aftermath / after hand-in

It’s been a while since I thought to write anything on here. The summer’s almost gone and perhaps the reason is that so much has happened in the space of three months. Sometimes it’s more important to enjoy the moments, to live, and let it all happen before you know what’s worth recording and writing about.

First things first – I am no longer a student. The last few posts I wrote were published on the day of my hand-in deadline. After all the hard work, the stress exploded from all of us in the form of celebrations and indulgences of all kinds – everything we denied ourselves for months we got to dive into in the space of a few weeks. In a sort of preparation for the exhibition which opened the week after hand-in.

Oh it was so good to not be worried anymore. Well, of course I was worried. I had the most dreadful feeling about my assessment, mixed with the most liberating sense of freedom. Nothing can hold me back now. I was free to focus on the ideas I wanted to focus on, the way I wanted to focus on them. All that with  a massive pinch of excitement about my family coming to Cardiff to see the show. (MASSIVE)

Some important questions (to myself) answered:

Was I happy with my final works?
I was as happy I could be – it was a project I had worked on for longer than any other and it was one which morphed into so many different forms throughout the time I worked on it. The core idea remained, despite the change in the translatable meaning. I was well aware I was capable of something monumentally more substantial though after the last decision to change the project, I effectively stabbed myself in the back and capped my result to something satisfactory to myself rather than something outstanding.

Did the result surprise me?
Not really. I was expecting a low grade but at the same time I was well unhappy about how I was judged. The unfairness of the whole situation was the most frustrating aspect of it, feeling like I’m being completely misunderstood when all I try to do is bring people’s attention to ideas and issues every single person thinks about at some point or other, without a doubt. Somehow it would’ve been better if I had focused on a mundane issue with little if any whatsoever deeper existential meaning, as it seemed like that’s the type of topics which the tutors fancied the most. I have no regrets at all. I just wish people appreciated deeper thought processes a bit more (and appreciated personal expression).

Would I have done it differently if i had the chance?
Yes and no. Yes – I would’ve stuck with my gut and done what I meant to do since the very start without changing my idea a thousand times throughout the year. I would’ve had a lot less tutorials than I did, as it seems to me that’s what messed up  my process in the first place (and I ended up being accused of not having enough tutorials… excuse me??). And No, I wouldn’t change my idea and what I wanted to communicate – my research has become an invaluable part of my philosophies and personal beliefs, and I still believe what I was trying to say id incredibly important in our day and age.

To conclude, in this one week before the show, the tornado inside my mind dissipated and suddenly I could see with clarity all the details of the wasted landscape. All in place, maybe not in the place they initially were, but in place nonetheless – exactly where they should be. It took the most devastating of storms to set things right for myself as a person and as an artist.

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Painting Therapy

Getting out some Anger personal work inspired by Painting Performance, acrylic on paper (3xA1)

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After all these painting performance sessions and everything that was going on in my personal life at the moment things were getting really confusing. I felt such relief during each painting performance and a sticky feeling of emptiness and pointlessness after, one day it just got really frustrating and I decided to take the practice out of the university/studio environment, both literally and metaphorically.

I set up some paper in our back garden and even though it had rained during the entire week I didn’t care if the work got smudged. The weather was influential enough to my mental state so it was only fair, if the weather decided to interfere in my process.

Once I started dripping and pouring and splashing the paint on the paper I think I must’ve entered a different mind field since I can only recall bits of it, rather than the entirety of all movements, like usually.

While making it I was concentrating on letting all my anger, frustration and built up negative energy and letting it flow through my hand and into the paint, where it could take shape and come alive on the paper. I was finished much sooner than I thought but I didn’t realize it at the time. Once I was finished tapping into the negative, I continued pouring paint, but this time the direction came from positive feelings, feelings of relief, of completeness, of calmness and relaxation, a sense of fluidity.

