Assignment 5 – Response to Tutor Feedback

Feelings

My immediate response is relief.   I have been trying to work on so many levels with Part 5 that at times it has been difficult, even though I have tried to direct myself more specifically and critically, to stand back enough to see where I am going.

To have, as always such a sensitive and supportive report which is also challenging as well as penetrating is a joy.    There are so many questions, suggestions, thoughts, impressions as well that I need/want to unpick over time that the future feels very rich.

Just to contextualise the reasons for taking the OCA degree was that I had nothing and no-one to bounce off or with whom to have a creative conversation.  As I come to the conclusion of this first part of the course I am more than ecstatic about moving forward with my work.   This is no exaggeration having taken a lifetime to get to this point.   However, I am more than aware that it is that lifetime/my lifetime that I am now working with and is such a rich source for engagement.

Evaluation

Without going over every particular suggestion or comment I would say that this is a very fair precis of where I am at the moment.  Some pieces/materials/sections have been more successful than others.   But at the same time the breadth of the investigation has been necessary and useful.  

Although I have worked hard to integrate academic resources and other artist’s work in my evaluations this is not a natural process and I have to continue to build my process in order to make this a more natural flow of thoughts and ideas.   As yet I am finding this part difficult to hold – in terms of feeling comfortable with understanding some of the ideas.   My perception is fleeting and I am endeavouring to capture this thought process in different ways including using Evernote so that the fleeting is hooked in the moment.

The other factor is that there are so many levels and studies that I have undertaken in Part 5.   I need to give myself time and space to stand back from all this.

Analysis

Positive

  • I have moved forward in terms of the physical materials and methods for working
  • Different layers of thoughts and meanings have been integrated into the work
  • More secondary sources have been used to support the thinking and doing process
  • I have enjoyed much more integration with looking at other artists, exhibitions, research, etc and how that observation can affect my work
  • I have endeavoured to slow my work down and use the reflective learning process to my benefit in order to unpick the thinking/doing

Needs More Attention

  • More unpicking
  • Use of secondary sources in order to apply even greater depth
  • More investigation of text and object
    • Drawing – In and Outside – Writing , Morres, corpening, Nys & Fortnum (2010)
  • Further research and reading on phenomenology, memory
    • The Conscious Mind – a philosophical road trip ( Edx MOOCS ) Trinity
    • The Ethics of Memory (Edx MOOCS) Brown
  • Imprinting – this is a very rich vein of thought and practice that I am looking to investigate further
  • Use of Cloth – because I have a very strong textile background (over 40 years practice) I am cautious about using cloth in order not at this early stage to be drawn back into previous ways of working – however I am beginning to see how there might be cross over without takeover!
  • Frottage – again a potentially strong source of mark-making and interpretation which again need more careful investigation and contextualisation for specific purpose – the physicality of this really appeals
  • Impressions of skin – literally and metaphorically with collapse and deflation as strong imagery.
  • Different Skins – physically my skin and tree “skins” or trunks – are these different versions of myself?
  • The Theatre of Skin – would like to work on a much larger scale as suggested

Conclusions

I believe that working on Part 5/Assignment 5 has opened up some really big questions.  The variety of the investigations has helped in this process.  Clearly by stopping and looking at the learning model,slowing down and standing back has helped in the articulation of some of the thinking and contextualising of my work so far.

The important part now is to allow myself to stay in the question without feeling that I have to come to a resolved answer/piece of work.   With this comes the selection for the overall assessment where I have chosen pieces that “tell the story” of my work through the whole of Drawing 1.   As an exercise in itself it has been a very useful part of the learning process.

Action Plan

At the last stage of putting together my Assignment 5 I attended an all day life drawing day.

  • Previously I had prepared some ink wash paper so that I had ready made surfaces
  • We were asked to view the model, who moved every 15 – 20 minutes, initially and make marks on our paper
  • The model continued to move at 20  – 30 minute intervals and I collaged the pieces of paper by tearing and positioning
  • Overdrawing and re-positioning continued until the end of the session.

collage state 3

I saw this exercise as a continuation of the previous multi-faceted drawings.

olivia 2

As the piece became larger and more complex I worked on it from different angles and positions.

collage state 3

What finally emerged was a complex amalgamation of the figure.   Currently I enjoy this particular aspect which has other figures emerging on the right hand side.   It could be interesting to draw from this image and/or overwork the piece.

I have included this under conclusion because I think it is an indication of future direction of work.

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Part 5 – Life Drawing – Drawing Multiple Perspectives

This week at my life drawing class the  task was to draw on the same piece of paper 3 images of the model for 20 minutes each finding ways to bring the images together.

