Developing my Skills

Throughout my education I have used collage and texture in different ways to create a range of artworks. However, I never felt totally content with my work because it was very heavily influenced by my tutors and didn’t reflect my personality. The consolidation project gave me the opportunity to explore different types of collage including mosaic, combining image and painting and textural works. This project allowed me to work the way I wanted because there were no boundaries and specifications like in school.

I decided to focus the development of my final outcome of the consolidation project on collages with a variety of different materials to create excitement and texture. As my theme was exploring female equality in history, I wanted my work to be textured but also have photos documenting history to give context. I decided to develop my skills of collage through this and used image, paper and paint to do so. Before focusing on my theme I produced collages with different themes and ideas to see how the collages turned out when uses these materials and techniques. This exercises helped me with my composition of the collages and how to create the right mood without overwhelming the work and covering up to much of the imagery. I focused on consumerism for the experimental’s, especially food consumption, because it was relevant to my constellation subject and has become something very important to me. I would like to explore and research this issue more throughout my degree. I wanted my collages to form a response from the audience as well as raising some awareness of the matter at hand, so I made the collages heavy and used a lot of red paint to create a harsh mood.

I feel my collage skills and techniques have improved through this project because I have been given more freedom to work in my own way and to explore and interpret the themes independently. My tutor gave us basic techniques which I feel I have bought on and developed into my own work. In the future, collage is a method of working which I may use because, it creates a busy interesting piece with lots imagery and emotions for the audience to look at and respond to.

Women in Focus – National Museum of Wales

The Women in Focus exhibition is a two-part exhibition. Currently, the first part is on display which focusing on ‘Women Behind the Lens’ which celebrates a range of female photographers throughout history and some pioneering female photographers in Wales. This exhibitions including the work of Clementine Schneidermann and Mary Dillwyn. The brief at the beginning of the exhibition gives the audience an outline of it to help them grasp an understanding of the work whilst exploring through the different works, themes and representations. The brief also stated that this exhibition is to celebrate the first stage of progression for equality – the right to vote for women in 1918. Over the last 100 years men and women have become more equal especially through the arts.

I was particularly interested in the work of Sian Davey’s who displays two pieces: Martha and Alice which were two series of photographs she produced. I mostly focused on the piece ‘Martha’, an artwork which involved 10 young women, the artists’ daughter and her friends posing with a range of attitudes and reactions to their exposure. I over heard from another visitor in the exhibition that Davey’s spent almost two years gaining the trust of her daughters friends for this photoshoot. I interpreted this photo a trust and confidence photo because you can see from the positioning of the girls and each of their expressions they all have different levels of security and willingness to be visible in it. When looking at this piece of art the question “What if it was a male photographer’s work?” comes to mind which would change the response of the audience and possibly make the work into an objectification piece. At first glance, the image looks as though the models are being exposed and documented behind the lens but, when you begin to look more closely at their expressions, you can start to see a softer, more insecure representation. This made me realise the work was not to objectify but to gain the trust of the models.

I feel I responded well to this exhibition because it conveys similar subjects as my theme of female equality and, made me question the common reaction it is getting as well as  how it could be very different if the artist was male.

Is there fear in her eyes?

I have decided to continue the theme of women’s rights and equality after the consolidation project because I think it is a very in dept subject and as a young female, I experience the still-present of male dominance and sexism. The situation is much better than is was through history because of the women, and men, who fought for equality and the right to vote. The problem is still evident especially in religion and countries in the Middle East. Women have only just been given the vote in Saudi Arabia and yet still can’t because of the control of men.

After some research into some amateur art on Pinterest and Google and the continuing desire to paint into a piece of art. I decided to focus on the eyes because I feel they show a lot of emotion and feeling. The eyes hold memory and experience too but is it visible in just the eyes or is it the whole face? Many of the images I found in my research were very emotional and showed the fear in the victims eyes so, I am experimented with the question of whether it is just in the eyes or not.

I am not a big painter and find it hard to mix tones and create fluency and wholeness to my work but I do enjoy developing those skills and learning new colours I can mix and ways of blending. The wooden board I used was a skin tone so I used this to my advantage and then used lighter and darker tones to create shadow and highlight. The eyes is very difficult to paint and draw because its very round and it needs a lot of shading and toning to produce the 3D realistic angle. I think my work is very expressive and not realistic but think shows some emotion and a feeling of fear.

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I am unsure whether to use this in my exhibition because I feel I can develop the idea more and have a stronger connection between the work I produce during the consolidation project and this independent piece.

Art Therapy

“Therapy is the treatment of a physical, emotion or mental disorder”. Art therapy is an up and coming form of the treatment to help individuals express their feelings and emotions. It is widely used for people with different types of mental illness including depression, anxiety and PTSD as well as behaviour and learning difficulties. Sitting down and talking about your feelings can be very difficult for some people because the questions can be very direct “Why do you think you feel this way?” “Where do you think the feelings originate from?” This can be very difficult for some people so, I believe using art to express those feelings can be very helpful because individuals can become more connected with their emotions which may help them to take control of their illness. Art therapy helps the person to use their right side of the brain more than the left side. The right side controls their creativity and art awareness and therefore the patient will learn to channel their emotions through this rather than overthinking and analysing the problems. The art may also help them to understand the cause and therefore learn to live with it and be in control.

