Archives for posts with tag: wild man

Relationships. The discovery of gravitational waves was the inspiration for some recent etchings. Trying the same image in softground on steel and hardground on zinc.

As I understand it gravity is the result of a relationship between the bending of space time and mass. The recording of these waves pulsing for the briefest flash of time when  two black holes collided and merged into one has excited scientists. This merging of two black holes was such a massive event that it caused ripples in the fabric of space time to spread out across the universe. 1604 two black holes

I was first introduced to the idea of beauty in mathematics and the extraordinary collaboration  of Cambridge professor G.H. Hardy with Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician from India by the Complicite production A Disappearing Number.

1603 a disappearing number

Raymond Flood’s Gresham College lecture on the value of collaboration between these mathematicians along with J.E. Littlewood and Mary Cartwright gave further insight to their relationship and the advances they made in mathematical analysis and number theory. What interested me was Littlewood’s summation of four distinguishable phases  in creative work: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification or working out. Preparation is the conscious research and the problem should be kept in mind at all times. Incubation is the work of the subconscious and the waiting time can be several years. Illumination can happen in a fraction of a second; it is the emergence of the creative idea into the conscious mind and implies a mysterious rapport between the subconscious and the conscious. The verification is then just a matter of realising the idea, the hard work has been done. I feel this.

My etching ‘Forest of Eden’ was selected for ‘Blind Plural’ at Hundred Years Gallery. The exhibition ‘comments on or plays with issues related to the nature of hostility, its forms and representation…’

1409 Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

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. 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. An internet meme shared with equal disgust and fascination – I placed him back in the forest of all our origins.

Jane Boyer raised some interesting questions about self awareness with her solo show A project space called I at ARTHOUSE1. An exhibition of the I-artist curated by the I-curator.

1604 Jane Boyer enigma

Jane Boyer enigma wall

My own mind struggles. How can I separate myself as artist and myself as curator with regards to my own work. 1604 Jane Boyer Minerva

Surely I want the same things in both those roles. I start by thinking I can see how this works if I separate myself as chef and artist. Looking at different roles I play and how I react to people from these different perspectives. A bit like cross curriculum activities, but within myself. I think I’m going to need a chat with Jane about this sometime.

 

 

Alongside this I have been reading Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli whose final lesson Ourselves tells me that I am a process which adheres to the laws of nature. There is not an ‘I’ and ‘the neurons in my brain’. They are the same thing. My unique sense of self is the rich culmination of billions of interactions and processes within my brain that reflect my personal history of experience. So with this in mind the works in the solo show are the markers, the process made manifest and as Jane presents; an autobiographical curation of a self.

Denise Gough playing Emma in the play People, Places and Things makes a plaintive cry to the world at large – why is it that she can’t cope with reality, why is it that she is overwhelmed by the unjust nature of the world and must resort to mind altering chemicals as a means of escape when everyone else seems just fine with it. The audience joins her in a spiral of despair.  Denise Gough’s performance is extraordinary and totally captivating, how she can put herself through such emotion every night is another question this play raises about how we separate ourselves from reality. The clinical rehab set protrudes into the audience arena like a neuron connection within our collective brain.1601 People Places and ThingsThe play is a visceral interrogation of self and relationships. The cause and effect of actions between mind and body. Self destruction and self renewal.

1601 Denise Gough

People, Places and Things

When Emma finally emerges from months of tortuous self analysis to face the world alone she is advised that to maintain her freedom from addiction she must avoid anything that might trigger associations with her past life causing her to relapse – she must avoid people, places and things.

1604 Govt collection

As part of London Open House weekend I visited the Government Art collection on a guided tour and behind-the-scenes look at how this major collection of British art operates. There was a lot of security and in most areas no photography. Our Government (us then) owns a collection of around 13,000 works of art mainly by British artists from the sixteenth century to the present day.  About 75 per cent of the collection is on display in British Government buildings in the UK and in Embassies and Residences around the world. The idea is to help promote British art. There is a meagre budget to purchase new work with most of the funding going to conservation, transportation and installation. A nice perk of being a civil servant is to have the choice of some great works for your office, for the rest of us they do offer a lunchtime tour of a small viewing gallery and the racks to see what’s been left in storage.