Not sure why but chose in each place to use 2 sheets of paper which I had pre-inked.   this way there is already a dimension of perspectives to work with.

3 x 20 minute 1

In this first drawing it seemed important to build in the perspective of the space both inner and outer in order to add further dimension to the drawing.   I had been looking at images by Dorothea Tanning and thought that I have brought this surrealist element into this image.  As I built the layers the context of the space became more and more important.   However I have lost the dimensionality of the figure – except in the head – over the whole figure.

What interests me is the concept of the over drawing so that not ending up with a single significant outline or edge the drawing seeks to extend the “space” of the figure into the environment.   This has not been as successfully achieved in the final piece – perhaps I should have taken images of the different stages so that I can analyse in retrospect the important dimensions. Whilst turning towards the viewer the figure achieves some movement which is contrasted with the stability of the stuffed fox dummy (cast template for a taxidermy fox).

3 x 20 minute 2

In this second drawing I have chosen a 2 directly contrasting pieces of pre-inked paper and have endeavoured to leave more of the lines of the 3 different poses in tack.   I think this is more successful and interesting. Detail of lines and edges are more deliberate and the “memory” of the earlier poses are not completely obliterated as in the previous example.

 

2 x 30 marc sitting

(Couldn’t resist putting this extra drawing in which was 2 x 30 minute poses on the same sheet – the following week)

Looking back at these various Dorothea Tanning paintings and through the experience of the 3 x 20 minute poses I see a way forward to working with the 7 ages of woman or The Theatre of Skin.   It leads towards a deliberate way by working with the layers :-

  • superimposed but deliberately thought through in order to retain the multi-dimentionality of the whole
  • more careful selection of the imagery of the “ages”
  • distinct choices of the materials to use and the background supports to employ
  • use more specific references to the space and context of the individual stages – this may also refer the the colour choices
  • meticulous cataloguing of the different stages of the drawing in order to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the stages and overall piece

Inner and Outer

When doing these drawings I caught for the first time a means of capturing the inner and outer experience through drawing the body – a body, my body.     Making the vestigial marks part of the memory both of the drawing and of the experience of a phase of life and skin.

Also becoming more particular in choices brought to the concept of the drawing, i.e. materials and supports, as well as consideration of the stages undertaken.    This I believe is an influence of looking at the lithographs of Kathe Kollowitz (see Exhibitions).   The remarkable but often spare use of different mark making devices.   Struck by how the non-worked space adds drama and contrast to the overworked parts.

Unemployed

Unemployed – Kathe Kollwitz

Having experienced the beginnings of an idea of the way to bring together the 7 layers of skin/women through working on different layers of a drawing which is time limited and worked on top of each other. Have decided to do one more drawing of The Theatre of Skin working on this principle.

I will complete a drawing working for 20 minutes on each layer – probably using the same materials on a pre-inked sheet. My aim to to see how to incorporate or obliterate pieces of the “story”.   Because of the timing I will not seek further images to depict the stages but stick with the ones I have for the moment.

This will be the final drawing in the series.

Part 5 – Research – Reflection – Exhibitions

Reflective Learning

The challenge for me of Part 5 has been to actively integrate reflective learning into my practice.   As I have noted in my sketchbook and in previous posts I was not using the process effectively and found I was still working in a historically random way.    My experience of taking on an active response via this model has I believe made and enormous difference in the way I have been able to move forward with this final part of Drawing 1.

Walker’s (2004) paper in which he identifies 5 key components of the successful artmaking process namely:-

  • delaying closure
  • risk-taking
  • actively searching for contradictions
  • rejecting the conventional and familiar
  • exhibiting tolerance for ambiguity

has enabled me to work my way through this Assignment 5 in a more productive, structured, thoughtful way. Furthermore Doloughan (2002) articulated this even more usefully , “the language of the creative arts is necessarily metaphoric multi-layered and qualitative and that the rendering of multi-modal projects requires access to a range of meaning making resources.”

Through this more thorough understanding of the process and the self-identification of my own way of seeing the world via my dyslexic aperture has  been further sensitised by the essays in “Drawing Now” (2007). Where it “abandons the resort to appearances presenting instead the use of experience of something..rather seek to experience what is NOT visible – the invisible or the unbeseen“. (p xiv)

These thoughts have led me back to a piece that I read a while ago and might even have been responsible for my continuing absorption with the female body and my own body experience.  Young (2005) Throwing Like a Girl: a Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment, Motility and Spaciality connected me to a very personal experience of being thought of as a tom-boy, too physical, too strong, too….   Young seeks to “begin to fill a gap that thus exists in both existential phenomenology and feminist theory.   It traces in a provisional way some of the basic modalities of feminine body comportment, manner of moving, and relation in space” (p 30) This is something that I had instinctively understood but never seen articulated and certainly not understood that philosophers such as Merleau-Ponty (M-P)(1962) and Beauvoir (1942) brought together “combining the insights of the theory of the lived body (M-P) and the theory of the situation of women as developed by Beauvoir.

