Field year 3: Encounter (PDP)

 

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In Illustration they don’t appreciate exhibitions in the same way as other courses do. The whole idea is that the work we do is not the type one would see in a gallery, so there is no emphasis on shows, and that makes complete sense. As illustrators, this isn’t something we have to worry about, while our friends in Fine Art actually get assessed on it. Since first year a few of us have felt this certain discontent with how for two years we’ve seen amazing work exhibited by our friends while all we had was our portfolios, project books and desks. Personally, and I know this is true not just for me, I believed that if we had exhibitions at the end of first and second year, it would not only have been good experience but also would have helped us have at least some basis for this year’s ‘Encounter’ brief.

The most confusing part of the whole thing was constantly being reminded that we should not think of it as an exhibition (because it’s not what illustrators do), but we should focus on our work and think of how it sits in the world and how we want it to be encountered… that’s all fine, but at the end of the day what happened was that we were building spaces and putting up an exhibition. The continuous refusal to refer to it as such added to the constant level of stress throughout the year along with one other thing.

Groups. Since the start of the year, we were told to divide into small groups according to what our work was about, so when we put up the show at the end of the year, people would be looking at a collection of works with the same thematic. Instant red light goes up in my mind, how come we are the only course that’s not exhibiting everyone’s work together? Ignored the red light and tried to make sense out of the situation but it was only worsening. First with realising that I’d have to be into a group named ‘Myth and Fairy tales’, even though my project wasn’t meant to be perceived as a project on fables but a project on scientific truths based on mythology. When it turned out to be only me and one other person in that group we were told to just group with everyone who’s uncertain or hasn’t decided and so our odd-one-out group barely had any relation whatsoever between everyone’s works. We managed to find connections in the end although the very idea of having to consider how our work comes together and speaks as a whole was adding so much unnecessary stress, I was this close to leaving it all.

And then there was the lectures on how to put up a show, which, to be fair, I completely understood, though I believe both the lecturer and most of my course mates were misinterpreting the situation. Rita Cachao was teaching us by giving examples of different shows and how they work together, but the very idea is, that the work is collected or created for a specific show with a specific purpose, whereas each of us had been developing their own project of choice. Most people in the lectures were misinterpreting her efforts, thinking that now we have to change our work because it all has to go together. At that point the lectures were cut off and everyone felt even more frustrated because of the uncertainty – are we exhibiting together or are we not? What was the point to all the groups in the end?

One thing we had to do a month or two ago was fill out a form about technical requirements and describe the type of work we’d be exhibiting. After having stressed and talked to tutors about my installation plans and needing a large, open, free space, time and time again, and after handing that form in, you can imagine my surprise and frustration when I was allocated the furthest corner in the tightest maze of a space, which by the way turned out to also be where the door to the product design storage room was. Having that on my mind, being told that it could change when it obviously wasn’t going to (and it didn’t) and in the end being told I shouldn’t be stressing about it was just drop after drop until the cup was full and I no longer cared about how my work was going to be encountered. Nothing went according to my plan and in the end I had to rethink the whole setup just to make sure there is enough room for my work to be observed and for people to be able to go into the space right next to mine without getting caught in my pieces and messing everything up… all was fine in the end, I don’t have my hopes too high, knowing how much better it could have been had I got the type of space I asked for.

Building the actual walls and boxes actually turned out to be more fun than I thought, and it felt like a good way to connect with everyone and do something together, as a team, although some people didn’t show up and that ended up delaying us. Altogether it was a good experience that could have been so much better had it been addressed differently.

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critical

This last week was the most insane, action-packed, work-filled, will-fuelled week I’d probably ever experienced since the start of uni… (a little part of me says probably ever).

There was just so much to do that I hadn’t thought to sort out before. The past two months felt like a speedy blur, there was too much to do and not enough hours in the day – I’d catch myself still at uni in the latest possible hours, forgetting to eat and drinking enough coffee to fuel a tank. I most definitely underwent a mechanisation process and became a work machine, doing everything automatically, as fast as possible without really thinking. Stress was an inseparable part of my system, like the exhaust fumes of a car… fitting. That is perhaps why a number of things didn’t go entirely to plan, although I somehow blame that on additional external worries which could not be overlooked and came with the worst possible timing.

One thing I’ve learned is that when everything is going against you, that is your chance to prove yourself. I managed. I did it despite all the stress and circumstance.

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building exhibition spaces

The last two weeks before the deadline (6 May) were specifically dedicated to building the degree show spaces.

