Exhibition Visit: New Quilting, Rheged

My friend, Margaret, and I went to see the New Quilting exhibition earlier in the week. It was hosted by the Rheged Centre in Cumbria and runs until Sunday 23 April 2017.

There were a variety of styles of quilting, from art quilts to historical pieces from the Helbeck Hall collection, and some three-dimensional work. As ever, the lighting was rather dim to preserve the textiles, so my photographs have a yellowish tinge to them.

I have been a fan of Elizabeth Brimelow‘s work for a number of years, and was pleased to see that she had several pieces of work in the exhibition. She is interested in landscape, especially nature, history, and the effects of farming on land. Her work begins with drawings, that are then translated into textiles through stitch and fabric manipulation.

Elizabeth Brimelow, Round Meadow, (silk fabric, labels, hand & machine stitch, hand quilting, knotting).

This piece was described by the artist as “… a journey through my sketchbooks …”, and featured plants, ponds, land features etc on a narrow band of fabric, which was coiled into a spiral for display. I would love to have seen it uncoiled to appreciate all the little details. As well as an unusual way of presenting work, it is a wonderful visual diary of all the things the artist has taken the trouble to observe, draw and stitch.

Elizabeth Brimelow, 461 Days – A Slice Of My Life, (fabric, card, stitch)

This long, concertina book had a scrap of fabric and a brief written note to represent each of the 461 days of the diary. Another interesting idea for making a personal journal.

Elizabeth Brimelow, Mellow Yellow (silk, appliqué, reverse appliqué, hand and machine stitch, fused, hand knotted)

I feel that this quilt relates to the coursework that I am doing at the moment: drawing plants (autumn fruit, leaves and berries, in this case) and combining them in a textile; using a variety of techniques and marks to represent the objects.

Sara Impey‘s quilts feature free-motion sewing machine stitched text as an integral part of the design.

Sara Impey, Social Fabric

This quilt told the imagined story of the piece of antique mattress cloth that the artist had found at a car boot sale. Sara ponders on its significance, its previous owner, and what it went through to end up at a car boot sale. She states that the associated memories make our possessions unique. I thought that this gave poignancy to what could have been an overlooked or discarded piece of cloth, and it underlines the way an item’s history can affect the way we see it and feel about it.

It reminded me of Julie Arkell’s French market find of a scrap of ribbon with the word ‘MAMAN’ embroidered on it. It conjures up the image of child carefully making a hand-sewn gift for her mother, which was then treasured for many years before eventually ending up in a house clearance, being sold at a market and finding a new, appreciative owner. It gives this tiny scrap of fabric and thread immense meaning beyond its constituent parts.

julie arkell maman ribbon

Source: Julie Arkell, Home, exhibition catalogue, Ruthin Art Gallery, 2004, p36 (detail).

Kate Dowty is a new artist to me. She has a background in graphic design and her works are all wall hangings with a focus on colour and texture. I loved the colour palette of this quilt, inspired by the music of Miles Davis and the artist’s ‘Winter blues’. I feel that it captures emerging from the dark days of winter, along with the improvisation of jazz music well. The beautiful indigo colour is enlivened by the textures of the different types of fabric patches and the dense stitch. The red lends a sense of electricity and makes me think of ideas fizzing into being.

P1290666

Kate Dowty, Out of The Blues (fabric collage, machine stitch)

This piece had raw edge patches and was not ‘finished’ at the edges. As a personal preference, I like the image to go all the way to the edge of the quilt without a border, so this appealed to me. I am always interested to see how the quilts are constructed, and another quilt by this artist, Everything Connects, seemed to be made up of small units, which had then been sewn together at the end (much easier to handle under the sewing machine, from a practical point of view!).

Marita Lappalainen was another new (to me) Finnish artist, whose work I found very appealing. She says that her work is based on her own experiences, but she is happy when it resonates with others. She works mainly in appliqué and hand quilting using recycled textiles for ecological and other reasons. These textiles are imbued with meanings, signs, memories and the touch of “… times long gone”. The artist likes the fact that textiles made and owned by others will live on in her work.

Marita Lappalainen, Sweet City (recycled woollen fabrics, knitted garments, crocheted potholders).

I love the fantasy buildings with their abstract, but “fairy-tale-like” exuberance. The repetition of shape; the variety in textures; the colour palette of pinks, mustard, red, brown and green; the mixture of tones; and the placement of the composition on the ‘canvas’ were all elements that I felt made this piece successful.

This is a small taster of what was on display and it was well worth the visit for those interested in textiles.

Summary

What can I learn from these artists?

Elizabeth Brimelow – draw what interests you, and translate those drawings into fabric and stitch. Her ideas for visual journals were something to bear in mind and show new ways of presenting textiles.

Sara Impey – consider using text as an important element of a composition: to tell a story, to make a political point, or social comment, or to add humour to a piece.

Kate Dowty – don’t be afraid to use raw edges in quilts; make a larger piece out of smaller units, which can be joined at the end of sewing. Link the colour palette to ideas and emotions.

Marita Lappaainen – use recycled textiles; concentrate on:- composition and placement; the colour palette used; repeated motifs and tonal distribution.


