I wondered if I could use the digitial pen to embellish one of the moulded samples. I chose the smaller of the successful cotton moulds and wondered what it says. The smooth side reminded me of how I tried to make myself invisible and silent, how I wanted no bits of me to stick out and risk getting snagged, so I turned my voice inside. I used the 3D pen to write these words for the smooth side then recalled a Gerard Manley Hopkins quote. I studied GMH for A-level many, many years ago, but this poem came back to me in its entirety this afternoon as I created. In the past something rescued me from the oblivion and darkness that overwhelmed the poet as he hit the pits of despair and perhaps depression. For me something, somethings…hope…my children…bloody-mindedness? Something kept me from being smothered by despair when circumstances contrived to push me there. I felt this sample was speaking of this poem:
Feeling a little overwhelmed – but I’m not really sure by what. I think it is the research. I love research but I hate being told what to do. I know the reserach is to inform my sampling, so I find it really difficult to be directed as to whom to research even if their work doesn’t resonate with me. I get that exploring this is a useful excercise as it helps me become more conversant in the skills of critique and analysis, I also respect that by knowing what I don’t like I may be promted to respond more clearly with what I do like. Yet, this is a very false and contrived system of creative processing to me. I recognise that I input the world, every little bit is going in and swimming around in my subconscious – colours, sounds, movements, random facts, snippets of read or glimpsed text – it all goes in. I need a safety valve to stop it stacking up and threatening to overwhelm me – I think that’s what’s going on at the moment. My whole existence is like a research project – being confined to researching from a list feels very limiting. So I’ve decied I’m not. What is more important – that I research contemporary artists and show this in my writing and sampling, or that I follow the prescribed list and tick that box? You know me…
One notion I explored when I was working with my Psych was having an ‘on/off’ switch. Sometimes I think I’m missing some extra layer of skin that keeps the World out there and Me in here. I love the rain. I love it when it is pouring – I know where Me ends and Not-me starts. I want not to absorb every tiny scrappling and feel every tiny nuance. I want to be able to tune out. I know I’ve hit overload as I’m doing ‘the electric thing’ again. I sit under a light bulb and it blows. I touch anything electric and it stops working. I haven’t risked the computer the last couple of day as I’ve fried the printer and stopped the till I was being served at working when I went into poundland. It can be amusing but can also be incredibly frustrating when we live in a world so dependent on electrical implements. I have been banned from touching anything in Mr Man’s car this week as the radio died when I touched the volume button (it was fine when I got out the car thank goodness). I walk in front of the tv and it all breaks up into static. The boiler controls have readjusted themselves into goodness knows what… So I need some static detoxing (or whatever the term should be).
I tried sketching what it felt like – where I could feel it buzzing in me (I thought everyone felt this – that wash of adrenalin that floods from head to toe all the time -until it was explained to me that this is a hangover from survival mode). With support I’ve managed to discover what it is like not to feel this. But it’s back. Which indicates I need some kind of overspill. I’m seeing if I can channel that into my making. Moulding is not immmediately responsive so I’ve turned back to the expressive drawing. I’ve also been trying to look at these with listening. What are they saying? What do the lines mean? What quality of voice have they? Rather than judging what they look like. I’m learning that the emphasis on drawing is to develop my observation skills – trying to see better is not going to help me, but if I listen harder and feel more sensitively – then I am observing /perceiving better. I’ve closed my eyes for the sketching to really pay attention to how the medium feels on the paper, how the paper feels under my hand, how my hand feels in relation to my body. There is a very different understanding of drawing emerging.
The first sketch was done kneeling over the paper – trying to feel my body – forcing myself to get out of my brain and into bodily sensation – I was picking up the stress lines and adrenalin run that channels up and down my spine and the impact on my heart and lungs – the tightening under my ribcage and the turning over feel it gives my heart.
I wanted to tune into the these stress lines further – because if I know how I feel then it should be an exercise in translation to draw how something else feels as I can imagine myself into the feel of it.
I am trying only to listen to what the lines are saying and not using my viewing of the sketches to judge the drawing. I curled myself into a shut-down position that makes me feel safe.
Then to what does the turning over in my stomach and heart feel like:
Some kind of messy scribble of a vortex – can’t work out whether it’s whirlpooling everything in or spiralling outwards and up like a tornado.
Finally after tuning in to my bodily sensations I decided to brave it and blind-sketched my middle daughter doing her homework while she sat on the floor by me. I held two crayons together in my dominant hand.
