Matthew Hulse

SEMESTER THREE

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SEMESTER TWO

ANIMAL

week one

In semester one, I thought that I should follow what I had been doing throughout my academic life, which was to conceive of a strong idea and work my way towards it. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to complete this idea as I began to dislike it and my project turned into something completely different than what I anticipated. In my other module, I endeavoured in creating auditory pieces and I think that is why I ended up making a recording of fictional content. Because of this rapid change of my project I don’t consider it to be successful and in retrospect should have realised this earlier in order to organise my time better.

This semester I want to try something different. I don’t have a final idea ready from the get-go so I am not restricted by any tethers. I want to explore myself during these 11 weeks and be vulnerable.

I thought about what I can do with the topic of ‘animal’. Not necessarily what outcomes I could pursue, but rather what came to mind when I thought about the subject. I thought about the notion of an animal and also cultures, religions and artists that come to mind. I made this little brainstorm during our first session and continued to add to it after it as well. After we discussed the assessment and what the module is about this semester I feel more clear as to what is being asked of me.

In order to take a different approach to my practice, I looked at music which makes me feel limitless, unbound and free. I think these are just a few tracks which incite a sense of liberation from the material world- a certain detachment. Through all this cutting of strings, tethers and restraints I did find one thing that connects all these pieces of music together; emotion.

I drew inspiration from Neon Trees’ Animal, an indie pop/rock song which has some sentimental value to me. I think I’ll do a few more of these and see where they take me…

week two

This week we had a look into a film and other instances of animals in art. I kept very few notes as not many of the pieces spoke to me but for the ones that stood out to me I made a few comments. I found some if not most of the works of art during this week’s session to be very bizarre and some even made me feel uncomfortable; notably one where a performer was seemingly channeling the essence of animals or when a few artists played music that would reverberate inside a beehive. I felt that that was very invasive for the bees. The one piece that I did enjoy was one where a fox was running around in a museum. I thought it was interesting how it was traversing the halls after hours. A wild animal interacting with a fabricated environment was fascinating.

Following last week’s drawing, I chose Fools by Troye Sivan, an Australian artist who is very important to me.

I took some inspiration from Jean Michel Basquiat for the style. I enjoy his paintings as there is something almost juvenile about them but the detail and use of medium is highly intriguing to me.

Last week I had my individual tutorial and we discussed the what went wrong last semester which helped me put things into perspective. I should be focusing on getting things done during the week rather than on the weekend which hinders my performance across all my modules… I will most likely start looking at Goya as an influence soon but I did some digging this week and found some written work I had done which may potentially inspire this semester’s project.

week three

This week we looked at a more remorseful side of nature. The extinction of species, the destruction of natural habitats- this is the legacy of humans. One video showing a group of people apologising to an extinct species FOR ITS EXTINCTION really upset me. I think it’s a little too late for apologising. This got me feeling angry about humans’ behaviour toward the planet as a whole and I think I want to delve more into that.

From this week’s seminar I kept some notes and also wrote an apology towards the koala bear which is endangered. I wanted to see what the people in the video were feeling when writing an apology of this sort. I chose the koala bear because of my Australian heritage and the bushfires that happened last year really affected me. I felt pain, I felt my breath leave my lungs as I watched animals being burned alive while people try to save them. I don’t whether the charred corpses or animals were more harrowing or the survivors of the inferno which engulfed their home…

I also made an artwork last year related to the wildfires in Australia which channels the same emotions I am expressing in my letter to the right:

Prometheus’ Fault (2020), charcoal and soft pastel on card.