 

 

References:-

Books:-

Julie Arkell, Home, 2004 exhibition catalogue, Ruthin Art Gallery, Wales

Websites:-

http://www.quiltart.eu/elizabethbrimelo.html Accessed 21/04/17

http://www.katedowty.com/index.html Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.maritalappalainen.fi/ Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.quiltart.eu/elizabethbrimelo.html Accessed 20/04/17

https://www.rheged.com/event/new-quilting/ Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.saraimpey.com/ Accessed 20/04/17

 

Coursework Part 5: Project 2: Building A Response: Research

I borrowed several books from the library featuring the work of David Hockney and Vincent van Gogh because I admire the lively and colourful way that those artists depict flowers in their artwork, but felt that their work did not really represent the direction that I feel drawn to, of simplified or abstract landscapes and plants based on observation. I therefore identified a few artists and a jeweller that I feel are working in a way that I feel empathy with. So although these artists do not all depict flowers or plants, their way of working is something that I wished to examine.

Sarah Symes is a Canadian artist, who has also lived and worked in the UK and USA, but is now in Squamish, Canada. She trained and worked in graphic design before becoming a professional artist.

Sarah Symes (titles added to each image)

Source:- http://sarahsymes.com

Sarah works by cutting textiles into the shapes she requires, pinning them to a base textile, before machine sewing the pieces into position. The image shown at right, above, was digitally designed and printed onto banners and was one of three award-winning designs that she produced for display in her local town.

The artist describes her working process as beginning with sketching. She then selects forms which suggest the landscapes she is depicting and aims to depict feelings, memories and emotions through her chosen colour palette. Textiles are purchased, washed and some are hand dyed to suit her requirements. The finished artworks are built up in “… an improvised process, like painting or collage, enabling the gradual build up of colour and texture.”

I like this artist’s work because the pieces are very evocative of the subject matter she depicts, but allow the viewer to bring their own associations to the shapes and colours she uses. For example, I can see buildings and windows in the Havana piece, and the colours evoke brightly painted buildings, dry earth and sun to me. Others may see something quite different.

 Leisa Rich is a Canadian artist whose work I had seen when researching drawing for this part of the coursework. Her layered work and experimental combinations of media are of particular interest to me.

Leisa Rich, titles appended to each image

Source:- http://monaleisa.com

Leisa takes an experimental approach to her artwork, but states that her favourite techniques are 3-D printing, and free motion machine embroidery. She mentions an interesting, heat-sensitive base material that she enjoys working with, called ‘Fosshape‘, (which I see is out of stock with the UK supplier, but is worth noting for future experimentation). Other materials used by the artist include:- thread, plastics, fabrics, mixed media, and re-purposed waste materials.

The framed pieces shown above are made from two or three layered frames featuring plastic with cutaway areas, stitch and paint or other media. The frames can be recombined in different configurations according to the viewer’s whim. The layering gives an added dimension to the artwork, and I like the simple method of presentation, and the technique of building an artwork out of smaller units.

Her artist’s statement has a touching story of how she came to make art. In it she says “… it is art I come back to, to notice, to capture, to recreate that feeling” [of a peaceful childhood in which she noticed everything]. Tiny objects which are often ignored are recreated in her art, through suggested structures, forms and textures.

I came to see Anna Gordon‘s jewellery through reading Kyra Cane’s book “Making & Drawing”. Stylised versions of plants, with abstract additions in some cases, have lingered in my memory.

Anna Gordon

Sources:- http://www.annagordon.com and Cane, 2012

Anna draws on all sorts of sources in her environment for inspiration, including nature and the repeated motifs found in textiles such as Japanese silks. She sketches her ideas before making the pieces by hand, trying to capture the quality of her drawn lines. Thought is given to how the “sketch” (ie, jewellery) will appear on the body, causing light reflections, shadows, movement and contrasts. The artist works with simplified organic and geometric forms in metal, combined with natural media, gemstones and/or enamel.

I find these reinterpretations of natural forms very successful, and the strange little additions give a moment of added surprise. The artist’s method of development, trying to capture the nature of her drawings in a new media is particularly pertinent to the forthcoming projects in the coursework.

Philip Hughes is an artist interested in landscape and the affect of man on that landscape. His work includes paintings, drawings, murals, rugs and tapestries. I recently discovered his work in the form of a book called “Patterns in the Landscape: The Notebooks of Philip Hughes“. I was captivated by his drawings and notes made in situ, showing landscapes in the UK, Australia, Iceland and the USA, amongst others. He worked, at that time, on recycled brown paper sketchbooks in pencil, making linear, contour drawing-type marks to describe the view in front of him. Small amounts of painted colour are added for later reference when making the finished artworks. I loved the look of the flat colour and pencil lines on the textured brown paper so much that I have ordered a kraft paper sketchbook (which I hope will be similar) to try for myself (and the paper seems appropriately ‘earthy’ in texture for representing plant life upon). In Philip’s drawings, some of the land forms are quite recognisable, but others evolve into abstract patterns. The colour palettes are very evocative of the particular country (or area of the country) depicted, and together with the artist’s notes (which might mention the weather, an animal seen, or details about the location) make a fascinating journal of his travels.