She crunches over sat in some strange yoga type pose – she sits back on her legs then sits down between them so they run either side of her (how she does it is beyond me). Is this what I’m drawing? Is this what the lines are actually saying – or is there something else at work – am I drawing what it feels like to be watching her?
And where does this take me with moulding? My eyes trace over a surface, my hands trace another, sound creates a further surface – when I take a mould of a surface is it just the look of it that matters or shouldn’t I be aiming for how it feels and sounds and what effect the seeing of it might have. I need to stop thinking…
I remain concerned at copyright, so the artist’s images will be linked to from this post, but for my reference I will use some in my sketchbook in order to develop my material.
I was drawn to Daniel’s 3d work because of his multimodal approach – he connects scultpure with arcitecture with installation and performance art. Arsham’s artist statement on his website hooks me in with its nods towards playfulness, interconnection of art forms and:
‘environments with eroded walls and stairs going nowhere, landscapes where nature overrides structures, and a general sense of playfulness within existing architecture. Arsham makes architecture do things it is not supposed to do…’
I am curious about the idea of making things do what they are not supposed to: making the fabric cease to flow and be soft by having moulded its surface in plaster. I wonder how I can challenge my own and an audience’s perception of a textile; I am also taken by his idea of reawakening ‘existing architecture’ when he hides people behind the ‘blanket’ of a wall as in his 3 dimensional work – the piece I was intially drawn to being: Hiding Figure. Working with gypsum to create concrete, a material and industry that I have grown up around and am watching in its decline (factories and cement works being “improved” by being razed to the ground and soulless housing estate replacing their crytal windows and 1930s towers). I like how he has made the ripples of the fabric in the concrete and then explores this surface further by degrading and creating a false sense of decay that inspires his self-applied title of ‘archaeologist of the future’.
In his object collected on Snarkitecture, Arsham teams up with Alex Mustonen to experiment in a new territory between art and architecture:
‘The name is drawn from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, a poem describing an “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.” Snarkitecture investigates the unknown within architecture – the indefinable moments created by manipulating and reinterpreting existing materials, structures and programs to spectacular effect.’
I feel there are echoes with our work in the domain of Textiles – what is created in that space between textiles and arcitecture, textiles and performance, textiles and sculpture. What happens on these boundaries and in the No Man’s Land between. is this still an unexplored space or are contemporary Textiles artist making tracks into this land? How can I continue to create innovative and imaginative work within this project molding surface and them embellishing or manipulating them?
‘Snarkitecture’s approach focuses on the viewer’s experience and memory, creating moments of wonder and interaction that allow people to engage directly with their surrounding environment. By transforming the familiar into the extraordinary, Snarkitecture makes architecture perform the unexpected.’
Interestingly the focus is on the viewer and their interaction wiht the environment, almost as if the objects are catalysts to change rather than agents of change themselves. I know that my making is creating change in me. I know that my drawing is beginning to cimmunicate something of my expression and feeling – I feel that where I am at and where these two artists exist are in similar but quite different dimensions, more like another Lewis Carroll text, ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass‘:
‘Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through—’ She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.’
Cast Offs subset.
Hunted for some fabric off-cuts from materials used in ATV. One is cast off table cloth, another a hand on lace, some crochet cast off clothing.
I used the plaster of Paris only it was setting before I was finished. So the cotton frilled pillowcase dud not make a very good impression. The green crochet and lace refuse to separate, but the tablecloth has come up trumps. Evidently cotton woven fabric works best. Lace and stringy/ crochet fabric is too holey and gets imprisoned in the plaster. These samples look like germinating seeds though!
Now to decide upon joining or embellishing. Sketchbook work and research methinks.
One day on and I still cannot release the fabric – so I need to think again – do I leave this as it is and set it aside as a ‘fail’ or do I look at the sample again and see what it is trying to be – the mould is certainly joined to the fabric surface!!
And I might have found an interesting soul in Daniel Arsham and his Snarkitecture! More to discover.
PS. I can’t decide on the spelling mold/molding as used in the course notes, which is the American spelling or mould/moulding which is the correct English spelling (not used in the course notes). So I’m going to interchange them!
I leapt straight into sample making as I figured the samples would take time to prepare, make and set. I don’t always have that time. I can snatch research time in small chunks, but making plaster and letting clay dry is not a small chink activity.