I feel p A i n when looking at these images…

week four

The mysterious package finally opens this week! (not so mysterious for me however since the packaging documents said what was inside…) ANYWAY! Creating a new animal is the task for this week. I’m very excited. I’m in a very sci-fi mood lately and I think I’m heading towards an ‘ultimate hunter’ sort of animal. I like the concept behind John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) as it can transform into anything. It is a great adaptation for camouflage and survival but also for hunting prey. I also like Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979-) franchise. The Xenomorph is the perfect hunter. A face-hugger is released from an egg which plants an egg down any species’ oesophagus, where then grows and eats its way out of the host. It then grows out its skin and grows in a matter of hours! A truly fascinating being. Acid for blood, a hard exoskeleton, blind but with heightened acoustic senses- I could keep going…

I have created my creature! It is known by its scientific name Xenos inchordata or a bulbo. ‘Xenos’ in Greek means stranger and ‘chordata’ is the term used in taxonomy for all vertebrates; by adding ‘in-‘ at the start cancels out the chordata, making it ‘invertebrate’. Essentially my animal’s name means strange invertebrate. I may have taken some inspiration from  Irvin Yeaworth’s and Russell Doughten’s The Blob (1958).

A very interesting session overall! I really like talking about animal biology and biology in general. I always say that if I weren’t studying art, I would be doing something related to biology. Something I realised is that almost all the animals that were introduced didn’t have any contribution to the environment. It’s important to consider how a species affects the ecosystem they live in because there has to be a balance. There is a limit to how many species an ecosystem can hold, and introducing a new species into an ecosystem can completely destroy it…

week five

The group project I came up with is called EC(H)OSYSTEM. The concept behind it is that every person takes on creating a different aspect of an ecosystem through various mediums; so for example someone would take on how the ecosystem would sound, another would come up with the animals that would live in it, their food chains, etc. The idea is that we get to create our own little fictional world through various artistic mediums that can be introduced one by one or all together. However, I feel that this idea is a bit too complex and heavily reliant on how the other group members will take on the task which could lead it to not developing in the direction I envisioned it.

week six/seven

From last week’s session we ended the discussion by choosing a word which we thought related to ‘animal’ and were sent off to do our own research and make our own connections. I chose the word nucleus because I think it’s something that can be tackled from multiple perspectives, but because I had already thought about this, I knew I wanted to dive into Aboriginal art and its origin. To be more precise I wanted to look at the meaning behind the symbols used in the cave paintings found on Aboriginal ground.

I began by looking at what symbols are believed to represent and found that watering holes were and are an integral part of the Aboriginal peoples’ lives and culture. They are important because tribes would move around the land and having access to water was very important in order to survive the infernal temperatures of the desert. Cave paintings feature the symbol for watering holes very prominently which further expresses their importance.

I actually know quite a bit about the nucleus of both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells from school so that part wasn’t difficult to find information about, however the part I wanted to focus on was how everything happens around the nucleus and without it certain life forms would not be able to exist. This is the comparison I drew between the nucleus and Aboriginal art.

My presentation:

After watching everyone’s presentations I think we are moving towards a very good group project for next week. Anna’s idea of the cell that we will create from the paths we take using the walking pattern our created animal would have.

week eight

Excitement!! This project for our group (the Bopledict) is a breath of fresh air, both literally and metaphorically. I have been focused on my own project for a long time now as I have hit a wall with the concept, hence the lack of process on it here.

Some nice flowers I found on my walk.

On my walk I got a chance to leave my house since I hadn’t been able to since December because of the COVID restrictions in Greece. Going outside did feel a bit surreal and I felt a sense of estrangement considering I hadn’t seen other people in ages. The ‘normal’ social behaviour that was expected of me evaded me in the moment, and I ultimately found it easier to embody my created animal.

My journey as my animal.

On my walk I got a few questioning looks as to why I was drawing while walking, the occasional car would honk at me as I would stand slightly off the sidewalk, but overall the experience was invigorating.

My response to the prompts: flight, caution, iridescent, grace, scale, endothermic, nocturnal.
Our Bopledict cell with the membrane made from each person’s journey.

I think that this group project was very well thought out across all its components, including the meditation and the creative response! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

week nine

Recent events that have unfolded in Greece have fuelled me with rage because of the injustice that has been allowed to transpire. A man approached a police officer who had just fined two families while being social distanced. He was met with violence which was then followed up by a riot of enraged civilians.

I thought about what kind of artwork I would like to make and decided to stick to drawing as it is a medium I feel confident with. All my work is very symbolic and important to me and I want to continue this with this artwork being developed. I looked at artists such as William Kentridge and Kelly Blevins who work with charcoal which is a medium I enjoy working with as it is very free and allows for me to be expressive with it.

