Second year has been a great time to experiment with materials, ideas, different disciplines and ways of working. I have enjoyed the different projects because they have all been different and challenged in a range of ways. I didn’t necessarily fully enjoyed all of the modules this year but I still managed to learn a lot during them.
When thinking about my themes throughout the there were links between all of the projects because in some way, the idea of body image or the ‘self’ had a presence in the work. This theme has been very evident in a lot of my work over the last few years because I feel it is a big issue in todays society. It is interesting to look at different artists who have/are addressing the issue. I have decided to look into Jenny Savile, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud’s work as my main research chooses as well as exploring ‘less famous’ artists for my end of end work.
I thought about how I was going to have the fire overnight (before the assessment day) and decided I wanted to use the fire in the concrete boxes because it was more natural and fitted in with the theme more. The theme is all about the stability of the 5 elements which have an effect on us. It is a very spiritual topic but I feel with current stress of uni, dissertations and our lives, it is very important to keep these elements stable.
I asked a few of the students who came to see the work to dance around it as though it was a ritual. This added to the spiritual effect and created a happy relaxed atmosphere to the work which meant the elements remained stable and peaceful. The dancing also give a light sense to the work considering it could be perceived as quite a deep heavy concept.
I thoroughly enjoyed this project because it told me way out of my comfort zone and made me stay to think about some performance art. The project didn’t require us to do any but the way it took me and my thinking was down a performance route. I am going to continue this project through the holidays and take the fire element of the piece to a more nature source of water. I want to try out videoing it at sunset and in the dark by the sea so you have the rolling waves in the background along with the sound it them and the crackling of the wood burning. It could also work by a flowing stream. I think this could be an interesting piece and could be taken further.
After the suggestion of an open fire or tea lights in the work instead of using lighter fluid – its unnatural and wouldn’t fit into a natural piece of art – I needed to try out both methods in order to decide which was best for my work. I was conflicted by each method I should use because the tea lights would give a very peaceful, calm feel but the open fire it more natural. The tea lights would however, give a feeling of a cult or witchcraft (definitely not the feeling I want). The open fire could be an issue due to safety reasons. The day of the assessment was also extremely windy and the tea lights didn’t hold the flame at all so I decided to scrap the idea all together and went with the open fires in the concrete boxes. When I placed the tea lights around the circle, straight away I realised it looked awful. It looked tacky and ‘crafty’ which is NOT the vibe I wanted for the work. The open fire also means I am needed to tend the fires which acts as a symbol of me keeping the elements of my own life alive and stable. The elements are not able to sustain themselves on their own so my presence is needed and so this acts as a performance piece as well as an installation.
I decided to try the two out (images below):
When I originally tried to create the plane crash scene, I found myself staring at the ground for a while and not really getting any work done, so I decided to scrap the idea completely and start something new.
As I has looking at the nature materials I had in front of me I started to think about the 5 elements of nature: water, earth, wood, fire and metal. I found this quite peaceful and harmonious so, I decided to explore this idea. As I collected the different materials and place them in a formation I could see Childs-play and it reminded of when I was young and would created circles and towers using rocks and logs. The circle formation is fascinating because it shows unity and gives a sense of belonging. You’re probably thinking ‘what on earth is this girl talking about?’ but when looking at the creations I had made, I could really see this and got a strong feeling of connection and harmony.
I was able to incorporate all of the elements (except fire at the time) by using what was around me. At the time I didn’t incorporate fire due to safety reasons and didn’t have any water to put it out. My tutor suggested creating small fires in the concrete boxes or my idea was to have tea lights on top of the other elements in the circle. By having the open fires it would mean I would need to be there tending to the fire which would be the performance part of the work because it could be see as me keeping the elements stable and strong. I found a quote which stated “if the elements are stable then so is your life and you will be peaceful and feel lucky”. By maintaining the ‘health’ and stability of the elements I will be keeping my own balance at peace. I think the tea lights will look ‘prettier’ but I will experiment with both to see which method gives the right atmosphere.
I have explored many different concepts and areas without my time in constellation in both Level 4 and Level 5 including sustainability, art philosophy and perception.
Why did I decided to choose this topic?