Way way back in my life around 1985 I had been developing a 3D tapestry piece based on the Beauvoir quote – “one is not born a woman but one becomes one”.   The structure of this was based on the childhood paper fortune telling game:-

Each section of the piece was to be a different life choice which a woman could take.   It was to be enormous, more than life size and incorporating actual objects (including dolls) as well as other paraphernalia.   A strong clash of ideas with art department staff saw that this piece or the completion of my degree was not realised.   Looking back, with the insight of time I can now see that even at that stage 1980s in an art college setting my non-conformity (being married with 3 children) and having ideas of my own caused strong responses.

Reconnecting with myself and these thoughts and recognition that the body, my body has its own story to tell.   I was particularly struck by a connection to understanding that “Feminine bodily existence is an inhibited intentionality, which simultaneously reaches towards a projected end with an “I can” and withholds its full bodily commitment to that end in a self-imposed “I Cannot”. (Young p 36) My choice of shapewear the modern equivalent of corsets (see Kardashian Korset) is the most recent fashion manifestation of this phenomenon.

Phenomenon and phenomenology are new concepts for me to consider in relation to my subject matter.  Particularly I am drawn to the discussion “M-P claims that the reason we are apt to forget phenomena…and (he) conceives of “perception as a movement from what is ambiguous and indeterminate to what is determinate, squarely located in the shared world and so available to others” (Romdenh-Romlux p 18)  through his interpretation of Husserl’s Libenswelt or lived world. Furthermore “He claims that complete objectivity is never fully achieved in perception either – I cannot view the world from nowhere.   I always perceive the world from my own particular perspective”. (R-R)  Without going headlong into the various philosophical debates, which as yet I have no depth of understanding.  I think I am at a cross-roads in which I am  finally enabled to engage in connecting to my own phenomenon – not with complete understanding, in fact after a lifetime of trying I believe I can let go of that one.   What interests me is the place/places/spaces/experience between. (see personal statement)

Feminist Visual Culture

Summarising the understanding of 30 years of “feminist struggles around representation” (Betterton (2003) concludes that we are:-

  • aware of how gender shapes looking and the “gaze”
  • understand terms like “gender” and “patriarchy”
  • a certain reflexivity in the representation of self
  • a willingness to explore issues of identify and difference
  • an interest in and engagement with body politics
  • an ability to “read against the grain” of a given text

Interesting historically and personally as it fits entirely with my own timeline. Furthermore re-reading Wolf (1990) I am not sure how much has moved on.

“Gender is not passively scripted on the body, and neither is it determined by nature, language, the symbolic, or the overwhelming history of patriarchy.   Gender is what is put on, invariable, under constraint, daily and incessantly, with anxiety and pleasure, but if this continuous act is mistaken for a natural or linguistic given, power  is relinquished to expand the cultural field bodily through subversive performances of various kinds”. (Butler 2003)

But I remain sceptical about whether the gaze has now sucummed to becoming a more dominant female gaze as in the world of the internet and the incessant “selfies” loaded obsessively on-line. A recent article by Kate Maltby (2016) in the Times describes spending 30 days “winched into a “waist trainer”.

training corset

“It is not my naked body that feels like a false reflection in the mirror, but the new costumes I wear above it.   If I can’t wear my favourite wrap dresses again, I won’t be me.   Or at least I won’t have the right armour to take on the world“.

“I felt elegant too…I felt something far more darkly feminine: fragility…Pair it with that other engine of the beauty myth, high heals, and a gust of wind will blow you away.”

So in a way women have, if they allow themselves, come full circle back to the 1830s when women first saw representations of the “ideal woman” in advertisements and magazines. Difference, irregularity, disability, age, flaws, ……are all banished to another land, another stratosphere: is the parallel world of the lived experience of the majority of women.

Artists –

Portraying a Nation: German 1919 – 1933  August Sander & Otto Dix – Tate Liverpool

The most significant part of pairing these two artists/photographer was the way that the presentation of the exhibition’s contextualised the work.   Sander’s epic People of the 20th Century commanded most of his life and remained unfinished on his death.  He stated:-

” I cannot show (my work) in a single photo, nor in two or three..after all, they could as well be snapshots.   Photography is like a mosaic that becomes synthesis only when presented en masse”.