The raw space of the Bargehouse on the South Bank was a great setting for the meditative pieces of Kate Fahey. The degraded building echoing the degraded web images she appropriates into her work.

1601 Kate Fahey

Kate Fahey

Pulling the digital from the screen into the world of matter, she reverses the process of the viewers visual overload of images.

1604 Kate Fahey Possible-Object

Kate Fahey Possible Object

A hundred explosion images become one, one grainy image is cast solid in aluminium and a slow beat metronome stills us.

1604 Kate Fahey Counting-Uncounting

Kate Fahey counting/uncounting

We are in a war zone, in slow motion.

Bedwr Williams animated line drawings that made up the film Writ Stink at Limoncello showed the deconstruction of a man obsessed with hiding his secrets – turning on fellow creatures, suspicious of everyone he meets – maybe with good reason – life becomes a battle to preserve, to hide away and disengage.

1601 Bedr Williams

Surreal, comedic and tragic we are left wondering about the power of knowledge.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The myth of the wild man stretches back to the ancient tablets inscribed with the tale of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality. As a barometer of the mores of society the wild man’s characteristics reflect topical fears and aspirations. If society is perceived to be corrupt the wild man symbolises natural wisdom, if society embraces convention the wild man represents anarchy. His character can also be assessed from the landscape he purportedly inhabits, a pastoral setting reveals an ideal to be strived for whereas the dark forest conceals the untamed savage.

Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

I wanted to discover a female counterpart to the contemporary wild man (an internet meme) I had placed back in the ancient forest.

Rather than a female on the edge of society I wanted a female at the centre of society.

Wondering who a contemporary goddess might be I was introduced to Bernadette by a mutual friend.

I spent some time with Bernadette, listening to her stories.  She is very proactive person in the local community and has had an impact as a campaigner for the Green Fair, uplifting some dark neglected spaces with vibrant mosaics, and more recently setting up the choir Shakti Sings recognisable in red with flowers in their hair who honour the earth through song and have become a mainstay at Glastonbury encouraging the crowds to keep the site clean. She has also established the Beacon Temple as a place of worship to honour the many goddesses in her own home. She kindly agreed to my taking some photos of her at home which I have used as basis for work focusing on connections between ancient spiritual beliefs and contemporary society. Her spiritual life requires that she gives up stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine as well as any contact with money. One of her missions is to uncover and document the ancient sites of goddess worship that have become hidden within the palimpsest of the city. The goddess Isis cropped up a lot in our conversations and so for one piece I used imagery from the ancient temple to Isis at Philae in Egypt, placing Bernadette within the sphere of the ancients yet maintaining her contemporary domesticity with her carpet and slippers. I was inspired by the exhibition Mirror City at the Hayward Gallery which refers to Jean Cocteau’s Film Orphée and the significance of a mirror as a portal to another world.

Considering Bernadette’s positioning as a portal between this world and the spirit world I screenprinted onto mirrored acrylic.

I am a portal

Susan Eyre I am a portal

In a second piece of work I took inspiration from the storytelling of Xanthe Gresham-Knight who weaves tales of ancient mythology into contemporary scenarios.  I used images conjured from her goddess tales such as the song of the white snake and the ear of corn she gives out at the end of her performances combined with wall paintings from Bernadette’s home to weave together the ancient with the everyday in a rich multi layered screenprint worthy of a goddess.

Her

Susan Eyre Her

At the RCA I was extremely lucky to be selected to have a masterclass with Susan Hiller who coincidently featured in the Mirror City exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. I have appreciated her work for a long time and share many of her interests.  It was an exciting and nerve wracking proposition to present my work to her. I had prepared a 10 minute power point as requested but after attending her lecture the week before felt this wasn’t perhaps the approach she would approve of. She seemed to find both the Powerpoint presentation and her in conversation partner for the lecture irritating. With her depth and breadth of experience she was going to be a difficult woman to impress.