Philip Hughes

Source:- http://www.philiphughesart.com

Colour palettes and carefully observed forms in the landscape seem to be key to this artist’s work.

Yesterday I went to the New Quilting exhibition at the Rheged centre in Cumbria. The work of textile artist, Janet Twinn was particularly relevant to this part of the coursework. For the art quilt shown below, the artist made a number of drawings and took photographs of garden plants to inform the shapes she would use in the piece. She then considered the colour palette. Janet dyes her own fabrics and/or paints or prints them, and keeps records in a separate technical book. In her artist’s statement, Janet says that colour is the most important aspect of her work, and that she is interested in its “… emotional effect on our senses and in how it can convey mood and atmosphere.”

Janet Twinn, Green Blooms, and developmental work for the piece

I felt that this art quilt was successful in conveying a sense of vibrancy and growth both in the use of colour and in the suggested plant forms. The palette used has analogous greens, including muted shades, combined with contrasting orange and purple from the secondary triads of the hue continuum. The use of hand coloured and decorated fabrics allows the artist control over the pattern and colours she creates.

Summary

What can I learn from these artists?

Sarah Symes – begin with sketching from first hand source material. Consider the forms used (representative of the source material), and colour palette (what associations does it evoke?).

Leisa Rich – take the time to notice small details (through use of the sketchbook and careful observation). Adopt an experimental approach and consider using new technologies and novel methods of presentation. Build a large artwork from smaller units. Consider the possibilities offered by layering and compositions that can be reconfigured.

Anna Gordon – concentrate on drawing from source material, then capturing the nature of that drawing in the new media (ie, paper, yarn and textiles, for me). Consider mixing unexpected elements with natural forms, such as geometric shapes.

Philip Hughes – make carefully studied drawings from first hand observation of source material. Keep notes and colour samples for future reference. Develop abstract forms from accurately rendered sketches.

Janet Twinn – use drawings and photographs of directly observed source materials. Use further drawing and painting to simplify and develop designs and colour palettes. Consider altering materials to your exact requirements.


References:-

Books:-

Cane, K Making & Drawing, 2012, Bloomsbury, London, pp 14 – 17

Hughes, P Patterns in the Landscape: The Notebooks of Philip Hughes, 1998, Thames and Hudson, London

Websites:-

http://www.annagordon.com/gallery?dsc_0109-jpg Accessed 18/04/17

http://www.janettwinn.co.uk/artist.html Accessed 19/04/17

http://monaleisa.com/ Accessed 18/04/17

https://www.parkinfabrics.co.uk/fosshape-300r.html Accessed 18/04/17

http://www.philiphughesart.com Accessed 18/04/17

https://www.rheged.com/event/new-quilting/ Accessed 19/04/17

http://sarahsymes.com Accessed 18/04/17

Part 5: Project 1: Option 3: Floral Compositions

Having looked back over my drawing research and drawings made in previous parts of the course, I looked at images on Pinterest and ello.co to find some inspiring drawings of flowers and foliage to inform this stage of the project.

Drawing Inspiration

Source: details about individual artists can be found on my Pinterest boards.

From this research, I can see that layering, mixing types of mark and types of media, simplifying forms and using carefully selected palettes are important for producing these enticing outcomes.

My approach was to use a wide variety of media and techniques for information gathering from the plant source material. The course guide stresses the importance of making new marks and sourcing new colour information to feed through to the development stage, so that was another point to bear in mind.

The source material was also to be varied, to provide interesting drawings to take forward. I selected a bunch of roses, a bunch of tulips and, taking inspiration from Elizabeth Blackadder‘s flower paintings: gathering inspiration from my garden: a chard leaf and views of plum blossom and a wider view of part of the garden.

I experimented with different backgrounds, lighting options and whether or not to include other objects, shown in the collage below are some of the experiments.

Coursework Part 5 collage

Another preparatory exercise was to make a mind map describing the flowers and making some associations.

roses mind map

#1

Gouache paint and chalk on watercolour paper. A3 size.

I wanted to start with something fairly ‘realistic’ and the colour of the roses suggested gouache paint to me as a medium – it’s chalky, opaque colour seemed an apt way of trying to capture the colour palette of the arrangement. I had added in the coffee pot as it made a good contrast to the bright colours, and I selected the sky blue wall as the perfect foil for the colour of the flowers. The colour of the flowers was echoed in the tea-towel and oranges.

I was pleased with the colour palette in this piece – although not identical to the original, I really like this range of hues from all round the colour wheel, with touches of brown and white. I think this looks rather old-fashioned (a quick Google search provides numerous examples of artists painting roses), but it could be simplified and rendered in other media, such as a print on textiles. Roses provoke associations with romance and love. The colour palette perhaps gives it a more modern vibe.

On the downside, the position of the arrangement on the paper was not good – the roses are all cramped up at the top.

P1290732

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #1.

#2

Felt pen on smooth sketchbook paper.

In this drawing, I concentrated on the pattern and lines found in the flower heads and leaves. I thought that this was quite successful in capturing the pattern made by the petals and could imagine this line drawing layered over a patterned cream or grey background, or in red against a black ground to make a fabric design. Its simplicity means that it could work with a number of colour palettes. The fineness of the paper was perhaps more suited to the subject than the thick watercolour paper.

