Archives for the month of: August, 2015

It has been an RCA MA printmaking department tradition for each graduating year to produce a box set. In our year we questioned the purpose of a set which was inevitably split. The cost of the whole set being prohibitive to most people. We wondered how we could reinvent this idea to make it exciting and relevant. It was an exercise sometimes lacking in diplomacy but eventually it was decided that collaboration and a theme would help to create a more cohesive edition.

The result was Lean to, an interpretation of the traditional printmaking box set, it acts as a site of investigation that questions what a box set can be.

RCA Printmaking MA 2015 collaboration Lean To

RCA Printmaking MA 2015 collaboration Lean to

We chose to respond to a ‘house’ of print matter. Interested in the house as a fluid concept, we expanded it to mean anything alluding to a habitat: a home, shelter, bunker, shed, commune, boundary…

This structure allowed us to make collaboration a defining feature – people worked together on areas or ‘rooms’, responding thematically, materially and conceptually. One group worked with text to create a written 3D structure, another explored the construction of space through sound. The defining of outside space was considered through a collaboration that explored the garden, and another investigated the overlooked details via the life of dust. There were also individual responses: a digital scanning room where walls threaten to melt into the night sky, contorted vessels that appear at once frozen and shifting, a sweeping gesture of an arch promising (or threatening) an arrival.

I worked with Amanda Wieczorek, Jilly Roberts and Gloria Ceballos.

1508 Battersea Park 3

We looked at structures found on the allotment or in a garden.

1508 Battersea Park 2

We went to Battersea Park for inspiration.

1508 Battersea Park

The symbiosis of the synthetic and the organic became key to our thinking and resulted in transfer printed handmade paper embedded with seeds contained in a protective screenprinted plastic sleeve.

1508 shed

For a box set that responds to the notion of being housed, it is necessary that the skin, the home stake its place.

design by Meg Ferguson

design by Meg Ferguson

 

It does this by being both a folder of precious deeds, and a site of shelter and display.

RCA Printmaking MA 2015 collaboration Lean To

RCA Printmaking 2015 collaboration lean-to

The cover, complete with guy ropes and support poles, unfurls into a simple structure that acts as both site to view and shelter for its contents.

RCA Printmaking MA 2015 collaboration Lean To

RCA Printmaking 2015 collaboration lean- to

The team that installed the work for the launch night did an excellent job and we all ended up very proud.

lean to 11

The volume was launched at Tenderbooks with an evening of performance and readings.

Launch of Lean-To at Tender Books

Launch of lean-to at Tender Books

While learning about geometry and the platonic solids at The Princes School of Traditional Arts I was intrigued by Plato’s description of the fifth platonic solid – the dodecahedron – as ‘a fifth construction which God used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven’.

Susan Eyre Pairi Daêza

Susan Eyre Pairi Daêza

In this work I have taken the net which is used as the pattern to make a 3D dodecahedron when cut and folded into shape and used this as a structure meshing together images of constellations, an abandoned walled garden and a roundabout. I wanted to make connections between origins, structure, and belief systems. My original plan for this idea was to screenprint the images on individual segments of laser cut mdf – each piece would then be pulled slightly apart – the expanding universe. In the end it was a combination of time and feasibility that meant this idea was realised as a c-type print on metallic paper mounted on aluminium.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

It became an integral part and focal point of my MA degree show installation.

I was invited to The Collective at The House of St. Barnabas in Soho. Dark Matter Studio were hosting Matt Collishaw’s Last Supper prints in the Bazalgette Room. These images transferred onto goatskin parchment recreate the final meals requested by men condemned on death row in the style of 17th century vanitas paintings.

Matt Collishaw Last Meal on Death Row, Velma Barfield, 2012

Matt Collishaw Last Meal on Death Row, Velma Barfield, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Güler Ates had work appropriately showing in the Silk Room. Taken just before the club at  opened in 2013, her photographs confront the intense dialogue between the past and present that is unescapable in such a space. Güler comments on the presence of the past; ‘They were absent; however, through the objects in the rooms, the interiors and the exterior of the building, I wanted to trace the “present” of some of the previous occupiers.’

Guler Ates Departure into darkness

Guler Ates Departure into darkness

I had a tutorial with her while at the RCA  when she had suggested I should scale up my fabric pieces and take then to the sea – I think this is something I could try  when I visit a clear  sea but also I would like to try under a waterfall or in a brook.  She also talked about the importance of the structure for the display of the circles which I was still struggling with.

The House of St Barnabas is an impressive building it even has its own chapel where ARTinTRA  presented PARAMENTRONOMICON  a site-specific, computer animated video and sound installation by the Finnish duo Pink Twins (Juha and Vesa Vehvilainen) , curated by Vassiliki Tzanakou.