Many artists today use art as therapy for themselves which you can see though their expression. Yayoi Kusama is a famous artist who had a trouble childhood with a “physically abusive” mother and father who had multiple lovers. She states she experienced hallucinations at a young age which is evident in her work. The poke-a-dot pattern originates from the hallucinations of talking flowers when she was a child.

Francisco Goya is another famous artist who is historically known for having mental issues. It is evident in his work because around 1819 they become very dark and disturbing. It is said that Goya experienced a nervous breakdown and question his own sanity which may be a reason for the torture paintings. They were found on the walls of his home – his personal space, the heart of his isolation – and I think must have given the founder and those who visited an insight into his mental breakdown. The paintings show only darkness which links to his mental state. There is no evidence that art therapy was used in this time but from his work I can take he used it in some sense.

As I have family serving in the military, I have strong emotions and connections with matter of depression and PTSD. After looking through much research and talking to Royal Marines I understand art therapy is becoming a bigger form of treatment in the military services. After my Fine Art degree I am hoping to get a work placement with a therapy clinic – the location is not yet decided – or with the Royal Navy, Royal Marines Charity who work with serviceman and their families to support in many ways. In order to do a Masters in Art Psychotherapy I am required to carry out at least one year of work placement in a relatable field or a significant mount of experience working with a range of ages and abilities. If I am able to work with the RNRMC I am hoping it will give me some great connections for my future career.

It really was a Discomfort Zone!

The Discomfort Zone exhibition was based in Three Doors Up, a space in the middle of Cardiff. A group of Level 5 students included objects and videos which made me really very uncomfortable and even cringe. As you entered the exhibition you were immediately hit by high pitch sounds and the disappointment that the so-called Buffett was in fact a piece of art – quite disturbing sandwiches and salads contained in jelly. The further you travelled into the exhibition the more uncomfortable it got because there were different features added for us to process. This made it difficult to focus on the work but develop a response from the audience which I think was an intension of theirs.

I really liked the way the artists made the exhibition interactive; there were many activities for everyone to do including popping balloons between someone, hitting a piñata and revelling secrets and confessions. This made me think about how I could make my work more interactive using my common themes of politic and social issues. The thought of installations are our of my comfort zone but I think in some way I could produce something using my themes and this style of work. Tracey Emin is another artist who produces socially interactive art so I will be looking into her art in more detail.

This exhibition has made me think about how certain behaviour i.e. playing with particularly body parts, changing sandwich fillings and scaring others can cause such a disturbance in our feelings. I thought it was very interesting how they used very common disturbances which would affect everybody. When talking to others in the exhibition as we walked around there were some mixed views; some really enjoyed it, some couldn’t wait to leave and others didn’t really know what to think of it.

Out of the three exhibitions we visited throughout the day this was definitely my favourite because it provoke a strong response from myself and my fellow class mates. This is relevant to my practice because I to create work to give rise to a reaction from the audience. My work tends to be political, social and emotional related which provokes thoughts of my audiences on the matter at hand. However, I have no yet explore installation art making the visual presentation of the work very different to my own style. The interactiveness of the exhibition was very interesting and helped me to understand the concept behind it. My response to the exhibition was light-hearted and humorous and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Creating the mould

After talking to my tutor I decided to edit the polystyrene mould more using the hot wire in the soft model studio. I started to experiment with the hot wire and the mould started to replicate an ant nest. There are many videos on social media of liquid metal being poured into dormant nests forming incredible casts. I wanted to combine this idea with the initial idea of my current mood and stress levels. I made holes and bumps in the mould to represent the unevenness of my emotions and the obstacles I have to overcome to finish my degree year successfully.

We needed to make a box to hold the sand and the mould. In order to use as little MDF as possible to prevent wastage, the tutor recommended to have a two-finger gap. This left enough space for the sand to surround the cast but to stop the overuse of sand and MDF.

The induction into the sand mixing and and packing it around the polystyrene mould. We used carbon dioxide to dry out and compact the sand into all of the holes in the polystyrene to get as much detail as possible. After filling and and compacting the sand using a wood hammer I was required to make holes through the sand using a metal wire. By turning the Carbon Dioxide extinguisher on through the holes would allow it to seep through the sand. The purpose of doing this is to speed up the drying and hardening process. Once this was completed it must be left for about a week to set properly.

Sand Casting

Sand casting is a process used for metal casting. It uses sand as the mould. Sand casting is made up of 4 basic steps:

  1. Assembling the sand mould
  2. Pouring in the liquid metal
  3. Allow the metal to cool
  4. Break away the sand mould and remove the castings

Green sand casting is a common method of casting which uses wet sand. It is classified as ‘green’ because the sand does not set when the molten metal is poured in.

casting

After the induction we were given a piece of polystyrene to create into any shape we wanted. The shape we make would be of what we want the final outcome to be made of because you use the polystyrene to mould the sand into the correct position. I tried out many different shapes using only one piece of polystyrene to experiment and develop my ideas as I work. This is something I haven’t really done before but as I didn’t have an initial idea I thought it would be a great way to finalise my mould. I formed a rough shape with many patterns and indents which sort of represent my life at the moment. I have a lot of university work and a social life to uphold which is causing some stress and making me feel a little crazy which has influence this piece.

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Pros and Cons of Sand Casting

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easily recycled – can reuse the moulds
  • Withstand extreme high temperatures

Disadvantages:

  • Poor surface finish
  • Complex design
  • Long setting and drying process (before the pouring of the liquid metal)