Joining the cast-offs
After getting some head-clearing body-settling air and seeing what treasures the sea brought me as the tide came in, I came home to move the cast-off samples for the sub-sets forward.
First, I wanted to free up with some larger mark-making: more music, more lining paper, more space and a rummage in the bargain bin for some colour therapy:
I started in my sketchbook but this felt like stalling.
I chose the plaster cast that hadn’t materialised the way I had hoped – the polypropylene crochet. It resembles mountains but the valleys are beginning to crumble – holes are appearing where the plaster is so thin – I thought to make use of these – what would I thread through to join the upper mountainous surface with the lower smooth side. Sea-smoothed glass. I pushed the glass through piercing and breaking the plaster to wedge the pieces in, further to feedback from my tutor on Part 1 where she had suggested investigating piercing and puncturing further. I found the opportunity here. To me the glass shards were pushing to get out of the form, they started from the smooth un-moulded side and were forcing their way out. Like a splinter or other foreign body, they were trying to make their way up and out of the skin. The sea has smoothed their sharp edges. We are 70% water, our tears are salt water, those unshed tears inside have smoothed so many sharp cuts and hurt, but to keep the shards of pain inside would be to make the body sick. They have to work their way out. The process felt brutal and as though if I pushed too hard everything would fall apart in my hands. At any moment I was afraid the plaster would crumble into dust under the next jab, but it didn’t, strangely the bigger the hole, the thicker its wall and the stronger the surrounding plaster.
I wanted to secure all this with some wrapping – I chose the raffia and used the indentations in the edge to secure the yarn.
I wondered what would happen if I painted the plaster. The white felt so sterile. I have been looking at the work of Louise Bourgeois and focused on many pieces where she works in white plaster and carves into the surfaces and forms. I wondered what happened to the surface if it was stained or coloured. The red is the Plaster of Paris, the colour soaked in easily and brought out the detail of the lines and creases, emphasising the material features that weren’t so easily observed before. The blue was the paper clay. The material was less absorbent and the paint pooled in the indentations. On the reverse is brought out the finger prints and lines from my hands where I had moulded the clay over the rock surface.
To join these two I explored using spirals and twists and threads rising above and below like tendrils on a plant.
The red sample had a fleshy feel to it and made me think of an organ, like a heart, so I played with this idea moving it into Sample 3:
I wrapped the sample in cling film, like something you might buy of a meat counter, or a burn that needs protecting from the atmosphere before it can be properly dressed. Then some tulle, I wanted it to explore how ridiculous this notion of wrapping still feels to me – a gift wrapped pound of flesh. The ribbons and ties were wire bows, like snares, recalling the early joining work samples. Then I wrapped this all in print, like fish and chips, a meal to be served open, not wrapped. After that I layered the sample with the original fabric from which the mould was taken. Finally some tin foil – to add another material property, a contrast as well as a final tip towards to meat packaging. What does this all say? Our flesh can be moulded by the surfaces we are pressed up against in life. It can be cut and torn and wrapped up to hide from the world. We can be prettied up like a gift, food for others, but all this is the surface. When this package has been used up and given away what remains is what we did and how well we bore the rough and the smooth times. The fabric of us goes much deeper than the gift of form.