William Kentridge, Anti-Entropy, 2011
Kelly Blevins, Constant State of Flight, charcoal on paper.

In order to fit my vision for the symbolism I thought about what animal the oppressors could be in the drawing I want to create. I considered lions since they are ferocious feline fiends with immense power- but then I reminded myself that the symbolism lions carry is that of pride and nobility. This does not reflect the status that the Greek police force has in my eyes. Then it dawned on me: hyenas. Hyenas are mischievous, menacing and malicious. They have an evil sounding shriek and call that sounds like laughter, and they hunt in groups in order to prey on few targets. I really like this representation.

As far as the civilians are concerned I thought it would be appropriate to represent them as gazelles as they are vulnerable to hyena attacks. They are almost defenceless against the hyenas armed with sharp teeth and claws. I also like their elegant shape and colour scheme.

week ten

Over the weekend I filmed myself while I was on a livestream on my instagram account. The drawing took me just over 2 hours. I used charcoal and soft pastels in order to be able to cover the large surface of the paper.

I think the outcome is very successful and fits my vision for it as well. The dark textured background adds a degree of discord and violence in conjunction with the red insignia on the uniforms of the hyenas and their glowing ravenous eyes. The gazelle in the centre of the piece has a more peaceful and elegant appearance in comparison to rest of the piece. I think this contrast of style creates focus towards the centre of the piece.

– – – – – – –

After today’s session I was asked to perform a live drawing during the Spring Show… very daunting… I was not that keen about this initially but then considered the fact that I could draw inspiration from the above piece so I can create a ‘better‘ one; so I considered which elements worked in my piece and what was missing.

Good Elements

Darkness

Range of colour

Texture

Style

Movement

Missing

More colour

Depth

Cloudiness

Clarity

I took the video I filmed of me drawing and edited it with flesh tearing and crunching sounds in the background with nature sounds. This took me around 3 hours to find appropriate sounds and adapt feedback given to me during our session today (to make it sound more aggressive; this was before I had put the flesh sounds).

I began drawing freely and came up with the following composition.

I’m not so sure about the helmets on the figures on the motorcycle as they are not representing the hyena narrative I wish to convey. The motorcycle will be leaving a giant cloud of dust/smog behind it with ghastly hyena heads in it. I am waiting for the exhibition to start to start this drawing!

Some experiments on the same type of paper. This paper has a different texture to the one used in my first drawing. I tried dissolving graphite in the top right but the graphite wouldn’t transfer. The pastels and charcoal however worked nicely but didn’t apply as nicely as on the other paper.
week eleven

The Spring Show is this week!! Very excited but also slightly stressed. Let’s see how this goes

– – – – – –

Friday’s show was a bit nerve wrecking but I made it out alive. I was a bit mortified when I was told that people couldn’t see my drawing but at least there are two more episodes left to try something else.

– – – – – –

Both shows today went really well in my opinion. I spoke clearly about the concept behind my piece and really made the injustice and my emotions clear. I realised that as I was drawing the piece began shifting from original idea; not completely but some smaller things such as the grass changing colour and decaying as the motorcycle passes by it or the sense of depth created by the larger blades of grass in the foreground. I think this is one of my favourite pieces I have created. Let’s hope I can achieve this in future projects.

~ end of semester 2 ~

SEMESTER ONE

NATURE

Week 1

New Beginnings: Developing My Ideas

Nature is the theme of this semester so I decided it would be a good idea to stray from the stereotypical topics such as flora and fauna, landscapes etc. and instead investigate what other avenues ‘nature’ can expand to.

My brainstorming and notes on what ‘Nature’ is.

Through brainstorming I reached ‘human nature’. I found this to be a quite profound area to explore, but one path stood out to me the most: War. Although I have yet to explore the depths of war I have decided to look into armour specifically. I will do some research on the designs of armours across the globe but also taking into consideration modern artists such as Nick Cave.

Fierth.com. 2020. Installation View Of Nick Cave At The Institute Of Contemporary Art/Boston. [online] Available at: <http://www.fierth.com/2014/02/installation-view-nick-cave-institute-contemporary-artboston/&gt; [Accessed 11 October 2020].