1508 Pink Twins

Pink Twins PARAMENTRONOMICON

Within the dark space of the chapel lit by a faint glow from narrow stained glass windows a large screen takes the place of the altar. The sci-fi imagery in high saturation colour is dazzling in a perpetual cycle of abstracted motion, forming and reforming. There is a nice play between the deconstructed images of the stained glass – once this technology was awe inspiring in itself – and the similar breakdown of form in the swirling images on the screen. We are similarly held enthralled by this mesmerizing experience as were the first visitors to encounter the delights of light through coloured glass.

In retrospect I can see that Pairi Daêza has a structure similar to that of a stained glass window.

Susan Eyre Pairi Daêza

Susan Eyre everydaymatters / Pairi Daêza

Looking for structures and patterns in the matter of landscape and breaking those down is something I am interested in. When installing the circle sculptures I learnt how hard it is to be consciously random. I wanted to place the pieces randomly with the idea that these were slices of space that could appear anywhere but my instincts kept drawing me to balance and pattern.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

After the show when trying to clear space in my studio at home I came across some very old samples I had forgotten about. It’s fascinating the way ideas form over time with threads emerging and submerging.  When I made these I was thinking about geology  and the human effect on the formation of rock strata, how all our rubbish in landfill would create the gemstones of the future.

1508 earth crystal

Here on these layered plastic carrier bags was the universe with digitally embroidered geometrical patterns of crystal structures.

1508 earth structure

Another sample of layered plastic with machine free stitched geometrical patterns, melted to reveal images of human life. These pieces were a bit clunky but it feels there is a connection in my thinking here that has carried through. I have been thinking about black holes and disruptions in space and this old work has given me some new ideas to carry forward.

I went to see Dark Universe at Greenwich Planetarium. As I had previously learnt on the CERN website the planets, stars and everything you can see make up less than 5% of the Universe. Dark Universe is a new planetarium show exploring what we know – and what we don’t know – about the structure and history of the Universe.

1508 dark universe

I don’t think I learnt anything new from this show but the visual experience of being blasted through space was worth the trip.

The space theme continued with a trip to Breese Little Gallery  to see the exhibition dark frame / deep field  and a collection of Vintage NASA Photographs.

The most arresting piece was Dan Holdworth’s giant c-type of a mountain range inverted into an ethereal alien scape.

Dan Holdsworth, Blackout 13

Dan Holdsworth, Blackout 13

The NASA photos were also fascinating. The strange light, the staged self-consciousness.  These images share the style of the cinema flyer from the same era and so the amazing achievement and experience of these men standing on alien soil seems to get diluted by the association with fantasy making it even harder to comprehend what we are looking at.

Alan Shepard and the U.S. flag, Apollo 14, February 1971

Alan Shepard and the U.S. flag,  Apollo 14                February 1971

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I enjoy visiting artists studios, seeing the debris from the workings of the mind. I am envious of these spaces. I went to see what Elizabeth Murton and Lizzie Cannon have been working on at Bow Arts Open Studios Event. Elizabeth is also interested in structures and was showing her experiments with nets and the malleable nature of space.

Elizabeth Murton worked net

Elizabeth Murton worked net

Lizzie has hauled a giant portion of rusting pipe from a Suffolk beach into her studio. She had already started to discreetly embellish the rust encrusted surface with tiny stitches and glass beads. She is interested in accretion of matter and repair. Repair can also contribute to the deterioration as the tiny perforations from the stitching break down the surface. In the case of her mended leaves the repairs appear as scars.  Both artists had work in the Structure, Texture, Future exhibition, an investigation into ruin and repair the substance of matter and our relationship to it,  curated by Shahida Bari and Rosamond Murdoch.

Lizzie Cannon Mended Leaf (Hosta)

Lizzie Cannon Mended Leaf (Hosta)

 

 

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I have had to say goodbye to my studio space and all the other wonderful facilities and people at the RCA.

1507 studio

Lots of ideas were formulated in this little corner and I will miss it very much.

1507 studio2

I spent the last six months pretty much in the screenprinting room

1507 screenprinting

working on the mirror circles for my final show.

1507 circle

There wasn’t much time out but I did try to see some exhibitions that felt were relevant to my own concerns.

I hadn’t come across the work of Michelle Stuart before and I found her exhibition at Parafin Gallery very inspiring.

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

I was drawn to her spiritual aesthetic. The subtle use of colour and juxtaposition of images set within a grid structure bind themes together to create a whole from fragments. I like the way she uses objects, incorporating natural materials and sacred symbolism, referencing alters and rituals.