In a way in all of this I was also exploring how paint interacts with paint, different colours, different ways of mark making, which I didnt get the chance to explore much on a personal level in the painting performance studio. I could have full control over what happened on the paper, the pacing of the ‘performance’, its length, and the final outcome would be completely personal. It felt different not being in a group but exploring the same topics, you become more critical of yourself because you’re not sure of what people’s reactions would be if they saw it. When you’re surrounded by a big group of people, all excited about chucking paint around, it’s really hard to put much meaning into the art-making – you’re too busy having fun with your friends to give it too much thought. I found myself standing absolutely still in front of the blank paper, looking down at it. What was I doing? When do I start? Is everything prepared? Is everyone ready? It was just a split second’s thought. I was completely alone, there was no one to influence or control my movement or to block my flow in any way. I had the wind blowing in the trees as inspirational music and the cold as an atmosphere. I was in the exact environment which was the source of all the emotions I wanted to express onto the paper.

I didn’t want to film it. It just felt wrong, in the sense that it would break the intimacy of the painting and the process of making it. It was more about the personal experience, what I was feeling and doing, my solitude, the absence of any living being – just me and my surrounding environment. I find interesting the fact that I left the paintings outside to kind of set before I moved them inside to dry fully, expecting some rain overnight and being interested in the outcome but that night the sky had completely cleared of all clouds and I saw my paintings in the light of the moon and stars and it seemed like a sign from the universe and it made me happy. The next two days the weather was completely clear. Third one’s the charm, every time, I moved my paintings inside and it rained that same afternoon.

When I later had another look at the artwork I loved how the patternd were made out of smaller patterns of paint droplets and splashes. The details of the painting seem to contain small galaxies within the marks, as well as passages from one form in one scale to a different form in different dimentions. It perfectly reflects on my frustration with the ammounts of incredibly interesting information that I’ve been trying to process over the past few weeks and having so much to do around the house (purely on basic survival level) which leaves me with far less time for information assimilation and art theory than I feel comfortable with.

It has definitely helped me free myself from everything that is holding me back and pulling me away from ispiration. I was able to look at my life, my art and my practice, and particularly these three pieces, more objectively. I could see what I was lacking and what I needed to improve on.

Constellation

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Constellation was the one thing about my whole university experience that didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t understand why we had to attend lectures which had nothing to do with each other and didn’t really apply to our project work either. It was only after the start of the second term, that the pieces finally came together. I was then able to enjoy the rest of my lectures in peace now that I know what they are all about.

Cath’s lectures on meaning proved to be quite interesting since they were all focused on different subcultures and styles. I now have a much deeper understanding of what makes a subculture and how those subcultures present themselves to the world.

 

I have noticed over the past couple of months how the theories from the Constellation lectures are reflected in my practice. I now take the practice of researching much more seriously. In order to get the detail right you have to know  everything about it – what it is, what it’s used for, what it represents, the culture it comes from, what people see it as, and so on… By knowing all these things one can make subtle statements in their work, especially in abstract works, which is something I would like to do more of over the summer and next year.

For the end of the year we had to write an essay on a topic of our choice but which had to be relevant with our Option (Smells Like Teen Spirit: Subcultures and Street Style). Since I have always been interested in Japanese culture, I saw the opportunity to write about Harajuku as one that cannot be missed. I decided to focus on what drives the subculture, what the obsessions are that make that world go round and my main inspiration for that was an issue of Fruits by Shoichi Aoki, where every page was a photograph of a different dressed up person or people and on the bottom of that page were written each person’s name, age and current obsession. I found that really interesting and it connected really well with what I already knew about Japanese culture around personal research and my favourite animes and mangas.

I found the essay quite challenging since I have never had to write anything as long in English, not academic writing anyway. It was also the first time that I had to focus on referencing. What I found most challenging was what I should write down and what I shouldn’t. As I already know a lot about Japan from before, how do I back all my theories up? I really enjoyed going to the library in Howard Gardens and the Cardiff Central Library. I lave a big love of books and choosing the right ones that would help me was a pleasant experience that relaxed me thoroughly.

