The sculptural artists Henry Moore created many abstract figurative sculptures many based about a mother and child. His work is not detailed and you can usually only make out the breasts and knees or head of the figure making the work conceptual and suggestive to the audience.
For our collaborative project we decided to a create figurative installation and Moore inspired because it forms these conceptual sculptures with a theme of family and feeling. Our project was based on emotion and metal illness because we all felt we had had direct or indirect experiences with it. The original idea was to have the figure hanging from the ceiling with ropes tied to her hands to represent the constrictions and influences mental illness has on a person. We realised quite quickly that this wasn’t going to work with the materials we were given and the wall space we chose so we decided to have the figure coming out of the ground. This could be interpreted in two different ways: the figure is emerging from the ground or that they are being absorbed by the Earth.
We tried out different ideas for the figures itself and how we were going to create it including casting using masting tape and paper mache but we found the best method was to use a plastic model covered in masting tape and paper. When the rest of the class were viewing the work they questioned why the figure was female and whether this was relevant or not. There was no relevance to the female of the model because we wanted this work to be gender neutral and to show that mental illness and depression can affect all!
We used ropes to act as a restraint on the model which were then stuck to the wall. To show that it is the different mental illnesses we labelled the ropes. It proved quite difficult to attach the ropes so we decided to loosely wrap them around the model which some students saw as a representation of the figure overcoming and learning to control their illness.
I really enjoyed this project because it allowed me to work with people on my course I haven’t worked or socialised with much. It has been challenging because all have different personalities and ideas which meant we all had to compromise to come to a conclusion.
Paige Bradley is an American artist who specialises in figurative sculpture. Bradley’s work is based about the relationships she has with society and her family and has a strong sense of freedom and humbleness. This inspired me in the collaboration project because our theme was all about emotions, feelings and mental illness and how society influences how we feel as part of a community. Our work is different to Bradley’s because it expresses her sense of freedom and love in her relationships whereas, we were exposing how someone struggling with anxiety, depression or another metal illness might feel. The feeling of being controlled and pulled down is shown in our work and therefore has a very different meaning than Bradley’s does.
The figurative sculptures are placed into society to capture the true feeling they hold. We took this idea and placed our work in an enclosed space with a large glass window located in the corridor of the university to expose the figure to the world which mirrors how they may feel, exposed and on show like a circus animal.
For the final two weeks of the semester we began our field project which involved us working in groups (at the this stage only within fine art) to produce a sculpture and then collaborate with another group for the second week to produce an installation of our choice in a place of our choice. The installation could be get anything of our choice so we decided to create something which challenged and disturbed the viewer to look at an interpretation of mental health. We decided to have a manikin coming out of the ground to represent two things. It could represent the person being dragged into the ground as though she is being consumed or it could represent the person emerging and overcoming the struggle that is mental health. The ropes represent the person being influenced by the words attached to the ropes and being reconstructed by them. The main influence is your identity hence why this word is hanging on the rope around the manikins neck. The manikin is not totally restricted to convey the attempt to overcome and take control of the mental issues.
At first I was a little apprehensive about this project because we needed to work together quickly and effectively in a short period of time. We all work very differently within fine art so it started off a little hard when we were trying to come up with an idea which we were all excited about and wanted to work on. Later on, I think we worked well together as a team because we all contributed and listened to each other and began to get comfortable with each other and have more of an understand of each others style of work once ideas started to flow. To improve our team work I think the work should have been more evenly delegated as some members of the team seemed to work harder than others. The concern of ‘What is Art?’ was constantly on my mind because I wanted the work to look beautiful but also challenge and raise awareness for the viewer. After learning about the meaning of this question and how it relates to contemporary art and art of the past I made sure we attempted to answer it through the installation. I think we all have a different idea of what art really is and how it can be defined which is significant in this project because it means we are producing a combination piece of all of our styles and ideas. The collaboration project has been challenging but also very enjoyable because it has allowed me to work with people I haven’t really spoken to and expand my ability to work with others especially when it comes to art and where everyone wants to work in certain ways.
Throughout the past three months I have collected new skills as well as developing those I have carried through my art career. There have been challenges and many successes along the way within my subject and concept work. I have completed three 3D projects and started the field project (collaborating with other art courses in the university) as well as learning about the philosophy of art and developing my opinion on this subject through my practical work.