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

I was excited to see Diana Thater at Hauser and Wirth mostly because of the promise of seven holy ‘kunds’ – or water tanks- and waterfalls that create two tiered pools within her projected installations. I thought this might relate to my own ideas using water in my work giving some insight into water as a sacred medium.

I was disappointed. Due to poor light levels and projected image quality what should have been an immersive experience was frustrated by an awareness of ineffectual technology exacerbated by the front door repeatedly opening and  flooding the space with even more light. There were no ‘kunds’ visible. The gallery assistant thought the pools may be projected onto the floor but with the light levels too high it was not so much that ‘…the pools of water occupy a liminal state between reality and imagination’ but must be totally conjured by the imagination.

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Online you can find an image more akin to the promises of the press release.

Galtaji Temple near Jaipur

Galtaji Temple near Jaipu

For my second year at the RCA I had David Blandy as my tutor. I think we have quite a few crossover interests in our investigation of contemporary society which manifest themselves in very different ways. He works with video and references music trends and gaming aesthetics and is quite performative. It’s very engaging and has a fine humour.

1507 David Blandy

He screened his video How To Make A Short Video About Extinction for us in the lecture theatre, it was good to see it on a big screen and appreciate the disaster movie genre it plays off though the DIY amateurism invoked does perhaps mean the small screen is its home. Eitherway it’s very funny (while obviously trying to make some serious points too). He put me onto Miranda July, also funny while highlighting some cultural idiosyncrasies , whose book of short stories No-one Deserves To Be Here More Than You I am enjoying at the moment.

I have visited his exhibition showing the video hercules-rough-cut at the Bloomberg Space.

David Blandy

David Blandy

It has huge presence. Ominous and mesmerizing it engulfs you in a kaleidoscopic bombardment of image and dialogue tracing the history of civilisation on its frenzied trajectory to what must be an inevitable implosion. Surrounded by rotating images and screens and immersed in continuous rap-speak that fills your head there is no space to escape.

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

It captures the obsessions that are driving our civilisation over the edge into oblivion employing the same seductions that hypnotise us as we are carried along unable to resist.

I have long been a fan of Gordon Cheung’s work so was excited to be able to chat with him about my work when he visited the RCA on what was described as an artists promenade. His interest in relating ancient mythologies to present day financial trading and historical markets such as tulip mania to current boom and bust economics are fascinating subjects.

Gordon Cheung island

Gordon Cheung Island

We also attempted to discuss quantum and particle physics. He had been key in selecting my etching Forest of Eden for the neo:print prize award that I received last year so I was able to go into more detail about what had inspired me to make this work. Originally it was Giambattista Vico’s story of wild men inventing the gods as they cowered in the forest under thunderous skies that led to my research into the myth of the wild man. This myth stretches back to the tale of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality. In history the wild man’s characteristics reflect topical fears and aspirations, violating the taboos of civilization and symbolizing the repressed desires of society. They oscillate between horror and fantasy.

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

I wondered who a contemporary wild man might be. Someone on the edges of society, both fascinating and repulsive. I had come across images on the internet of this person who posts photos of himself posing almost naked with guns strapped to his body. He had become an internet meme, shared with equal disgust and fascination. In this etching I placed him back in the ancient forest of all our origins.

The most recent of work I made while at the RCA was Sun Factor. This work allows an alternative access point to my ideas about escape from reality and the search for something outside the ordinary. It explores ancient and modern ideas on sun worship and the rituals that are part of these cultures.

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

I used etching for the ancient cliffs and gold pigments on chine colle for the obelisk. The figures are screen printed in high saturation, a reminder of the early days of package holidays and glossy postcards and also of skin damage and loss of connection to the powers of nature. The sun as apocalyptic fireball is a reminder of its true nature which we often forget to acknowledge.

Sun Factor has been selected as a finalist for the HIX award.

I had been experimenting with images printed on translucent fabric submerged in water with a view to using this in my final show.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

This came from the idea of looking through a surface to consider what is there but unseen by our limited senses   Sometimes the images in the water float and sometimes they sink or fold according to the otherwise unseen movement within the water. The activity in the matter of the universe is going on around us unseen – other intangible things like the aura of place and the dream of paradise cannot be pinned down or explained in terms of materiality.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

I spent a long time searching for the right bowls for the images floating in water. I had in mind something you might find in the world of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but ended up using the same simple very shiny ones as I had originally found for Café Gallery – Objects Of.

1507 dry clay bowl

I tried giving them a clay outer shell – it didn’t work but the cracked result was inspiring for future work.

I chose to exhibit the water pieces in a cluster for the RCA MA Show rather than each one placed at the base of the individual sculptures as I had previously.

1507 veiwing submirari

submīrārī installation

mīrārī  comes from the latin miror whose etymology is to gaze in wonder.

