For this research, I will focus on the developmental work of these artists.
Jenny Ellery is a textile artist whose work explores the human silhouette as a format for presenting her art, which comprises machine embroidery, printed textiles and handmade textiles. It focuses on the work of the textile designer in fashion, and reminds me somewhat of Marie O’Connor‘s work in that it references the body as a canvas that can have the outline distorted and decorated in infinite ways. Coincidentally, I found these images in the newspaper today, which also show ways of ornamenting and changing the human body, which are perhaps part of the wider context for this idea, and for fashion, jewellery and make-up in general.
Mario Gerth, photographs of members of the Suri tribe, Ethiopia
Source:- scanned image from The Times newspaper, pp 38-39, 01/04/17
Jenny Ellery’s practice involves “Hands-on and intuitive experimentation…”, from which the artist can make new and interesting discoveries. On her website, she mentions working from 2D to 3D and back again, which echoes the advice in our course guide, and via tutor feedback, for drawing, sample making and more drawing in the developmental process.
Jenny’s tumblr account feed shows some inspiring images illustrating her developmental work.
Jenny Ellery Source:- http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/
The artist’s practice seems to involve gathering source images on an inspiration board (prints of other artists’ work, for example), taking photographs, drawing, making samples including mixed media and stitch on textile, and making painted colour palettes. (This is sounding familiar as I work through the Textiles 1 course!)
Chris Ofili is a British artist, now living and working in Trinidad. He won the Turner Prize in 1998 and was one of the ‘Young British Artists’ to exhibit in the Sensation exhibition of 1999.
He has explored many themes, such as religion, black history, nature, high and low culture, through the medium of mixed media, painting, prints, drawings and, more recently, woven textiles.
He sees his studio as a laboratory, where he has experimented in the past with a variety of media (elephant dung, paint, resin, collage, map pins and glitter), and assorted techniques.
His practice seems to me to involve phases of interest, which culminate in an exhibition, before he launches into new fields of exploration. At one time, he made a watercolour painting each day (exhibited at the Studio Museum, Harlem in 2005), after that he moved to making more use of sketchbooks, and photography to record his environment in Trinidad, and drawing to test ideas that will become finished artworks. He describes this approach as giving his pictures “… a more automatic, stream-of-consciousness approach.”
I have reflected on Chris’s quote about the studio being a laboratory, here.
Alicia Galer is a London-based textile artist and designer. Her development method is to make expressionist-style drawings, from which she selects marks and textures to produce further drawings and patterns.
In an interview with Grafik the artist describes deriving inspiration from travel, interiors, fashion, photography and graphic design. She draws one or more of her source inspirations, then simplifies elements of that drawing to develop further. Alicia favours oil pastels, marker pens, colouring pencils and acrylic paint as her chosen media.
Alicia Galer, illustration for House of Plants, 2016
Josh Blackwell is an American artist and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. The artist’s interest in the throwaway consumer culture led him to gather plastic bags from various sources, which were incorporated into his studio practice, working with mixed media, painting, sculpture, performance art and installation. The tension between convenience and excess being one focus for his work. Trained as a painter, his use of thread and textile to embellish the plastic bags shows similar mark-making. The finished pieces are transformed from a vilified and discarded piece of rubbish into a playful, colourful and highly textured art work.
Josh Blackwell, Neveruses (Siemensstrasse), 2015, plastic bags, wool, silk, twine, acrylic yarn
Josh Blackwell, Neveruses exhibition (detail), 2016/2017 at The Museum of Arts and Design, New York
On The Museum of Arts and Design‘s website, it describes the artist’s diverse influences as including Italian futurism, and the outsider art of the American South. In the image above, I can see drawings, collections of objects, patterns and the ubiquitous plastic bag, altered by having holes cut in it, hinting at the types of development work the artist undertakes. Other artworks have included lively and colourful drawings of children’s jumpers, cut out and attached to the gallery wall, Juniors (shown at Kate MacGarry, London, 2010).
Barbara Hepworth made numerous maquettes, drawings, screen prints and full size working models and prototypes of her bronze sculptures. I visited The Hepworth Wakefield on 22 March 2017 and was able to view this fantastic collection in person.
Over 40 plaster or wood, working models and prototypes at different stages of work can be seen. Barbara herself carved back many of these pieces to achieve the surface finish that would represent her ideas. Her tools and drawings illustrate her developmental process. The drawings could be simple, functional, small, line drawings, working out composition and construction. These 2-D diagrams are then made into 3-D models, allowing the artist to refine textures and test patinas before the final bronze sculpture is cast. One exhibit showed an assortment of patina samples that she had commissioned: the equivalent of our ‘sampling’ work on the course. She also made gouache and oil drawings, with pencil marks over the top. She made abstract drawings and drawings from life, such as a series made in a hospital. In quotations on the official Hepworth website, the artist makes it clear that carving was the most important part of the process for her. Once the idea had formed, she could choose the material, but it was the carving rather than the modelling that was important to her, as she could achieve so many variations depending on the material in use, and felt that it allowed her to put her accumulated experience and knowledge into the work. Her selection from the numerous types of stone and wood available, would influence what it was possible to achieve, and only by working with these materials over many years, could she master and exploit their unique properties, “… a complete sensibility to material – an understanding of its inherent quality and character – is required.”
It has been rather tricky to find details of some of the artists’ processes, as I suspect that they would understandably prefer to keep them private, having honed and refined them for their own use.
What can I learn from these artists?
Jenny Ellery’s ‘hands-on’ work with materials chimes with explorations that I carried out on Part 4 of the course – physically combining materials to find which worked well together (in colour palette, texture and scale). In Part 5 of the course, I will aim to emulate this through sample-making and drawing.
Her use of inspiration boards, colour palettes and drawings will also influence my process for the forthcoming coursework.
From Chris Ofili, I will take an attitude of experimentation and exploration of media.
Alicia Galer’s practice felt like a good fit for what I would like to achieve – making both realistic and more abstract drawings in a variety of media, then selecting and refining aspects of those pieces to take forward. I can imagine using a viewfinder to pick out almost abstract lines and marks from a drawing.
Josh Blackwell’s main focus on one material – plastic bags – links his artwork to the theme of consumerism. I will try to select appropriate grounds and media for my drawings and art work. His use of mixed and unusual media is another point of interest.
Barbara Hepworth gathered inspiration for her work through careful observation and drawing. Her total dedication to her artwork is an inspiration in itself, and I love many of her abstract sculptures with their variations of form, surface and colour. I will continue to derive inspiration from many sources and carry out more drawing and sample-making.
Barbara Hepworth’s intimate knowledge of her media and the effects that could be achieved with that material is something to aspire to. Spending time getting to know and understand my chosen media fully will be an ongoing process.
https://barbarahepworth.org.uk/texts/ Accessed 01/04/17
http://www.chrisofiliprints.info/biography.php?cur=EUR Accessed 31/03/17
https://www.grafik.net/category/talent/alicia-galer Accessed 31/03/17
http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/collection/the-hepworth-family-gift/ Accessed 01/04/17
http://www.jennyellery.com/ Accessed 31/03/17
http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/ Accessed 31/03/17
http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/josh-blackwell-neveruses-report-progress Accessed 31/03/17
http://www.marieoconnor.co.uk/ Accessed 31/03/17
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/chris-ofili-weaving-magic?gclid=CP-F4MXdgNMCFQ8TGwodwmwGMw Accessed 31/03/17 (Chris Ofili exhibition)
http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/f/futurism Accessed 31/03/17 (Italian Futurism)