Um so we have had the first day of teaching, found a locker and all of that. We brainstormed ideas surrounding a process - cutting, a material - light and a practitioner - Es Delvin (see brainstorms in workflow). We will be doing more research/ going to the library and exhibitions etc. in the next few days, I am an alumni at SOAS so i think i'll go there too and use their history of art library to look at non-western art that uses these things. I also watched a great program about the Late Turner exhib (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p026c5kp/private-view-2-turner-exhibition-at-tate-britain) who was amazing at painting light so I'll try and go there too and make notes.
OK so today it took far longer than I expected to do things! We did the research task in the library and had been given Es Delvin as our practicioner, light as a material and cutting as a process. Found it interesting how Matisse made his cut outs when he was quite old and ill with the help of assistants who would move them into place for him. I know that many artists mower days have assistants who do the practical work of putting together work which is a brainchild of the artist, especially big things. I once me Korean artist Choi Jong Hwang and he had many assistants who helped make big colourful sculptures out f every day objects like colanders. It made me realise that artists don't always have to touch their work physically for it to be legitimate, it is the idea that important. Es Delvin must fall Into this category too and employ tons of people to realise her ideas. Perhaps that's also true when doing community engaged work which I am also interested since I am a youth worker.
As my second library I went to SOAS because I have an alumni card and I looked for books on two subjects: crocodile markings in Papua New Guinea, where they cut ridges into the backs of Kaningara men to indicate maturity http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/newguinea-crocscars-pp, http://larskrutak.com/making-boys-into-men-the-skin-cutting-ritual-of-the-kaningara-tribe-of-papua-new-guinea/, similar techniques are used by Masai and some Nigerian people groups. The Second thing I looked at was shadow puppetry in Java and Bali, this brings the community together at major events like weddings. I think that there has been too much of a separation between western 'art' and non western art that is labelled 'craft' we live in a global era so I think these categories are outdated.
In todays ideas factory, the idea my group liked most was kind of like a ritual or meditation. It has to do with cutting string that represents a life-span, and then makign a candle and lighting it in a big dark room to make people think about they are going to bring light into the world. I like the idea of a cumulative effect in a peice of work, and that it put's other (than the artist) people's stories at the centre, like Es Devlin i suppose who works with egos like Lady Gaga and Kanye West. I theatre performance kind of echoes a religious experience as you are coming together to collectively venerate a performer, particular ideas, or even just the collective experience itself.
crit for first project - it made me think a lot about how i would propose an idea to funders, what is realistic and what is not. My idea was to create a kind of ritual where you cut string like the fates in greek mythology who choose how long someone's life is by cutting yarn. then to dip it and make a candle, then add it to a dark room and whisper your hope for bringing light onto your life and the world. over time the light and repeated (recorded) whispers would increase, giving the idea that we have an effect on each other that can be used for good. I also think that no one really stops and is patient or silent, or even thinks of their own mortality much - especially in London any way. The feedback was that people thought the idea was clearly presented with nice drawing but i could show where i got my ideas from more - so i'll do that!
First day in the Graphic Design and Communication week - so excited! today we took two words and photographed an image or film that represented these. My group chose 'Social' and 'Environment'. I think the task dfinitely highlighted the tensions and strengths of working in a creative team. We had shared knowledge which was helpful but i think we could have been clearer on our central idea.
We wanted to challenge the tendancy of strangers to act coldly and ignore each other, we wanted to make silent conversation/ intervention and kind of create social connections where they are not present in a public space by making them notice us and our inner thoughts and the kinds of things we might say to a friend. I'm really glad out feed back comment was that it was very simple and effetive and bold lettering, and also that since it was only a short time, in the future we would still be working quickly, but do this process over several times to refine the finished project. I also learned to use imovie which is a bonus!
Other people's work that i loved included the 'social' 'found objects' that were a grid of photos of people's lunches. Food is something that brings people together and expresses culture, I love that. Someone also said that instead of praying before a meal we now make an instagram! So true - and shows how food is still central to us culturally and on a basic need level and so we make much of it.
Today we had to construct our own type faces out of white paper using only folding, cutting, and tearing, no drawing though! At first i had no idea what to do - I know a little about type faces as I am married to an enthusiast! But I dodn't want to just repeat what I've seen before. Then I decided to invent rules that I woudl follow for each letter as I know that consistance is really impotant. I folded the page in 6 ways and based all my letters on this. I quickly found out that I needed a way of making horizontal lines too though! I ended up with a type face calle Facet which i was pleased with, though I think in the future that I will make sure it is easily read at first glance as it is quite a subtle design.