Now that I had 7 sculptures (one for every day of the week) I felt each work had more weight holding their own space.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

There is a similarity in the way an image is experienced as a surface to look through and be absorbed into connecting the pieces in the installation.

The images in the bowls are more dreamlike, idealised landscapes whereas the images on the mirrors come from the everyday locations that happen to be called paradise.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism  - the life)

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism – the life)

In conjunction with the MA degree show I led the organisation of our event WHAT WAS I THINKING. This was a chance to look back at the thinking behind our degree show and the ways in which decisions get made and also the alarm we sometimes feel at what we have embarked upon.

1507 what-was-i-thinking

We invited David Cross as our guest speaker. David Cross has an international reputation as a lecturer and academic. As an artist, he began collaborating with Matthew Cornford, in the partnership Cornford and Cross, while studying at St Martin’s School of Art in 1987, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1991. In addition to producing aesthetic experiences, he maintains that a key function of contemporary art is to test concepts, assumptions and boundaries.

David Cross

David Cross

Looking at global economics and systems of value which govern the art world as well as wider issues of capitalism and our blind commitment to material consumption fuelling economic growth he poses the question  – can we reclaim the vanishing point and reconnect our individual perspective with our collective capacity to envision and plan for a more ecologically stable future?

Early in our first year at RCA we had a seminar with the provocative title Why Print? This caused a lot of argument at the time as we found there were very many opinions on what was and what was not considered print, the value of craft and the place of the multiple or cheap reproduction. As we progressed we learnt to respect each others approaches and realised that the diversity of our group was a strength from which we could all learn.

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles was our MC for the event and gave an introduction which set out the challenges we faced during our MA and will continue to tackle as artists.  He explained that in such a programme as printmaking there are many processes we could choose from to express our ideas and it was through this exposure and interrogation that we found our own individual affinities from digital media to etching and many combinations in between. New reproduction technologies offer opportunities for exploration,  the old techniques feed into the new, and the new reinvigorates the old. To study Fine Art today is to navigate a plethora of possibilities across an ever widening field of possibilities, often dauntingly so but this also offers us a new representational freedom as artists.

Navigating these new possibilities is something we had discussed in seminars which led us to authors who write about the impact of the web, image saturation/appropriation, and new ways in which we view the world that lead on to questions of reality and representation.

As a point of focus for our event we referred to the politics of the image theories of Hito Steryl in the e-flux journal The Wretched of the Screen.
Her comments on the condition of groundlessness in her essay free fall a thought experiment on vertical perspective seemed particularly relevant.
          ‘Imagine you are falling. But there is no ground.
          Many contemporary philosophers have pointed out that the present moment is distinguished by a prevailing condition of groundlessness.
          We cannot assume any stable ground on which to base metaphysical claims or foundational political myths.
          At best, we are faced with temporary, contingent, and partial attempts at grounding.’
Peter Glasgow spoke about ways that material might be gathered, piled up, held onto and left over to form a body of work.
Peter Glasgow

Peter Glasgow

Using American TV series as his research material he used this analogy to look at work in the degree show as a gathering of material.
Peter Glasgow I'm dead in the water here

Peter Glasgow I’m dead in the water here

 Jilly Roberts narrated The Case Study, a story which explores her ideas of how perspectives can get influenced and altered depending on their content and origin.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

Mixing factual accounts with her own experiences out in the field researching architectural landscapes and the invention of the Wardian Case.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

 Daniel Clark discussed his research into the cross section between sound and printmaking
Daniel Clark

Daniel Clark

 covering the strange sensations we experience when exposed to very low frequency vibrations  the mysteries of the aquatint box and the sensory drama of the eruption of Krakatoa.
Daniel Clark Volcano

Daniel Clark Volcano

 Amy Gear brought our attention to the link between landscape, language and the shape of words, focusing on the rich history of her native Shetland
Amy Gear

Amy Gear

and how we mimic through language and also through our work.
Amy Gear Stack

Amy Gear Stack

 Meg Ferguson and Maito Jobbe Duval who both work with text and moving image discussed the ideas of French Philosopher Maurice Blanchot to explore their experience of uncertainty in the creative process.
Meg Ferguson

Meg Ferguson

Meg spoke about the ‘leap’ of faith necessary to make work and its value as a catalyst to move forward, letting go of control and falling into the unknown of the unconscious mind.
Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito read from Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure while screening her video work Can You See It encouraging us to think the image of the thought.
Sarah Gillett read a story from her book which accompanied her work in the degree show.
Sarah Gillett

Sarah Gillett

We were transported to a suburban Mum’s night in which was suddenly impacted by the enormity and chaos of the universe both physically as a meteorite hits the conservatory and poetically as we contemplate the points in our lives when new perspectives open up to us.