A Walk in the Park

To start the project, we were instructed to walk through the Llandaff park opposite university. The aim of this exercise was to create quick sketches of nature, objects and anything that caught our eye. We were given a small brief to follow when it came to choosing what to draw:

  • Surfaces
  • Lines
  • Points
  • An opening
  • A hole
  • A modification
  • A scar
  • A secret characteristic
  • An infinitesimal detail
  • The unseen
  • The unused
  • Shifting figures around a steady centre

We walked slowly through the park which gave us time to visually explore our surroundings and take in a few of these requirements. This was an interesting way of walking through the park as I do it everyday but don’t necessarily explore my surroundings and pick up on the small details. It uses a lot of concentration and focus to explore your surroundings especially when you are not use to doing it. The task was really interesting because it started to stimulate my ability to notice more and widened my visual perspective. I found it a little difficult to draw whilst walking and I felt I wasn’t able to create very detailed works which made me feel like I was creating children’s drawings. The nature did however make me feel very relaxed and calm and allowed me to focus on my creativity.

This drawings exercise has helped me to think about the environment and will help me further into the project when it comes to choosing my exhibition space.

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy is a contemporary British widely known for his site-specific artworks. Goldsworthy uses natural material from the environment in which he is installing the work. He uses sticks, leaves, branches, rocks, water and other natural materials in the work. After completing the work, Goldsworthy documents it through photography as the physical work is only temporary. The photographs are what is displayed in galleries and exhibitions. He installed his work in England, Scotland, North Pole, Australian and the USA. These environments have great beauty and help Goldsworthy understand nature by directly participating in it. I find that Goldsworthy doesn’t necessarily plan what materials he is going to use but uses what he finds around him. “Its not about art, it’s just about life and the need to understand that a lot of things in life do not last”. I find this a really interesting way of working and find it is extremely evident in his work. The materials he uses are temporary and organic.

I enjoy Goldsworthy’s work because it is aesthetically pleasing. His work has a strong sense of nature’s beauty and fluidity and yet you can tell there is human influence and presence here.

Antony Gormley

The contemporary arts is widely know for his sculpture displayed in public areas including parks, hills and beaches. His work explores the connection between the human body and space. By space I mean, the area in which the art is displayed. In early work, Gormley uses  his own body as well as others to represent this exploration. The questions which arise in these works is where does the human body stand in the space and nature in which it is displayed? Gormley now uses now sculptural art is represent this connection between the body and space.

I find his work fascinating because he displays his work in public as a statement. This display stimulates the audience to question the reasoning of its presence in the area. I like the way Gormley places the work in a nature/public environment for the public to experience in their own way. Gormley is a key artist who work is half the environment in which it is displayed in. He seriously considers the placement in order to receive a response to the work.

For example, the work below is situate on a beach and the figures are posing a very saddened, depressive state which is stimulated by the environment because the atmosphere of the beach and the open view of the sea gives a sense of loss and loneliness. You can see nothing but the water in front of you as you look at the sea which, to me, makes the emotion the figures alone are expressing more real.

antony.jpg

LAND SEA AND AIR II

This piece of work [below] has a very different feeling to the work above because it gives a sense of freedom. One of the figures gives this vibe of freedom as the arms are stretched out to the sides and the head and chest are pushed up into the air. However, two of the figures look as though they are longing for something. The use of the rooftop adds to the feelings these figures are expressing through the openness of it and the feeling of being “on top of the world”.

antony 2.jpg

As part of my Site Venue project I am to think sincerely about the environment and how it will affect the response to the work. The environment may not affect the work however, if I am to situate it outside in nature, this will have a great impact on it.

Subjects I want to explore in Ceramics

I haven’t really explore ceramics as a method of interpreting my ideas as a Fine artist. The last five weeks have allowed me to explore them. As someone who is quite aware of sustainability and how as a society we consume huge amounts and form incredible amounts of waste which end up in landfills and our oceans, I want to produce work I can use in my house as crockery or storage. As well as making objects I can use again, I wanted them to abstract and slightly quirky. I didn’t necessarily have a typical topic for the work in mind so I doesn’t to just work with the clay see what I ended up with. I felt this gave me more freedom to explore this new material (new to me) and kept the skill level basic as a beginner.