Today was my favourite day so far as I am interested in printing and illustration. I learned to do screen printing which I will definitely try again. I also did some wood block printing and lino cutting. This was interesting, I used numbers and cut ino shapes that looked like prison bars because the numbers reminded me of prison numbers - where inmates are known by a number and not thier name which takes away from thier humanity a little I think: https://www.gov.uk/life-in-prison/arriving-at-prison.
In the future I would like to develop my printing and lino cutting to depict more narrative work, I would have liked to have worked on the storytelling aspect a little more.
This week we did Performance Design and Practice (PDP) Which was great fun!! On Monday we sent the whole day devise a performance piece using a shadow screen. Interesting baring in mind I have just been reading about Indonesian shadow puppets. Anyway, I loved it because it is so simple but can be used to create some great effects. We were given quite a sinister piece of opera music - I feel that this week has been invariably sinister for one reason or the other - but greta fun as a result! We discussed our feelings about the music and what kinds of images came to mind. Then we mapped out our performance as a four- part act using a basic story board. We made use of two actors, altering their sizes and appearances by varying the distance from the screen and giving them additions like costumes and props.
In the end I think we were all really happy with it and i think the key thing was to keep discussing a sharing our ideas and trying them out. Eventually we were able to rehearse the four stages several times as well which helped and each person had a different job (main light, torch/gobo, actor, moving props etc. Thanks to Chan Hee it can be seen here.
Today we looked at 'planes of movement' the table, the wheel and the door. I thought it was really interesting to think that certain personalities and characters move in particular ways - and you can break it down. Kellin and I found that, when walking we were both quite relaxed and swung our arms and legs. We liked the idea that this movement could make a costume continue the relaxed movement that we started.
We wanted to make a circular out fit with flexible outer ring so that you could create many different shapes. In the end there were more defined bends that we had anticipated because we could only find short lengths of nylon to use as the outer circular rim. However it was an exercise in adapting and creatively overcoming limits. We found that the result had more movement than perhaps our first idea and made really interesting shapes.
Today we thought about how to create/ manipulate environments to create and experience, stage or installation. I found this really interesting as every day we have to move through space and enact a kind of performance so it is really interesting the idea of making people aware of the effect of their relationship with their environment. This is one of the reason's I love Anthony Gormley's work - he really thinks about the dimensions of the human person and their interaction with their surroundings.
We were given the term - intimidating - and we resulted in making an installation where someone sits inside and are emotionally effected by all the objects and spikes pointing straight towards them and being quite close to them - particularly the head where we had a pair of dangling scissors! People really did seem to be effected by this and feel intimidated and claustrophobic. I think this kind of effect can also be felt in the built environment of our city too - I have lived here for 7 years and have found that small living quarters and limited personal space in travel really effect the way people act and feel. Architects ( and possibly their funders) seem to make assumptions about the worth and emotions needs (or lack of them) of individuals by creating repetitive and claustrophobic spaces.
I liked these two as well - the words were 'contemplative' and 'grand'.
OK so this week it was on to Fine Art! I was really interested in the theme for our lessons - Human Being. I studied Anthropology at undergraduate so it was exactly about the kinds of things that fascinate me.
Today we looked in detail at an object which at first has no discernible purpose or use. Mine was what looked like an ornate cutlery handle with the tool-end cut off. Later, a (non art) friend of mine said quite simply 'oh but that's easy you can invent all sorts of ends for it!!' what a genius idea - why didn't i think of something so simple! Anyway, I decided that it looked like part of a historic silver cutlery set and so I though about ideas of memory being incomplete or even something completely new and different to the actual events that are remembered. I also liked the idea of an object that has been significant to a family - and how did it end up broken? Does it reflect relationships of people who have been associated with it in the past?
I made a kind of pop up piece based on the folded label a classmate made for my object and it ad inside it cutouts of similar patterns to those found on the spoon but written onto them were fragments of my family history - it couldn't be fully read just like the object was not complete and neither are our memories.
I am really interested in how art can be used to make people look a little closer, and see themselves clearer - that sounds so serious! I love making beautiful things and could do it for hours on end, but playing with significance - this is what I care about the most. I feel that when I studied Anthropology before I met so many interesting ideas that I wanted to explore but I didn't have the right language to do it, maybe Fine Art is that language?!!
In even the most perfect reproduction, one thing is lacking: the here and now of the work of art-its unique existence in a particular place. It is this unique existence-and nothing else-that bears the mark of the history to which the work has been subject.
Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction. 1935.
I like this idea that every object or piece of art has an added element to it which gives it power and meaning, like Walter Benjamin's idea of the 'aura'. This week I did a bit of research and read/ listened abut these three exhibitions that were on previously:
The Welcome Collection - Things http://blog.wellcomecollection.org/tag/things/
"Whether explicit or not, it remains that a display of objects can?t help but become part of the anthropology of today; the latest, but not final, chapter in an object?s narrative. Whenever we encounter an object, old or new, we re-imagine, re-interpret and re-invent its meaning and contribute to its never-ending story. Museums are increasingly incorporating these different voices into the display of objects but the loudest and clearest will, by its very nature, always be the here and now."
