Tutor reports

Tutor reports are no longer posted on the learning log.

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PART 5 MANIFESTO – FINAL ARTIST’S STATEMENT 2

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Following my tutor report I have responded to tutor comments to clarify certain areas of the artist’s statement. Here is the final statement…

Bringing together each of my present areas of focus including the critical essay, I have entitled the body of work, “Inner and Outer Spaces”. The phrase is taken from a quote about the contemporary artist, Roni Horn (Dean&Millar2005, 58) which I used in my essay (ibid, page 21), “Horn recognises one of the most important relationships in an understanding of place within contemporary art: a desire to re-enchant the land with meaning, or to examine that area of overlap and coincidence between in inner and outer spaces.”

FINAL ARTIST’S STATEMENT

‘INNER AND OUTER SPACES’

‘Listening’ is the sense which is assuming the most significance for me in my practice. Seeing the world through the lens of listening and memory allows for new views of reality. In my Contextual Studies research essay, “Is my art practice a question of country?” I have quoted Paul Moorhouse, Senior Curator of Twentieth Century Portraits and Head of Collection Displays (Moorhouse 2017, 14) when he writes, “We attempt constantly to fathom the significance of the world we inhabit. We do so by interpreting its visual characteristics. The appearance of things is our constant point of reference. However it is plain that the reality of things is not entirely – if at all –  a matter simply of how they seem. To grasp the world and its occupants in a fuller and more complete way, we must reach beyond the mere apparent.” (ibid, page 16) Reaching beyond the mere apparent for me means responding to a ‘sensing’ of the landscape, the sensory experience of sound, memory, events, smells, colours and translating this into a personal visual language.

My present body of work is entitled ‘Inner and Outer Spaces’. The increasing urgency regarding climate change and the world’s need to do something about it has had a powerful effect on the direction of my work and my life choices. I am not of the ‘protest’ inclination but I feel that we are at a time when the world needs hope and joy and more love and that art has the capacity to raise awareness, to cause people to pause and reflect.

Consequently the first body of work happened in response to the urgency for action as the fires in Brazil raged. This has since been completely superseded by the extensive bushfires in Australia. What emerged from researching these areas of concern was a desire to raise awareness of the incredible beauty and magnificence of our world and the need to preserve it. My work seeks to celebrate its beauty, mystery and vulnerability.

The second strand of enquiry revisits my long standing interest in ‘sound’. Throughout the course, this has been a fascination, linking sound with place and identity. The opportunity for collaboration with the Ethernet orchestra brought this interest to the fore and expanded it to include my study of migration, place and identity. The orchestra is comprised of musicians from six different countries, improvising music from across the oceans to express a sound of total unity, harmony and individuality. My paintings for the collaboration to produce images for a CD cover are about sound waves, sounds of the oceans and my response to the entirely unique sounds produced by the orchestra. The work explores ‘improvisation’ through abstraction and is an extension of previous work done in improvising through listening to birdsound and making the connection with memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PART 5 MANIFESTO – post 9

Part 5 Manifesto – post 9

Continuing with ideas from the last post, I’ve taken the concept of ‘renewal’ further, as part of the body of work focused on the bushfires in Australia. I’ve kept the image of the bulb and worked with the paint to express a sense of nurture and renewal, even midst the flames of the fires. Added to this I’ve been exploring line work from studies I did previously in the sketchbook around the Amaryllis plant, showing the concept of emerging life from the bulb.

The main focus of this image has been my exploration of paint. I’m using the whole picture plane more, starting the composition from the edge of the paper. All the colours are now mixed and I love the tones coming through. I’ve even started to build up a ‘friendship’ with the paint brush.

I’ve also begun work exploring the plight of wildlife, in particular, birds, during the extensive bushfires. This work is very exploratory at this stage, with sketches and experiments with tones of paint.