As part of the first material project, we were required to develop the concept and idea of an object and respond to it by creating a metal piece of artwork. We were asked to choose a object (it could be anything) but without its purpose known which makes it challenging. I chose a T-shirt which was very quickly regretted because it prove very difficult to create something in reference to it, however, I took the concept of the a logo’ed t-shirt to produce an armour in line with the idea of protection and belonging. Initially, I found this was a very difficult object to work with but subsequently it allowed me develop my adaptational skills and think outside the box and create a meaningful piece. Along side the material project constellation influence my thought process and opinion on ‘What is art?’ and with this knowledge I was able to create my work. The discussion of this question linked to my work because I needed to think about meaning of the piece and whether it would be an obvious one or not. The philosopher Arthur Danto argued the definition of art by stating the distinction between the Aesthetics and philosophy of art. “Aesthetics is largely a matter of delectation, a consideration of the way in which things appear to the senses. The philosophy of art, on the other hand, is an inquiry into what distinguishes art objects from other things in the world”. With my work I like to engage the audience through thought and sensation so I agree with the argument by Danto and have applied it to my work. At first, I didn’t truly understand the meaning behind this quote, but after developing my initial idea and the meaning of the work my understanding deepened and I was able to create something which may not be visually beautiful but satisfy the senses in other ways.
Supporting structures was the third and final material project of the semester and was definitely the most interesting and enjoyable because it give an insight into new ways of involving the audience. In this project, the audience directly participated in the piece which allowed me to challenge their senses and emotions more. I was introduced to other artists who create this kind of art which is significant for me because it meant I was able to take some of their ideas as well as my own to create something in a similar way to them but with a personal touch. I was mostly inspired by Erwin Wurm’s work and decided the viewer would stand on a box with their non-dominant foot and stretch for a hanging pole. This meant their centre of gravity would change making the viewer feel unbalanced and concerned. Previously, I had always created art which challenged social and political issues through drawing and mixed media textural canvas’ to engage the viewer but with this project I learnt how to do this through sculpture and physical structures. I am really interested in conceptual art and this project helped me to follow this pattern and form something which involved the audience before and during their experience with the piece and may be remembered once they had moved one through the exhibition.
For the final two weeks of the semester we began our field project which involved us working in groups (at the this stage only within fine art) to produce a sculpture and then collaborate with another group for the second week to produce an installation of our choice in a place of our choice. At first I was a little apprehensive about this project because we needed to work together quickly and effectively in a short period of time. We all work very differently within fine art so it started off a little hard when we were trying to come up with an idea which we were all excited about and wanted to work on. Later on, I think we worked well together as a team because we all contributed and listened to each other and began to get comfortable with each other and have more of an understand of each others style of work once ideas started to flow. To improve our team work I think the work should have been more evenly delegated as some members of the team seemed to work harder than others. The concern of ‘What is Art?’ was constantly on my mind because I wanted the work to look beautiful but also challenge and raise awareness for the viewer. After learning about the meaning of this question and how it relates to contemporary art and art of the past I made sure we attempted to answer it through the installation. I think we all have a different idea of what art really is and how it can be defined which is significant in this project because it means we are producing a combination piece of all of our styles and ideas. The collaboration project has been challenging but also very enjoyable because it has allowed me to work with people I haven’t really spoken to and expand my ability to work with others especially when it comes to art and where everyone wants to work in certain ways.
Overall, I have learnt a lot in the first semester and have definitely been challenged to create off the wall pieces which evoke my own and the viewers’ senses in so many ways. The projects and theory has developed my skills and abilities to produce conceptual thought provoking work and have learnt new skills using different types of machinery and facilities which I could use later in my art career. The next step is to continue developing those skills as well as gaining new ones which will help me to develop as an artist and team member.
During this lecture we focused on classical landscape of the 17th Century. There were a few questions we attempted to answer today including: Is the visible world enough in the eyes of an artists? Is the artists job to record the appearance of a landscape or to transform it?
Nicolas Poussin produced many landscapes during this era. His work demonstrated a strong relationship between humans and nature because the humans seemed to be working the land with cattle and sheep and the nature and architecture integrated with each other. However, the painting looks as though Poussin has transformed it and given it a personal twist because the land is not agricultural and instead is civilised. The humans are interacting with the animals and nature but the architecture seems to be overpowering it. His piece titled “Landscape with the Body of phocion carried out of Athens” (1648) has trees in the foreground overlapping the building in the background which the gave the painting the reseeding effect. Poussin used the alternate light and dark tones from the foreground to the background to give the 3D effect and show that the image is receding as well as changing the size of the people the further back they are.
Landscape with the body of Phocion being carried out of Athens, 1648. Nicolas Poussin.