#3 and #4

#3: Pencil on cartridge paper. A3 size. (Two details shown).

#4: Pigma Micron pen and Aquarelle pencils on cartridge paper. A3 size.

Trying out a different, simpler arrangement, laying the flowers out like scientific specimens. One quick pencil sketch using a mixture of soft and hard lines. The second drawing is a simplified, version accentuating the form and features of the roses. I find that I prefer to make a realistic drawing first and then, having observed the source material closely, I can more easily identify the aspects that need to be included in the simplified version. It is a way of getting familiar with the subject. The simplified version is perhaps suited to illustrative uses, such as greetings cards or wrapping paper. The colour palette is ‘cute’ with pretty pastels.

#5

Pencil and gel pen on cream watercolour paper. A5 with 2.5 x 2.5 cm boxes.

Concentrating on tiny details, identified with a viewfinder. This exercise had been useful in Assignment 1, and I tried to highlight rose features that define the plant (leaf, thorn, petals, sepals etc.) The resulting snapshots provide some interesting patterns that could be developed in stitch. Tiny drawings in flat bright colour might be something to try on another occasion.

#6

Paper, textile, and mixed media, collage on mount board, 40.5 x 27 cm

A first ‘realistic’ attempt at this arrangement. The purple/pink blooms were already twisting downwards away from the main bunch. I used suggestions of walls and a table for the background with the painted lace fabric giving a cottage/’shabby chic’ feel to the piece. I also tried printing a background with lace, but that didn’t work well with watercolour, maybe with acrylic or oil paint it would have done. The stems alone are fascinating in the way that they twist springily out from the bunch and could probably be represented by couched yarn or similar. The colour palette of bright colours against a muted background is, I feel, successful. I can imagine these working well in a quilt or wall hanging. The placement of this arrangement on the page was more successful than the first painted roses drawing.

tulips mind map

#7

Wax on Khadi paper, size A4

This drawing explores the waxy quality of the tulips with wax applied with various tools to the paper. The drawing concentrates on the silhouette of the flowers and foliage. I experimented with pattern to represent the jug and background. The leaves and flower heads worked well with this media, but I’m not so sure about the rest. Using wax means that the paper becomes translucent when held up to the light where wax has fully penetrated the paper. This might be useful for free-hanging work. I like the monotone simplicity of this palette: shades of grey give it a subtle and sophisticated air – like a damask curtain fabric. One possible future development is to work on textile using a batik method, and to introduce colour.

#8

P1290568

Felt pens/POSCA pens on ‘marker paper’. A5.

Trying out a new type of smooth, coated paper, ideal for felt pens. It has a satiny sheen to it that suits the shiny texture of the plants. I used lines to try to capture the lines on the surface of the petals and leaves, and to show the way the light gleamed on them. The flower heads worked well in this drawing, and I can imagine using embroidery or machine stitch to recreate this linear pattern on textiles. I find the pink and orange of the flower at top left to be a particularly pleasing colour combination that would work well in fashion accessories such as scarves.

P1290728

Gouache painted colour stripes representing the palette found in drawing #8.

#9

Chalk and nail varnish on watercolour paper. A5 size.

It occurred to me that nail varnish had the right kind of colour and shine to it to represent tulip petals, so this was a quick experiment to see what it would look like. The viscous liquid is hard to work with, which means that only a rough approximation can be achieved. The shine is apparent on the finished drawing, but the smell of the chemicals is horrible, so I would probably not repeat the process. Thinking about it, one could probably make a whole picture using make-up (eye shadow, pencils, lip stick, blusher etc): a thought to bear in mind if the subject matter is appropriate.

#10

Acrylic paint on tracing paper. A4 size.

I wanted to try a close-up view of one of the ‘blown’ tulips looking at the details in the centre of the flower (inspired by the work of Georgia O’Keeffe), and using thick acrylic paint to try to capture the ridged, succulent petals in texture. The paper was really too thin for this type of paint (it wrinkled), but its waxy translucent quality did feel like a good fit for the subject matter. The simple colour palette of shades of red with touches of black and white was dramatic and could inspire eveningwear in the fashion world, or accessories such as an embossed, faux leather handbag. The thick acrylic paint did provide the most accurate rendition of the texture and weight of the petals.

P1290733

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #10.

#11

Ink on watercolour paper; pencil on tracing paper; POSCA pen on cellophane. A4 size.

In this drawing I was exploring ways of layering marks and patterns (inspired by the work of Leisa Rich) and using the tulips to inform the created marks. Another link is Escher’s Three Worlds print in which a reflection of trees, the surface of a pond and the fish in the depths are shown. In my somewhat less accomplished piece, the eye is drawn in to notice the main top layer, and then the more faded and delicate marks beneath.

I think that this area is ripe for further experimentation: introducing colour, transparency and hidden areas; using cutaway areas; introducing texture. This could lead to dramatic artwork, ideas for printed and embellished textiles and free hanging layers which might be useful in home decor.

#12 and #13

Graphite block on cartridge paper; chalk and POSCA pen on Khadi paper. A4.

