Summer Artist Statement

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Reminiscing about why I began the theme of horror in my work, using questions such as what makes something or someone scary, I started this term certain I wanted to continue this theme. With the presence of the Uncanny Valley lying in the background of my work, I decided to try a few processes this term I’ve never used before in an effort to try and break past my artist block which I’d been stuck with since the Christmas holidays.

To kickstart my ideas on what processes I could try out I began to brain storm, keeping in mind the idea I had to fall back on from last term if I seriously couldn’t get past the block, and from this I decided to try out the moulding and casting process, using alginate, plaster and resin. My experimental batch of alginate didn’t go too well as I’d underestimated the size of the tub in comparison to my hand, the subject I planned to recreate as a cast, and therefore there wasn’t enough to cover my whole hand. Other than this dilemma the mould set quite well and despite the limited time I had to use it, 3 days until it goes moldy, I was able to create 2 casts from it, 1 resin and 1 plaster. The plaster, despite the breakage in the finger, came out surprisingly well, capturing every crease left in the mould from my hand. The resin went terribly, not drying properly despite the extended amount of time left for it to dry, and it was left with a sticky residue.

After this I begun to try another method of casting, which featured using modroc as the mould, and then pouring plaster inside it once dry. One the plaster cast was dry the modroc had to be ripped off, from this I created a face of which I’m not too keen on as the plaster set with creases throughout it.

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Before moving on to different casts, eg limbs which was an idea following finding Kiki Smiths ‘Nuit’ work, I had a crit with my tutor and group and as a whole we agreed that the work I was doing wasn’t exactly going anywhere, and I had lost my way in trying to create relevant work. I didn’t want to create pieces which could display fear, but invoke fear, or reflect feelings or scenes in horror movies. Although to follow the Uncanny Valley theory it means my work would have to look life like in some way, I think that these works just weren’t the type of life like needed to convey the fear I wanted. From this I decided to go back to the last point I knew that my work was conveying my intentions well, the masks. I was recommended artists such as Marc Quinn for his works ‘Self’, and I used sources such as the video game ‘Last of Us’, and demons from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ for ideas and inspiration. After creating 2 masks I branched out and made a modroc hand resembling a sketch I made, a hand with shard of something coming out of the wrist. I presented this hand and the 2 masks for the practise exhibition.

 

At this exhibition I finally had an idea hit me, one I was determined to try. I wanted to create a life size skeleton or mannequin and decorate them accordingly. Leaning more towards skeleton I began to track down a decent sized skeleton, as I felt the height was an important part to the work. I looked into another process I’d never tried before, Paper Mache, in the hopes it would feel and look better on the skeleton than modroc, as I felt that modroc wasnt quite the right sort of method I wanted on this skeleton. This was proven more to me after I spent some time modrocing the legs to thicken them up. After researching into other artists, such as Reva Castillenti, a particular artist popped up again, Kiki Smith. She has made a piece called ‘Hard Soft Bodies’ which is made from paper mache, and another called ‘Ribs’ made from plaster and thread. Seeing these works made me really excited as from her work I could clearly see the potential paper mache has and could have in my work, an excitement made stronger after seeing how well the paper mache was looking on the rib cage of my skeleton.

For the final exhibition in the Summer Term I plan to present this skeleton in one of the ways I’ve sketched, the main one I’m leaning towards is hanging it from the ceiling to make it on eye level with the viewer with its feet touching the ground like it’s standing, which is in a loose way recreating the scene in a horror film in which the victim tries to escape just to turn around at the last second and end up face to face with the killer.

Artist Statement

For this project I have explored nightmares and fears caused by mental disorders, developing on from my last project by depicting more than the physical internal suffering. The mental disorders I worked with include Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Depressions, Autism to connect to last term I also used Fibromyalgia. I have work across an array of different mediums and processes, most prominently being mark making using different forms of paint and tools. By showing the internal battles which mental disorders sufferers face, the viewer is able to connect,even if only slightly, to certain imagery and fears. This connection is what makes the works I have made so powerful, enforced by my sources and my personal approach to this project.