She began by telling me that she finds printmaking to be an unsatisfactory medium to convey ideas. As I stuttered though my presentation I could feel her impatience growing.

I had used a favourite quote from artist Sergio Vega

“the concrete texture of perspiration” [ ] “that intimate battle with humidity – the monumentality of spaces, the exuberance of vegetation with that smell of ripe fruits, the exotic flowers in the never-ending heat, those sunburned colours, and the buzzing of mosquitoes, which, like fat angels of a tropical rococo, rue without mercy in the sky of Eden.”

She stopped me there and asked how the work I have produced so far addressed this problem of conveying such an experience.

I admitted I had not so far resolved this issue but have been thinking about this since. Sergio Vega also struggles with the problem of conveying an atmosphere, for example an experience of the forest rather than a depiction of the forest. The thing about the Tropicalia exported in the rococo style was its cleanness, its reduction to aesthetic – the mosquitoes  were not exported too. In his work Vega aims to show the sweat, the grotesque dictatorships, the poverty. It may not be possible to show all this in one piece of work but in a body of work over time maybe some of these issues can be addressed, even in printmaking. This is my challenge.

It was wonderful to spend a morning with Susan Hiller, she has an amazing mind – acute and resourceful. She did see a glimmer of hope in my etching Paradise HP2 and also in the spectrum print that was a chance discovery along the way.

Susan Eyre

Susan Eyre

Stephanie Rosenthal the curator of Mirror City describes the mirror as an unreal space, a virtual space like the world behind the screen where we spend more and more time. There was a lot of information to take in at this extensive show so the magical simplicity of Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq’s imaginings of objects from other worlds was memorable and his intense geometric black hole did pull you in.

Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq Black Hole III

Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq Black Hole III

Susan Hiller’s audio-visual installation Resounding (Infrared) relayed earthly accounts of possible extra terrestrial sightings mingled with recordings of static still audible from the big bang while the screen quivered and pulsed with coloured light waves.

Susan Hiller Resounding (infrared)

Susan Hiller Resounding (infrared)

The theatrical setting for Tai Shani’s performance pieces was set behind glass creating a sort of time capsule effect.

Tai Shani Dark Continent

Tai Shani Dark Continent

A world we cannot enter only dream of. In Dark Continent she fantasizes a utopian city of women, different characters in history represented by the Neanderthal Hermaphrodite, The Medieval Mystic and The Woman on the Edge of Time, all bearing the same face.

Tai Shani Dark Continent

Tai Shani Dark Continent

A pink fantasy of a genderless society.

Inspired to learn more about medieval mystics I signed up for an RCA reading group with Tai Shani. The text we were looking at was a section from Amy Hollywood, ‘Mysticism, Trauma, and catastrophe in Angela of Foligno’s Book and Bataille’s Atheological Summa’. Bataille identifies with Angela and seeks to experience the ecstasy she purports  to achieve  from a concentrated identification with the suffering of Christ on the cross.

Excerpt from the text …

It is impossible for me to read – at least most books. I don’t have the desire. Too much work tires me. My nerves are shattered. I get drunk a lot. I feel faithful to life if I eat and drink what I want. Life is an enchantment, a feast, a festival: an oppressing, unintelligible dream, adorned nevertheless with a charm that I enjoy. The sentiment of chance demands that I look a difficult fate in the face. It would not be about chance if there were not an incontestable madness. I began to read, standing on a crowded train, Angela of Foligno’ s Book of Visions. I’m copying it out, not knowing how to say how fiercely I burn  – the veil is torn in two, I emerge from the fog in which my impotence flails. (OC V 245; G 11)

Bataille opens his exploration of ecstatic anguish at the moment when World War II begins and claims that the war itself necessitates his text. Bataille finds his own tormented desire the very anguish that compels him to write reflected in Angela’s pages. Angela, the most important of the Christian mystics for Bataille, surpasses him in the pursuit of abjection and ecstasy.  He wants to be like her in her desire for and proximity to death: “I suffer from not myself burning to the point of coming close to death, so close that I inhale it like the breath of a loved being” (Oe V 246; G 12).

