Week 7

At the beginning of this week I was keen to focus on experimenting with latex and considering how I could potentially incorporate some flesh tones into the piece and also add some latex body parts, to try to link in with the theme of confronting the physical human body, which I had already portrayed through the arm bone and spine.

I knew that I wanted to create a sculpture based around the characterisation of a farmer or at least someone who lives in the country, and grows their own produce. I firstly decided to use some wellington boots that I already had, which were fairly filthy and covered in mud. I wanted to try to get across the idea of a fanatical, obsessive type of personality when it comes to food and home grown produce, as if healthy and home grown produce was seeping from every pore. So I decided to buy some pasta and rice, which I noticed sitting in clear jars when I was interviewing a middle aged woman from the country who had her own chickens, and I mixed this uncooked food with glue and then placed it into the wellington boot, so that it looked as if it was overflowing from the boot symbolizing the organic/ natural/ healthy food seeping from every pore.

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I do think that this was a successful experiment as it conveys the sense of obsession with specific types of food that you often find with middle aged country folk, therefore am I keen to incorporate these boots within the final sculpture.

I wanted to find a way of putting eggs into the sculpture some how, and after seeing how successful the boots were, in conveying the idea of seeping from every pore, I decided to create a part of a female torso with egg shell placed on top, whilst also taking this as an opportunity to incorporate latex into the experiment.  I made a cast of a female torso using modroc and then began to crush eggshell onto it, as well as painting skin colored liquid latex between the egg. I also caste a female nipple with the liquid latex to place onto the torso to help suggest the female form.

IMG_0096What I ended up creating was this intrinsically horrific combination of flesh tones and egg that blended into some kind of warped skin, the aesthetic does have some value and appeal, although I am unsure yet whether this experiment is appropriate for the final sculpture although I feel as though I have created the best possible example of ‘seeping from every pore’ that you can with eggshells and liquid latex.

I bought a bright yellow blouse to try to tie together all of the pieces involving food experimentation, the blouse being the colour of an egg yolk.

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After seeing all of the potential components of this piece together, I began to think that the piece seemed cluttered and over complicated and there stopped being room for interpretation from the viewer, I then decided to scrap the torso and the blouse entirely, and began to glue eggs to the chair and layer them up slightly.

I fell as though the simplicity of the eggs and the wellies is much more successful than having the egg/flesh torso hybrid that I had created, as the chair is also being used as more of a sculptural and figurative form in its own right, instead of just being a dumping ground.

After completing the farmer sculpture I wanted to move onto the Grandmother/ old lady sculpture, as using latex on the farmer sculpture had been unsuccessful, I felt as though there was more potential to incorporate latex into the Grandmother sculpture. I decided to use flesh/ pastel tone pillows as the base for the Grandma sculpture as they are pale and have the potential to be easily manipulated into a hunched over fragile state like a lot of older women are. I decided to stain one of the pillows to add a grotesque quality as if a human had been sitting on that pillow everyday, leaving their ingrained marks and stains from overuse. I then added a latex nipple to the other pillow that loosely formed the shape of the body, so that it was sagging slightly.

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I also added a pale yellow jacket that helps contribute to the pale/ pastel color theme which is representative of pale and almost sickly older women. I think that all of the elements of this piece combine well together, and the latex nipple also flows naturally with the piece. I think that the nipple works particularly well with the old woman as, the last thing that the viewer is expects to see is a sagging nipple on a old lady.

I also experimented with adding various trinkets, and rubbish tacky little bits and bobs like little houses and people and flowery mugs, to try to help represent the way in which older womens houses are often overflowing with useless trinkets. However, again like with the egg torso the mugs and trinkets just seemed to over complicate the piece and simply interrupt the piece instead of adding to the flow of the sculptures.

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Week 6

In the first week back after Easter, now that I have all of my chairs painted white, I have begun to turn to all of the sculptures that I wish to create, and what I want to incorporate within them.  I turned to artist research to help try to inspire my ideas.