I began my project by first interviewing people I know who suffer with the disorders I was hoping to work with to get a first hand experience from. I was able to use myself for the Fibromyalgia mental side, and slightly for the Depression as I suffer from both. I gathered this information in a way I could use by brainstorming myself a mind map, and gathering ideas of the tools and techniques I hoped to practise with this term. I was given a few artists to look at to help further my ideas, the most important to my work being Ida Applebroog, for her haunting faces paintings, Sue Williams, for her chaotic and beautiful dry marks in her works, and Basquiat, for his Neo-Expressionism style in drawing  skeletons and strong colouring.I was also encouraged to look into the artist’s movements Expressionism and Surrealism for the marks and colouring, and the need to depict the artist’s consciousness rather than reality. Whilst in this stage I also took notes on which body parts are often made to appear scary, limiting myself in order to not run over time.

After creating a series of sketches and the beginning of a book, I was encouraged to continue with using sketches and fabric as a basis for my work as they gave the piece a much more approachable look, and made it easier for the viewer to connect, by seeing the works placed alongside each other as if in a slide show. I focused on nightmarish subjects in my work that mental disorder sufferers and people without disorders would be able to connect too, being sure to keep them all connected through the colouring depicted in each work so as to not have any look out of place. I centered more on the face and bones than any other part of the body, as it’s the part most often depicted in scary movies and peoples minds, by painting  with a dry brush, my hands, linoprints and monoprinting onto cotton fabric. At times I tried to be sure to experiment with the works on paper first to ensure that I don’t waste any fabric, but in a few of my works I made them impulsively after getting a nightmare of getting an idea. I made them all connect in colouring, an example being the face with red, orange and yellow eyes, and the haunting deformed figure with red, orange and yellow brushed around it. Whilst looking unremarkable, after viewing it my fellow students did say that their simplicity is what made them memorable and they did question where the images came from as they did seem familiar, giving me hope that the audience will feel the same.

For my final piece I collected the strongest pieces I had made to date, revised some of them to make them stronger, and hung them up, being sure to pay attention to the height and order they place in. I hung them around the height of an average persons eye height so that the viewer could simply concentrate on the work without having to look up awkwardly, or down, therefore allowing the viewer to simply concentrate on the work. I made sure to connect to a modern art history reference through my colouring and marks in my work. I chose to use the base ideas of Surrealism and Expressionism, those being the need to represent the artist’s consciousness rather than nature, because I felt that these arts movements were the most relevant to my ideas. I used this idea throughout my work, paying attention to the colouring and marks featured in my work.

Painting and Linoprinting

Based on the idea of hands reaching out to grab you. Often associated with paranoia, but can be linked to horror movies due to the cliche of being drag somewhere. Contrast of colouring to create an uncomfortable feel, whilst still connecting to other works I’ve done.

After deciding to reuse my linoprints I made in the Autumn term, I made a quick experimental painting on paper so as to not waste my supply of cotton. I wanted to see if the contrast of colours would work with the linoprints.

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A4 experimental acrylic painting and linoprint on paper.

I loved how well it contrasted so I went on with my idea, using a dry brush to paint with to give the marks I admired in Sue William’s and Basquiat’s work. I decided to not print clear linoprints, so as to show the loss of grip on reality when dreaming in nightmares.

Below is the almost finished work, all that is needed is a drawing on top. This is a work I have been developing and working on for a few days, and love how well it has turned out. I love the chaotic look I’ve been able to achieve, and think that it’s overwhelming and almost uncomfortable to look at due to the contrasting colours.

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Painting Experiment UNFINISHED

Based on the feeling of being overwhelmed. Constantly scared, or lack of sleep caused by nightmares. Stress. All disorders. Relatable as we all get stressed sometimes.

This is a work I began in Enhancement week but decided to scrap as I was unhappy with how it looked. But I have now decided to develop it further.

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Quick experiment done before I made the piece. Painted acrylic on A4 sketch paper.

BEFORE;

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Scrapped piece from Enhancement Week.

AFTER;

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Revised painting.

Constructing My Final Piece

For my final piece I plan to choose my strongest works, most of which I think are the larger pieces, and develop them further to make them stronger. I then plan to hang them, as I was encourage to do earlier in the term, unless I can think of another way to present them effectively. The works and sketches I am particularly keen on are the ones included below. I also plan to make more as I go along, whilst looking back on my notes for ideas.

Composition brainstorming;

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Painting Experiment Week 9

Smooth brush strokes to show calm. Illusion of a moment of clarity, calming moments. Planned to cover with a poem about monsters under the bed, and also screaming imagery.

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Was considered to be an unfinished piece, but was then encouraged during Studio Crit to leave it as it is, and possibly paint a couple more like it to show the brief time between the nightmares and mental suffering. Plan to make a few more to experiment with writing and layering imagery on top.