The discussion revolves around the idea of the rapture and how this ultimate dissolution of self over to ecstasy might be achieved.

Anselm Keifer had a major exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. I find his work very inspiring, the scale and exuberance of his paintings carved from the substance of the earth with all the pain and trauma of geological and social evolution. The gallery guide tells us he seeks to understand our purpose here on earth, our relationship with the celestial, the spiritual, and the weight of human history. He also has a fascination with the civilization of Mesopotamia and the story of Osiris and Isis.

1412 keifer Osiris and Isis

Anselm Kiefer, Osiris and Isis, 1985-87

At the summit of the pyramid is an extruded old television circuit board emanating golden wires and shards of pottery over the ancient steps to heaven.

I was intrigued by his use of geometry and references to ancient beliefs and mythologies.

Anselm Kiefer, The Rhine (Melancholia) (Der Rhein (Melancholia)), 1982-2013. Collage of woodcut on canvas with acrylic and shellac

Anselm Kiefer, The Rhine (Melancholia) (Der Rhein (Melancholia)), 1982-2013.
Collage of woodcut on canvas with acrylic and shellac

The Rhine (Melancholia) references Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia, an engraving dated from 1514 which appears to lay before us clues to the puzzles of the universe.

1412 Durur Melencolia

Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia

It was encouraging to hear Christiane Baumgartner talk about her work at Alan Cristea Gallery in such a down to earth manner, giving credence to intuition in her feel for colour and composition. She takes photographs of her TV screen and through diligence of process captures the flickering screen in a frozen moment. In her series Totentanz she witnesses the smoky death dance of a plane shot from the sky. Her work holds melancholia within it.

Christiane Baumgartner Totentanz 2013 series of 15 woodcuts on paper

Christiane Baumgartner Totentanz 2013 series of 15 woodcuts on paper

She seemed surprised herself to discover so much of her work references the war. Often her images may appear innocuous without their title which is what ultimately adds the layer of pathos removing it from sentimentality.

Chrisitane Baumgartner Wood near Colditz

Chrisitane Baumgartner Wood near Colditz

It is interesting how subtle shifts in the colour of paper and ink can change the atmosphere of an image. For the softground etching of the Chapel of Rest in Paradise Industrial Estate, Hemel Hempstead  I found a soft grey paper worked well with chine collé added over the windows. The grainy etching aged the building and using a lustre powder on the chine collé  reflecting opalescent when viewed at different angles gave the interior an other worldly aura that felt appropriate.

1412 Paradise HP2

Susan Eyre Paradise HP2

 

I aimed to take a piece of soulless architecture and give it some gravitas worthy of a resting place for souls.

 

 


Gaining knowledge is a thread woven through my current thinking for my dissertation. From the first knowledge of conscious thought – that we are separate from nature, the temptation of the tree of knowledge and its consequences, to self knowledge through the grand Romantic quest and the furthering of knowledge to pass on to future generations.

Kadar Attia – Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder at Whitechapel Gallery was interesting to me because of the focus given to the value of knowledge.

Books as receptacles of history.

Kader Attia _ The Light of Jacob's Ladder

Kader Attia   The Light of Jacob’s Ladder

The shelves which rise up to the gallery ceiling are full of books with evocative titles and inspiring covers from science, anthropology, politics and physics – they are mostly in French though so for me the knowledge they contain is frustratingly inaccessible. Attia talks about repair as a principle of evolution and development – that we plug holes and fill gaps – holding it all together with sticky tape. I enjoyed seeing the physical manifestation of knowledge. The internet holds so much and offers so much so quickly but the material sight of so many books is uplifting.

Kader Attia

Kader Attia

The installation at Whitechapel is about conveying knowledge from different ideologies, it refers to Michel Foucault – The Archeology of Knowledge and uses the symbolism from Christian, Islamic and Judaic traditions of a ladder of light – a link between the terrestrial nad the celestial. Within the installation the telescope and the microscope embody two alternative ways of looking at the world.

Revelation through scale.

Simmons and McCollum 'The Actual Photos'

Simmons and McCollum ‘The Actual Photos’

This collection of portraits by Laurie Simmons and Allan McCollum manipulate scale through photography – enlarging the tiny to life size.