- Natalie Coe
The Barbican - Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art http://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=7038
I especially loved Robert Filiou's box with dust he got from the exterior of a painting in it - it was like a powder compact hat we use to make our faces 'more beautiful'. Are we seeing the face or art work or just the exterior dust or ide of beuty that covers it?
The other thing that stuck in my mind was the shroud of Blinky the friendly hen. it was the paper that a frozen chicken was wrapped in. After artist Jeffrey Vallance bought the chicken he held an elaborate pet funeral ceremony for it challenging the way we see the frozen animal - as food? or as a companion or even cult leader?!
British Museum: A History of the World in 1000 Objects http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects
I love the British museum! the object that stood out for me was the Ain Sakhri lovers figurine, over 1000 yrs old but an image that is still moving and relevant to all humans.
ANYWAY... so today we thought about human behaviour - I decided to make a survey about symbols, I originally wanted it to be a participatory piece where people divided them selves into groups based on what symbols they identified with but instead the survey was more practical.
I wanted people to be confronted by the fact that we all divide ourselves into groups and affiliations consciously or subconsciously. This includes political and religious groups but also with the products we consume (like starbucks) and institutions we are involved with (like UAL). Quite a few people felt 'exposed' or 'left out' or like they couldn't be categorised so starkly. Others felt pride in a sense of identity or homesick. I found that these reactions were the most interesting thing and I want to make something participatory for my final piece.
Ok so today we were finishing our pieces and displaying them. I had made a piece called 'Take Eat' which are the first words of Jesus in the communion ritual. The work had all the symbols from the survey but made out of bread so the onlooker actually had the choice to take and consume their choice of identity - giving he idea that our identity choices and affiliations become part of us physically and spiritually. E.g. buying starbucks or going to UAL every day is a kind of ritual that includes us in a certain group and like doing a daily prayer.
In order to make it better i found some actual food dye (I used watercolour before as I didn't have any) and made it so that people could actually eat the bread safely. I don't think I made it clear enough as no one did! It is quite an unusual idea. If this was in a gallery I would perhaps have someone there to refill or explain.
I love this interactive boundary-crossing way of working. like Félix González-Torres' Untitled where he put a pile of sweets in the corner of the gallery the same weight as his partner who died of aids. As people ate them the pile wasted away like his body as he dies of aids. I also looked at the Milgram experiments - I want to make a video where I study peoples' reactions at being asked to eat various foods with different symbols on - some more appetising than others!
This week was interesting, I am not really interested in fashion, but I am in drawing and it was good to do so much of it. Today we made sculptures out of twine and objects and drew these and used different mediums to create a final pattern.
Today we were doing fashion illustration and collage. It was good to have to hand our books around and each person did part of it. This taught me that I am actually rather perfectionist about my drawing and need to be more free and not worry about mistakes. It was interesting how a garment and the person wearing it can be represented so effectively by quite abstract or incomplete shapes and lines.
Some nice illustrations from my class :)
Today we drew outdoors and used shapes from our drawings to make sculptures on the body, this was fun! again, I love drawing and I was pleased with my drawings today and felt like I had learned to be freer with them.
3rd November - Fine Art (painting)
Today we were using found images to create an imagined space. Following on from the martians project, this was interesting because we all relate to spaces, the home is central to our humanity, and the built environment directly correlates to our image, dimensions and cultural preferences.
Natural spaces are also often shaped by the whims of human beings, the English countryside looks unruly but is shaped by thousands of years of agriculture. When it is truly wild then it is the adverse completely are we are in danger from it rather than a danger to it.
Many of my found images were really nostalgic for me, because I hoard images and bits of paper, old photographs, even when they are really bad! So for me the collages were bit like piecing together and re-constructing memories.
Today I chose this collage:
This picture has gaps to show gaps where you can add your own story and to show that this feeling isn't complete. I want people to put themselves into it and complete the story. I've seen this kind of idea work before in a piece by Joseph Cornell, in the Guggenheim, Venice called 'A Setting for a Fairytale'. It has a scene and a reflective surface behind to bring the viewer into the image literally and imaginatively.
I found it quite hard to translate what I wanted to say into a painting. I liked the collage how it was really! I also feel that painting is a medium that people have certain expectations for which puts the pressure on!
I experimented in painting different elements from the image in different ways like Laura Owen, and I liked the images I came up with but I felt there was still more I could do. I'd have loved to have had a lot longer to paint as it takes ages!