Charles Sheeler is a more modern day artist who produced landscape painting which we discussed whether they were classical or not during this lecture. In this work there is no nature and only industry. You are unable to tell whether the sky is natural or whether it is the smoke from the chimneys of the factory. This work was produced after the industry revolution (1800) so this scenery was the norm in cities. This is classed as classical landscape art because Sheeler has spacial awareness which he has created by buildings and features in the painting coming in from the sides alternately. The cylinders of the factory have been substituted in for the columns in Roman featured in Poussin’s work. Unlike Poussin’s work, Sheeler’s is not calming, but are still beautiful, because his work is distressing with the use of dark tones which starts to question and challenge what we have done to nature.
Fugue, 1940. Charles Sheeler
Gregory Crewdson is a contemporary artist who also references classical landscape in his work. He produces photographs of long roads disappearing into the distance. One of which titled “The Madison’, 2007 is similar to the Roman roads of classical landscape art however, the angle of the road view is different because it is more diagonal and the mist in the background shortens the road and give a run down distressed look to the environment. I have referenced this artist because he is similar to the work of Poussin who produced painting of Roman roads which were straight and disappeared far into the distance.
The Madison, 2007. Gregory Crewdson.
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was a French Post-impressionist artist who remained unrecognised until his death.
This piece of art raises questions about where we come from and where we are going. There was much debate during the lecture about the meaning of this work and the figure in the middle of the piece. We debated the sex of the figure, some thought it was Eve and referenced the art to God and the creation of the world whereas, some believed it was male with the broad muscular figure holding the fruit which may be interpreted as humanity as a whole. The whole piece could be questioning religion as it references different religions including Christianity and Buddhism. The lighting in the artwork creates a sense of heaven and earth because it gets lighter from the bottom up which conveys the idea of the top of the painting is the place to go. The main figure is stretching up and looks as though he is feeding the fruit of the earth to heaven, as a gift.
The community and flow of the artwork create a calm warm feeling for me and give a sense of belonging for all of those involved.
After watching the documentary from the library “The human body, BBC” I decided to create a piece of artwork which conveys an anatomical depiction of an important organ in the body – the human heart. This organ is one of most important because it keeps us alive and allows us to carry out everyday activities whether they are greatly or moderately physical. Although the heart has emotion involvement as well, I am keeping this piece of art strictly anatomical. I decided to look at two of my favourite artists from different eras, Leonardo Da Vinci and Alison Lambert and to respond to their work by producing a charcoal drawing combining some of their techniques and ideas.
I am interested in human biology and the way we work so I decided to look at Da Vinci’s sketches and anatomical studies. I am focusing on his anatomical sketches especially those “made from an ox heart around 1513”. Da Vinci uses cross-hatching to create very experimental rapid drawings. He is focusing mostly on the important parts of the heart and gives a “three-dimensional visualisation” by studying the movement and action of the organ. As he was unable to see the flow of blood – awaiting modern techniques and technology – he used his knowledge of water motion to determine the process of blood flow through the heart.
Alison Lambert is a contemporary charcoal artist who produces large scale portraits using willow and compressed charcoal and ripped paper. Lambert uses her materials in a way which form expression and emotion and create a great impact on the audience. “She furthers her attempts to explore more deeply the elusive theme of human subjectivity and to intensify the emotional charge which her later drawings of human heads began to display”. The large scale of her work is almost overpowering and too extravagant because she uses so much compressed charcoal on huge surfaces increasing the power of the work and allowing her to make such expressive pieces. I am really fascinated by her work because I too like to exaggerate lines and tones to create dark punchy charcoal artworks on a large scale. The way she overlays ripped crumpled paper means she is able to redo parts of the work and change and develop her ideas as the work continues.
I decided to combine the techniques and ideas of these two artists because they both hold great talent and use their materials in an interesting textural way which I would like to apply to my own work. They both analyse the object/theme and produce a detail interpretation. However, the two artists have very different techniques in the sense that Da Vinci uses a scientific intricate style whereas Lambert uses a conceptual emotion style to her work. Both are Fine artists but as they are from different eras they have adopted a very different style of drawing. Da Vinci uses a very traditional style which is the original definition of Fine Art: “visually beautiful” whereas, Lambert was after the change in Fine Art – Duchamp’s Fountain – therefore adopts a more conceptual expressive style of drawing.
Although the heart has emotion involvement as well, I am keeping this piece of art strictly anatomical.
 Leonardo Da Vinci, Experience Experiment and Design, Martin Kemp, pg. 61
 Emotion and Expression, Alison Lambert pg9, p3. Essay author: Alan Dyer