After the third year degree show our tutors told us if we wished to exhibit any of our work in the space the third-years used, we were free to do so.
I was instantly hyper excited about it as I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to curate and exhibit my work properly. Or at all.
Another interesting aspect of this is that we had literally just 2 days to choose our space and put up our work. I had no idea what I was going to use but over those couple of days it was like the works just chose themselves and I just put them up at the end. In all honesty I wasn’t sure how to explain most of them, as they didn’t fit in with any of my Subject work, but then after seeing them together I finally fully realised for myself what it was all about.
And here is a photo of my work in the exhibit, accompanied by a short statement/explanation.
I’ve put up and arranged all of my work, ready for assessment.
I am actually really happy with what I’ve got, mainly because before I laid it all out I felt like I’d done barely any work at all – a great sense of unfulfillment, which began to slowly fade the closer I was to being ready.
This entire year could be defined as ‘fast and furious’. From the start we were getting all kinds of briefs, all designed to help us get used to working under pressure and developing our work in a thoughtful and professional way. Though none of the briefs had any connection with each other, we had to think of a way to introduce our work as our own – find our visual language that would speak on our behalf no matter the context. So in this sense, this year was mainly and mostly about experimenting and exploration.
After working on the ‘Biographies’ project this summer (and getting really deep into the research part of it) the start of the year felt like an overwhelming explosion of blogging, workshops and new briefs. It shouldn’t be overwhelming, and yet it was, the main reason being the time restrictions – all our projects were fast-paced and required outcomes not necessarily finished to a high standard. I realised I was struggling because I couldn’t focus as much on the research part as much as I wished I could. However, after I stopped thinking about the briefs themselves and started thinking about why we have so little time to work on them, I soon came to the realisation that it was all about how we develop ideas, and how we can come up with creative decisions in a short space of time, often accompanied by large amounts of excitement, which later on would (potentially) grow into stress.
In all honesty I can’t say that I enjoyed any of the projects as much as I wished I had, at least not until the end of term and the TED Talks project (which I still think we had too little time to work on). The reason for this would be my inability to deeply research and truly understand my subject at hand, so I can accurately and meaningfully reinterpret it visually. It’s easy to tell us to focus on ‘empathy’ but empathy is something much more complex than what our tutors made it sound. Empathy is about a true, deeper understanding, an intrinsic connection which allows you to feel another’s emotions. You can’t truly create that feeling of empathy in your work, if you don’t fully understand what you’re talking about, and I don’t really think it’s possible to do so in the space of a week or two.
A brief I found very confusing at the start and which I am still unsure about was ‘Visual Languages’. Not because I don’t understand it, but because I found out, after a lot of experimentation, that my work depends highly on the project itself. It’s funny because our tutors speak of it as a ’language’ and here I am, a multilingual person, having a really hard time, because I can’t stay true to just one. It made me realise that I can’t use one approach over and over again, because when I do use one, I use it for a reason. I use it because of its meaning and because of the effect it has on the viewer, which is one of the most important aspects of my work.
In this sense, this year has been mainly about exploring that meaning within different visual languages, the meaning within colour, line, proxemics and composition. I am really pleased with all the work I’ve done this year, even though I believe I didn’t (even remotely) reach the full potential of my capabilities. I realise that it is impossible to wait for that perfect brief to come and rescue me, but I do believe I am on the right track with my ideas for next year, all of which would correlate with my dissertation, which I am even more excited about.
Cheers to a year of illuminating progress, and here’s to the exciting mystery of next year!
I was beautifully surprised to get to choose from so many interesting Field options this year. Even though the ones I chose were both short 5-week projects, I got to experience an artistic cleansing of sorts, an opportunity to see my ideas, process and artwork in the context of two incredibly different practices, both of which I was already quite interested in. Throughout ‘Painting Performance’ and ‘Gorillas in the Roses’ I went through several drastic changes of the scale on which I was working on, the materials, and the very process and its pace. And dealing with all that, as well as my Subject work, I started delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of how my own mind works. The different kinds of artistic freedom of expression the two options presented were what led to the inevitable influence in my way of thinking and my artwork ever since. I found it incredibly exciting to think of both practices as illustrative, and clearly intertwined. They both now seem to be vital parts of my repertoire as an artist, mostly because of their incredibly clear methods of interpretation – the understanding of meaning through the traces of the intrinsic connections between mind, movement and material.
During Painting Performance, we were introduced us and allowed to experience the history and development of performance art for ourselves, and so we started heading in our own directions within our groups – researching artists, themes and techniques more similar to our collaborative ideas and interests. As the module was all about action, the documentation aspect was very important and the final outcome was a short film based on my experience. It was interesting to practice my video editing skills and exciting to work on the outcome but the true power of this module (both Field options) for me was in the implications of deeper meanings and context to every single aspect of an artwork and the process of its creation. That proved to be the real ground for my collage outcomes in Gorillas in the Roses. No matter how chaotic and crazy my collages were becoming, they helped me find the order in the chaos and the excitement and almost godlike qualities of creation via destruction.
Out of my whole university experience since I’ve come to Cardiff, this year’s Field module has definitely been one of the most memorable experiences. In all fairness, I didn’t think I could have so much fun while learning and growing as an artist and I truly believe that the artwork I’ve created and the techniques I’ve learned will come in handy over the next months, and hopefully years. I will continue to explore my mind and its mysterious ways, and now that I have learnt about performance art and collaging, I feel like I have much more solid ground to work on – with research, technique and ideas.