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PART 5 – MANIFESTO post 8

PART 5 – POST 8

Following written feedback from the tutor and almost an hour long video talk about my work, I feel to have a clear direction of how to proceed  and so the process continues. The main focus from the feedback for me now is on further exploration of the painting medium itself. There is so much to continue to learn here. With the topic of the critical essay concentrating on personal issues about ‘country’and identity, this has dominated thought and so the’what’ of my work has had precedence over the ‘how’. In these next months, I will be focusing on ‘painting’ itself.

Another important point came out of my recent feedback. In the work this year, I’ve found that the inclusion of the written word has been a natural addition to the painting process. Often, I would take the painting so far and then conclude the thought process by writing poetry. This wasn’t a forced process; the written word simply came quite naturally to me as an idea unfolded. But I am beginning to realise that in doing this, I’m actually cutting short the full expression of an idea in the painting itself. I love ideas and I am beginning to see that it has been the idea which has driven the creative process and not the pursuit of the idea through the development of the painting. This has been something of a revelation to me. To further explore this in the next work, I’m putting aside the written word and allowing the painting to guide the expression of the idea.

The final artist’s statement presented in the previous post will need further revision following the tutor report but that will come in a later post.

With the very serious situation of worsening bushfires in Australia, I am continuing the body of work on the climate. The Australian landscape is conditioned somewhat to fire. Species of the Eucalyptus have adapted, to allow them to survive through the protection of thick, tough bark. The thick tough bark also insulate dormant buds which are able to reshoot after fire. Buds can turn active and grow due to environmental stress such as fire or drought. The bark may be removed or burnt by severe fire but buds are still able to germinate and recover.

With this fact in thought, I began some studies using the bulb as a starting point for the promise of new life. I had worked with images of the bulb earlier in drawings and so I went back to these earlier studies –

I began to explore the shape with quick line drawing using ink and the sharp end of a stick. I wanted to get as much energy and life into the shape as possible. Then I applied paint with my hands.

These preliminary sketches gave me a familiarity with the object.  I am using drawing as an exploratory tool for form as well as feeling.

The following steps were the important ones. With the drawings and the bulb in front of me, I now concentrated on the painting, still working in the sketchbook. I was most interested in the colour and wanted to suggest in its application that, even in dire conditions, there was new life being germinated. I started with cadmium red and yellow and cobalt blue, mixing the various colours and tones on the palette with my hands – I still don’t seem to be able to connect with brushes…too remote! I began the study on the left side of the surface, trying to get away from always beginning in the middle. Interestingly the image of the buld emerged out of the paint – I didn’t actually attempt to draw it.

I had in mind the tutor’s comments about the edges of the painting and the need to include every bit of the surface. I feel that this has been achieved simply by the variations of tones in the colour mixing, There is a sense of a space in which something is happening…

So many new colours have emerged through the colour mixing. Everything is still being done with my hands or pieces of stick and occasionally wiping back the paint with plastic cards. I feel that the idea of germination is being achieved here, in secret, hidden from view, but there is a loving presence, even in the midst of the red hot of the fire.

Still exploring the new life emerging with the bulb, I did a second study in the sketchbook.

As before, the colours were mixed and applied with my hands, this time with the inclusion of cadmium orange and quinacridone violet. Again I started at the side of the surface. Interestingly, more drawing has emerged in this study, done with stick and cards and I feel that it has lost much of the germinating conditions surrounding the object. It is much more a painting of a bulb compared with the first study. I think the colours and tones indicate the fire surroundings but somehow there is a disconnect.

Watching the idea emerging out of the paint is exciting and I’m pleased not to be using words to fill in the gaps. I want to now use what I’ve discovered in a painting…

 

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PART 5 MANIFESTO – FINAL ARTIST’S STATEMENT

PART 5 MANIFESTO – Final Artist’s Statement

The work is a celebration of the natural world with all its beauty, mystery and vulnerability. At a time when the earth’s survival is at a crossroads, I  feel I want to use my own lifetime’s experience of place, country and identity in my art practice to encourage moments of pausing and reflection and perhaps even listening.  The ordinary, the old and discarded, the hidden places of our world as well as its beauty all provide images to be explored for new meaning.