For the last few years I have been fascinated by art therapy because I have family members in the military who have suffered from PTSD and am close with people who suffer from mental illness. I have used art myself as a way to relax and establish my thoughts because sometimes I think about things a lot, begin to overthink and so the art allows me to organised the different ideas I have and get them out onto paper. I decided to form my dissertation on the link between art and mental health because it is a subject I want to continue through a masters and into a career. I am fascinated by the undefined topic and want to continue the research. Art therapy is quite new in the world of psychology and therapy and still does not have a definition set in stone because there are many aspects of it which was still unknown and unexplored. Through my dissertation, I want to explore the different theories on the topic to expand my own knowledge and possibly come to a conclusion myself of how the topic could be defined. I find this topic fascinating because I have spoken to people in my life and others I have met at art fairs who have used art as a form of therapy. I have found there to be mixed reviews about how it has helped them but, overall the reviews have been positive making art therapy more attractive and something I’d like to explore. I have really enjoyed looked into different theories and ideologies by practicing art therapists because they have all contributed to my essay and given me a range of different ideas to help form my opinion on the definition of art therapy. I found a book called “art and mental health” which is filled with artworks created by those suffering from a mental illness. I found it really interesting to look through because it contained many artworks of different styles and showed such emotion in them. The work was very personal to the creator which I even more intriguing because it makes the work more mysterious and less generalised. The works didn’t have much of a blurb to them which I found interesting because it meant you as the audience were able to create your own story about the work. This could make the work personal to you as well as not divulging any personal and confidential information about the creator and their metal health.
What did I find difficult?
I found it quite difficult when it came to the research for my question. I found there were a good few books on the topic however, the theories were a lot broader which meant it was hard to narrow down the answer each theory was trying to get across. Many of the theories give ideologies but nothing set in stone which meant the essay is possibly a guessing game. I feel my knowledge of the topic has broadened a lot but because there is no true definition, there is a lot of uncertainty in the topic. The theories I have been looking into including the Gestalts theory, Transdisciplinary and others stated by professions and practicing art therapists are all giving different ideologies and understanding of the subject making the essay a lot broader than I originally thought it would be. I did find it quite difficult to get the word count in because I wasn’t sure how much detail I needed to out into the essay. I felt if I put too much detail in there I wouldn’t be leaving anything for the real dissertation in third year however, if I didn’t put enough in then I wouldn’t make the word count.
In order to improve and broaden my knowledge of the subject, I need to continue researching different theories by talking to my tutor and exploring the library in more depth. This will help me to understand art therapy more and create more of an argument for my dissertation and to develop my own opinion on the subject.
How has the topic influenced my practice?
I feel this topic influences my work as a practicing artist because I feel I use art as a form of therapy and I have looked into topics of abuse, drug violence and sexual exploitation which are all conditions which can be treated with using art. Art is a great way to understand your emotions and feelings because you are able to get them out of your head and onto paper. Art is a fantastic way to understand and interpret these emotions because we can use our media and materials we want to use in order to make the art which could then reflect how we feel. For example, if I decided to use harsh rough surface materials and a lot of red, black and dark coloured paints it would reflect a feeling of negativity and darkness.
This is a topic I wanted to take on into a Masters degree and into a career later in life. It is still unknown to me as to whether I want to be a practicing art therapist or a psychologist in the field. I feel through a MA and the early stages of my career I will be able to decide this.
I was a little on when it came to developing my ideas in this project because I have never done a site specific piece of art before. I was struggling to come up with ideas so my tutor told us we had three hours to create something. This was quite a scary thing to do because I haven’t done any research or planning for it.
I struggled at first with the idea but I decided to explore outside behind the CSAD building to get the ball rolling. I found a few old kilns which were overgrown with nature. I found this fascinating and started to make me think about the historical event we were asked to find earlier in the project. The overgrown concrete left on the side of the path reminded me of a plane crash because it represented the aftermath and leftovers of an accident.
I decided to create my own wreckage because I wanted to create a piece which acted as a memory. I have noticed when a plane crashes it is in the news for a few days and then that’s it however, for the families of the victims it goes on for a long time. I wanted to create something which meant the rest off the world would be reminded of it more. I decided to have the work in the hedge away from the path because it is not necessarily very obvious when you walk past it. However, a friend recommended to me to have it more in the open and closer to the path so people would notice it and Mayne question what happened here. This gives little more mystery to the work means the audience are able to interact with the work in this way.
After an hour or so of looking into this idea, I decided to scrap it and start with something new.
Wodiczko is a Polish artist renown for his large-scale slide and video projections. Some of the main themes include war, conflict, trauma, memory and communication in the public sphere.
‘Homeless Vehicles’ of 1987-89 is a piece that he redirected “attention from the work of art as dissent to the work of art as social action”. The project is both useful and symbolic: the artist’s first work to use a collective process to legitimise the problems of a marginal community without legitimating the crisis of homelessness. I am fascinated by his work because it creates a reaction from the audience. I like the way he has form the vehicles using scrap material to directing represent that which a homeless victim would have to do in order to survive. I do however, find it a little controversial that all of the pushers of the vehicles are black….maybe it was acceptable at the time? Maybe this is the reaction Wodiczko is trying to create…he definitely got it from me!