So of the 144 images presented we see a snapshot of a changing Germany between the wars.   This is augmented by a extensive timeline covering, historical, social, technological, and cultural events.    Not only is this useful for placing the Sander’s work but becomes an essential part of understanding when you move into the Otto Dix galleries.

However before leaving the Sander’s work I wanted to note how this sense of working in series and over time had begun to influence what I have been looking at in my own work.


Otto Dix – The Evil Eye

War Prints and Brothels

There seems to be a direct connection, particularly through theme, war and degenerate life, between the print works of Dix and Goya.   The same gritty realism extended towards the grotesque and absurdity of life. They are more “in your face” than Goya’s prints more explicit and raw.   Perhaps they echo the fact that people had more direct experience particularly of war in Europe and the ability of technology through photography to see more of the reality of the experience.

1924.039-HouseDestroyed-sm House Destroyed by Aerial Bombs 1924

In this print particularly, I see a pre-curser to Picasso’s Gernica some 20 years later. The composition, bodies, buildings and desolation built into a very dense and unremitting image. Body parts, garments what’s the difference? In war none.

DixKarsch101IIaSailorsAntw

Also I couldn’t pass up the chance to notice how much some of the prints resemble Paula Rego’s  figures and compositional relationships.

Moving onto a different material he manages to seize the grotesque and the delicate when working with watercolours and other drawing media – mostly ink.  some of the images are as brutal as the prints – mostly focusing on women, probably prostitutes but not all.

girl in fur Girl in Fur 1923 – watercolour and pencil

Many like the painting above are rendered very simply in technique but retain the edge of pastiche and mocking towards his subjects.

The interesting contrast are the fully rendered portraits on which he worked in oil and a very historical technique of tempera.   In many of these he creates an extremely refined surface quality full of detail and realistic features. However he also extenuates his subjects even when dealing with some of the major industrialists of the time.

th (5) anita berber

th (6)    th (7)

I am drawn to Dix’s work because of the way he seemed to excavate the different layers of society and experience using very particular artistic methods.   It is like the layers of experience of the nation built up and finely finished (although wholesomely extended) by the most particular of materials – tempera.

His work is the very epitome of his time – an evil eye – I don’t think so – an accurate eye.

Kathe Kollwitz – Ikon Gallery – Birmingham

Unemployed

Unemployment – late 1909

Etching, aquatint, sandpaper, soft ground with the imprint of Ziegler’s transfer paper, printed in brown on copperplate paper.

The above print was part of a series taken from drawings she had prepared for the satirical magazine Simplicissimus others of which included, alcoholism, unwanted pregnancy and suicide.   So this was part of the strong socially aware perspective of  which she wrote:-

“above all to be able to speak to a large audience is what always excites me and I can never get enough of it: the many silent and noisy tragedies of life in the big city”. 

She was responding to Berlin, a growing metropolis of some 2+million people.

I have chosen this image particularly because for me it articulates so much about Kollwitz the artist and printmaker.   Firstly the fascinating explanation of the process and materials used to create this one image.   She had little training but seemed to have built up enormous expertise bringing to life this complex scene. Everything from the subtle tones where almost no marks are apparent to the dense figure of the husband in the foreground.   The delicacy of the children’s faces and the spare linear marks elsewhere combine to form a complex story in the lives of poor urban workers.

kk 2 Raped 1907-9

From around a similar time this other dramatic and disturbing subject is both sensitively and brutally rendered – from the foreshortened body to the detail of the garden where the event too place.   And not noticed by me until pointed out a child looking at her mother over the garden fence.

There are of course the amazing meticulous self-portraits as well as the Goyaesque (Satanic series) “Death and the Mother” prints where using herself and her son as models she cast her unflinching eye on these subjects.  Not a very large exhibition there are a few examples of her raw woodcuts but no examples of her sculptural works which I have never seen.

What I have brought away from this experience is the appreciation of her skill of using print techniques in a range of different ways from the most subtle to angry aggressive depictions of the lives of the working poor. Although much of this work predates the Dix war prints her subjects speak in their quiet acceptance of  mostly women who wait and endure and mourn.

Paula Rego – Jerwood Gallery – Hastings

Going to the Jerwood is always a joy because of its location almost on the beach and the interrelationship between the gallery and the view: the beach, fishing boats and sea.   I was looking forward to viewing this Paula Rego exhibition of some of her newer works based on The boy Who Loved The Sea.   Unfortunately I was disappointed in the drawings/paintings related to this particular theme.  The works are large and mostly drawn with pastels, ink, coloured pencils and I think watercolour.    With deference to her age – now well over 80 – I found that they have lost the vigour of her previous work – although the themes and compositions were her usual bold forms the work was flatter and lacks the dimensions of her earlier work.