Feedback from my classmates in the crit:
Feedback from Tutor:
*The earlier, similar piece holds together more, the intricate brush strokes on rock work an could be expanded on.
*The gaps- make it feel incomplete maybe paint them in if they are meant to stay white.
*Where does the frame end and painting begin?
*Butterflies nice maybe experiment with swallows or something else. Shiny things can end up seeming kitch so need to always balance with serious elements - which this painting has with the large rock.
I felt quite frustrated after the lesson as I felt I hadn't managed to make a painting that conveyed perfectly what I wanted it to mean! I like painting but I do feel that it is hard for me to make this connection in this medium. So I thought I might cut it up and send it to my loved ones so they could keep a piece of it forever and it would be safe with them!
What I decided in the end to do was send parts of the collage (I wanted to keep the painting in the end so I could show my working) to them and ask them to add something and send it back so the final image would be a collaborative effort, not only the image would be nostalgic but also the relationships involved are really precious to me :)
7th -9th Nov
This weekend I went to see the exhibition Beware Wet Paint!
It was quite a small gallery but this was good as it gave me time to think about each painting properly. I thought that a lot of it was a little pretentious! I mean that the descriptions were having to convince me that it was meaningful but the work itself didnt seem to say the same thing.
I did like Parker Ito's idea in 'The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet' though because it was about how our experience online is changing the way we interact in the real world, and had lots of found images from the internet all mixed up together. I also liked the fact that ... used fire as a medium to reflect his spiritual outlook.
I also read the introduction to 'The Poetics of Space' by Gaston Bachelard (which looked at how creativity can come before knowledge) and 'Where does one thing end and the next begin?' by Ian Monroe (which explored how the blurring of boundaries and creation of dichotomies through collage can create strong reactions in the viewer) this weekend from the reading list.
10th November - PDP
tody we were looking at scale and how this has been used by different artists and theatre designers. I liked Rita Inokken's 'Snowflake and Baltic, in which she dressed as a snowflake and an iceberg and so personified the damage to the environment created by global warming. I also Lygin Pope's 'Divider' which was one large sheet and people visiting the exhibition would go under and emerge through head holes. they would then have become part of one, connected work of art and so it demonstrated the idea of working together and unity with otherwise strangers.
Today we created a costume based on the patterns and spaces we found in a square inch of our classroom and we came up with this:
10th Nov evening 'Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination' Exhibition at the British Library
Tonight I went to see...
Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination - British Library Exhibition
It was great! I love how storytelling, images and environments make people feel a certain way - kind of cosy, curious and the thrill of being a little scared! It was interesting seeing how the genre has evolved and the characters that have been created to echo peoples inner fears and trepidations.
Today we made drawings based on textures we held in our hands without seeing them. Then we made small models of a set or stage design based on one of these images. I chose to use this tissue paper in my design. I liked the idea that as a person walked into the space, they would feel wrapped up and enveloped in a soft, delicate environment. I also like the idea that the set would be easily destroyed and ripped because it was not quite the right dimensions for people to move through with out risking it. I like the idea that people could interact with something I made causing them to think about fragility and moving carefully. The design also reminds me of a wood and is slightly transparent as well so could add to a feeling that there is more to see behind the layers.
Today I made a stage/ installation set using forced perspective. I was inspired by some scenes I have seen/ read in films and stories like Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971).
I liked the idea of an immersive experience that uses tricks of perspective to make someone feel as if they had in fact changed in some way - getting bigger or smaller.
If I was to improve this I would include perhaps something you eat or drink like the 'drink me' potions in Alice in wonderland, so you might feel it was responsible and magic. Heres some I made:
Tues 25th Nov
Ok so back at college again, this time specialising in PDP! It came as a last minute decision I had been deliberating between PDP and Fine Art Practice all weekend but in the end I felt more peaceful with this decision. I can be fine arty and explore performance and installation art and ideas but I can also learn about visual storytelling and a few skills that might be useful in the future.
Today we 'suspended disbelief' in an area of the college. We used the lifts and tables on the far end of the hall and imagined we were on a haunted boat! We also did a series of linked performances in which I was a stylist and rapidly dressed a group to go to the ball! I felt that our overall narrative could have been more linked up better, though we did have a storybook with instructions and based in loosely on fairy tales and a quest.
This got me thinking about things that only become real when you say or perform them, like grief. A close family member died recently and when I speak about it the reality is a lot more stark and emotional than when i don't, I guess what ritual is is making or acknowledging that something is real by speaking it or acting out a metaphor for it.
Today was really really interesting, we all brought in various objects and then we categorised them according to gender (I found this really hard because I think that there are infinite ways of performing/ being ones gender!). We then categorised according to hight and then used them to represent a human being. This reminded us of artist Sarah Lucas who uses everyday objects to represent men and women by inferring their physical characteristics.