Exploring line in these two drawings of a plum tree. The first, graphite drawing concentrates on the lines and patterns made by the branches; the second introduces the additional layer of emerging blossom. I like the simplicity of these drawings and feel that the linear pattern of the branches could feed into textiles as a background pattern, or a close-up section (example shown at top left, above) could be developed into an abstract art work by itself. Black lines on a white ground look striking and austere. The introduction of blue and white gives the palette a Japanese feel.

P1290731

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #13.

#14

Mixed media on cartridge paper. A1.

Inspired by Alicia Galer‘s wonderful drawings, brimming with mixtures of marks, I decided to try a distant view of part of our garden (most of the plants I have drawn so far have been in mid to close views). This also showed plants in a natural state rather than arranged in a vase, and was worked on a larger size of paper. I enjoyed making this drawing – using which ever medium and technique seemed suitable to the subject (eg, felt pen for the spiky chives, blended chalk for distant or indistinct foliage, sponge printed paint for the new leaves; splodges of thick white paint applied with a bunch of fine wooden dowels for the blossom). This method generated a variety of types of mark, including overlapping areas, that could be taken forward for development into stitch. The palette is restricted to greens, browns, and grey with a touch of yellow.

#15 and #16

#15 Aquarelle pencils and felt pen on cartridge paper. A5.

#16 Oil pastels on cartridge paper. A5.

Comparing fast and slow study of the subject: the Aquarelle drawing took an hour or more, the oil pastel drawing was completed in a few minutes. The first drawing captured more of the succulent texture of the leaf and stem, but there is something lively and recognisable about the quickly-made drawing. The colour palette of the first drawing is one that I like: cherry red, muted green, and purple with white highlights. The leaf quickly dried out and flattened, which is something to bear in mind when using source material that can degrade.

P1290730

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #15.

#17

Photograph, metallic thread, beads on glossy photographic paper. 15 x 10 cm.

Inspired by the work of María Aparicio Puentes, whose work I had seen in some previous research, I took a macro photograph of a willow catkin and added stitch and bead embellishment over the top. I considered quite carefully the amount of stitch and the placement of the stitch, as well as the colour palette to use: opting for sparkly pink and silver to add an interesting extra layer of texture and contrast to the image, without overpowering it. The lines echo and extend the stamen and perform the function of highlighting the structure and pattern of the catkin.

I liked this technique and the outcome, and can imagine using it in collage work or as a way to add a layer of interest and texture to 2-D images. The colour palette of soft brown, yellow, white and pink with a touch of green is very Spring-like and delicate: the sparkle evokes a frosty morning.

P1290729

Gouache painted colour stripes representing image #17.

Summary

What have I learnt in this Project?

  • To make a quick outline to check the position of the subject on the page.
  • Begin with a ‘realistic’ drawing and use the information gathered to generate more simplified images.
  • Layering marks can give depth and interest to a piece and should be translatable into exciting stitch and textiles.
  • Mixing media and using colours and marks appropriate to the subject was a freeing way to work and generated interesting material for further development.

 


References:-

Websites:-

http://blog.aliciagaler.com/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.georgiaokeeffe.net/oriental-poppies.jsp Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://monaleisa.com/archive/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.scottish-gallery.co.uk/artist/elizabeth_blackadder Accessed 14/04/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Worlds_(Escher) Accessed 14/04/17

 

Exhibition Visits: Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

This 500 acre park is host to more than 80 sculptures (I will need to make a return visit to see all of them! For example, the works by Andy Goldsworthy were a little too far to walk to on a cold, March day). Two works that I found particularly memorable were:-

James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace, 2007

This sculpture uses a disused deer shelter (who knew such a thing existed?!), which has been converted to have austere stone seating in a dark, windowless, grey, underground room. The only light is shed through a square, cut into the ceiling, through which you can see the ever-changing skyscape (again grey, on the day we visited, but with subtle variations and movements in the clouds – rather like a Rothko painting). It felt like being in a sensory deprivation room, with only the sky to look at and contemplate. As a calm place for meditation, I thought it would work, but I imagine that it gets rather busy on sunnier days. This American artist has explored light and skyscapes throughout his career, his most well-known work being the Roden Crater project in the Arizona desert, and links have been drawn to a quote from his Quaker grandmother, who said “Look within yourself and welcome the light”. I see a connection to structures made by ancient civilisations, such as Stonehenge, that celebrate alignments of the sun, moon and planets.

Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree, 2013

P1290421

This sculpture is constructed from ninety-seven iron sections, cast from the parts of numerous real trees. The individual casts are re-constructed into the shape of a tree using traditional Chinese joints, in which the nuts and screws are obvious. The roughness of the bark and fissures in the wood are re-created. The artist has stated that his work with fragments highlights the importance of the individual in creating the whole. And that the use of found wood relates to culture being influenced by its forebears.

As we approached the chapel, in whose grounds this sculpture stands, we kept looking at real trees at a distance, wondering if they were the artwork. The non-contiguous nature of the joins and the unnatural regularity of the construction mean that it stands out as manmade, and was instantly recognisable when we found it. I found it to be almost beautiful, but not as beautiful as a real tree. For me, it said something about our inability to capture the perfection (and imperfections) found in the natural world. The rusting nature of the materials used means that it will eventually disappear, much like the natural life cycle of a real tree.

