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Week Seven – Farrah

Update on Mask Pots

This is my cress after about two weeks of growing. I rotate them regularly so that they grow straight, and water them every two days. It is really enjoyable watching them grow, watching every one gain a personality of its own. I feel I have crossed the boundary between art and artist, and feel more like a guardian, looking and caring for another.

Reflection on Tutorial and development of Project

The first thing which we discussed in my tutorial was a way in which to depict the cress in an artistic setting, to raise awareness of the environmental effects of single-use plastic. My initial ideas for this, based on my first tutorial, was to create a sculpture out of the mask pots and then hand them out to people, with information on the negative effects of the disposable mask. I had in Week 6 considered hanging them off trees and photographing them, the context being that it would be returning nature (growth of cress) back to nature. Although both Miranda and I agreed on the benefits of an aesthetically pleasing outcome, she made me realise that the cress and the tree are two separate ideas. We then went back to the beginning of the project to rethink.

I discussed how I had began to see each mask pot as an individual. They are all different characters to me, with their own personality, strengths and weaknesses. Relating this to the disposable mask, it is interesting how these items actually remove character. They prevent us from seeing the face; we can no longer see a smile or see a full laugh. On a personal level, I find I have started to see past the masks; I look for the personality in the eyes, the clothes, the stance of the person. It is interesting how I see the mask pots as individual characters, when many see them as the antithesis of character. I have brought back the personality into something that removes personality.

Underpinning my whole project is the idea to make something useful which otherwise would go to landfill, or in the sea. Using the masks, I have given them a cycle of life – they are used to grow from; this is the direct opposite of the plastic waste which has no purpose. Another element of my project is the commodification of food; we rely on supermarkets for anything we want. For example, there seems to be no seasonal food anymore like there once was – you can eat strawberries at any time of year, when typically they would only be sold in the summer. By growing my own food, I am taking a stand against this. In my tutorial, we talked through what I would be doing if I was not an artist. I would eat the food. Although simple, eccentric, it is entirely possible. I began to think that the next artwork, the next thing to do with my mask pots of cress, would be the eating of it.

The final thing we did in my tutorial was to create an idea for what I would do in the Winter Show. I decided that I could prepare, cook and eat my cress. This would take the form of three, fifteen minute performances. It was important to me to also show the photographs of my mask pots, from where I found them, to the growth of the cress from them. I therefore decided that I would create a stop frame animation of the growing pots – I would make more, set them up again and photograph them several times a day to record their growth in the same position, thus creating a time lapse. To elevate the status of the mask pots, I could display them on a gallery plinth, showing their importance and classifying them as artwork.

To conclude, my idea for the Winter Show, as it stands in Week Seven, is to start the show with a stop frame animation of the cress growth, intertwined with photographs and context to my project. This will be followed by three performances of preparing, cooking and eating the cress. As the transformation happened at the beginning of my project – making a disposable mask into a plant pot – no more transformation has to happen.

Finding Masks

These photographs are of the masks which I collected whilst on a walk around Aberystwyth. I spent about 1-2 hours walking around, and saw most of the masks in car parks and along the pavements; lots were also caught on trees and in bushes. It is clear from this that many people using the masks simply dispose of them on the floor after using them, for example, before they get into their car. It is devastating that I found this many on a relatively short walk in a small town, when you consider the amount you could find on an international scale. They are photographed on the washing line to dry, after I had washed and disinfected them ready for the workshop. It also gives a good idea of our plan for the workshop, as our initial idea was to walk with them suspended on a long line.

Workshop Four

This workshop was the one before we did our collaborative project. Originally the workshop was going to be where we presented our artist research to one another about different elements of the project, but we had decided previously it would be better used if we prepared for the final workshop instead. Each of us brought in white masks ready for painting, and the collected masks which we had found as litter during the week. We also brought in statistics and photographs we had found relating to the environmental effects of disposable masks.

I found the workshop to be really enjoyable; it felt almost like a traditional art lesson, sat around painting together, but with a really important message underpinning our work. I chose to depict a photograph I had seen of a bird on the beach with a mask in its mouth. The image shocked me when I saw it, and I found it really upsetting. It devastates me that so many wildlife are suffering because of human selfishness – I wish everyone felt the importance of protecting our planet. We all used acrylic paint for the masks; it was lovely to see everyone’s different painting styles and techniques. We listened to music during the workshop – the album Plastic Beach by Gorillaz. This felt really topical and heightened the experience of working as a team, raising awareness in us all.

After we had finished painting different photographs onto the masks we would be wearing, we then began writing statistics and messages onto our collection of littered masks. Most of these were disposable, a few were re-useable but had still been thrown away. We used acrylic paint to write onto the masks – this was difficult and required concentration to make the messages stand out. I feel really emotional when looking at the collection of finished masks with the statistics and messages on, as it really hits home about my own project and what I have been trying to do – raise awareness of the effects of disposable masks. When looking at the collection at the end of the workshop, some of us felt there was not enough to look effective on our idea of a long piece of string, so we have decided to brainstorm other ideas this week in preparation for the final workshop.