After the chaotic atmosphere, large scale and spatial freedom in first term, Gorillas in the Roses, led by James Green, seemed like a real challenge because of its contained nature. With my collaging experiments from last year to back me up, I’ve been thinking it might be interesting to learn about the true nature and history of collaging, how it fits in the greater scale of the art world. I couldn’t help but notice how different the two options were. I had to once more change my perspective on processes and materials, and it was the most exciting idea to reflect upon in my work. I’d been thinking about Nature – the general nature of things, ‘nature’ as in our environment, the nature of the world we live in, human nature, the nature of my thoughts and emotions.
Being confined to my desk space felt really strange at first but the lectures we were having soon took my mind off it. James introduced us not only to collage art and artists, but also to some of the most incredible comic book artists, examples of book art, shows and animations. The calmness and quiet of the collaging process (finding the right elements from newspapers/books/magazines, cutting them out, arranging them, and sticking them down) was what helped enforce the idea of a meditative process of visual reflection, of putting things in order and understanding them through this different perspective. While I was trying to put some specific meaning in every element of my collages I realized that what I was coming up with were perfect reflections of moods and mind states, strange combinations, that don’t really make much sense, but secretly, hold bits of a life story. Of mind states. Of Nature…
One thing I found incredibly reassuring, and liberating in a way, was that there were no restrictions, no limits, and no boundaries. We were just told to produce a body of work, to concentrate on something, and to do some collaging. That meant a great deal of experimenting and a lot of collages made on a purely random basis. And even still I kept finding meanings in the outcomes. At the start of the module James told us to each get a sketchbook for all our collages, but after the Subject projects, and the feedback from both this year and last, I was determined to create a finished outcome in book form, made from scratch, rather than just bought and filled. That is how ‘M!nd States’ and ‘Human Nature, Cosmic Nature’ initially formed as themes and ideas, and, as the module went on, as real finished pieces. But my work was also influenced by not only the artists I was encouraged to research but also my peers. Even though we were working alone and each of us in our own ways, we managed to produce more artwork than any of us thought, all while comfortably collaging in a room, chatting and listening to our favourite music. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
Painting Performance wouldn’t come across as a useful practice for an illustrator, would it? Surprising as it sounds this module was an absolutely irreplaceable experience which helped me rediscover my artwork and process, as well as my ideas and drives as an artist.
Led by prof. André Stitt, this module was packed with information backed up by performance exercises. After learning about the history of performance art, its origins and increasing popularity throughout the years, we got to experience it ourselves, experimenting with the techniques of artists such as Yves Klein, the Gutai group, Carolee Schneeman, Hermann Nitsch and more.
As we got the chance to explore the subject more deeply within our respective groups, and of course on our own, I realised how this expressiveness that is so vital for painting performance is in fact just as vital for my own work. I started noticing my process in a much more conscious manner in the sense that I started having a much clearer idea of what I was doing with each movement when I painted, the materials, colours and shapes I used started becoming metaphors for specific ideas, the awareness of the duration and repetitiveness of the mark-making itself uncovered a meditative aspect, all of which I’d understood as an inseparable part of the process of art-making, but for the first time I was paying attention to it all, I was mentally, consciously and physically aware.
I was very lucky to be in a group of friends which allowed us to quickly come up and work on ideas we all agree with. Interestingly enough we managed to translate our differences into our work and make them work together to reflect on our interaction with each other as a process as well as the idea of the performance itself. This was all explored in our final performance, as well as the idea of interaction, the individual, the group as a higher form of synergic consciousness, the ways we influence one another, the ways we influence the world around us, the traces we leave through our lives and the intrinsic connections between all of these ideas. With the incredible idea to do it all with the sounds of space as a background we managed to bring it all to life, to reality, for the short space of time we had. The relief, calmness and content that I experienced every time, after finishing each session, had never been more clear and powerful than at the end of our final performance.
It made me understand how important it is for artists to be able to express themselves in their art, even if it isn’t fully understood by the rest of the world. By the end of the module I’d been so deeply influenced by painting performance in my other artwork, it turned into deeper, more personal experiments with free movement, different mark-making techniques, more repetitious, time-consuming or really quick elements and ultimately an exploration of my own self and how my mind works.
I’ve been trying out the inverted colours idea for a while now and even though I thought of doing that at first on the black paper I thoughts it’s way too predictable to do that. So I kept the original black on white illustrations.
As a final piece, for the brief, I created a book – ‘illustraTED’. I thought it has a nice ring to it (and later that it could potentially turn into an actual practice for TED talks) and I wanted it to have TED in it in some way.
the book : 19 x 19 cm, hand made, has 48 illustrated pages, that try to explain visually what Sean Carroll is talking about in his presentation ‘Distant time and the hint of a multiverse’.
note: I did mess up the stitching though, I did it at home quite late, so I suppose I didn’t realise how tired I was… anyway, I decided to go through with it, with deadlines approaching so quickly… I still love the way the book turned out and I still wonder whether I should have put in the actual text rather than just the illustrations.
I actually think that this way, the book becomes a mystery that the reader gets to solve – ‘what illustration goes with what part of his talk?’ or playing with the sequences… the possibilities are many.