Tutorial – 18/01/19

I found my tutorial with Jonathan today to be very constructive. To date I have begun several threads of experimentation which were up for discussion.

In the first instance we discussed the experimentation I had recently completed using latex. See Roof Slates and Latex.

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My intention is to upscale this experiment to create a much larger piece and the intention of bringing stitch back into my artwork. Reflecting on my previous piece using stitch in Evacuee I do not simply want to recreate the process and apply it to this body of work, I want to develop the thinking further. For the evacuee project, I used leather thread to stitch burnt photographs and acetate together to create an assemblage. My reasoning behind using latex – that I can use stitch to bring all the slates together into one larger piece and I can begin to introduce digital elements into the work with a focus on distorting the images. Distortion of memories, facts, truth, history but also physical distortion of the digital image.

We briefly discussed the distortion of imagery through photo transfer and Jonathan told me about Citrasolv a degreaser that can be used to transfer laser print. We also had a brief discussion about acquiring copyright free archival photographs though Library and Newspaper archives.

Having printed digitally onto thick canvas fabric, I have recently order some samples on much light fabrics, these samples I then intend to use to experiment on how the latex works with digital imagery on paper and digital imagery on fabric. Why lighter-weight fabric? This project in particular continues to bring me back to the time of my childhood – the reservoirs flooded around the time of my birth. Memories of home keep flooding back to me as I think of the homes that were demolished to make way for these reservoirs. When I think of my mum’s house and my nana’s house and what objects/fabrics signify them as different to home now and this would have to be net curtains. The days we’ve spent hanging the freshly washed net curtains on the line still linger in my mind – an act that is rarely seen nowadays. So I had two samples printed, one on Organza fabric and one on Net fabric with the potential to further distort and fade the imagery.

Although it had been my original intention to print onto net curtain fabric, I discovered recently that indeed this process had also been used by Christian Boltanski in La Traversée de la Vie and the 1994 piece Moved (Menschlich). This leads me onto a question that Jonathan asked me during the tutorial – Why Boltanski?

This is a question that I found difficult to answer – indeed I have found other artist that also reference that historical post war era – Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer. In previous work I too have referenced war and the effects on humanity. But I ask myself, is it really just this – why the effects of war in particular – or is it more than that – is the loss of our history or memories what is paramount. I know that for me in particular – I always have in the back of my mind that this could have been me – but for a change in circumstance. I  feel that events for all of us change and distort in our memories over time and creating art about these events is an act of remembrance and in a sense an acknowledgement of the people and the experience they went through.

Boltanski uses archival photographs, something which I am keen to explore further and the sense of anonymity from some of his works I find particularly evocative – no – we don’t know who all these people are – yet they are individual just the same as each and every one of us. Perhaps this is the inspiration I see in his work. On Artsy.net he reflects on the fact that although everyone is unique, we also disappear so quickly and the conflict we all have towards those that have passed over, hating death – yet loving and appreciating the deceased.

In the work Forgotten Children, I found anonymous photographs of children affected by the Syrian war and produced a series of Photo Etchings in an attempt to acknowledge and remember their struggle – recognising that these children are all unique and individuals just like every other person in the world.

We then discussed what had had the biggest impact on me from my recent Site Visits to Haweswater, Thrusscross & Derwent and Tryweryn. This would have to be the tree stumps that I discovered on the shores of both Thruscross and Tryweryn. The result of deforestation to make way for the reservoir, to me these tree stumps act as a metaphor for the memory of the history and events of the locations.

img_3174Having been cut down they show the memory of their demise, being soaked and dark brown and peaty showing the memory of being submerged underwater, their roots exposed reminding us that at one time they were living trees. Memories of Life, yet memories of the effects of man on the area. When I first saw them I felt as if they were crawling up the embankment and as if they were indeed alive. For something so static and so dead they still felt alive and full of movement.

As soon as I saw them I had this idea for creating a larger scale model which I could then get someone to wear and perform in at our next visit to the locations.

We had briefly discussed the fact that I felt my video work with the shirts What Lies Beneath was not stimulating and that I felt it needed some movement/performative element to add more interest/stimulation to the piece.

I feel that the tree stumps provide the perfect opportunity to gain this performative element.

Jonathan commented on the shape and colour of the tree stumps against the lightness of the shirts and the ground and that he felt this could be a way forwards with a movement based idea. He also suggested that I might introduce dance as a physical movement – something that could visually connect with the ground and the shirts. Possibly using slowness in movement with the movement of the shirts in the wind.

Another idea we discussed was also the use of a drone (which will be much to my hubby’s delight) and to be honest it was clear in the first site visits that drone footage would have been a really useful tool. Drone footage will provide a new perspective on the view of the sights an be able to gain a Just above the surface view point of the sites on my next visit.

Jonathan observed that a lot of what I am doing with this project is creating Metaphors for Memory – so many metaphors to create and lots of ideas to be working on. Feeling positive for the way forward.

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