These melting features are portraits of model railroad figures used to add human presence to the constructed landscapes of the hobbyist.

Simmons and McCollum 'The Actual Photos'

Simmons and McCollum ‘The Actual Photos’

A land of the disfigured is revealed. Disrupting the symmetry and expectations of the human face.

Hannah Hoch also uses this approach of disruption of the human form to pose questions about our inner humanity – it’s amazing to think when she was making this work – the early work, particularly in the 1920’s how different the world was and yet how the same. Like the ever on-going topicality of Shakespeare – we struggle with the same issues in every generation – money/power, image, gender. It still seems so fresh though I found the volume of works at her Whitechapel  retrospective a bit overwhelming.

Hannah Hoch

Hannah Hoch

I joined the RCA school trip to see The Negligent Eye exhibition at The Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool curated by our own RCA head of printmaking Jo Stockham

– she questions;  ‘scanning is riddled with an internal contradiction: is it a close reading or a glance?’

The artists in this show all use some form of scanning, experimenting with translations across digital media into various print processes

Maurice Carlin

Maurice Carlin

Endless Pageless is performance screen printing on a vast scale. The surface of the gallery floor is recorded though an analogue scan; the pressure of the screen over paper on the floor gradually building up the image in coded blocks.

Rebecca Gossling

Elizabeth Gossling

Gossling scans from a computer or tv screen with a hand held recording device which results in a distorted image that highlights the waves of transmission – like the image on the edge of tuning in to a channel, you are aware of the process.

A feeling reminiscent of having one of those little tellys with a bent wire ariel – not going to happen with a digital signal.

Christiane Baumgartner

Christiane Baumgartner

Also taken from the screen Baumgartner translates the media image from tiny pixels to giant woodcut

Juneau Projects

Juneau Projects

Hand held scanners traversing the lawn

Helen Chadwick

Helen Chadwick

viral attack

Bob Matthews

Bob Matthews

A reimagining of the landscape, Bob Matthews  explores architecture within the environment, painting by pixels

Jo Stockham

Jo Stockham

value, discarded and reborn

Jo Stockham

Jo Stockham

Some good thoughts on the show at
http://www.furtherfield.org/features/reviews/digital-autopsies-negligent-eye-bluecoat

The book ‘Keywords’ by Raymond Williams was recommended to me by my tutor Faisal Abdu’Allah when we were discussing the etymology of words and personal interpretations of paradise or utopia.

The guiding principle in the composition of Keywords was to look at historical changes in the meaning of 109 key words, in order to bring out the significance of the facts of these changes. As Williams put it in the book’s Introduction:

This is not a neutral review of meanings. It is an exploration of the vocabulary of a crucial area of social and cultural discussion, which has been inherited within precise historical and social conditions and which has to be made at once conscious and critical – subject to change as well as to continuity.

While in  Liverpool we visited the Keywords exhibition at the Tate. The idea offered really interesting possibilities, juxtaposing works from the Tate’s collection with keywords from the book.

Some good work but the strange display with blocks of carpet and the words in giant cursive script on the walls destroyed any magic the theme evoked.

Keywords Tate Liverpool

Keywords Tate Liverpool

Another school trip was to see the David Hockney prints at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

It wasn’t something I would have gone along to myself but I enjoyed the humour in his early etchings done while at the RCA and our technician Alan Smith was able to show off his knowledge of the etching process

David Hockney - A Rake's Progress

David Hockney – A Rake’s Progress

Some fragments of Rue de Paradis

1406 Rue de Paradis 1

Paradise – prison

1406 Rue de Paradis 2

or sanctuary

1406 Rue de Paradis 3

discover

1406 Rue de Paradis 4

a place of false riches

1406 Rue de Paradis 5

a place to be wary who you trust

1406 Rue de Paradis 6

like reaching for a reflection

1406 Rue de Paradis 7

always unattainable

1406 Rue de Paradis 8

While in Paris also had a look at the Unedited History of Iran exhibition at The Musee D’art Moderne

1406 Unedited History

 

Behdjat Sadr

Behdjat Sadr

Was captivated by the surreal images in the video installation of Parviz Kimiavi – a mixture of Oz and world pollution, will the good fairy come to save us all from drowning in our own filth

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

does the yellow brick road end here

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

‘Office of Investigation into Diverted Trajectories’ – the dead birds

Narmine Sadeg

Narmine Sadeg

This was poetic

Narmine Sadeg

Narmine Sadeg

Also while in Paris visited the vast installation at the Grand Palais” by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.