I have learnt a lot of skills and techniques during this project. I was taught how to properly use the throwing wheel and to control the speed. I found it easier to keep the wheel on a slow speed to control the clay and mould it into the desired shape. On occasion I had the clay too wet which meant it was too soft and wast able to hold its shape. To overcome this mistake I needed to stop the wheel, dry may hands and work the clay and use hand towels to dry it slightly. This allowed me to start again and work the lay into shape. I found the throwing wheel was the best techniques I have learned because it enable me to work with the clay in my own way and create the shapes and abstraction I want to from the start.

We were shown how to make tiles and had the history of tiling explained to us during a lecture. I found the tiles were a good way to explore the different styles of slip work because there were easier to work with and experiment on. The flatness of them meant the shapes I wanted to create were easier to proportion and create. Although the tiles were a good way to experiment, I found them didn’t express my theme of usage in daily life. They did however allow us to explore terracotta clay after using stoneware clay on the throwing wheel.

My tutors and peers who specialise in the subject were able to guide me through the different basic techniques needed to produce different styles of ceramics. Crockery, tiles, slip casting, combined models – made up cutting up slip casted models and joining them together using clay slip – are all of the different techniques we were taught during the five weeks. I will be continuing to use ceramics as a material through my degree and possibly after during my artistic career.

Glazing

The final stage of ceramics making process is gazing. I also think it’s the most exciting because part of making because it is the finalising of the work. We were able to use different colours of glazing including, yellow/brown, blue, green and black. If you wanted you could just use a simple clear glaze especially if you have decorated with clay slip.

I decided with some of my pieces that I just wanted to use a clear glaze because I like the effect of the raw clay. I find the rawness of it coincides with my theme and concerns of sustainability and mass production because I have used less chemicals in my work. It is quite unsettling putting the gaze on the pots because it dry instantly and is a grey colour before firing. Once you have put a coloured gaze on your work you can’t dip it into the clear gaze. This meant you needed to paint the clear gaze on using a brush which  was quite difficult as it dried so fast. I found this worrying because it meant the coating of gaze wasn’t even on some of my pieces. This process didn’t really work for me however, it did allow me to apply different types of glazed on top of each other.

It will be interesting to see how my work turns up after the firing.

IMG_4763

Slip Casting

Slip casting was another method shown to us as part of ceramics 101. This method involves making a cast of an object/toy from plaster cast. The cast will act as a mould for the clay slip. Once you have the mould you need to ensure it is held sealed shut using thick rubber bands. From the whole in the mould you can now pour the clay slip into the mould. The slip is mixed in a large barrel with a motor-run mixing blade inside. The cast is very porous so it draws the moisture out of the slip to dry it into a leather hard state.  It is instructed that you leave the slip in the mould for 20 minutes (give or take depending on how thick you want the cast). After 20 minutes you need to pour the excess slip out of the mould back into the mixing barrel because you don’t want to waste the slip as it is expensive and there is no need to waste it. The mould is to stand upside down on the rack for about 30 minutes to drain all of the wet slip out of the mould leaving the letter hard clay in the same of the mould.

You can also mould tiles or other flat surfaces using slip. You need to form a barrier using clay – in a wet state or leather hard state – to contain the slip. The slip will take a lot longer to dry into a leather dry state than when it’s in the mould because the surfaces may not be porous.

Using this method you can also cut up the clay cast and combine them to create weird abstraction. For example, Yoda with a dog’s head or a princess with a frog’s head.

Slip casting is an excellent and quick way to create artwork and replicas of existing sculptures. I think it could be something I use as a future material.

Slab Building

Slab building is a method commonly used in sculptural pieces of ceramics because some shapes and ideas ceramic artist have may not be able to be easily made on the throwing wheel. As an artists sometimes doing for the easier method of creation is better economically and usually the least time consuming. No using the throwing wheel also meant I had more control of the clay and didn’t have to worry about it spinning too fast.

We were given a piece of leather hard clay to mould into a shape of our choice. However, I felt the leather hard clay wasn’t soft enough the bend round into the shape I wanted so I decided to use soft clay straight from the bag. I found this much easier to work with because it was easier to curve into shape and didn’t start to crack like the leather hard clay. Although it was easier to work with, it meant the soft clay was less stable and I needed to use the hand dryers to dry out the clay into the required leather hard state in oder for it to stand independently.

As I was moulded the clay it started to remind me of coral and rocks under the sea. The way the clay overlapped as it folded round and left a hole in the middle reminded me of tunnels. The shape of the slab is where I got the idea of the coral from and it was enhanced as I curved the clay round. I want most of my work to be useful in daily life so it doesn’t go to waste like a lot of art does in the modern day so, I decided to put bottoms onto the pieces so they could be used as mugs or as storage for pens and paint brushes.