Firstly I looked at Marina Abramovic, who is a performance artist who uses her body as a medium for the art. I wanted to look more in depth into why Abramovic allowed the public to pick from a table of different objects (including a loaded gun) and then let them do whatever they liked to her. I am inspired by the way in which she breaks down the societal barriers in her work and forces people to stop thinking within the bounds of society if they want to interact with her work using her body is a vessel to help connect with people on levels that they are not accustomed to in normal society. I think that the very physical use of the human body has helped inspire my own work as I am very keen to represent the physical presence of the human body in my sculptures, for example with the bar stool I would like to connect a spine coming out of the stool. I want the human physicality to be an unavoidable truth when people see the installation with all of the chair together.

To make the spine I first took reference photographs of a model skeleton in particular focusing on the spine. I obviously want the spine that I make to be a representation, and not a direct copy of an actual human spine. The spine has lots of different small parts connected together and there is also a natural bend in the spine. I bought some air drying clay and started experimenting with how I could make each of the piece of the spine. When I had come up with the shape of each piece I started to make lots of them all varying in size. I then used acrylic paint to first paint then white and then paint them with another layer of an off white cream colour that I had mixed together with the paint, to give the bone a deapth and add a realistic quality.

I then went to the technician and melted and bent a piece of metal so that it had a similar curvature to how you might find a spine. Attaching the metal to the bar stool had to be a well thought out process as I ended up using a block of wood that was screwed to the stool which I could slide the metal in and out of. Once the metal was on all I had to do was slide the pieces of clay that I had made onto the metal and they would stack up.

I am pleased with how the spine has turned out, because I think the simplicity of the piece is very effective and the combination of the tall bar stool with the spine coming from it appears very balanced and the piece has that undeniable  human quality to it whilst also being so simple.

I wanted to incorporate bones in another one of the chair sculptures as it was so successful with the bar stool and the spine. I decided to use the wicker chair as I had already decided that I wanted to draw from the reference photos of the working class woman; her brightly varnished nails clutching an oversized mug of tea. I think that this one element can suggest so much about a person. I thought that it would be a good way to incorporate the bone as a sceletal arm bone attached to the chair at the angle her arm would be if she was clutching a cup of tea, I also bought some bright pink acrylic nails to place onto the mug where her fingers would be. Originally I was going to use a large mug that said ‘hug  in a mug’ as I think that that phrase holds a lot of connotations of average decor in an average house, which has signs like ‘home is where the heart is’, however I ended up thinking that this was too over complicated and could become confusing to someone viewing the work, as the link was slightly too tenuous, so I used a plain white mug instead.

I used the same kind of air drying clay like I had used for the spine, although it took a couple of attempts to get the arm bone to the standard that I wanted it.

I do think that this piece is relatively successful, however it does not possess the same natural simplicity of the spine and the bar stool combined because it does not possess same balance of objects however, overall I am pleased that I was able to incorporate another representation of human bone into my work.

Now that it has come to the end of week six, I am pleased that I have been able to incorporate representations of  human bone into two of my pieces , as I think that it has been a successful venture as the presence of the bone forces the viewer to consider the human form whilst coupled with the sound of peoples opinions towards helping others and conforming to societal norms.

Week 4 

On the the first week of the Easter break I decided to focus on collecting interesting opinions and ideas surrounding supporting charities and how different individuals would prioritize one group over another. I wanted to collect sound clips that I could then bring together to complete my installation.

I used the research and data that I had collected earlier in the project to compose questions to ask different people and also record their voice whilst I was doing this.

The first question was:

‘Do you prefer giving or receiving a gift?’

With this question I wanted an opener that people would find more straightforward, and although the question does not give me any responses that directly speak altruism, as both choices involve emotion as you are choosing which one makes you feel better, the question can give a suggestion of the type of person that you are talking to as the answers suggest how people like to see themselves or how much they care about others gratification and feelings.

The second question that I asked was:

‘Would you prefer to give money to a charity supporting animals or a charity supporting humans?’

The purpose behind this question was to see if each person would be more likely to participate and take an active role in the community versus favoring much more individualistic values, as from my initial research, it seems that those who are more involved in a community or group of people are much more likely to support human charities whilst those who are more on the outside are much more likely to favor animal charities, for example, according to the Guardian newspaper and the list of the 1000 most donated to charities, the Donkey Sanctuary received £18.5 million which makes up most of its income ‘in legacy giving from supporter’s wills.’ Therefore I felt like this was also an important question to ask as it addresses how people view community and everyone helping each other in society, however this question is not 100% asking people if they like being a part of a community or not, it is simply an indicator a lot of the time.