We came across the exhibition by chance but it turned out to explore many of the themes I am currently interested in.

Ilya’s background is questioning the totalitarian regime of his childhood in soviet society – in the end he believes every -ism ends in disaster so there is no point in trying to build Utopia in reality – better to keep it in the realm of the art-world.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov  'Strange City'

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
‘Strange City’

In exploring the maze of the city the viewer is exploring the dreams of individuals that are shared across all nations

'Stange City'

‘Strange City’

The installation is made up of many buildings. There is the empty museum reflecting a yearning towards the sacred as a shrine to our values.

There is the model mythical Tibetan city where the world is in duplicate – one celestial, one terrestrial but it is not known which is heaven and which is earth.

'Strange City'

‘Strange City’

There is the centre for cosmic energy built on an archaeological dig uncovering a time when contact was established with alien life.

'Strange City'

‘Strange City’

Instructions on how to meet an angel.

'Starnage City'

‘Strange City’

The artists are not religious but like many people still hope for miracles.

Axisweb ran a competition for curators to select work from their database for a theorectical exhibition.

It was a nice surprise to find Laura Dennis won the competition with one of my pieces included in her selection for her proposal ‘Synthetic Landscapes’

StrataGem(ii)

StrataGem(ii)

She writes: ‘In the screen print StrataGem(ii), Susan Eyre has created a mesmerising image of geological strata using items of plastic landfill. Shimmering, iridescent layers of waste packaging form the imagined rock structures and gemstones of a distant future. Despite its apparent beauty, the image is unsettling: it prompts us to contemplate the far-reaching impact of human activity upon the earth, and a legacy in which the man-made and natural worlds have become indistinguishable.’

My themes have shifted slightly since I made work with a more ecological slant. Still interested in the human connection to nature I have been looking at a more emotional relationship.

From my research into the stimulus for the first conscious thought, when man looked at nature and found it ‘other’ I have been thinking about basic instincts. The line between civilization and savagery.

I went back to an image I found on the internet a couple of years ago when I was making the installation ‘Syndrome’ of a guy in his room posing almost naked with guns and weapons strapped to his body.

I felt he might embody the contemporary wild man. I have gone back to the source of the image and found he has become a meme with many postings and comments.

This furthers the idea of identity and illusion. Someone on the edges of society.

Through a laborious process of drawing and soft-ground etching with aquatint I have placed him into the ancient forest of all our origins.

Forst drawing printed onto thin paper

Final drawing printed onto thin paper

I polished a steel plate and added the photo etching around which I would draw the forest.

Soft ground (a sort of wax) is rolled onto the plate and the paper drawing is placed on top.

The pressure of the pencil on the paper pushes into the wax beneath. I used coloured pencils to see where I had drawn.

Drawing into soft ground using coloured pencils

Drawing into soft ground using coloured pencils

After the dark areas are drawn over, the paper is peeled away, the wax sticks to the paper leaving the metal exposed for etching.

The plate is etched in acid, then placed back under the paper and drawing continues to add midtones.

Soft Ground Peel

Soft Ground Peel

The paper is peeled away and more drawing is done and etched until the range of tone is acheived

Peeling away paper from plate

Peeling away paper from plate

Between each drawing and etching the plate is printed to see how the tones are looking and which areas need more work.

A dusting of aquatint added a final depth of tone.

Test print

Test print

I wanted the forest to appear dark and primordial, the forest of Grimm brothers imaginination

Final print - Forest of Eden

Final print – Forest of Eden

Not the Garden of Eden but the land before, of after, the garden existed.