We talked about feminine objects as typically more round and the female body as a vessel for new life. I group did a lovely performance based on the word 'pregnancy' where they slowly unravelled a tangle of fairy lights from a small ball in the dark. I also liked a piece where the representation of a person was a box of objects. The objects we collect are like imprints of our characteristics, we can't keep them when we die but some how they carry meaning and are living parts of us while we own them.
Can you even describe a whole person? Or just fragmented parts of them which are revealed to you and some are concealed like an iceburg...
"a man is the sum of his memories" - a quote from Assassin's Creed according to the internet!!
"This is just what human beings do-turn objects into people, people into objects." - Chuck Palahniuk.
- Article about Mexican boarder crossing being a source for inter-national performance. 'Ontology' term= world making.
- How to do things with words - J. L. Austin
In the afternoon we did a performance base on the work 'spin cycle' where we spun Molly around in a trolley and created a sound affect by rummaging polystyrene. The others said it seemed 'sacrifical' and the shadows moving because of the trolley moving contributed to a feeling of 'disorientation'.
Sound affect for 'Spin Cycle' performnce
1st and 2nd Dec
We did a wonderful workshop about model making :)
I also had a couple of ideas/ responses to the site:
- A person's built environment promotes a certain reality and way of living - a prison makes a prisoner etc. a system of knowledge that informs such architecture and/or living habits is called a 'discourse' and Michel Foucault first used this term. But then I think we also make our environments to so there is a give and take...
-check out Live Art Development Agency
* Immediately I thought I want to serve tea and cake in my front room (10 mins walk away) in order to introduce my classmates into a way of seeing Kings X that they hadn't experienced before. The secret theatre of home... that is a quote in the Gothic novel Basil but it means something different there.
*Another idea is that I could collect stories of homeless people in the area - I work at a brunch for the homeless in Kings X, but I decided against this as I don't have time to gather these stories and i feel it could easily be insensitive to do so.
* Kings X is a big station and gateway to the rest of the UK, could I make tickets to place for people? or even tickets to things like 'happiness' etc?
*People seem to automatically move through kings X on their commute. The other day everyone started moving to the left at once because their station was called. If you didn't know it was a station it would seem like some kind of odd ritual! My idea was to document the average happenings in Kings X and try to recreate a ritual.
Thurs 4th Dec
Today we went early to Spitalfields Old Market, which was great! it is only on a Thursday and it is a great place to get props, ephemera etc.
I then went to work at home because I want my performance piece to be about home as this is the lens through which I see Kings X. I have so many ideas! It is hard to prepare and document them especially as I haven't really done any performance art before. Here are a few of my thoughts:
IDEAS based on tea and cake idea...
* a treasure map or set of instructions about how to fine/ interact with our home? e.g. close the lounge door when it's cold!
*list all of the objects and people etc which would make this our home even if we moved...
*Could I play with the idea of every day small changes and routine? for example project the room onto the actual room so it is clear what has moved? pr every time someone moves something move it back?
*Offer a relaxing experience and make an area of collage full of the same meaning/ feeling I have at home relaxing? (inspired by cuddle cafes?!)
*The idea of inhabiting and tenancy/ ownership/ residency - could I claim part of the college for my own and add to it making it familiar in some way?
*How about the converse Idea of violation and trespassing?
Class research visit for tea!
This week was our final week of classes and we finished off our projects.
I had my group over for tea and cake at my flat to do some research! They told me what they felt were to most memorable aspects of my home, and I decided to present my work as a performance using props and creating atmosphere.
I was pleased how it worked, and I had some interesting feedback and questions to resolve:
- My performance was interesting because there are questions of ethics involved when working with unsuspecting audience members. For example I said "could you just shut the door, theres a draft! and they did this even though it was just the classroom door - though in my real flat there is a draft. This is a use of power between two different people and it needs to be done sensitively.
-I also used an audience questionnaire so that I knew some surprising things about my guests for tea! it helped to suspend disbelief, but because it was in front of a large audience and not an enclose space as I had envisaged, this is different from a confidentiality point of view.
Evaluation of final presentation
As a group we organised our various performance pieces into a narrative about the contrasting environments experienced during an ordinary day in London. This was influenced by both the social and physical environment of Kings Cross - literally a crossing place for those making their transition between work and home life, familiarity and anonymity, commuter train and pavement, city and countryside. The other students in my group looked at corporate costume, the many overlapping personal stories of Kings cross commuters, and the contrast to be seen between old and new in the built environment. Mine was the last piece to be presented and I chose to do this as a live performance.