Seeing the world through the lens of listening and memory allows for new views of reality. I paint what I hear. Listening is the sense which is assuming the most significance for me in my practice. It is the dimension which allows for a wider understanding of reality. To see, through the lens of listening, gives new meaning to the world around me. This search for new meaning is explored through experimentation and being prepared for ‘seeing’ rather than ‘looking’.

The images hover between representation and abstraction. At present, abstraction is allowing me the freedom to explore visual images through the inspiration of ‘sound’. However, the work will always have a strong drawing element. I find that drawing is actually a ‘place’ for me and in that drawing space I am happiest.

 

 

 

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PART 5 MANIFESTO – POST 7

PART 5 MANIFESTO – POST 7

The course is drawing to a close and I’m assembling the work to post off to the tutor. It is difficult to see this moment as a completion because it seems much more as a beginning. The course notes say, in conclusion, “Art is a process of enquiry not a pretty picture.” I feel in tune with this concept of my practice being “a process of enquiry” and, as a result, am reviewing the present work to see where the enquiry is leading.

I think, to set the following thoughts about the direction of my work in context, I need to say that the present urgency regarding climate change and the world’s need to do something about it has had a powerful impact on the direction of my work and my life choices. The voices of protest are being heard from young people throughout the world but I’m also aware that there is a growing movement of protest from the grandparent generation, supporting the need to protect our planet for the future generations. I am not of the ‘protest’ inclination but I feel that we are at a time when the world needs hope and joy and more love and I believe that art has the capacity to provide a glimpse of these qualities. There is also a place for ‘protest’ being of a peaceful nature, in raising awareness, of causing people to pause!

And so, in the context of these thoughts, my work has taken two different directions and yet, in a wider sense, the directions are possibly not so different. The first body of work happened in response to the urgency  for action as the fires in Brazil raged. Bush fires in Australia at the moment are also raising real concern. My work began in horror at what has taking place but as I worked through the ideas , what emerged was a desire to raise awareness of the incredible beauty and magnificence of what we have and to preserve it. We don’t destroy the things we love and I see a real validation in encouraging people through my work to become more aware of the natural world. My paintings seek to celebrate its beauty, mystery and vulnerability.

The second strand of enquiry revisits a longstanding interest in ‘sound’. Throughout the course this has been a fascination, linking sound with place and identity. The opportunity for a collaboration with the Ethernet Orchestra brought this interest to the fore and expanded it to include my study of migration, place and identity. The orchestra is comprised of musicians from six different countries, improvising music from across the oceans to express a sound of total unity, harmony and individuality. The paintings are about sound waves, sounds of the ocean and my response to the entirely unique sounds produced by the musicians. The latest drawing has begun a new enquiry thinking about the embodied actions of those making the sounds.

It seems that both of these strands encapsulate my interest in the natural world and the need to love it and provide hope for its future.

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PART 5 MANIFESTO – post 6

PART 5 MANIFESTO – post 6

One of the most interesting and exciting aspects of the sound created by the Ethernet Orchestra for me is the demand to listen with new awareness and to dismiss previous expectations of sounds made by the different instruments. The individual musicians are experimenting and innovating new sounds from the instruments. I realised that I needed to emulate this as far as possible visually in the painting and so all the mark making is done with experimental tools – not a brush in sight!

Large areas of the paintings were done with my non dominant hand. All the work is very experimental, the emphasis being on listening, not looking!

Pastel applied with non dominant hand

Pastel and pencil with non dominant hand

This image arrived on the surface quickly as I listened to the track. The sounds filled me with a sense of freedom and energy, removing earthbound shackles. Moving the paint around on the surface with the non dominant hand removed any personal control. As I studied the image at the end of the listening process, I could see the ‘bird image’ coming through unannounced and unplanned. This was an exciting moment because it encapsulated the feelings in my hands as I worked.

Each day I began with a period of listening before beginning to paint and each day brought new images.

Looking at this body of work now, I’m wondering where it will take me next. ‘SOUND’ for me is an untapped source of inspiration in the visual process but one that I will continue to be exploring in my work.

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