I am glad to say that there was also a selection of her Jane Eyre prints which are magnificent  and earlier – 2003.

They appeal because of their depiction of strong and physical women which is interpreted with deep tones, exquisite drawing translated into the printed form.   The weight of her figures draw me in with the texture and movement of their garments.

Equally fascinating are a series of drawings done quite recently after she suffered a fall and had a wound on her forehead.

These are strong insightful, honest drawings.   I enjoy their raw, angry, self deprecating quality.

Then finally there is a series called “Depressed” drawn during a period in 2007 when she literally drew herself out of her depression.   Again the honesty, stark quality beautifully and simply rendered in pastel, crayon and pencil.

N.B. Pallant House in Chichester currently have an exhibition of Paula Rego sketchbooks which I will go to see but probably not before this Part 5 is assessed.

Francesca Woodman

Somewhere in the back of my mind as I was working on my images I remembered work by Francesca Woodman. This influential but tragically short lived photographer working in the 70s I believe had a huge impact on more recent photographers.  In Francesca Woodman reconsidered (2003) a discussion which included Laura Larson commenting that “Woodman’s work is useful for feminism precisely because it breaks the male gaze stranglehold by articulating a different set of terms”.  But unlike the narrative aspect that Mulvey (1974) was referring to with film Woodman works engages with “seriality and repetition”. 

Also she notes that “I was reminded of Woodman’s work when I saw the Hans Bellmer show….not only for the use of seriality and repetition but also its performative aspect”.

The connection and their conversation in the article about surrealism brings my thinking full circle back to my doll parts and the perception of women in parts.  Margaret Sundell notes in the article how she tries to understand woodman’s two poles – fetishization and space.“The interest in space is very much about a bodily experience, which engages phenomenology and its limitations, and the interest in fetishization is very much about the disembodiment involved in producing oneself as a two-dimensional image – even if the body remains the subject of the image.”

Their discussion ends with a question which I am left with and my own questions about where I would like to go with my work.

Moving Forward

Whether I get a chance to do/have these photographs taken or not before I submit this part of the course I don’t know.   But throughout the development of my ideas I have been eager to create a series of photographs of myself naked in relation to a particular row of trees in my local park.

This would be a very Woodman/Mendieta performative experience.   I have in mind various poses that literally truncate my body by the low branches and trunks of the trees which my the way are very resonant with the original Redon drawing which we were asked to consider at the beginning of the course.

two-trees-1875

 All these months on my relationship to this drawing has changed and deepened and follows the experience of my journey through the course. I now see very a very physical phenomenological relationship to these trees which I see most days.

Did a very fast reveal today but did not have long but wanted to post something in the genre of what I have been thinking about in relation to my body, space, performance, series, ageing, skin etc.

trees 7

Afterwards we did a few clothed “ideas” for the future.   However in some cases I think that they capture their own relationship of me in the space.

trees 3

Unfortunately the lack of time/opportunity and experience meant that I was not able to capture yet that quality of my ageing skin and self that I want to see in relation to these trees and their natural form.    I think I definitely need to be bolder and raw and not try to pose in the “accepted” way.

Moving on with the Different Approaches

  1. Building the Belly

Built 2 versions of the collapsing belly – see sketchbook for details – using as few layers of imitation Japanese paper as possible.   First wast 3 layers with paint on outside and the second one below with just 2 layers with some pre-marking of paper with oil pastel impressions.

belly 2 layers plus oil pastel imprint

In terms of texture and flexibility prefer the second example above but the marks plus the red ink are too brutal I think for this “skin”.   The collapse quality is good and could try to build one with just one layer to see if that would be sustainable.

Outcome

  • structurally successful
  • surface quality needs work an deeper consideration
  • mark making should be more specific and thought through

2. Theatre of Skin

Built the theatre with slots at the side and above in order to introduce the different layers – using the similar layers to the 3D version in the sketchbook.

 

workboard 30 October

View of the work-board at the beginning of this week (30 October)

3. Impressions of Surface

frottage on tracing paper

Frottage on Tracing Paper using some of the images/silhouettes from building the theatre.

4. Enlarging/Scaling/Layering

Just as I was about to embark on looking at the 4th part of this developing series I had a life-class last night.   Had prepared the ground with inks and was determined to follow my own path rather than do a nice drawing.    Something shifted in my willingness to experiment and “find the drawings” – the longest pose was 20 minutes but maybe that is good as I don’t get to overwork the pieces which I have a tendency to do.

Following the class I had a nagging memory of a particular artist/photographer Francesca Woodman whose evocative images have a quality of memory/decay/disturbance/layering that I want to capture through my layers.