In an interview with smithsonian.com, Ai Weiwei discusses the influence that they Zhou Dynasty Chinese art has on him (2-3,000 years ago), describing it as “… the highest form in human art”. He also remarks upon the wholistic approach of these artists and craftsmen “… with philosophy, aesthetics, morality and craftsmanship – it was just one…”. Another link that the artist draws, is between his work and van Gogh’s: that artist’s approach to his work as being like a form of religious worship.

Disobedient Bodies at The Hepworth Wakefield

This exhibition is curated by fashion designer, Jonathan Anderson. It explores “the human form in art, fashion and design.”

Sculptures are displayed next to the work of fashion designers and design objects, provoking comparisons in how the pieces interact and how they depict the human body.

There were also photographs by Jamie Hawkesworth, featuring local school children wearing some of the clothing.

Wakefield Kids by Jamie Hawkesworth

Jamie Hawkesworth, part of the Wakefield Kids series 09/15

Source:- http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/gallery/23638/8/wakefield-kids-by-jamie-hawkesworth

This child wears an Issey Miyake Bamboo Pleats dress, which clearly illustrates the way the clothing affects the form and outline of the body, when worn.

P1290442

Jean Paul Gaultier, Cone dress, 1983/84

This dress was paired with Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure, 1936, carved in elm wood. Apart from the pose, I did not find much in common with these two pieces: the wooden sculpture being rounded, hard, shiny, recognisably human and timeless: the cone dress feels rather dated and very much of its time (1980s), with its exaggerated and cartoon-like female shape. Although they do show a similar abstraction, and a link to undulating landscapes.

P1290445

Issey Miyake, Lantern dress (seen at right, above), 1994

Isamu Noguchi Akari (Ceiling Model E) (at left), 1954

Isamu Noguchi, Akari (Ceiling Model 31N) (centre), 1954

These objects had an obvious connection in form, derived from traditional Japanese lamps. I found the pieces quite beautiful – sculptural, yet luminous and delicate in construction. When seen on the body, the Issey Miyake dress looks surprisingly wearable, while giving the wearer a uniquely different silhouette.

P1290470

J W Anderson, 28 Jumpers, 2017

This playful series of giant jumpers were touchable, and made a dream-like exhibit. Some had wear and tear holes repeated throughout the length, making them appear to be ‘old favourites’ from someone’s wardrobe. Their size seems to be elevating their importance and making us contemplate the everyday patterns, designs and textures to be found in our own home. It was interesting to watch visitors interacting with the objects – when one is so used to ‘not touching’ artworks in an exhibition. It underlines the tactile nature of textiles, which provoke an almost irresistible urge to reach out and feel them.

The Hepworth Wakefield

Other items on display at the museum were the Hepworth maquettes and models discussed previously in this article.

In a collaboration with Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and artist, Anthea Hamilton, a collection of objects from the Kettle’s Yard collection have been displayed with specially commissioned pieces (such as large African, braided grass rugs, which lend a wonderful, straw-like aroma to the gallery), and a grand piano. Kettle’s Yard is the collection of modern British art owned by H S Jim Ede, normally housed in a series of modernised cottages, in which the owner lived and displayed his collection, alongside furniture and natural artifacts. He and his wife, Helen, lived there between 1958 and 1973, and donated the collection to the University of Cambridge in 1966.

P1290463

Anthea Hamilton, Christopher Wood Kimono, 2016 (indigo and eucalyptus dyed cotton, natural cotton, silk, metal)

Anthea has been inspired by a self-portrait by Christopher Wood from the Kettle’s Yard collection and has used the colour palette and pattern of triangles in the jumper shown in the painting to inform this new artwork.

I very much liked this piece, with its geometric pattern, yet handmade look, showing slight variations to each of the shapes. It has a Japanese look and feel in form, but the colour palette derived from the painting gives it a link to the collection and shows the artist’s response to what she has observed and taken from the painting.

P1290469

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Bird Swallowing a Fish, 1914 (original plaster), Posthumous bronze cast, 1964

I love the humour and simplified forms in this piece. It takes a moment to work out what is happening, but it has a nice sense of balance and harmony. The smooth surface and monotone colour palette focus your eye on the narrative, and shapes present in the piece.

P1290465

Anthea Hamilton, Vulcano Table, 2014 (blown glass sculpture).

This striking sculpture quickly caught my attention, with its balloon-like blown glass forms apparently caught in mid-fall. The simple red and black palette forms a connection to the volcano of the title, as does the oozing, lava-like appearance. The artist has linked this piece to the Kettle collection in the way that functional items (such as the desk that the glass forms rest on) can be a new setting for displaying art (as opposed to being confined to a gallery). I applaud the idea of art forming part of everyday life and being displayed around homes, offices and public buildings for all to enjoy. In practice, there is always the problem of damage and theft to contend with!

Summary

What can I learn from these artists?

The sculptures at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park showed ways of working with nature, highlighting one aspect (eg, light) as a way of contemplating the whole of nature and our place within it.

Working with 3-D objects that will be:- viewed from all sides and angles; must be weatherproof; possibly interactive; and look at home in their environment are all aspects of sculpture to be born in mind.