In order to prepare I collected props from my own home environment that had a specific use and familiarity to me - that made me feel 'at home'. I chose cushions and blankets for the audience and performer to sit on (the chairs were borrowed from the classroom), I brought in my own kettle and used the sound of it boiling at the beginning of the piece. I had a freshly baked lemon cake, tea, a cosy costume, a light and a projection (creating 'telematic space') of my actual living room. These elements provided a cosy atmosphere. In this way I managed to engage all the senses, taste, touch, sound, sight and smell. I didn't realise that I had done this until later - I just did what seemed natural to communicate my feeling of being at home - however, this kind of reductionist way of looking at it might be a useful one to take forward when considering how to put together an engaging environment in the future.
Before the performance I also asked a classmate to hand out some questionnaires to other member of the class who I didn't know very well. In the questionnaire I asked about their interests and relationships and then built these facts into a flexible pre-prepared script so that when I invited audience members in for tea I could chat and guide them as if we were already very familiar and had done this before. I had some interesting feedback to think about concerning the ethics and power relations in this part of my work; it was good that it was a total surprise to those involved because I wanted the highest chance of an immersive world and some interesting improvisation. However, it was potentially quite embarrassing for participants to reveal person info (e.g. name of boyfriend) in front of a lot of people without knowing what the info would be used for exactly - perhaps such questionnaires could be re-worded. When I had first though of the idea it was in an enclosed space, probably just one participant at a time and not in front of an audience which would definitely change this fact. I also thought of inviting audience members into my actual, not simulated home. This felt quite risky (if I was inviting the general public) because it might be too far to go and I think it requires a lot of trust between artist and audience both emotionally and practically, like Marina Abramovic allowing the public to do whatever they like to her with objects she had provided. Like the vampire myth where they can only come into your house once you have personally invited them over the threshold, a stranger could be anyone, and the home is a sacred space that you must be initiated into and the object in it are treated with a certain reverence.
I had spent a lot of time thinking about what best to do with my idea and it felt very personal too because I was revealing a part of myself in revealing my home and some of my own story in conversation- but I feel that it was good to step a little out of my comfort zone. I am really interested in the idea that an object or place can become something completely different because of an idea it is imbued with. Each item that I chose was a symbol or sign (a combination of signified and signifier); in some cases it has much more significance for me that the audience (the blanket knitted by my Gran, the plate - the last one of the set my little sister gave to me for my birthday, the sound of that particular kettle i hear every morning etc.). I think that a work of art can never totally portray all of the layers of meaning that go into creating a living environment, or the stories that have created these signs, but I was happy with having scratched the surface. I had feedback from tutors that it was 'pure theatre' which means that it was immersive, intimate and at the same time experienced as a collective.
I was pleased over all with the outcome of this project and it has given me a lot to think about. This includes my interest in the duality of symbols/ signs, creating an immersive atmosphere or world, and also looking at the significance, ritual and wonder involved in the everyday.
week 5-11th Jan
This week we were thinking about our new project, 'From Beer Street to Gin Lane and back again'. It is based on two images by William Hogarth, Beer Street and Gin Lane:
There are big differences because in 1751 when this etching was made gin was very cheap and badly made. Poorer people often because addicted and this had a negative effect on their lives. In Beer Street people are noticeable wealthier and more productive - which came first, the poverty, addiction, or destructive behaviour? This is the kind of think we still ask ourselves when we see homeless people on the streets today. It is a very caricatured way of looking at the world, the people are not layered or nuanced. It is English satire as we have come to know it.
We were given the pawn shop as our area to explore and respond to as a group. I am thinking of some ideas for this:
-A prop like a cabinet or objects that have been pawned.
-A performance or installation, for example items of great value to me that the public can take away at a price.
-Could I ask people to donate their prized possessions just for the duration of our performance/ exhibition?
-Could I do something about exchange and value? how much is a good deed worth? What would you give to get the thing you most want?
-I looked into the Foundling Museum, which used to be an orphanage that William Hogarth helped found along with Handel the composer and others. Each child was given a keepsake - their only connection with their parents. I found this incredibly moving and fascinating at how valuable these items may or may not have become to the children- a connection with their identity. At the moment at work I am helping an academic set up interviews with people in the Afghan community about the objects they have brought with them to the UK and how they remember Afghanistan through these interviews. perhaps I can use her research somehow.
Week 12-18th Jan
This week was characterised by a couple of things:
Deciding what to do for my performance on the 28th
William Hogarth was attempting a social intervention through his work - this became even more apparent when I went to see his work at the recent exhibition in the Cartoon Museum. He was trying to show ordinary people the truth about the negative consequences of bad life choices in the hope that they would choose differently and their lives would be improved. This is also reflected in his philanthropic work at the Foundling hospital discussed above.