(Additional piece worked on ink dyed upholstery linen with linen thread)

stitched crouched figure

Realise I have a current list in my head of interesting artists/photographers who include Kiki Smith, Sally Mann and Cathie Pilkington.

Kiki Smith – drawings visceral and working from the inside out.

Sally Mann

Cathie Pilkington

Pause – Review – Evaluate

Using the discipline of the learning model:-

FEELINGS:-

I am feeling confused again so have paused my process to re-evaluate what is going on. There are the 3 elements,

my ageing skin:- so far have investigated this less than the other parts.  I am interested in my skin, like its diversity, discolorations, wrinkles, I wear my experience in my skin and I am content with how it looks.   I have not been able to find older women to draw and this has been a frustration.   Perhaps I need to go back to drawing myself in some detail and at some scale.   I greatly admire Jenny Saville’s epic drawings and paintings but it is not that which I want to achieve.   It is the detail the layering the way the skin itself is a metaphor real and imagined for the lived life, the stresses and strains,  good (stretch marks of the belly) and bad.

  Also aware that these thoughts are in direct contrast to society’s notion of ageing, beauty, and the hierarchy of imagery that places the young, ever younger, perfect, flawless beauty of youth at its pinnacle. The longer-lived population, growing with each decade is the burden of society (at least in the West) celebrated so long as we keep in the background and don’t challenge the acceptable norms…..

Artistically very few depictions of the older woman.  Why do I like Dix and his Pastiches (what does this mean) of the harder, uglier side of ageing, sex, ..it is either this or homely granny by the fireside. Dix exhibition Dix was uncompromising in many of his 

the body shapewear :-   This is still an area that interests because of the way it implies limitations of shape and image acceptable for the female body.   The modern day corset – which I would like to spend much more time on but can’t at the moment – the way to make us conform to the norm….

 As I am thinking about it I think this needs a different kind of treatment than my skin, plastic, or something less pliable except that the empty shapewear is like a ghost of the body it once enclosed.

doll parts:- these are still important because they allow the example of the ways women’s bodies have been objectified.   The doll parts signify a sort of alien existence – an other world but also one created, like the shapewear, as a way of codifying childhood.

Of the 4 ways forward I have worked with each of them variously:-

Imprinting:- I think the concept of literally marking the paper by intending or embossing with “my words” is an important aspect of the experiments I have tried. This way of biting into the surface of having an imperfection – word or letter stand out from the surface of the skin of the drawing resonates strongly with the way some words recall strong emotions or past experiences.

Layering – using the latex:- So far the main image where I have used the latex to obscure and then reveal has only gone through 3 stages and am pausing in thinking about how to extend into the full 7 layers of “skin” without completely obscuring and loosing everything – but the question is does it matter?  What should or should not be kept or lost?

3-D Collage – Layering:- Building the 7 layers via pages in the sketchbook has been interesting in itself although it would be good to be able to move the pages around – these pages move towards thought of memory and glimpses of the past.   One other way of approaching this could be to draw through the layers in different configurations. This would then literally be a “peep show”! 

Shaping Paper:- Tried to distort various papers in sheet form without making a papier mache shape but once they were released from their moulds they just became creased paper without any particular interest or reference to what I was aiming to achieve. Could now  attempt to build some papier mache out of more flexible materials….don’t know what.

EVALUATION

There are interesting elements in all the 4 ways forward so far but rather crude in some cases.

The charcoal drawing of the shapewear is more interesting because of the layers of imprinting, outline, and overdrawing.   I think however it would be even more interesting at larger scale with the mark making becoming more deliberate rather than generalised.    The whole treatment could be more discerning. More aspects of memory could add to the depth both physical and intellectual.

The layering with latex has produced some fascinating combinations but again these are random rather than deliberate in their achievement.   At the stage now with the mono-print I am uncertain of the way forward. Need to think about isolating some “thoughts” that is sections where the configuration of the marks speak to me.

N.B. The “Woman” mono-prints in acrylic paint

Using the 3D-Collage is a more dynamic approach and could almost see a Francis Woodward (?) Joseph Cornell even assemblage  – approach where a box of layered “scenes” could be built using the child with her long strip come into and out of the scene …accompanied by the mother  “tagged ” to different scenes/surfaces – frottage appeals here.

Building a “belly” in papier mache would move this examination on – so far not much to go on. Not sure how strong this is as a way of approach.   It would be interesting to find a way to mark a surface – like a balloon and then deflate it – what would happen.

Overall the approaches seem very separate and without a clear path of how to move them on together.   Realise that I have not really used my skin aspect so far expect to use it as the metaphor to build the layers – could this become just a text-ual device?   Colours, surface, shape etc.  not a drawing in itself?

