjoy the importance this isolation can bring a found object.  I have previously worked in photo frames and large boxes, I wanted to advance my study in third year by moving onto more solid capsules. The construction and form of these capsules is of great importance to the overall aesthetic of the piece and therefore a significant amount of time has been dedicated to making six circular wooden boxes. The technical structure of these capsules has so far been the biggest challenge this semester. I have been making good use of the advice and resources offered in the Fine Art Workshop and my technical skills have progressed greatly. Making the capsules for this project has been time consuming and challenging. However, I am happy with the final form these have taken and am now eager to arrange and assemble scenes within them.                                                                There is an intricacy to encasing logically unconstructed ideas within a solid structure. With the objects being seemingly unrelated in any other context, the viewer is given a freedom and opportunity to perceive their own relationships as well as enjoying the spontaneity of the visual itself.                                                                                                  I have found inspiration when creating this project from the works of Christian Boltanski and Arman (who’s work I was able to view at the Pompidou) with their ability to assign emotion to regular objects such as biscuit boxes and lightbulbs. Also, the work of Will MacClean was brought to my attention when visiting the City Art Centre earlier this year, out of the many assemblage artists I have researched his subtle compositions are some of the most affecting.


Having collected objects, text, photographs, printed images and produced drawings and mini assemblages over the course of the semester I feel my work is now at the more experimental stage of seeing what ‘works’ in my final capsules. The piece is centered on the action of storing and keeping fragments of objects and text, I feel memory is always a theme therefore that emerges in the overall concept. This idea of maintaining images and layering fragments is reminiscent of the mind and its ability to recall and retain. So, in their visual representation of free association, my assemblages are commenting on the unconscious mind as a collector.                                                                                             I have made plans of each box, each with its own identity, however, I prefer a more physical approach when it comes to this stage of the assemblage. When making the capsule structures, rigid plans were necessary for the success of the construction, but in the installation of the content within the boxes, I feel a ‘trial and error’ approach is more efficient.                                                                                                                                     I feel the concept itself allows for context to emerge and grow as the work does. When placing objects together, narratives and relationships are formed in a more natural way. I am on schedule with the development of this project, there is still a lot to be done, but I am confident and enthusiastic about the final outcome.

Eh?!

I think this must be the first time I’ve ever finished an art piece before the deadline – two weeks before the deadline. Which confuses me. But I really do think I’ve taken it as far as I can for this brief. Hmm.

So I have three of these constructed cases with the inserts I’ve made and collected for them, plus a little sketchbook/photobook showing the process and outcome.  There’s a lot of work put into each case as well. And I feel I was quite resourceful, I’ve spent hours hacking up old wire coathangers, photocopying scraps of books and attaching hinges onto photo frames. Yep, I think that’ll do.

I’m pretty happy. And now I can relax for two weeks and enjoy my return to Dundee and the start of 3rd year. The prospect of 3rd year is frightening. But I’m just gonna dive in and make it work. Because it has to.

I’ll leave with mah bones 🙂 Got some pretty nice close ups of the detail on this project. There is some intricate stuff going on inside each case.

August is for Action

So I’ve spent the summer absently collecting an assortment of objects. Theres quite a pile, from some 1970’s encyclopedias picked up in a charity shop to a pile of chicken bones that looked too interesting to throw away. Yeah that sounds a bit twisted. My tendency to hoard and give invaluable objects a signifficance has given me a lot of material to work with though. The project is ‘Art Book’ but I didn’t want to do a traditional ‘page-turny’ thing. I’ve gone for something a bit more three-dimensional and made these display-case structures out of photo frames. They allow the qualities of a book to be maintained, allowing a store of information and inviting the viewer to look through.

Thats my little tester with some of my first acetates inside. I’m thinking there’ll be a lot more to come, I’m just getting started with this! I’m trying not to overload them though.



 

Theres a theme of ‘memory’ that seems to be cropping up. I’ve been making pages to go inside the cases with fragments of images and excerpts from old books, cut up to dilute their original meaning. It’s a subtle comment on a memory being a mere remnant of a bigger and more real experience, and how we try to keep these memories safe locking them away. I came to this way of thinking after looking at the bones I’d collected. An object that shows what it once was, but is now something fragile and lacking form. Yes, I think too much. Anyone else get that from looking at a grotty chicken bone?