A rough start:
I am starting with Week Three as discussed with Miranda, (many thanks for her understanding,) as my first week of work was deleted or lost once posted, and this affected my ability to produce work in Week Two. This week’s post will include the work that I completed in Week One, Two and Three to the best of my extent, although a lot of this work was lost. I will be summarising the work I did in Week One and Two, followed by fully expressing the work I am doing this week, in Week Three.
My aims for Week One were to create a baseline understanding of the theme, and work on thoughts and ideas surrounding the theme and this project progressing.
My aims for Week Two were to begin experimentation without too much planning or thought to freely work with a medium and develop more fluidly and less constricted during this project.
My aims for this week, Week Three, involve summarising the work lost in Week One, culminating the work in Week Two and continuing documented experimentation alongside beginning artist research.
Week One: Summarising Lost Work:
In my first post I expressed my different ideas surrounding the Theme of Time and tried to establish a starting point for experimentation to begin with in Week Two. I cannot remember everything that I wrote, but I will repeat what I can.
The introductory seminar for this project was very interesting; we talked about reworking how we approach the proposal form and the notebooks to produce both of them at a higher quality this semester, which was very helpful. The presentation allowed us to begin thinking about the theme and how we should be approaching it. Following this, we discussed the Winter Art Show, how it was successful and critiquing, alongside role playing as different kinds of people who may attend an art show to develop a more in depth understanding of the variety of our audience before producing work for this project. This was also beneficial to think about how our work is perceived by different people, and how best to advertise it to the wider majority rather than to a niche crowd. Overall the exercise was very effective and helpful to begin work this project.
In terms of ideas and initial thought responses to the theme, I wanted to begin with working with mediums that are impermanent in nature and change state over time. These ideas revolved mostly around beginning experimentation with air drying clay, as you have a limited time to work with it in different states before it sets, and you have to know how the material changes as time passes to work with it efficiently. I wanted to begin experimentation without too much planning, as I often put too much thought into the beginning of a project and narrow my options down immediately, which I am trying to avoid this time. I did, however, think about maybe expanding work into different materials that change state over time such as working with ice or something that decays. I also expressed how I don’t want to take the theme too literally in the sense of working time-based, and wanted to explore other ideas as well to avoid getting stuck in that box. Other ideas I described revolved around looking at my severe memory loss, which is always my first thought when it comes to the topic of Time. I don’t often forget events or happenings immediately, but I forget more of the past as more time passes, so for me, Time is a scary concept. I worry that in a month’s time, I won’t remember today, or in a year’s time I won’t remember this month. I wanted to explore this idea by looking into artists that work with the theme of memory and memory loss, or maybe producing work to do with specific types of memories and solidifying them in a physical form, as art. However, I wanted to keep this secondary idea on the back-burner and work first with my plans for experimentation before involving anything complex and specific.
Week Two: Workshop:
This week’s workshop was very interesting and constructive. We viewed a lot of sound and music artwork within the theme of Time. Following this, we performed some short exercises writing and drawing in response to certain phrases to do with time. We then expanded upon one of these phrases in pairs in terms of transforming it into a project theme and brainstorming around it. Me and Becky chose the phrase ‘Killing Time’ and focused on ideas around a performative piece where a person would exist without knowledge of what the time was for 24 hours, acting out their normal daily activities in a room without clocks or anything electronic that displays time, to see experimentally how their schedule would change without the constructs of time, with the idea in mind of disrespecting the constructs of time in this way and therefore ‘killing’ it.
Week Two: Initial Experimentation:
To begin my experimentation this week, I am going to try and freely work with air drying clay without intention of producing anything specific. This is with the aim to just try and get used to working with clay and feeling it, producing something without too much thought behind it as I usually put too much planning into experimentation and constrict myself into one idea or concept. As I mentioned last week, I want to begin with air drying clay as it changes state over time, then maybe develop into working with different mediums that are also impermanent in nature.
I began with making small shapes from clay to see how long they would take to dry. I made small circular shapes and indented them with the end of a paintbrush. They each took on average 25 seconds to make and 20 minutes to dry. I made somewhere around a hundred of these little clay ‘dots’ in one session, waited for them to dry, then looked over them to try and decide what I wanted to make them into, if anything.
After reviewing the little clay dots, I interpreted they kind of looked like little suckers that would appear on tentacles. Following this train of thought, I made two very simplistic shapes that would represent tentacles. These larger shapes took somewhere between 4 and 8 hours to dry, as I left them for a period of time unobserved. Once these had also dried, I coated them in a few layers of black acrylic paint so that they more resembled the inky black tentacles of an octopus or a squid.
After the paint had dried on the clay tentacles, I used super glue to attach the little dots as suckers to the tentacles, using a small pair of tweezers to carefully place and arrange the dots as they were too small to hold with my hands.
I used up all of the small clay dots that I created and glued them to both of the tentacle shapes. The glue set a lot faster than the clay, and both were fully dry in around 15 minutes after the last dot was glued on.
Following this, I used white acrylic paint to paint the suckers very carefully with a tiny brush. I painted three layers to create an opaque white colour on the suckers on both of the clay tentacles.
I waited 24 hours for the paint to fully dry and set before applying an acrylic gloss varnish. The varnish will stop the paint from chipping from the odd shapes and will also provide a shiny sheen to the appearance of both of the shapes to make them look more reminiscent of actual tentacles.