ANALYSIS

I am going to include in this the influences of reading Drawing Now (2007) as well as my recent visit to the Jasper Johns exhibition at the Royal Academy..

In the introduction to DN (2007) notes that they “abandon the resort to appearances presenting instead the use of experience of something..rather seek to experience what is NOT visible…the invisible or the unbeseen.” (p xiv)  This has been an enormous revelation in terms of a way of thinking about drawing without yet having a way to achieve this in order to convey my own interests.   I believe I am achieving glimpses of my unique perception on the subject but as yet I do not have a vocabulary with which to describe my “experiences”.  What I am now engaged with is a way of looking at developing this vocabulary. It is additionally interesting that I am pulled right back to the beginning of this unit to the expressive mark-making whilst realising how relatively unexplored is this most essential aspect of drawing.

There are the beginnings of my accessing “memory”  through the imagery which I have chosen but as devices for interpreting my investigation they are as yet rudimentary.  This is because I am not at all sure what my question is – what is my investigation about?

“How can I interpret the experiences of life as a women through examining my own skin and the superimposed skin of female body image as controlled by society?” 

Again I am drawn to John Berger quoted in DN and his 3 categories of observation, idea and memory.. 

“conceptual drawing encourages a journey round associative thought that does not have to be logical or resolved, …provokes an aggregation of memories, and impedes access to resolved meanings.”

I am literally hardly scratching the surface of my experiential content.

Jasper Johns – Royal Academy

I am including this exhibition visit here because it has been important to begin to draw together the above recognition with looking at work of an artists who I would have previously not have chosen to view.

“making the familiar unfamiliar”

What he clearly achieved was a way to ask us to view the everyday in a different way using the chosen objects to convey layers of meaning often ambiguous in interpretation. Sometimes he used the same images, flags, maps, targets again and again but each time tilting the inquiry slightly differently by the use of materials, viewpoint,  amalgamations of objects etc.

jj fragments of a letter

“Fragments of a letter”  2010

The two different versions of a letter from Van Gogh to Emile Bernard in words and in american sign language. This is a real challenge to understanding, one we might know (although it is translated) and the other we might not comprehend unless we have been told.   It raises the question do you need to know the references to be able to appreciate a piece of art?

What really interested me given my present inquiry is that in the section Time & Transience it was mentioned that his interests lay in:-

  • moments of transition
  • uncertainties of memory
  • inevitability of change
  • fleeting nature of existence

which had me think that my main interest lie in:- (working examples)

  • the naming of realities (whose?)
  • the uncertainties of memory
  • the lived experience
  • the imposed interpretation

More recently Johns has been working with found photographs and tracings (without identifying from where) where they are “free from the information that images convey”.  However what really spoke to me was the way he has been interrogating the same ideas over decades, moving backwards and forwards across actual time whilst staying with his early questions.

So it seems to me that if I can frame my questions I can then begin to find the framework for thinking about what imagery I wish to use and how to use it.   Simple but immensely difficult to achieve.

CONCLUSIONS

  1. Need to do far more investigation into the thinking about and behind the process of drawing
  2. My “vocabulary” in drawing needs to be extended and more defined
  3. In order to develop my analysis I need to ask myself questions more objectively in order to investigate both written and artistic material more effectively.
  4. Finding it hard to piece together the thinking and doing as well as dealing with the un-answered or un-answerable questions.
  5. Look more closely and critically at other artists work.   Ask myself questions about their questions
  6. Become looser in the way I think about and interpret my areas of interest, work associations, mind maps, image maps,,,

ACTION PLAN

  1. Create a “theatre” of the layers of the collage and draw through them :- movable parts that tell the story in different ways in different order from different angles – the nature of memory
  2. Create much larger scale drawing of part of the shapewear – looking at ways drawing can be interpreting experience.
  3. Flexible – belly :- build layers of latex and paper to create extended belly – drawing or painting between the different layers – allow to deflate…
  4. Try using balloons or other inflatable media to draw/fill with water/sticks – allow to over stretch and deflate.
  5. Continue building layers on original layered drawing.
  6. Try going back to some of the early samples of different fabric and surfaces and use them as mono-printing plates.

Alongside this practical work:-

  1. Look at developing reading and academic analysis.

 

 

 

 

Latex and Layers of Skin Sketch

4 – Layers of skin with latex layers

latex layer 1

The detail of the marks and the negative and positive space feel strong.   Using the simplicity of mainly one colour but in different ways i.e. pen, brush, .   also where the latex has been laid on but the ink has found its way through has expressive simplicity.