The Disobedient Bodies exhibition made me consider the ways in which the human form can be an influence on art, design and fashion – acting as a canvas on which the artist or designer can paint their own ideas. I rarely use figures in my own work, but this is an area that I am interested in. I can practise drawing and modelling figures to gain confidence in representing the human figure, which opens all sorts of possibilities for future development (such as wearable art, jewellery, fashion and depicting the figure in artworks).

The Hepworth Wakefield: Anthea Hamilton’s Kimono shows how you can be inspired by one small aspect of another artist’s work (eg, colour palette and pattern). It was interesting to see how The Kettle’s Yard collection in general has sparked ideas for Anthea’s new works, and has led to new connections and evolutions to the collection. For me, it underlines the importance of studying the work of artists and designers for inspiration. One feature or quality in an artwork could trigger a new line of thought that could provide inspiration for my own work.

 


References:-

Websites:-

http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/gallery/23638/8/wakefield-kids-by-jamie-hawkesworth Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/shop/print/021509/henry-moore-mini-print-reclining-figure Accessed 13/04/17

https://j-w-anderson.com/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/collection-item/self-portrait/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.mapltd.com/artist/jamiehawkesworth/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://rodencrater.com/about/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/ai-weiwei-on-his-favorite-artists-living-in-new-york-and-why-the-government-is-afraid-of-him-30139964/#mFPRBcC4PhsLQlpY.99 Accessed 03/04/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/turner-prize-2016/about-artists/anthea-hamilton Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/mark-rothko-1875 Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/henri-gaudier-brzeska-1143 Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.ysp.co.uk/exhibitions/ai-weiwei Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.ysp.co.uk/exhibitions/james-turrell-deer-shelter-skyspace Accessed 13/04/17

Denise Zygadlo Lecture

The Dumfries & Galloway Embroiderers’ Guild invited textile artist, Denise Zygadlo to give a talk today. It was very entertaining and was illustrated with images of her work, and examples of actual artworks, exhibition catalogues and sketchbooks for us to examine.

This was the first time that I had seen her artwork and I was struck by the cohesion of the work she produces: all with an interest in cloth and the body. Her work includes drawing, print, performance, artist books, and installation. She has collaborated with various creative people to explore dance, music, movement, and poetry paired with her art works.

Denise said that she had an early interest in textiles – clothing in particular – and remembers dressing up (from a ‘dressing up box’) as a child, and can still recall the feel of some of the clothing. She completed a foundation course followed by an applied arts degree and worked with printed textiles and fashion. After raising her children, she returned to art and began with a collaborative project. She then joined the Society of Scottish Artists and has exhibited many artworks with that group, as well as holding two solo exhibitions.

When searching for ways to express her artistic ideas, she found Image Maker, a product that can be applied to a photocopy, allowing it to be transferred to a textile. (The image is coated with the liquid, applied face down on the textile, allowed to dry, before the paper is moistened and removed leaving the image intact). Before that, she had worked with images printed directly from her body using paint.

The artist chose to make autobiographical portraits of her body, wrapped in muslin, on a photocopier, then reassemble these partial images as a collage onto silk organza. She liked the intimacy achieved by pressing against the glass, giving details of skin and cloth (better than a photograph could achieve). The finished artworks have the feeling of an ancient fresco in their incomplete rendering of the figure.

Denise now uses digital printing, (carried out by the Glasgow School of Art), as a simpler way of transferring the images to silk chiffon textile. The finished art works can be large banner-sized pieces that are suspended from a gallery ceiling to hang down and move in the breeze. The finished artworks have a translucency, and are reproducible and washable, which are further advantages over the original method.

The artist has collaborated with many other artists: one example including projecting images over her hanging art works, and onto the wall behind them. On other occasions performance and music have been included. These collaborations add another layer to the two-dimensional, printed aspect of the artworks. The scale of the work varies from images just a few inches across presented in the artist’s books, to the larger, banner-sized pieces.

This video illustrates the artist’s Wrap exhibition from 2014.

Drawing is a large part of the artist’s practice. Her highly-detailed pencil drawings of lace fabric on a contorted body were very beautiful. The pattern on the textile wrinkling and twisting with the movement of the body beneath. Denise said that the drawing was built up from layers of pencil marks, worked over many hours, and observed from a photograph of the subject.

Denise Zygadlo, Tara VII, Drawing

Source:- http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/gallery.php?cat=drawings

Other artworks include the remaking of her Mother’s jacket, which had been worn and passed down through three generations. The translucent, remade version had images of the three women on it.

Another piece showed bundles of linen, or blankets, or finery mounted on plinths, relating to textiles owned by most people, but also having a resonance with the refugee crises and the belongings the displaced people choose to take with them.

More recent artworks combine classical art (such as images of one of Michaelangelo’s statues) collaged with photocopies of the artist’s body, and again, digitally printed onto textile.

Many of the images felt rather poignant, referencing cloth as a ‘second skin’, that ages and wrinkles in the same way as our own skin. I particularly liked the images transferred to old canvases that had been removed from stretchers, and still bear the marks of staples and age discolouration. These appear like abstract images, maybe landscapes, before one can discern a body part and crumpled textile. Denise cited a connection with ‘bog people‘: those whose bodies have ended up being preserved in peat, in extremely good condition, allowing a glimpse into their lives and deaths. Other people have felt a religious resonance when viewing the artworks.