The third question that I asked was:

‘If you had to pick only one charity to support and give money to, which charity/ organisation would you choose and why?’

The reason that I choose a much more open ended  question as the last scripted question is because I wanted to try to see the variety of answers that people may give which means that I can potentially get a variety of different responses.

Deciding who to ask, and thinking about the range that I wanted and needed meant that I did decide to go out on the streets and ask as many people as a could and as wide a variety of people as I could. I am aware that one of the main drawbacks of this project is the fact that the premise behind it means talking to as many people as I can from all socioeconomic backgrounds, all genders and all ages, which can add a lot of variables into my research that I can not necessarily control. I traveled down south to Kent to see family which meant that I was able to talk to my Grandma and my Nanna, and ask them all of the questions that I wanted to, I also took photographs of everybody that I spoke to, like the photograph of my Grandma, which I will use as a reference point to help inspire one of my installations.

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I also spoke to some men in a premier inn Beef Eater who were sitting by the bar. I also had a long and in depth conversation with my Uncle, who lives in Lincolnshire and is also fairly wealthy. I found that the middle aged men that I asked often had very similar answers, and so I decided that for one of my installations I could combine the middle aged men into one category, as they all believed that they would rather support an animal charity over humans as humans are able to ‘help themselves’ and they all said that they would rather give a gift because they have the resources to get all of the materialistic things that they could want or need in their lives.

When I came back to the north at the end of this week I spoke to a woman who works at a Bargain Booze, and I learnt a lot about her priorities about supporting and helping others which can always directly come back to the fact that she is fiercely protective of her children, and anything that she would do to help others would have steamed from something she had done to help her children. I also spoke to her son who is 11 who said that he would want to help other people like him who have dyslexia. What I learnt from these two is that helping those in your wider community comes directly after helping your immediate family which I felt could become another interesting viewpoint.

I also spoke to various 16/17 year old boys who mainly gave uninspired answers without thinking about the questions that I had asked them, giving brief responses that they would not expand upon. But one of the 16 year old boys that I asked was very passionate about English and history, and when I asked him if he thought it was possible for a human to do a truly selfless act he said no because it has been proved throughout history that humans are ultimately greedy, and that this is how nature has built us, therefore we cannot change that, another type of person with an interesting viewpoint.

I also talked to a middle aged woman, a self employed architect, who lives in the countryside and owns hens that lay eggs, she is very middle class and liberal, and I particularly found it interesting comparing her responses to that of the woman’s from Bargain Booze, as whilst the Bargain Booze woman was very much focused on her immediate family, especially her two boys, the countryside women gave her money  to the red cross for a long time, which is a charity that supports people in crisis wherever they are around the world. I felt as though it is interesting to compare two people from completely different socioeconomic backgrounds, and how this may impact on the ways in which they might choose to help others in wider society. For one it is all about being very hands on and thinking about things that  have a direct impact upon them, and for the other they are perhaps just donating money to those around the world who are suffering injustice, without a particular focus.

Whilst I was talking to my Uncle he pointed out a couple of ideas that I felt it might be important to note. Firstly, his beliefs about true altruism, sparked a conversation regarding the anonymity of celebrities like George Michael who did a lot of charity work without anyone knowing until he died. This reinforces the idea that the closest that people can come to being altruistic is when they can only feel pleasure or benefit from themselves when helping others and they can derive no pleasure from third party sources praising them.

The second point that my uncle made that I thought was insightful, was to do with the fact that by asking the questions face to face and reccording the answers that people gave, this  could potentially gove contrasting answers than if  I had asked them to simply fill in an online questionaire. An online questionaire would have perhaps taken away the pressure of wanting to give ‘the right answer’ with me sitting there recording them. Also the potential for anonymity with an online questionaire could also produce more honest answers. However, I do not think that asking people face to face is the wrong way for me to go about gaining information on peoples opinions and attitudes surrounding helping other and altruism, as even if they have lied or twisted the truth slightly with their answers in my final outcome their opinions and stories will be made anonymous, and they will lose any chance for third party appreciation which is a consept that I am trying to put across in my project; the idea that they will be punished in my piece by loosing their identity, as they can not claim their verbal opinions and thoughts as their own.

I am planing to spend the next week of the Easter organising all of the chairs that I wish to include in my final piece so that I can think about and visualise how I wish to structure the final outcome.

Week 3 

After having a conversation with one of my peers about how she felt about choosing between charities and prioritising different causes, she said that she would rather just ‘not help or give any money at all than have to pick just one’. This made me start to think about the multiple people that I know who would have a similar response or attitude to my friend. This then made me think about finding a way of  categorising individuals into a representative sculpture that would incompass many different types of people, almost like a cross section of society. I was particularly thinking about all of the different ways that people like to present themselves in society through their styles and the materialistic possessions that they own. I thought back to a previous project when I had referenced Marcel Duchamp who was the first champion of ‘readymade’ art, as he took objects that had an everyday function like a mass produced urinal and put it in the context of a gallery space, turning it into a piece of art. I think that in my project I am keen to use readymade objects and re appropriate them to try to create figurative sculptures.  I decided to use chairs as the base of the sculptures as chairs can already have a lot of figurative qualities to them.

I looked at the artist Nicole Wermers who combined chairs and coats in her 2015 piece ‘infrastruktur’, as she has the lining of each of the fur coats sewn over the backs of the chairs so that the two ready made items became one entity. Through this art piece Wermers was commenting on the way in which people claim public chairs by placing their jackets over them. I think that this piece of art is very interesting and I am also very interested in combining readymade objects with a chair so that they become one entity, as I would like all of the chairs to contribute to the figurative qualities not just act as a dumping ground for multiple objects.  I want to make a solid square out of the chairs so I will either have 9 or 16 chairs. I want them to all be a different kinds of chairs. I am going to paint them all pure white to connote the purity and ultimate simplicity of true Altruism and then contrast that with the physical human elements that I am going to use to build around the chairs and suggest specific characters.

I have spent the week trying to construct one of these sculptures so that I can see how it will look with a solid white chair. I used Laura as the subject for the chair, as the category of an indecisive deeply intellectual person is to be modeled off Laura, as I want this sculpture to be less generalised and seem more individualistic, to act as an encompassing  bracket for ‘the individuals’ category. I took many, many reference photos of her to use as inspiration for how I wanted to put together the chair.

I ended up focusing on three elements that I think best showed of her particular personality, I looked at her make up because she always puts a lot of glitter on her cheeks, and iridescent stars. I also focused on her slouchy oversized knitted jumper and the last thing that I focused on is her love of oranges.

I started of by taking one of the chairs that we have in college and placed her jumper over the back of the chair so that it almost looks like it is engulfing the chair in a similar way to Laura, when she is sitting on a chair she always slouches back into it, and this is a key physical representation of her own personality which is very reserved.  I also added a bit of stuffing to add a small amount of volume to the jumper. I then positioned her arms in the way that she often holds them. I debated adding some wire to the inside of the jumper to position it in a certain way, but then I decided that Laura is so slouchy that it would not lot look quite right adding some rigidity to the jumper.

I then decided to get Laura herself to peel an orange so that it would be completely random in the exact way that Laura would peel an orange. I then put some of the peel on the chair and some on the floor to make it seem as if it had fallen naturally.

I painted the chair white, added the jumper and the orange, and then took some face glitter and placed two strips on the chair in a way to represent the way in which Laura puts glitter on her face. The white paint lifts the whole sculpture and ties it all together very well. DSC_2077

I am pleased with the overall outcome of the sculpture because although it is simple it represents Laura very well but it is also figurative which means that it could represent any number of different people in that type of category.

Whilst I was making this first sculpture I also started to consider  how I could incorporate the verbal opinions of the people I spoke to as a part of the final piece.

I looked at the artist Gillian Wearing, and her 1997 piece ‘2 into 1’. The video shows two boys talking as if they have the voice of their mother and visa versa. Although her reasons for creating this piece are very different from what my project is  about I really liked the way that she contrasts the image and the voices and it got me to thinking about how I could possibly use sound clips of voices in my installation so that each sound clip would correspond with one of the categories of people represented on the chair. But in a way that the viewer of the piece would be unable to tell which sound clip was for which chair, which would tie in with the idea that the closest way to being altruistic comes from anonymity.