I have chosen to use plaster of Paris as it sets really hard and inflexibly, air drying clay that has a polyester compound (I think) – it’s second-hand clay to me – a left over black back from someone else’s fails! I also have some paper based air-drying clay – not quite paper clay but almost and this has a certain flexibility but a long drying time. I also have a black bag full of shredded paper for making either paper clay of papier-mache should I need – but it has currently been commandeered by our newest arrival post-op (we have rescued 2 one year old cats). I mention this because I was having a funny conversation with my children about hand-me downs: without the generosity of neighbours in my last village clothing three ever-growing girls adequately could have been quite a challenge – so we are not averse to second-hand: second-hand art materials, yarn, furniture, the list then grew: second hand books, second hand car, second hand house, second hand cats… molding has a second hand feel to it – the object is handed down into the material: be it clay, plaster and then an impression of it is left from which a new way of using it can be formed.
What I have learnt so far: mixing paster of Paris in a making frenzy just before bed can be messy and probably ill-advised, but you can’t lose the moment when it appears. air-drying anything is just too slow!! I have to wait for these pieces to dry – even 24 hours later they aren’t quite dry (but they’re dry enough for me). Polypropylene rope really hurts when you pull it forcibly out of a plaster cast with bare hands. What else? Stuff breaks. Things you think should work don’t work (the marble sample). Things you think shouldn’t work just do so breath-stoppingly (scrunched T-shirt in plaster).
This project, as i have understood it, is to use a mold to gather the surface texture from elsewhere. I have tried to use natural and man-made sources of textured surface. I have tried to use a liquid and solid based molding material, none of which have any fumes (have some polyester resin awaiting a good outdoor workday) and then there is the encouragement for using a flexible material such as latex (at the moment jelly keeps springing to mind – if I don’t have to keep the sample and can photograph the effect this may be a way to go).
However, first samples for molding:
Marbles in plaster – not successful as they were lost in the depths. possible solution – less plaster!
Flower head in plaster: can’t get it out of the lid, but creates an interesting surface!
Next: flower head next to single layer of bubble wrap from an envelope: love the bubble wrap – create many in’s and out’s and areas of interest – lay this on top of a very thin layer of plaster and pushed it down to ger this.
After that bark surfaces into clay, pressed in, rolled over or covered over to see the different effects.
Some more natural forms: shells and pine cones in the paperclay
Bark comparison between paperclay and air-drying terracotta clay:
I grasped a ball of clay in my bare hand, then wore plastic gloves and sis the same. Very little marks from my bare hand were impresses onto the clay, but the wrinkled plastic gave a more defined wrinkle.
I crocheted a circular form using a 20mm hook and polypropylene rope. Then I immersed it in plaster. Even while I was doing it I had my doubts…it was a nightmare to get out. I took millions of photos as I thought I would destroy eat with each wrench of the fabric.
After unravelling and pulling and cursing for about half an hour, the rope was free. I tipped up the molded surface to see if anything remained under the broken bits:
A landscape of mountains – not sure what happened to get the blue shot – looks almost lunar! Has it worked? I don’t know. It didn’t do what I expected it to – either extreme – it wasn’t completely obliterated by the pulling, nor was the crocheted from clearly molded – but there is still a surface that holds potential exploration (even if it is in a moon buggy!)
Then poor dismembered Sindy – she of one arm and two legs -though I’m not sure if originally they were hers?! My girls used to take the legs off to put the trousers or outfits on that they’d made because they hadn’t always accounted for ‘ease’ over hips! There’s not a lot of give in Sindy’s form! I’d wrapped her in bandage and tin foil to see what shape was left. What shape do we leave in the world when we’re not altogether or we’re gathering everything together that should make us look normal but it’s borrowed or doesn’t quite fit? What shape is left when we’ve been pulled apart and are trying to hold everything together? What shows?
What seems to show is evidence of bandaging, some wrinkle and gentle curves and a little streak of our shine left behind in the mud!
Then. I’ve saved the best until last. Tipping The Pot of Bits (I reckon every house has one of these) into the bottom of a margarine pot and pushing down the paperclay to cover and hold together. Loved this:
And the sample I assumed would fail or at least I didn’t have a clue what it would do: the scrunched t-shirt pushed into plaster. The t-shirt is now damp. The mold is divine. It was so precarious pulling the fabric away once I realised I had something great as some of the plaster had set in wrinkles and folds and I had to pull at the t-shirt millimetre by millimetre. Still, it paid off! You can hardly see the difference were it not for the solidity of one and drape of the other:
Daylight and evening indoor light accounts for different shades.
More I need more of this…no fabric is safe from me now. People better not sit still for too long…
Much play and sampling.
Some exciting potential to take forward:
And just as I get into bed it comes to me – the link between what I’m doing in molding and my initial ramble on second-hand: Cast offs! Imagine…a whole series – all those seafinds scrapling that I used before have now found another purpose. Agh! How do I get back to the beach now…must sleep…