(The Cartoon Museum, with 'The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders' in the back ground. This also shows a progression where Moll, a country girl comes to London and is enticed into prostitution.)
I was to re-interpret this idea of a social intervention for the present day and using the context of the Pawn Shop where in Gin Lane people's possessions were lost for good. Even if they were then later able to recover these items through buying them back, they will have suffered in the mean time because of their loss. Because my group is doing a transition from Gin Lane to Beer Street I need to make the Pawn Shop empty as in Beer St it is not doing well because no one needs to give up their possessions.
My idea is an ongoing installation where I have collected stories of things that have been lost in the present day and I will make and 'restore' them. In order to go 'back again' I will also invite the public to write down on labels their stories and add them to the shop.
One of the critiques could be that these aren't things that have been lost due to addiction, and I did think about interviewing homeless people I have worked with in the area. However I felt that there were ethical considerations here as it may be traumatising to talk about. It also restricts involvement of the general public who may not have alcoholism.
Here is a concept drawing/ illustration:
Talking to Michael Spencer about the possibility of doing an MA in PDP
This was very helpful and helped me think through whether this course is for me. The course isn't particularly ficussed on a skill like costume making so you need to bring or learn the skills needed for your personal interests. I was also interested to hear that there are students from many different backgrounds on the course, for example former actors and psychologists. I think having studied Anthropology the reasons for studying PDP would be similar to the latter.
Michael asked me what exactly it was about performance that I am interested in. This was a little hard because of the various influences I have had through studying and working previously. I love stage design and creating an atmosphere but I am not sure it's right at this stage in life to pursue something that doesn't link in to my other interests... what came out from our discussion in that I want to create work that engages the public, either for example in museum education, or leaning on the more fine art side of things and creating installations that makes people think about themselves and they way they relate with society - that is my anthropology coming out!
I think the course sounds very flexible and a great space to develop creative ideas, but I am still not sure if it is the right path. The three month trip to Spain is also a difficult factor since I am married and have a flexible part time job that I would loose. It might be better if I just work with schools and community organisations and propose projects and apply to funding etc. In order to forge my own way using the experience I have and the confidence I have gained through doing the Foundation Course. The question is, do I need another degree certificate to legitimise my place as an art practitioner in these contexts?
This week was all about making. I made 7 lost items and used recycled materials wherever I could. You can see pictures from the making process on the 'Waste Off' page.
I found it was quite moving making these objects for people. I collected the stories of how they were lost and more details about what they looked like. It did feel like I was doing something positive for people, and put so much time in that I think that when I give these away it will be a loss for me in return.
Something was interesting too in how people responded. Most people said they would love to receive it, but one person said they probably wouldn't keep it. This was because I only was making a fake pearl earring, we'll see if that happens though. It's interesting the idea that it's really hard make something again perfectly. When you try as an ordinary person (I am not a machine or a trained craftsman).
There is also the idea that lost things become more valuable to a person after they are lost, and that the image in thier mind might be different from the actual thing. one person said they preferred the buttons on the new gloves which were different from the original.
This week I also went to the V and A museum to look at objects from the mid 18th Century. I found that they didn't have many every day ordinary peoples' possessions, mainly upper class items.
Jan 26 - Feb 1
This week was the week of the performance. I was quite apprehensive, because although our group worked well, my interests and way of working was very different to the others in my group. I did an installation designed to work best spanning over several days and relating to current events and they made costumes from the 18th Century!
I think in the end we did fine. I dressed in a period way too and helped with background music and costume changes. I also gave out my labelled items during the performance so that they could be read and understood by the audience before taking them back again. I am glad that our piece was interactive.
ADD PICTURES FROM PERFORMANCE!
I think in the future I want to work on socially engaged art - I have been reading Relational Aesthetics by Nicholas Bouriarrd and it really interested me.
Project Evaluation ? From Beer Street to Gin Lane and back again.
1. How do you envisage your entrance to and exit from the space?
I would be there the whole time.
2. How long does the transition from one Street to the other last and what moments are there to pause for a Live Tableaux?
It takes about 5 mins to transition from one to the other in this order:
The Pawn shop owner and wife (Anne and Ella) emerge from the door (Maj's dress). Lizzie plays Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel.
Anne and Ella walk around the audience haughtily, Anne brandishes a stick. At the Same time Lizzie (me) helps Maj change to Beer St.
When they return Anna opens her coat and Lizzie performs with a puppet through both pocket holes. The puppet knocks on the door of the pawn shop on each side of the coat.
Lizzie rips parts of Ella's dress away while saying e.g. "give it back!" she gives these bits to the audience and also empties the shop and gives the objects away. There are labels on the objects explaining how they were 'lost' in the the first place which the audience reads.