I enjoyed working on this essay and I really enjoyed the lectures throughout the year. I think it would be great to try it again but probably without this much pressure, just to see what I can do. I think that there are a lot of things in the artistic world that are worth writing about and I really want to do some good research on something interesting. I think working on an idea in a collaboration with someone would also be an interesting development.

All in all I would say that now I truly started appreciating the meaning of things. I started looking at many new artists’works, searching for art with much deeper and more abstract meanings and ideas. I like finding hidden meanings and allegory in Renaissance art. I feel like I have largely expanded my field of perception and that from that I can only look forward to new artistic ideas.

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Field

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The second term, or our Field module, and its project were really different from what we did in the first term and what I’d expected. I believe reason number one for that is our division in different groups and the collaboration project. The project, City, was, as the tutors explained, more about the research rather than the final piece.

That inspired my Research & Ideas sketchbook in which I recorded all of my ideas for the individual part of the project. After some time passed and I looked through it, I came to the conclusion that if I spend more time on a single project, my mind starts processing too many ideas. They may revolve around the same basic idea, or the same topic, but they evolve and branch out way too fast and in too many directions which slows down my work process immensely. The main reason for that is that I simply can’t choose what idea to concentrate on. During my time back home for the Easter break, I made a mental note to work on my idea control.

The group project (the City project is divided into two parts – individual and collaborative) itself was quite interesting. I got to work together with people from a different course (Fine Art) and I got the chance to tap into their workflow and ideas. It surprised me that we all had a very similar way of thinking but our views on those similar ideas were very different. It gave me a deeper understanding of the difference between our courses. I saw more clearly where I stand as an artist. And I saw the importance of illustration even in fine art, mainly because of the illustrative nature of our final piece (which wasn’t even my idea).

Learning how to work in a team with other artists proved to be something I’d never experienced and something I see as really important for future development – the idea that we can sometimes afford to rely on others while doing our work. I believe collaborative projects are something I want to do in the future. I would like to try teaming up with people from different courses and then comparing the outcomes – may be something really simple like doodling but it would still reveal the artistic nature of each individual.

During the second term in this illustration course I got to explore new techniques and skills like analog photography, which I’d never done before but now I have two personally developed films and black and white photographs. So, apart from expanding my range of possibilities, thoughts and ideas, I also developed my technical skills and learned a lot. My mind was cleared and I finally stopped thinking about what people from other courses do all day.

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I Predict… A Brief

New week, new brief, new project. Here comes the last project for the term, the last project before Christmas, the last one before we get assessed. So, Prophecy. We are focusing on the future, obviously. We have to focus on the future of one the following: Childhood, The Book/Libraries, Work and Play, Political Activism, Memory, Human Movement and The Human Voice/Conversation. Then we have to produce either a short movie, or an animation, or a prophetic magazine/book, or a series of 3 posters, or a series of playing cards.

Doesn’t sound easy, and here comes the tough part – we have to choose to work with either Puppets, in order to make a puppet show, stopmotion animation, or prints (not digital printing). As much as I love puppets and photography, I just can’t see myself doing either of the two. So I chose the lesser evil and decided to do printing… and I’ve never done printing before.

Who knew that coming out of your comfort zone could be so interesting. Chris Lloyd is the nicest person ever, mark my words. If it weren’t for him I doubt I would’ve been able to do what I wanted to do within these two weeks. And even though I can’t work on Thursdays because of Constellation and I can’t print on weekend days, I still managed somehow to do what I wanted…

TAROT cards.

So here’s a bit of an Illustrator’s sketchbook for you…

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(As you can see the Magician was first written as the Mageman. This was entirely unintentional, I just started writing and I got distracted by my own thoughts and instead of THE i wrote THA… Seriously… why would anyone? So I fix it and I go on. And then I look down and it says MAGEMAN instead of Magician. I am absolutely certain that there were some mystical forces at work that night.)

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