Very hesitant moving onto the next layer – very ambivalent feelings of covering, or spoiling the original image.    Anxiety around not knowing what is next although I had planned to work through 7 layers of this process.   Is it about trying to get through a barrier – or about the endless pressure to “make a nice picture” .

It is the pre-birth with the torso – corseted and the child free floating in the middle. Does the baby have arms here?  But the mother remains headless.

latex layer 2

Now looking more like a dirtied day/tea literally dress from the Edwardian period with the Suffragette’s banners of BULLDOZE and STUBBORN emblazoned across the chest. The child to the right is almost totally obliterated as a blotch of grey – her facial features non-existent.  the pure white of the first layer has been obliterated and have used walnut ink for the detail.

The longer I lived with this more more significant this felt to me.   The strong sense of issues being over-layed and over-layered as well as the positive and negative spaces being used.   This together with the marking and obliteration of marks – shapes, images, letters, words is beginning to resonate about the fragments of memory real and imagined as well as  thinking about that which survives, in terms of photographs and family stories.

Does what is important get remembered, imaged? Or is it totally random?

Moving onto the next layer is again a struggle as I am again emotional about loosing aspects of the drawing as if it is loosing aspects of myself – instead of shedding the layers of skin I am building up the layers of skin/story/camouflage/shell.

This time I am concentrating on the “Mother” body – relaxing back and headless – feet towards the viewer.  Across all the examples I wanted to lift the textural quality of the pieces (realising even with the “frottage” (See research Max Ernst) I have not used different textures.   Created a monoprint which I uses across most of the sketches

mother layer

These two monoprints flank the main layering sketch.

mother plus mono prints

Additionally 4 different sketches in the sketchbook working into the texture/around the textures in different ways.

There is a more robust quality to these not only from the texture of the paint itself but the way it does and doesn’t take up the ancillary material. The fight to gain image or not has a visceral reaction

Note to self:- what is the question

Which part of the investigation am I pursuing – what is the next question.

4 Ways Forward

2 Layers of Skin – Layers of Life – Layers of Body Experience

Thinking through passages from Drawing Now and the quotation from Joseph Kosuth about naming “a more complex process of seeing , thinking, relating and remembering.”

So I set about naming my parts, or parts of my life from the images I have been building up:-

-1 – Pre-birth  –

There is a Talmudic Saying that a child knows everything of their life, what comes before, during and after and at the moment of birth this knowledge is snuffed out only to be re-experienced in the lived life of the individual.

For this I started with the image that I had taken through the “lens” of the doll part..the far away, distant but still visible.

1 – Birth

Through the legs literally of the headless torso – who needs a head when you are giving birth?   An instrument of creation.   The child inert.

2. The Childhood

Again the armless doll but in the background images of the ageing skin out of focus and also the legs of the mother – still a presence, in the background, being in control.   The doll is a cut out and can move around the stage of life – like one of those cardboard theatre pieces on a stick being pulled in and out by another.

3.The  Pubescent

Peep Show – the experience of being at the same time curious and afraid.   What can I see? Do I understand? What do I feel? What is happening to my body? Will it be like hers (the mother)? What does that make me feel?

4. The Woman

Laying back as if sun bathing, at ease with her body or is she? She is still headless but presents herself as confident and knowing but inside is uncertain and hesitant. Additionally she has tags – like the fold back tags that paper dolls used to have to attach their clothes to them….

4. The Mother

Using the maternity shapewear bodysuit have cut out the dark shadows – why there are no dark shadows in motherhood or are there?  The enveloping garment and its collapse upon birth.

5. The Menopausal

A Topsy-turvy headless body with dark blood issuing for the last time….There is a sense of freedom as well as lack of direction and control. She floats around unable to right/write herself.

6. The Aged Crone

Just used a shot from a friend one of the few who allowed me to photograph her skin up close.   Resistance from others has been strong – could use myself here later.

 

peep thorugh 1

Interested in finding ways through the layers

peep through 5

What kind of surfaces or marks would project the sense of the different body experiences?

frottage of sketchbook layers

Created a random “frottage” drawing from all the different cut-out layers using a variety of materials  and then rubbing back.

This says to me there are different parts of a whole, but the whole is not clear, some are more dominant than others and others have been transformed in the process – like the menopausal torso which is now a bodily form – strong and clear.   The womb still exists as does the channel of birth…but other parts are less clear. Aware as I read back that I am distancing myself from these images using “other” when I perhaps should be staying in the me and mine.

sketchbook and frottage and drawing

For the moment the final shot of the sketchbook looking supra – 3D in front of the two drawings. In a sense a cinematic set of life with the stage props and drops awaiting in the wings or centre stage?