After the negative response of last year’s degree show, we were determined on several things – one was to do with the fact that Illustration in general is not technically in the main art building. This time we were adamant that we should have our exhibition with everyone else’s. Thanks to our course mate Maelle’s efforts we got a number of spaces in the main building in which to build our shows – two spaces on the first floor and two of the glass boxes you see when you walk up the main stairs on the second and third floor.

The whole exhibition module for us is called ‘Encounter’ – its main focus being how illustration may be encountered in the world. Since the start we were told again and again that we should not think of it as an exhibition, which was a bit of a contradiction, especially when we got to building the actual spaces.

That meant building and putting up all the walls in order, painting everything white and making plinths. We were all suddenly working together, a huge team of illustrators, building their degree show, helping each other and communicating – somehow it felt like a lot of us connected more than we’d had in the whole last year, or whole three years really.

As it happens, the materials we could use were limited so that resulted in having to wait for people to finish their task so you could borrow whatever you needed and continue the work. That resulted in some people not showing up, thinking their help wasn’t needed.

The start was strong and we’d done quite a lot of work by the end of the first week, with a bit of a slowdown around the second, and a quick intensifying around the last few days. We were meant to start putting our work up around Thursday afternoon and all through Friday.

It was hectic and stressful for the whole of the two weeks, but we managed to get through it with  hard teamwork!

final pieces

After some hard thinking and work I finally finished them. These are the pieces I’ve chosen to put in the exhibition.

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Due to unforseen technical difficulties I’ve lost some of the scans and these are the only ones I managed to recover.

All of them are painted with acrylic onto MDF covered in black acrylic. It felt amazing to be able to finally paint, rather than plan and do technical things like scanning, editing and blogging.

These will be suspended so they hang at eye-level, arranged so they form the backwards narrative of the creation of our universe.

pieces from within / without

And here are the final pieces from the Bristol show.

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UNVEIL‘ is about entering the state of dreaming, becoming your astral self, unveiling the door to that realm of infinite possibility of which the moon is a guardian.

EXPLORE‘ is a scene from one of my vivd dreams where the sun was rising over the seaside (the exact moment when the dark of night and the daylight fight for dominion over the dome of the sky) its light gently washing over the massive planet and the mirror-like sea. Even though there were no waves, the surf board moved on its own with my intention, much like everything else happens in dreams.

ENCOUNTER‘ is about the person I kept meeting in different scenarios in a number of the dreams (if not all) which inspired this collection of artworks. The geometric forest is a concept I came up with many years ago in a painting i was never pleased with, and now seemed like a good time to revisit it and give it new life.

SEE‘ is the attempt to visualise a bit of a dream where that person’s eyes were there, real, on his face, but they also somehow had the scale and gravity of immense planets, and at the same time they had the spiral pull of galaxies, it felt like I was being pulled in and I could float about and observe them from a distance one could fully observe a planet or a galaxy, while I was fully aware that I was looking into a pair of eyes right in front of me. A very surreal and overwhelming part of the dream but completely enthralling and mesmerising.

TOUCH‘ refers to the idea that in order to lucid dream, the first challenge (or the first gate of dreaming) is to be able to look at your hands during a dream. It also refers to the strange sensation of touching and experiencing the texture and weight, pull or push, of objects in dreams – enhanced and very real but at the same time… not.

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Originally ‘See’ and ‘Touch’ were quarter the size of the rest but because of a misunderstanding at the printer’s I had prints of all of them in both sizes.

That being said, if you like what you see, get in touch and you just might get one of the original prints! :)

within / without

I’ve been going on and on about the show and now it’s gone and passed, and I haven’t said a word about it.

As you probably already know, it was in two parts – from the 31st of March to the 6th of April and from the 7th to the 13th of April. We tried to make sure the people whose work would be up at the same time related with one another in some way and we found out that a lot of our works do that anyway. As almost everyone was exhibiting work that was part of their final year project (for the degree show in May) it was an amazing opportunity to experience the curatorial side of the whole ‘Encounter’ challenge. We found more connections between our work than we previously thought and also received amazing feedback on and after both opening nights.

My own work had nothing to do with my final project, which was probably not the best of ideas, but I wanted to focus on something fresh in my mind – at the time I still wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do an animation for my final piece or a very long scroll-type painting on a large scale. Neither would have worked well in the gallery space at Paper Arts, so in the end I chose the subject which had ceaselessly been on my mind since the Christmas holidays – DREAMS.

