Deborah Last Proposal 703/704 A Bricolage of Memory. This body of work will be produced exploring memory. Having spent a year interrogating my practice I have come to a place where I am confident about a painting practice and keen to challenge and explore that practice. In a recent studio clear out I brought work to light that has been an ongoing pursuit but an almost secret one. These are paintings I produced as personal references to particular moments in time. Three of these paintings in particular represent strong memories: they are paintings that portray the first moment that I saw my three children. They are painted from memory and represent the seconds after they were born when we first set eyes on each other. These paintings, though done possibly eight years ago, have not really been shown to anyone, not even their father until now. I have begun to interrogate two strong memories, the birth paintings and then last time I saw my Grandpa. I lived abroad for a number of years and was returning for another eighteen months after a brief return to the UK. As we parted we both knew we would not meet again. These first and last moments have a powerful and strong visual memory. I have also been investigating a childhood memory of losing my brother on Camber Sands Beach in Kent. I have worked from memory for a long time, it has sometimes become a slightly trivialised “party piece”. However, there is a small collection of more serious work that has been ongoing in my practice possibly retained from childhood: sitting down on the floor, pulling a story out of my head to be painted and investigated. The birth paintings were certainly that and perhaps as I reach an age where birth is no longer a thing I would or could do, it has become an interesting event to recall and investigate, not out of longing or regret, just out of an interest in recall and investigation. I have three children, all living, all healthy, all agreeable human beings. This is a remarkable thing as in many ways, the happenstance of existing in a place that has food and water, is conflict free, has good access to education and having the security of a stable home has enabled this. These things are of course not entirely of my making and some not at all. I wish to gather and investigate these memories and to build a collection of them, perhaps to be described as a Bricolage of Memory.
Aims • To investigate memory painting as a tool for image making• To explore the key moments of birth and death• To extend and challenge my painting practice through techniques and display• To explore ways to bring some form of taxonomy to the collection of memories. Objectives • I am working from an existing practice of painting from memory and I want to work towards a practice that is increasingly about the moment or happening, not as a recorded event but as an instance, a feeling, a happening connected at times to other happenings. • My key focus will be the beginning and the end of life. I have a number of moments that I wish to interrogate but am aware that for some of them I need to be careful about how I do this as these memories are also the memories of others. • Working with new surfaces and differing scales and materials I wish to fine tune my painting practice, particularly working with slippery and smooth surfaces. I am keen to keep my practice away from over consumption and toxic materials but have been working with a thixotropic primer that has been wonderful to use although it does not especially fit with that remit. I hope to work closely with Christopher Cooke to challenge and grow my painting technique and style. I have been looking at the work of the artist Ken Kiff, and also recent paintings by Tracy Emin both of whom have used thinly applied paint that has been allowed to run to reveal underpainting and ideas. • In a recent writing assignment we were asked to explore a taxonomy in which to display an object. This task captured my imagination and I have begun to expand the task. As we could invent our own taxonomy and exhibition/museum space I have begun to explore the idea of a “museum of memory”. From the introduction of the book Evocative Objects by Sherry Turkle I began to explore the idea of a Bricolage. The framing and sorting of my memories and potentially the objects that might come out of this investigation has become increasingly fascinating. These are being stored on small side sized cards in a wooden slide storage box discovered recently as we cleared my father-in-law’s home. I wish to continue to explore this ontology of objects and to understand more about the ordering and taxonomy of objects and memories. I have also begun to look at the collective memory and how this might be categorised. RationaleThis work feels like it has been a long time in coming. I have entered into MA study to investigate and interrogate my practice. I do not want to leave having pursued a practice that is not fully my own. This work feels fully and completely a practice that I can ‘mine’ and investigate possibly to the end of my painting life. Art for me is not purely an academic practice but a life lived. I have come here to interrogate and theoretically frame my practice but it must also be firmly rooted in a practice I can maintain beyond the MA. I feel fully connected to this and although this last few weeks have been very difficult and distracting as family issues have involved me and drawn me away from my practice I know this work is captivating me as I have been waking in the night thinking about it and scribbling away in a drawing package on my iPad in an effort to capture the ideas and thoughts ready for practice within the studio. Methods• Working through painting techniques and investigations. I will be working on primed surfaces, paper, board, wood. I will be working with oils. • Collecting; working with the slide boxes to investigate producing a Bricolage. • Investigating memory through reading and some workshops set up with dementia patients.• Guest curating an exhibition and running workshops investigating memory and the sea with Art For Life at Musgrove Hospital. SourcesSherry Turkle: Evocative objectsGraham Harman; Towards Speculative RealismRegarding the Pain of others: Susan SontagPosthuman: Rosi BraidottiI wish to investigate memory and alongside this some understanding of objecthood and the power of objects in assistance to recalling memory. These are the places that I am starting at but feel somewhat daunted by the vast field and do not wish to become distracted from the work. ArtistsShani Rhys JamesPaula RegoKen KiffTracy EminJoan Eardley There is a great list of artists that I have been looking at and influenced by but these are the key ones at the moment. Bibliography Terkle, S 2007 Evocative Objects Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT press Harman, G 2010 Towards Speculative Realism Winchester: Zero Braidotti, R 2013 The Posthuman Cambridge, UK: Polity Press Sontag, S 2004 Regarding the pain of others London: Penguin
PDP I envisage that by the end of 704 I will have rigorously interrogated this idea and begun to form a solid practice around it. I would like to make professional connections beyond the university looking towards and ongoing practice beyond the MA