The artworks feel open to interpretation: are they autobiographical? or making some wider point about the importance of cloth in our lives? The wrapping gives a timeless feel to the pieces, since they make no reference to fashion; and the use of a black and white colour palette gives them an ‘antique’ look. There feels to me to be a link to birth, life and death – the swaddling of a child, through a lifetime of wearing clothes and using textiles, to the final shrouding of the dead. The artist herself discusses the feelings of comfort, security and the holding of memories encapsulated in cloth. I feel there is a connection to the work of Louise Bourgeois in the exploration of textiles imbued with autobiographical memories and stories.

What can I learn from this artist?

Thinking of how this might inspire my own studies: re-purposing my clothing in artwork could be linked to an autobiographical narrative, or one related to associations with textiles, clothing, fashion or the body. Using the body to present images that create resonances with many viewers and are open to various interpretations is a powerful idea.

I was struck by the focus and constraints that the artist had used: photocopying; black and white images; cloth and the body. As yet, I don’t feel that I know which art form or topics of interest I wish to pursue, but hopefully, that will emerge as I progress through the course.

Digital printing seems to offer an exciting way of reproducing art work on textiles that could be used in a variety of ways: from art works, to household textiles, to fashion.

Pairing the written word with art is a combination that I may explore in the future.

Denise re-entered the art world by joining an artists’ society that allowed her to network with other artists and exhibit her work. Well, maybe one day I will take on such a challenge!


References:-

Websites:-

http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/ Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.dylon.co.uk/other-products/craft/image-maker/image-maker/#.WOZ7S9Lyubg Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.s-s-a.org/ Accessed 06/04/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_body Accessed 06/04/17

Part 5: Project 1: Option 3: Floral Compositions: Action Plan

I have chosen to pursue the work created for Part 1, Project 3: Picking and Portraying, which involved drawing and mark-making inspired by flowers and plants.

After reviewing the original drawings, and selecting any that I feel are particularly successful or interesting and/or offer further development, I will choose fresh source materials to create a new arrangement (or several arrangements) to draw from. I would like to draw tulips, and may combine these with foliage and flowers or blossom from the garden. I will experiment with different backgrounds and lighting options and additional objects.

I will approach the task by trying a range of possible compositions, and by trying to gather different information in each drawing. I will give attention to selecting appropriate grounds, tools and media to work with. I will make a mind map to suggest associations with the source material. I am aiming to combine densities and type of mark in this new set of drawings. In my initial research, I was intrigued by Alicia Galer‘s lively drawings of plants, and will try to emulate her range of mark-making in some of my work. I will try monotone as well as colour drawings. Paint, collage and mixed media drawings will be explored. I will also make simplified versions, and more abstract marks concentrating on smaller areas of the composition, or small areas of the initial drawings.


 

Reference:-

Website:-

http://www.aliciagaler.com/ Accessed 03/04/17

 

Part 5: Project 1: Reflection: Stronger and Weaker Points of My Visual Research

Having reviewed my drawing and mark making work so far on the course, these are my thoughts on what worked and what I need to practise and improve upon.

Stronger Points

I felt that I had been experimental with regards to the range of media used (traditional paints, charcoal, pencil, ink, felt pens, etc, and less traditional: mud, mown grass, slug trails and flour, flower seeds, glue, etc); tools (such as feathers, a boot, fingers, paintbrushes, a bunch of sticks, etc); and the types and sizes of grounds that I had worked on (3-D surfaces, digital screens, and everything from tissue paper to corrugated cardboard, 1″ square drawings to A1 size – larger for the lawn drawing).

I had explored various lighting options (daylight, to a dark room lit with a faint red light) and compositions (extreme close-ups to full views of the arrangement, drawings focusing on form, outline, texture, pattern, colour); and techniques (spoken word, digital drawing, blind contour drawing, blind touch drawing, both fast, and more detailed drawings, simple, printed images, abstract and more representational drawings, hand sewn and machine sewn, collage, etc).

Weaker Points

I did not always link the observed source to an appropriate ground and/or media.

Looking back at the drawings from Part 1, some of them were rather similar. This was partly due to the museum only allowing pencil next to the exhibits, but some of them were made later, at home – lots of pencil, charcoal, and ink on white paper – rather safe and boring, however, I may still find this a good starting point!

As well as using white or black grounds, Cari recommends using more subtle combinations, such as white media on grey grounds, which I have taken on board in more recent coursework.

Including more variety in the compositions is certainly something I need to aim for (close-ups, small thumbnails to test compositions, perhaps including some background or other objects to give context).

There was a lack of variety in marks made within one drawing. Standing back to get an overview of work in progress and looking at the scale and type of marks I have used needs more attention. Using different densities of mark and a mix of bold/strong/large marks with small/quiet/delicate marks combined in one drawing is something I need to work on.

The quantity of sketchbook work, developmental (eg, testing different compositions), analytical and evaluative drawing needs to increase, as does drawing for proposing potential developments of the work.

I have made a summary of reminder notes, covering drawing, in this article, which I will refer to in the forthcoming projects.