Louise Bourgeois was a modern and contemporary artist best known for her large-scale sculptures and installation inspired by her memories and experiences. I have decided to research Bourgeois as she worked a lot with the theme of memory in a three dimensional way, as I intend to do with this project. Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911 to parents who ran a tapestry restoration business that she assisted with growing up. A core part of her childhood that impacted and inspired a lot of her work, her father had an affair, which deeply troubled Bourgeois throughout her life. She grew up to marry an American art historian, Robert Goldwater and raise three sons together.
Bourgeois’ art journey began with a focus on painting and printmaking before ultimately turning to sculpture in the later 1940’s. However, in the 1950’s and 60’s there are large gaps in her artwork production as she became obsessed with psychoanalysis. Bourgeois returned to the art world in 1964 with an exhibition presenting strangely shaped plaster sculptures. The recurring themes in Bourgeois’ work began to appear at this point, being childhood trauma, loneliness, jealousy and the First World War which began when she was just 3 years old. In 1982 at the age of 70, Bourgeois took centre stage with a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. Following this, she created monumental spiders, metal ‘cells’, hanging figures and even fabric based works. For Bourgeois, art was always a coping mechanism and therapeutic; “Art is a guarantee of sanity”, as she put it. Louise Bourgeois passed away at the age of 98 in New York, 2010.
‘Spirals’ – 2005, Louise Bourgeois
The theme of spirals is recurring throughout Bourgeois’ work. For her it represents ‘control and freedom’, something that was very important to her. The spiral was first used in her work in the 1950’s in the form of two wooden sculptures. This piece, ‘Spirals’ is a montage of twelve woodcut prints on Japanese paper. Some of the spirals are very tight and controlled, whereas others are more loose and free. Bourgeois used red and black ink except for just one, which is in blue.
“The spiral is important to me. It is a twist. As a child, after washing tapestries in the river, I would turn and twist and ring them… Later I would dream of my father’s mistress. I would do it in my dreams by ringing her neck. The spiral – I love the spiral – represents control and freedom”Louise Bourgeois
‘Nature Study’, 1986, Louise Bourgeois
This sculpture also follows on the theme of spirals. ‘Nature Study’ consists of a bronze sculpture of a tightly wound spiral that morphs into a hand holding a female figure. In this piece, the spiral is seen to be more representative of birth, life and death associated with motherhood. The spiral morphs into a hand, which holds a female who’s hair extends behind the fingers and re-joins the spiral creating a cyclical entity, showing the cycle of birth, life, and death. The hand is interpreted by some to represent the mother and the figure the daughter, who in turn over time would become a mother herself.
For Week Three, I wanted to continue my work with using clay. After experimenting freely last week, I wanted to put a little more thought into the experimentation for this week. For this experiment, I wanted to involve memory as a focus as I mentioned in my initial ideas in Week One. In connection to my memory loss, I have chosen to try and recreate good core memories that I don’t want to lose to my memory loss, and by making them physical and solid in an art piece, I will keep a reminder of that memory and it will hopefully keep it tethered to me and the world so it isn’t lost. The concept was to transform one of my core, good memories from my childhood into a clay sculpture. Thinking about Art in particular, I was thinking about how my art has developed over time and the core beginning of my work, as I believe that would be a good starting point in terms of involving memory into this project. A very important memory for me was my Dad teaching me to draw when I was younger; my Dad’s an amazing artist and produces art in many different ways, but one of his themes he continuously produces with is drawing dragons. We would sit and draw dragons together, and we still do regularly, him teaching me as I grew older different ways to draw them and different techniques. It continues to exist as a strong and important time for me and a pleasant childhood memory. So, I decided to start with this memory, and mould a dragon out of clay in the style of my Dad’s, to make this memory into an art piece and something permanent.
Usually when I’m making a larger or more detailed sculpture out of clay, I use craft wire as an internal structure to ensure stability, but I have ran out of craft wire so I decided to use cotton buds as a kind of skeleton for the dragon so the clay has a structure to form around. I started with moulding the head of the dragon around a cotton bud that would become the neck.
After moulding the head of the dragon, I decided to make the structure for the wings. I arranged 4 cotton buds on a measured cutting mat so that I would glue the two wing skeletons at the same angle. I used super glue to connect the two cotton buds for each wing structure, then when dried, I coated the glue in clay to solidify the joint. Once these two wing structures had hardened, I positioned them carefully again on the measured mat to be symmetrical to the dragon’s centre, gluing them first to the ‘spine’ of the dragon. Once this had dried, I coated the joint in clay and more glue to make sure the two wings were stable in place.
While the clay was setting the wings in place, I moulded the body and tail of the dragon in a curved fashion and moulded it onto the other end of the cotton bud ‘spine’ of the dragon. This larger part of clay would take a lot longer to dry than the other pieces, so I wasn’t able to make a lot more progress while it set. However, the part connecting the wings to the body dried and I was able to mould the neck section and connect the head of the dragon to the body. I will be continuing to work on this dragon next week, once this clay base is fully set!
Louise Bourgeois: Moma (no date) The Museum of Modern Art. MOMA. Available at: https://www.moma.org/artists/710 (Accessed: February 22, 2023).
Tate (no date) The art of Louise Bourgeois, Tate. Tate. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/louise-bourgeois-2351/art-louise-bourgeois (Accessed: February 22, 2023).