I have made a page for current work so that I can document how projects unfold on a static page as well as using the blog. The first ‘current work’ page is about this week’s Concrete Wildlife pieces:
This week’s thoughts have mainly converged on ‘surfaces’- a heightened awareness of the texture and sensation evoked by a tactile material. Weathered walls seen from the train window, boarded up city buildings, a buddleai bursting it’s way through sooty railway brickwork, Jackson Pollock’s ink drawings on absorbent Japanese paper, Glenn Ligon’s dense lettering made from acrylic polymer and coal, Richard Serra’s black paint stick layered up on handmade paper. All of these things have made themselves be noticed, felt or not felt in the case of the gallery artwork.
Process has continued to play through my mind, different threads still running parallel – casting plant roots in coloured concrete to represent the man made surfaces that they grow through. I still can’t quite capture the energy visually that I would like to portray. Maybe a visit here would help:
Evermore aware of the force that nature has and noticing how plants will germinate and populate urban environments; what is a ‘weed’ anyway? Chuckling at the sight I must be to an outsider paying such an interest to the unnoticed cracks in the pavement and thinking back to Sarah’s comments last week about Cornelia Parker and her energy.
What is at the heart of this? Cornelia Parker draws out the essence of her work in the video that Sarah directed me to: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cuAF55BN-Ak
So what is the purpose of my artistic explorations? Despite the foray into nature v concrete I keep coming back to the circle and it’s link with meditative practice ( the Enso).
I read about how Pollock chose the surface of Japanese paper as it was not ‘passive’ to being drawn upon and had a role in the formation of the marks upon it. Two framed ‘drawings’ were the accidental marks made from ink soaking through to layers underneath; a decision made not by Pollock but afterwards that these marks were also valid ‘drawings’ made by the artist.
So what is a drawing, it’s purpose, and should it be a thing of permanence or can it exist after it has ceased to exist?
Should art be about the act of making, the experience purely of the maker or should it be rooted in the aesthetic interpretation of the viewer? I struggle with that. Maybe that’s why I give art away, disconnect from the outcome once it’s made.
And touch. Why can’t we touch work that is in a gallery? The surfaces I found so intriguing at the Tate Liverpool could only be touched with my eyes. Maybe work should be about allowing that tactile sensory experience rather than erecting a curatorial barrier?
And so back to the circle and connections thread, the beginnings of looking properly at ‘that poem’, I feel a bit more able to tackle it now although I suspect that all along the wordless part of my head has been ruminating on it anyway.
Flimsy paper, embossed marks, deconstructing a shape by folding, screwing up the paper and then opening it out again. Accidental yet planned. And now a set of images that ‘feel’ right, and fittingly impermanent.
An exciting discovery this week has been the level of detail that can be rendered when casting from surfaces with concrete; folded envelopes, packing tape on cardboard, thread. I find interesting the idea of ‘trace’ – marks left behind on something, almost fossilising it through the use of concrete.
Stitch has become part of the language of the ‘red thread’ and ‘box full of darkness’; I like the link between embroidery and narrative, plus the circular format of the embroidery hoop. I think that there is more to come, but feel I have to tread carefully as some of this stuff is still too fresh. I will use the #drawingaugust format to keep this going but may not throw myself in fully at this stage.
Meanwhile, I discovered a fellow ‘peruser of pavements’ via Twitter this week, Tom Cartmill, whose work I feel I need to see for real. His interest in parallel images and surface textures has redirected my eye back to the floor.
The first set of circular concrete markers made from stag images previously used for #freeartfriday are ready to be put into their locations as geocache markers; deciding on where to place them has led to some mindful walks.
Whilst out on one of these walks we came across a patch of waste ground and derelict buildings where nature has grown through the man made floors and walls; buddleai, bramble and other plants classed as ‘weeds’ happily taking over the environment and setting root in walls and through Tarmac.
On the surface I have achieved what I set out to do last week as the first part of ‘The Project’. Experiments in casting concrete combined with a urge to finalise/include/say goodbye to my previous set of images used for #freeartfriday have resulted in a group of five casts which are going to be put out on the Chase as a geocache set. I realise that I can’t continue to make work every week to leave out to be found, so this is a more permanent (hopefully) set of work to mark that. It has allowed me to start to look at images in relation to place as well as explore mark making in a new and unfamiliar medium.
The format of making (more permanent) work to site in significant locations is a thread that will continue, maybe using the geocache idea still… we will see. Having coined a phrase of ‘urban markers’ in my visual interest in weathered man made surfaces it has also been interesting to look at tree marking, but more to follow on those thoughts as other thoughts have jostled their way to the front.
Reading Elena’s blog this week moved me even deeper into this process:
“I’ve just read your latest blog and what you wrote about the marks people make on you is really powerful 💭”
On the drawing workshop with Sarah in Birmingham I was interested in using thread to mark out the interaction between us in a physical space. Connections made energetically or on an even deeper level; how can you record these things that the eye cannot see?
Working on this weeks envelope to post led me to turn it inside out and just make marks using folding; the surface of the paper is becoming more intriguing through the ‘accidental’ marks made on it in transit. This took me again back to the large roll of paper at BCU – folding/ marking/ distorting.
On this train of thought I stumbled across the circular printmaking of Kate Castelli in her blog ‘Wandering but not lost’.
This poem combined with Kate’s use of envelopes/circles added to Elena’s words earlier this week have turned me sideways. It can’t be coincidental that one calendar year ago I drew this symbol at a childhood haunt to symbolise connections to the past that had been renewed.
I can’t write about why this is significant other than to say that I thought the box was firmly sealed….guess this process means I’ll be taking a peek inside. So someone toss me a rope, I’m going in!
Okay so a week has passed since the initial energy and resolutions were made about allowing myself to create work for myself. I’ve done fairly well in sticking to those resolutions and, apart from producing casts, have done what was on last weeks Artfag. Even though that included a tiny bit of trespassing and eyelash fluttering!
Casts taken at Margaret Street of intersecting threads, masking tape, wood grain floor and of course the steps- all of these have been prepared ready to cast in concrete. I very much like the idea of recording a moment in time in a space:
So now to creating some art rather than just imagining it. I am a firm believer in synchronicity and a reminder came to me today about #DrawingAugust which is a daily drawing challenge shared on Twitter. I did it last year and enjoyed the discipline of having to draw every day; doing rather than planning to do. This will become a vehicle for me to explore mark making over the next few weeks. Amazing how influences are starting to settle from the initial ‘snow globe’ week: