(Paper Learning Log Pages 1-7)
Joining and associated research has occupied my days for several weeks. I have completed more samples than necessary. I needed to, to really explore the idea of joining and the materials, but more so to experiment freely. It took me a while to be less inhibited.
I started by thinking about methods of joining and revisiting some of my books for ideas.
Then moved on to look at the suggested artists.
Unfamiliar with this artist, I have so enjoyed looking at ‘leaf work’ and leafworks’.
I looked at four pieces in detail from the book ‘Hand to Earth’:
“Yellow & ruddy leaves
made edge by finding ruddy and yellow leaf same size
tore yellow leave in two, spat underneath one half
pressed it onto the ruddy leaf
POLLOK PARK, GLASGOW 1 NOVEMBER 1986″
Here, torn leaves make a lovely painterly line contrasting with the red/orange leaves beneath which in turn contrast with the dark peaty earth. ‘Spit’ as joining method is less appealing, but viable as the entire piece needs to be biodegradable when left in the countryside to decay.
stitched together with stalks
hung from a tree
POLLOK PARK, GLASGOW 31 OCTOBER 1986″
Photographed hanging from a tree, this piece is a glorious, translucent curtain of yellows and golds with a diaphanous appearance and mosaic like fragments of golden autumnal hues with overlapping layers of leaves in all directions.
“Sycamore leaf sections
pinned together with pine needles
hung from a tree
CENTRE d’ART CONTEMPORAIN, CASTRES, FRANCE 21 OCTOBER 1988″
This piece consists of torn triangular leaf sections pinned with pine needles overlapped to create darker opaque triangles in a vertical chain. There are uneven edges to the base of the triangles, with rusts, golds and amber down the length of the chain to the left and yellowy green to the right. The overlapped amber leaves create a rich chestnut colour and the overlapping green leaves produce a really dark pine. There is a lovely contrast between the light filtering through the single layer of leaf and the opaque sections of layered leaves.
Bracken Fronds pinned with thorns
THE ECOLOGY CENTRE LONDON DECEMBER 1985
In this installation, bracken fronds are pinned with thorns to create a curvaceous, worm-like pattern, sinuous, snaking, winding, curving, twisting with lots of energy and movement, say 10 feet tall on a wall. It is photographed in black and white in the book and there is good contrast, highlighting the detail of the individual fronds.
My overall impressions of Andy Goldsworthy’s leafworks:
He has exploited the beauty and simplicity of nature in his use of materials and the setting, with consideration for colour and form. The careful placement of each leaf to contrast or complement the next, enhances the qualities. Using daylight, the natural beauty is captured on camera.
How might his work influence me?
A reminder to keep things simple and be selective with materials, to let their properties (shape, texture, colour) speak for themselves and add value to the final piece. To consider using things I find beautiful in nature.
Inspired by Goldsworthy’s leaf works, I looked at Alice Fox’s Leaf Stitching.
Again I was struck by the ‘less is more’ effect, the simple stitching enhances the patterns or groupings of the leaves allowing the beauty of the natural materials to shine through. In this small grouping the negative space is really effective, and the chosen leaves are in lovely tonal colours.
In contrast to the work of Andy Goldsworthy and Alice Fox which I admire for the relatively simple presentation of natural beauty, I found Barbara Cotterell’s work more thought provoking.
Using found items that are frequently discarded without thought, Barbara Cotterell works by “manipulating materials, finding out how they behave individually, how they perform as a group, what kind of fastening works” (www.textileartist.org). She is “fascinated by the subtle changes of the repeating image” (http://materialspace.com/page7.htm) and has created fluid sheets from aluminium cans, contact lens packaging, twisted foil, with almost cloth-like drape by joining the materials with wire links in a repetitive pattern.
Although not heavily disguised, at first glance, the original materials are not always obvious, having taken on a new form. Dried tea bags have been twisted and stitched into 3D vessels, (tea pot 1,2,3 & 4), emptied tea bags folded and stitched into cloth (tea cloth), a cow fashioned from plastic milk containers, flour packaging transformed into ‘flour pots’, the sheet of flattened drinks cans replicating the canvas of a deckchair. Another installation highlights small collections of diverse ‘rubbish’ by grouping like items, enclosing them in transparent packages to create a hanging piece.
My overall impressions of her work
It piqued my interest. I didn’t gasp with delight like I did with some of Andy Goldworthy’s leaf installations, but I was drawn in to examine what had been used and how the components had been joined. I was surprised how pleasing a deckchair canvas of squashed drink cans could be. The mild humour of the titles or combinations made me smile, the materials made me think. Looking in detail reinforced the message about the importance of a sustainable society, what started as a subtle reminder of discarded packaging, grew into a realisation of the sheer volume of waste material generated. The act of using items in a repeated pattern highlights just how many contact lens containers, for instance, must be discarded daily throughout the world.
How might her work influence me?
During her interview for http://www.textileartist.org she commented that her techniques are
“Manipulating materials, finding out how they behave individually, how they perform as a group, what kind of fastening works. Everything is about repetition, the similar but slightly changing unit”
Her words highlighted that the repetition of patterns need not be geometric and precise, something I’m not keen on, but that there the repetition of ‘the similar but slightly changing unit’ is appealing to me. I was also reminded that knowing your material and giving yourself time to explore is an important part of the process.
My overall impressions of her work
The earlier pieces shown on her website – 3d structures using beading technique and right-angle weave are from her Standard series, geometric structures, constructed from hand-rolled sections of used copies of the newspaper, made into beads and joined with nylon fishing line. These pieces lack the surface texture and interest I like, but I was really drawn to Pine Needle Vessels (item 14 of 37). I like the texture and rhythm of the pine needle pots, the natural colour and surface of the pine needles and simplicity of the cotton stitching. The needle felted addition to the right hand vessel in particular is less attractive to me, it seems out of balance with the delicacy of the pine needles, is overly chunky and woolly, like a baggy jumper, detracting from the neat rhythm of the coiled pot. The needle felted base to the left hand pot is more complementary and doesn’t interfere with the even shape and curves of the vessel.
Cabal, a series of 7 pots is also inspirational to me. The space dyed cotton used to coil the foundation core is vey effective. I love the subtle blue/grey tones. The individual pots have great character but uniformity. Whilst the gold, like a light or treasure shining from within is interesting and suggests a story to the piece, its the softness of the yarn, texture of the wrapping, light and dark of the dye, dark shadows between the coiled ridges, the curved, bent shapes, cut ends of yarn sprouting from the top which inspire me to research pot coiling.
At this point in my research, I had my formative feedback for Assignment 1 via video from my tutor, Rebecca Fairley. We briefly discussed Assignment 2, after which I understood that I needed to think in more detail about the methods of joining and how different types of joint and materials compared, rather than merely demonstrate joins. A slight change of approach to research is required to focus my thinking.
Goldsworthy, A (2004) Hand to Earth Thames & Hudson Ltd (pp 63, 64, 65, 77, 98)
http://pippaandrews.com/page2.htm (accessed 21.3.16)
http://materialspace.com/page6.htm (accessed 7.1.16)
http://www.alicefox.co.uk (accessed 6,7 Jan 2016)