Looking into Cave’s work I began to question what I perceived as armour and began to consider materials other than metals in order to create a protective garment. There is something whimsical to the design of these ‘Sound Suits’ which I want to incorporate into my own designs for my project. The exaggerated proportions and varied designs are something I am interested in exploring.

Week 2

En.wikipedia.org. 2020. Afternoon
Of A Faun (Nijinsky). [online]
Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Afternoon
_of_a_Faun_(Nijinsky)#/media/
File:Bakst_Nizhinsky.jpg>
[Accessed 11 October 2020].

This week I started gathering my influences for the design of my suit. Keeping the whimsical aspect of Cave’s work I found George Barbier and Léon Bakst. I am entranced by the idea of having a faun-like character speaking a monologue while using the armour as a prop; taking it on or off, something like that. I feel that the theme of nature can be used in a post-apocalyptic setting for this piece I intend to create. To be specific, I am thinking about the speech or script which my character will follow. I want to talk about the gradual destruction of Earth by human hands and have this faun character be a protector or warrior of nature.

En.wikipedia.org. 2020. Afternoon
Of A Faun (Nijinsky). [online]
Available at <https://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Afternoon_of_a_Faun_
(Nijinsky)#/media/File:Bakst_
Nizhinsky.jpg>[Accessed 11
October 2020].

I have considered having a specific period in time during the performance but I am drawn more towards visiting the warrior/protector at various points in the Earth’s life. From the moment life began to develop to its destruction by the ignorant actions of humans. I want the character to be round, showing development over the passage of time, and with each change in time a new more gloom mood and outlook each time.

I believe a faun would be a good character due to the fact that they are deeply associated with nature but with a mischievous to them. I would like to play around with that idea, having them be playful and quirky in the beginning and then having their personality change into something more serious and damaged.

As far as what the armour would look like, I have looked at armours from various regions of the world. I do not want to create a full suit of armour, rather I would like it to be mismatched, a pauldron here, a shinguard there. Perhaps the armour evolves over the piece along with the character.

Week 3

I began to experiment with paper this week and came up with a vest shaped garment by sellotaping A4 pieces of paper and cutting a hole in the middle of the 5 sheets. I then added two extra pieces to either side and sellotaped them to the opposite side of the vest. Finally I added two triangles with curved hypotenuse sides to the front to make the vest look more seamless. Overall this experiment was easy to create but difficult to put on and remove. At one point the shoulder straps ripped and I used more sellotape to make the opening wider but keeping the garment in one piece as well.

Week 4

In this week I start experimenting with a different material: foil.

At first I thought that this would be more successful than paper since foil is more malleable but I was wrong… Bigger pieces of armour are difficult to make without breaking them up into smaller pieces. I am not sure how I would connect them together without having the entire suit falling apart. So for the sake of simplicity and visual appeal I decided that I want to keep foil as a material but in small quantities so that it catches the eye but doesn’t dominate the costume. I liked the top part of the breastplate and the pauldrons I made. I think I will make more of these smaller pieces of armour because I feel that small pieces of foil look better than big ones. I will make more pauldron and upper chest plate pieces and maybe even expand towards arm and leg pieces to see how they will look. I have also considered adding colourful post-it notes onto some of the pieces, however I feel that they will not have the appeal and aesthetic I am aiming for. I shall try it and see.

Week 5

This week I took a look at some images to inspire my costume for my piece.

In high school I took part in my school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played the role of Oberon, King of the fairies and found that my costume and my portrayal of the character evoked a degree of mysticism and sorcery.

I would like to retain this sense of mysticism but include more plants in the costume’s design. My cloak in these images creates a loop which I thought was very interesting visually as when I moved on stage it wavered in a visually appealing way; making cloud-like structures at the bottom and gradually pulling the rest of the fabric out, making a curved ‘L’ shape.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing c.1786 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by Alfred A. de Pass in memory of his wife Ethel 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02686

Looking at William Blake’s work but also the Ballet de Russes gives me some ideas as to where to take my costume idea.