My practice has changed dramatically over the course of this year. My core interests at the beginning of the year where materiality and how contrasting materials can create a juxtaposition. These interests originated from the process of how materials are made. As a maker I like to be in complete control over the whole process, for example pouring the cement and then physically mixing it by hand makes me connect with the work. The first works I made this year came by chance, concentrating on the properties of the materials over the planning of works. During the first term I began to use the wall as it felt comfortable and safe to me. However this wall based work began to become commercial as pointed out to me by tutors and peers (Fig 1 & 2). This is why I started to move away from the wall focusing on the gold element of my work. The use of gold achieves the aspect of luxury in my work. The common idea of gold is that it is a luxurious and an exclusive material; simply the colour is enough to give the viewer a perception of wealth. In my practice I allude to creating desirable everyday objects that appear to hold a higher value than they simply due to the material they are encased in. The gold holds significance not only as a luxury but also connecting to concepts such as religion and strength. Furthermore reading Hal Fosters essay ‘Contemporary art and Spectacle’ and also ‘The return of the real’, I used two ready made materials which contrasted each other therefore creating a spectacle out of these everyday materials.
Taking my practice away from the wall led me to the black box where I created an experience installation, transforming the normal white bland space in the Quad into a Gold luxurious room (Fig 3). I wanted my work to be about materiality, juxtaposing this look alike, expensive, man made, material with a cheap, natural, straw covered floor. This transformed the space into what could have been a billionaires ‘over the top’ room. But the use of the straw made the work more of an art piece. This is when I started looking at the material I was using; the gold foil safety blankets. To start with I was using them for just the colour gold but they now have many more connotations; the current refugee crisis. We continuously see pictures of people in the news wrapped in these blankets which are saving their lives. Looking back at this piece the context is completely different, becoming a more serious message than what I first intended.
Moving from installations I worked with sculpture and interventions, activating my work by placing it directly into a landscape. Looking at the works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude involving the wrapping and encasing of objects. To start with I wrapped pre made objects such as a child’s pop up tent. To activate the work I took it to Waverly Abbey to create a contrast with this space-like object and the old ruins (Fig 4). Looking back at this first attempt of covering a structure, I decided to create a hexagon shape structure myself linking back to my wanting to control all aspects of my work. The hexagon was not a traditional one where all lengths are the same. The idea was create a tunnel like structure which will have three hexagons each 33% smaller than the one before. The scale of this work was much bigger than anything I have attempted to date. Making such a big work became a milestone in my development of my studio practice. I have increasing interest in the geometry and sequencing of the natural world, platonic solids and Fibonacci’s nature sequence which then can be translated into a 3D sculpture. By turning the structure it transformed into a vessel/ boat-like object which can then be linked back with the refugee crisis (Fig 5). The structure now is a sombre reminder that people’s lives are being saved by this material. I then explored the realms of Photoshop, superimposing the image of the structure onto a space grey background. This made the image look like it was floating in space. The background colour made the image sombre which in retrospect links to the main material of the safety blanket (Fig 6).
After this I used the same mathematical sequence as before to create a modern take on a coracle. Reusing the steel and the original hexagons of my previous piece became significant, not only showing development within my practice but also the development of vessels. As before I activated these sculptures by taking them to a lake so that they could realise their function. These images became the work over the sculptures (Fig 7). An element that I took forward into my next piece. I found that in making the images of the objects the work the finish of these objects was not as important, however I still strive to give each object a high quality finish.
Still continuing with the theme of creating vessels, specifically historical vessels, I next made a representation of an Amazonian canoe, again adding the mathematical twist from before. When it came to wrapping this new vessel I found it necessary to explore alternative materials as I thought that I might have overused the gold blankets and the context surrounding them detracted from the concepts around the piece. As an alternative I found red plastic sheeting, the colour having links to strength, action and danger, which in turn links with the object of the canoe and its uses (Fig 8)
The key themes of my work this year have been; materiality and the process behind the creation of work, the significance of colours and how they effect the viewers perception of a piece, the juxtaposition between expensive and inexpensive , shapes and platonic solids and the reuse of material. I have also found out how art can unintentionally link to current affairs in the shape of the refugee crisis.