I have spent this week working in these three mixed media drawing for submission to the Chaiya Award exhibition in the Oxo Tower in London next spring. The exhibition theme is God is… I feel my recent work around birth and motherhood fit into this theme in that I want to show that the traditional Marian ideal Has no place in modern thinking. These paintings demonstrate the power and energy of birth. I am attempting to show the tenderness and the rawness of these moments. Each woman is alone in the picture surface and she is ambiguous in her ethnicity in a deliberate attempt to make this about a change of perception. To be very different in concept to the mother and child paintings of the Madonna.
Tutorial with Josie Cochran
I came with the question, how do I determine what my question is? What is the work answering. The thoughts and questions that Josie has offered and asked have helped me to consider this.
What is the relationship between subject matter and methodology?
What is my question? Is it about the nature of drawing and is drawing about the shape of something... Josie felt that everything I do seems to be drawing...
The shape and fitting of the body around the body can be seen as a line that expands and grows. In much the same way as the wire figure. How did it feel to do that? Was it drawing? What is drawing to me?
Maybe I could think of story telling is a type of drawing.
Using a visceral material like cat gut to knit has links to traditional materials ; Like rabbit skin glue used in painting.
Materials: What can they do and where to they come from
How do I feel about the physical movement that drawing has?
Look at hospital rooms nhs projects... how are other people responding to similar questions when there are parameters like working with the NHS. How do you make work that tends people... what happens if I’m making this drawing for a specific person; just for them and on one else, that does or doesn’t trigger a reaction or trauma? How to produce work that is tender? what if they need tenderness?
Look at Lucy Stein painter/drawing mythology
Consider Birth and lineage as drawing a line. Consider movement, wrapping and tracing...
Drawing as an expression of extremes, not traditionally a confrontation means of making art
Lynette Yiadon-boakye figurative painter. It’s the why that I might find useful about this artist.
Big questions to ask:
what is the work doing???
What do I want my work to do and who is it for??
Going first definitely has it’s advantages and if felt good to be second week in and presenting my thoughts and ideas for this final year. I feel quite excited about the work I am hoping to do as I work towards the final MA show.
It was good to review the last two year’s work for the presentation and see a strong link between the what I’m doing now and what I have done. Good to get feed back at this early stage about the mixed media drawings and the wire knitting. I think the potential for the knitting to become a collaborative piece in its own right is exciting. The drawings were well received and the encouragement to keep going with the work was helpful. Tabatha suggested that I look at knitting with something more visceral as the wire felt too hard maybe too much like a barrier. Donna had the suggestion that rather than guess the end game I might set up a knit and natter and see what happens... Kieran suggested that I might record the stories while the knitting and nattering happens. Anya suggested I might be thinking of too many things which I am aware of and suggested too. General feeling that the drawings should be included and set up knit and natter and see what happens!
The morning session in Uni this week was spent with Tabatha we started with warming up exercises; moving our bodies, loosening our perception of the space we occupy. This included a trust exercise with one person in the centre of a close circle of the rest if the group and with eyes shut the central person rocked and swayed between the supporting arms of the others. This felt slightly. Scary to do but also amazing.
We went on to play with the ideas of conversation including games like Chinese whispers where we sent a group of actions round the circle, and word association games. then in pairs we spent about 20mins having an entirely visual conversation. these were on A4 sheets of paper and drawn with pencil. the room was silent and the conversations grew. Andy and Garry soon disrupting the surface of the paper and including the table and surrounding paper and tape. We were all nicely influenced by seeing this.
Moving on to an exquisite corpse type exercise about our own work and a response to each folded hint. These were done with felts and whilst we sat on the floor.
The final task done in threes, was to make a piece that each person set a rule for. Ours was to be thin, no scissors and colourful. We worked quite silently adding in much the same way as we had in the visual conversations. This haptic form created a sense of the conversation between us. The added moving “pendulum” felt like an aftermath of drawing.
Today having spent quite a long time feeling uncertain about how to proceed with these pieces, I feel I have made a good deal of progress. I threw a paint splash at the paper over a month ago, then felt it was too obvious and over stated to have such a bloodied image as part of the birth pictures. I knocked them back with gesso and they have stayed like that on the wall over the summer like a question waiting to be answered. what to I want to do with them? should they be paintings? Should they be drawings? Will I use oil? What are they? Do I need them?
As I walked the dog today on the Tarka Trail, noticing the light falling through the trees, seeing the many thangs that I engage with in the landscape, the things that make me paint about it, I made a conscious decision that what I needed to do today was not reinvent my style or do anything all that different but relish the light, draw like the life drawing I'd done the night before and be myself with this work. At times I've made the MA work too hard because I walk away from the style I have developed over years and years.....
These are the results of todays studio session. they are still wonky in places but they feel right. I have begun to make contacts with the maternity unit in Barnstaple and a midwife there who I hope will help me to find women who would like to be drawn during pregnancy and possibly even birth....these will inform the drawings I'm doing. Though working from memory has a certain charm I need more information I think.
Final session of the summer for me at the NDA Tuesday night life drawing session.
Today we were in Ottawa and the main thing on the agenda was the art gallery. great to get in at student pricing and i would have loved to stay all day. Traveling with someone who is an amazing 80 year old still has some limitations so i needed to be realistic. having written about Louise Bourgeois"s Mamon it was good to see the one that resides over the entrance. iterating to point out to my family that this sculpture is centred around the fact that the spider is a mother. they had no idea!
the gallery is an amazing space in its own right. The walkway up to the main galleries is flooded with light and feels like you are being prepared for the art work you are about to see. it was really interesting to go to the contemporary Canadian Galleries and connect with work there. I payed my homage to the Peter Diog but also enjoyed discovering new works and new artists. i very much enjoyed the work of Melvin Charney The Treasure of Trois Rivers 1975. staying in Prescott where my brother lives there were lost if houses build by the first owners, each different each has a sense of being pieced together with what could be found. caved out and beautiful in their own way. This piece resonated with what I had been seeing. Charley describes the building of this piece as being like an act of ritualising the loss of traditional of buildings in recent years.
I spotted that there was an exhibition of Yoko Ono's work and that it was walking distance from where we were staying so escaping from the rest of the family with my sister-in-law we managed a flying visit to this amazing retrospective.
Now I have knitted a reasonably sized piece of the copper wire it is obvious that it is not able to hold its shape. With a little bit of searching on line it suggests that if the coper is put under stress it holds its shape and becomes more firm. with this in minds and to make the "knitting" flatter i rolled it through my press. the flattened pice was more pleasing and i was able to from a torso but its is not ideal as a material because it would not hold together to form a three dimensional shape in the same way that the chicken wire did. I like the colour of the copper but will need to experiment with a different wire.
We’re in the Ashmolean Gallery and have gone to the modern art section and have to walk by the impressionist section. I’m suddenly interested in some Manet paintings that are unfinished. Drawn so strongly with fast and beautiful gesture. I think of the Claudette Johnson’s and how these works connect. By not being finished, by leaving things undone, the structure is there; the energy that becomes lost as the work is completed or over worked. I love these pictures. I need to remember how much I like things that stop well before they are over worked and hindered by too much information.