I’d been having a series of very vivid and realistic dreams with massive amounts of detail stored in my memories. I wouldn’t say that they influenced my waking life but I’ve always thought that if someone is in your dream, you have to tell them. A number of people were in my dreams, one person in particular, who also appears in the final images, more so than the others – when I shared my dreams with him, it became a common conversation topic, and a really exciting one at that, which brought us closer and solidified our friendship, something I was immensely happy about. So, in a sense, they actually did influence my waking life.

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left to right: Jakeem Lee, Sara Christova (me), Jack Coles, Sophie Holbeche, Patrick Howells, Ayu Baker and Rhiannon Parnis. Unfortunately Heather Kirk couldn’t make it that evening. (photo by Emma Harry, additional edit by me)

Anyway, I shouldn’t go off on a tangent. The opening night for the second week was a lovely event which I thoroughly enjoyed. I got very positive feedback from our year tutor, Amelia, who believed I should go on with this for my final piece. That completely threw me off and I found myself wide-eyed and panicking, telling her it actually has nothing to do with my final piece (even though I’d already been trying to find a way to relate dreams with myths). Her suggestion was that I should find a way to do something similar… ‘because it really does work very well, good job!’

IMG_1191Even though I didn’t sell any of the prints I had on display (I was gutted when I realised I’d forgotten mount board and cellophane pockets) I am really happy to have had the chance to have my work seen by so many people. Hopefully it will have inspired some of them to truly explore and experience their dreams. :)

studies

A few days ago I was playing around with neon markers and ended up making these two images…

frequencies has a lot to do with the dream-themed images I’ve been doing for the exhibition in Bristol (Within/Without). I like to think that when we dream all our frequencies are in tune so this is about them coming together slowly and all at once.

distortion comes from the same headspace but that has more to do with my final project for the degree show at the end of the year. In trying to figure out how to represent the god/consciousness that created our world I thought to experiment with the ‘blank TV screen’ visuals – that black and white distortion which is in constant motion that I once heard was in fact frequencies emitted from the Big Bang.

I’m planning to turn those into prints to have at the show, so if you like what you see, you know where to look :)

 

bristol show / experiments

This is the first piece I did with the intention for it to be finalised and displayed in the upcoming exhibition. After doing a few more pieces it was certain, I wasn’t going to be putting this one up; not too pleased with the outcome.

That and the fact my idea shifted – this piece is mainly about the beginning of the dream, the physical self, the dream self and the influence of the moon. For all the other pieces I ended up settling on dreamscapes and scenes.

reader info: the original artwork is on the right (in the collage below), the other is inverted digitally and edited.

 

‘dreamer’remaerd’

 

‘dreamer’remaerd’ (detail) 

 

Bristol Show / concepts

Even though most people in the upcoming show in Bristol have decided to exhibit work they’ve been doing on their final uni projects, I decided to do something different, which I’ve been looking an excuse to do for quite a while now.

After having an almost overwhelming number of mad vivid dreams, I thought it would be really interesting to see how they look on paper. What you see below are development images, which I won’t be displaying but which I still find quite captivating.

Trying to portray the magical side of the very action of dreaming was a bit of a mind twisting endeavour so I decided to step away from the dreamer and focus on the dream itself. The sketch below was inspired by the ending bits of a dream I had, where after a mad party everyone went down to the beach, some of us surfing while those who couldn’t were just swimming about and splashing each other. I remember the sea crystal clear, almost mirroring the sky, the sunrise on one side, and the massive planet on the other. I couldn’t tell if it was light or dark because the moment in my mind was in the exact middle between night and day.

Bristol Show / mission

Excitement is upon us!!

Earlier on in the academic year a bunch of us illustrators decided to be proactive and organise our own exhibition, showing the beauty and potential of illustration. We were more or less inspired by a few of our fine artist friends who did a couple of amazing independent shows at the Abacus (a place dearly missed since it had to close down) – Substance and Exposure. Of course, Illustration is different from Fine Art in a lot of ways, so we have decided to bring what we do out to the people.

Even though all of us are based in Cardiff, we felt it would be better for us if we extended our creative input and had the show in Bristol instead. After some months of serious planning and fundraising, things are finally being set in motion.

Last week we had a little trip to go see the venue (Colab & Paper Arts) for a general idea of the space we’d be working with, and how we could potentially place our artwork. I’d never been there before and was very pleasantly surprised to see the shop and cafe as well as the gallery.

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The information about the show with posters and development work will be coming your way very very soon. Expect an exciting start to this April :)