By this time we have all transformed in our various ways and there is a pause. when the 'rave' performance starts on the other side we go around the audience and gather these things back, and Maj changes back to her Gin Lane outfit.
3. How will you deal with re-staging the performance three times?
All of our costumes, props etc return to their original place by the end of the performance.
Sustainability (Waste Off):
1. What materials have you used and why? Can you think of ways this could have been done more successfully and sustainable?
I have used second hand shelves, second hand gloves from Ebay, scrap wool from Oxfam, scrap ribbon that I had already, an antique spoon from Camden Market and scrap card found on the street. I bought a recycled paper diary and borrowed things wherever I could.
I think if I had had more time I could have sourced for example second hand paint (though I didn't buy any new just for this project), but I think most of the things I used were sustainable and I will give the objects away as gifts so they won't be thrown away.
2. In what way does your project contain challenges mentioned in the Waste Off brief set by the UAL?
See above, I think that I kept as close to the waste off brief as possible, I did find it hard because it all took a lot longer than it would if I had just ordered everything on Amazon!
3. In how far can your project live on after the performance?
I think this project would work well as an installation in it's own right, this is how I originally imagined it though we had to adapt it to fit in a performance. The time frame would be longer and I would actually be making the objects as part of the installation. (See the drawing above for an explanation). I want to do more audience-engaged/ socially-engaged art.
4. How are you evidencing your consciousness of sustainability? (e.g. Have you got a separate Waste Off page on Workflow?)
I have a separate page on Workflow showing how I sourced and made my work.
1. What research have you undertaken and how has this fed into the development of ideas?
I went to the Hogarth exhibition at the Cartoon Museum and saw more of his work. I was interested in The Fortunes and Mis-fortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders - this was definitely aimed at trying to stop terrible things befalling women who started out with similar hopes to Moll who moved to London to be a seamstress but fell into ruin and prostitution.
I also visited the Victoria and Albert Museum 1750-1800 galleries. This helped me find out about objects from the period, however there weren't many which connected to ordinary people, it was all aristocratic belongings.
I spoke to many people I know to gather stories of objects they had lost and wished they hadn't. This really fed into my ideas because I realised the emotion that is created when someone looses something. The object even becomes more valuable after it is gone. I decided to remake these as my own 'social intervention' and try to make the world a little bit better like Hogarth did with his work.
I looked into how to make certain items, for example for the spoon ring I found a tutorial online and visited the metalworking workshops at the Archway campus.
I have been reading Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud which has fed into my conceptual thinking and also been reading about artist who do community work.
2. Identify an artist / designer who you admire and whose work has influenced you on this project and explain how.
Ceramic artist Clare Twomey who did this installation at the Foundling Museum. Hogarth actually helped found the orphanage on that site. I liked this piece of work because it is interactive, challenging and makes people think about their own motives and cares and how they can make society better. Though I think I like the ideas in it more that the way it looks.
1. In what way have you considered the original underlying purpose of satire in the Hogarth prints? What makes Hogarth's work relevant to today?
Hogarth was a philanthropist. this can be seen in his patronage of the Foundling Hospital and also in his prints and paintings that often have a moral purpose - to educate people as to better decisions and to help them improve their lives. Art that makes a positive impact on communities and individuals is still very relevant today.
2. In what way have you developed your ideas from the original prints by Hogarth?
I did the interior of the pawn shop which can't be seen in the prints, it is mysterious. I imagined it as a place of loss, and so I developed on this theme.
3. How have you incorporated the idea of transition into your design?
The shop is emptied and items restored to the public (audience) during my performance. I also hoped that people would write on tags and add stories of their own losses to the shop at the end of the performance, filling it with loss again.
Planning and Reflection:
1. Identify three moments where you have solved a theoretical or practical problem through research or experimentation with materials.
I found a set of shelves I could use on Freecycle. However when I saw them they were way too heavy and I had no way of transporting them. In the end after searching the area, I found a much lighter set of shelves and could transport it on a skateboard!
I had no way of knowing exactly what was in the diary - one of the objects I re-made - however, I read several blog posts from the same time and practiced the owner's handwriting. I didn't attempt to write emotional, personal info as I felt this would be difficult ethically, I rewrote excerpts from the blogs and left spaces for her to add personal thoughts in her own time.
My design couldn't be performed in the time period I imagined (over several days) so we adapted it to fit the performance and also made it look more period style to fit with the other pieces in my group.
2. In what way have you managed your time effectively?
I did as much as I could! I also took time off work for the performance. I think it also helped having a whole week of making time in the week before the performance.
3. How have you managed the roles within your collaboration?
We kept in touch via Facebook messenger and made sure we knew who each person would be and what they were working on for the performance. We made notes (see above) outlining the performance and how we interacted with each other.
Here are the final lost items I made: