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.

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 5 

I started of the week by thinking about the different categories that I would want to incorporate into my final piece, making sure to think about all of the variety that I wanted to present though the chairs. I think that I decided upon the types of people that I wanted represented in the sculptures based on who had the most interesting things to say when I spoke to them and I want all of the different sculptures to represent different groups that are all very different from each other, I had initially wanted 16 different categories represented through the chairs but then I made the decision that having only 9 chairs would mean that I would have more time to focus on all of the chairs individually, so that every detail was exactly how I wanted without having to worry about having to spread my time to thin and all of the sculptures not being to the same standard. In the end when I started painting the chairs I and I started to create a square shape which had been my intention all along I discovered that I would not have enough room to fully display all of the sculpture in the way that I would want if I created a solid square of 9 chairs, and so I thought that if I had 8 chairs instead, and I put them in the shape of a square with a space in the middle this would actually look a lot better, because would seem as the figures were almost interacting with each other and having a conversation.

The final categories of people that I wanted to represent through the sculpture were:

  1. Middle Aged Men who have had a career and now they have the resources to fund a comfortable life style
  2. Indecisive deep thinkers, like Laura who is the sculpture that I have already created, basically she represents individualistic people who are reluctant to make black and white decisions
  3. Older Lady – someones Grandma who is stuck in the past and can not fully comprehend the changing times and is therefore not always politically correct
  4.  Middle aged women, who have children and are at the center of family life, they may have done some work here and there but they are not the main breadwinner
  5. Young boy who has not developed a fully fledged understanding yet about societal norms, still sees things in black and white and who comes from a generation that has grown up with technology so that their mobile phone and play station have become extensions of themselves
  6. Young working woman who had children very young, is not with the father of these children and is working hard each day for little reward
  7. Young man who is a bit of a ‘Lad’ likes to go out a lot, have a good time and party hard
  8. The last category is a is a middle aged farmer/ country dwelling person who lives of the land and has chickens in their backyard

Although I have obviously missed out big groups in society, what I really want to get across in this piece is the diversity of people who all have different priorities in life based upon their upbringing, their socio-economic factors and so the list goes on. The group that I have brought together cover age, class, ignorance, education levels, gender and many other factors. In other words, it wouldn’t matter how many different types of people that I talked to there would always be someone else with a different opinion on the matter. This is something that I would consider in more detail if I had a longer time to complete the project as I would try and talk to more people and create more sculptures to try and encompass the idea that the subject, Altruism, is a topic that covers the whole of society on many different levels, but what I want to do is put across the point that everyone interacts with people slightly differently and will have contrasting opinions.

Firstly I thought about the category of middle aged men that I wanted to create based upon some men that I have met in pubs and through my dad’s friends and my uncle. They all answered the questions similarly saying they would prefer to give money to an animal charity because humans have the ability to help themselves, and on the whole  they would all rather give a gift because they have the means to buy what they want. When it came to selecting the chair that I wanted to use, I noticed my dad who is also a middle aged man sitting on an old wooden deck chair in the garden one day when it was warm weather,  I noticed the sturdiness of the deck chair, with a strong build and I also noticed the fact that it was very square shape it immediately made me think that it would be the perfect fit for the chair that I wanted to use to represent a middle aged man.

The next chair that I decided to use was an old wooden school chair which I found in the garage of our house. It has a very square shape to it but is also a fairly petite chair which I think would much more likely be associated with a child than an adult the shape of it made me think that it would be perfect for the young boy sculpture that I wanted to create.I also found an old kitchen chair in the garage that I thought would be perfect for the middle aged country/ farmer sculpture that I wanted to create. It has a round shape to it whilst also being very simple and functional, which I think would fit in perfectly with the character of a farmer.

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(this a photo of the Kitchen chair after paint)

I began to paint all of the chairs white. Firstly, I would sand down the chairs to give them a key and then I washed them all with sugar water to get all of the dust and residue dirt of them. I then painted a layer of primer on each of the chair and began to paint them white. To get the full effect of the white that I wanted I had to paint them with more than one layer most of the chairs required 3/4 coats.

I found a bar stool at the local pub which I was allowed to use, and with this chair I thought that it had specific qualities that would mean that the chair would immediately have connotations of a specific type of person without the need for extra explanation as bar stools are found in less places than most chairs.

(bar stool before and after being painted and the photo on the left was also used as a reference photo when considering the size  and height of the spine that I screwed onto the stool)

I knew that I wanted a big chair with a lot of character for the chair representing an old lady, so that it would have a presence and a certain kind of grandeur to it, so that it would command respect,  like older folk often try to do.  I decided that I wanted to use a wooden rocking chair that is a fairly large size, and has a commanding presence in comparison to some of the other chairs that I am going to use.

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(after the rocking chair had been painted)

For the Middle aged women, I found a chair that my next door neighbors were going to put in the tip, which I thought would be perfect as the middle aged woman chair, as it has a lot of soft circular shapes within it that give it a feminine quality. I also was considering this chair for the the young working class woman but then I found a wicker chair at a second hand furniture shop, which is very full bodied, with intricate weaving, and I felt as though the chair had a kind of comforting supportive feel to it corresponding with the way in which the young working class mother takes pride in making her surroundings as comfortable and supportive as possible.

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(chair to be used for the middle aged women sculpture after being painted white)

After deciding upon all of the chairs that I want to use, and once I had finished painting them all in the last week of the Easter, I am now finally ready to start constructing the rest of the sculpture on each of the chairs and making all of the key decisions through experimentation about what will work with the sculptures and what won’t. I think that as it comes to the end of the Easter, I have completed an important step of the project, so that now I am ready to move onto the next part of the project, and although I still have got a lot of work to do, I have also completed a lot of processes that are key to moving onto the next stage of building my sculptures.

 

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.

Week 2

After spending the first week of my project conducting in-depth research, by reading various books and articles, I began to consider how I could put my research into practice by creating some kind of fake campaign that would spark a reaction from people, so that I could then ask them questions about how they feel about helping others and their thoughts and opinions on various charities and campaigns.

I wanted to try to think of some kind of campaign, which had a ridiculous message, but that people would buy into if they only looked at the campaign on a surface level. One idea that I had was ‘save horses from being forced to sleep on itchy hay ’ although this may not have been the best message, as it is fairly obvious to a large proportion of the population that hay is not uncomfortable to horses the principle of the example suggests someone on the street telling a story about the harsh reality of horses living conditions whether real or not, would draw some people in to support the campaign, even if this is just through a simple signature. I think that this would prove a point or at least give me more insight into the ways in which people support campaigns or charities, by either, ignoring it altogether, stopping and signing up without questioning or stopping, questioning the charity or campaign and then deciding whether  it is a cause worth supporting or not. I think that it is also important to note that asking people to support a charity out on the street is one of many ways that people are approached or targeted by charities, and that my method would only culminate curtain responses, as for example, whilst someone might walk past you on the street, if they received a leaflet through the door they might take a look and invest time and money into the charity. However, for my specific project its success somewhat lies in me being able to go out and talk to a wide range of people from different classes and cultures so that I can see if it is possible to categorize, find trends and come to some kind of coherent conclusion about altruism, and its realistically as a concept, and learning all of the individual opinions that people have.

I wanted to try to gauge how likely it is for someone to support a campaign in order to clear their conscious, without having any kind of real vested interest or concern for the charity or cause.

I feel as though what I really want to express and show through this project is that to some extent there is as systematic failure in the way that our society treats charity work.  To me there is a sense that as a society we manage all of the charity work so that people can feel better about themselves for donating or raising a certain amount of money and then not worry or think about that charity for at least another year. I am particularly thinking about ‘Children in Need’ and ‘Red Nose Day’ as our country seems to celebrate those for raising any amount of money. But I think why should we celebrate this person? Should they not want to help children in need without any public celebration or mass counting of money. Of course, this is a massive generalisation, and there are many people who truly are invested in helping others and supporting charities, but I am trying to see how people’s attitudes towards charities differ from person to person depending on their personality, their socio economic factors, and suchlike.

To gather information in the most effective way, about people’s priorities when it comes to helping in society, I began to create a series of campaigns and scenarios that I  was going to ask people to compare and rank in order of importance. I hoped that this mightgive me clarity on which idea to use in a fake campaign.

They were:

‘Giving horses itchy hay must stop now’

‘Raise MP’s salary to £100,000 per year’

‘Help those with paedophilic thoughts get the support that they need’

‘Gain awareness, respect and support for those with mental health issues’

‘ Help women travel to worn torn countries and support women who are less fortunate than them’

‘Stop letting people walk across sand dunes as they are destroying birds homes’

‘Make drama, music and art compulsory on the leaning syllabus in school instead of maths and physics’

 

The reasons that I choose all of these scenarios, as fake campaigns are very specific, some of them seem like obvious choices over others, but this is simply a diversion to see how people view all of the other ideas for campaigns, which fall into a bit more of a grey area. I included examples of animals in need, along with humans in need as the contrast between the two and which people choose can bring up interesting suggestions about their personalities, like wether they are more community minded or not. The inspiration for choosing animals vs humans as examples came from me reading the Guardian’s ranking list for the ‘top 1000 charities’ based purely on ‘donations’. I was surprised to see that the Royal Society  for the Protection of Birds was 15th on the list, above the British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care.  I thought that is experiment would also suggest something about each individual’s personality, conscience and intelligence levels.

However, after counducting this experiment a few times,the results from various people were not as inspiring or interesting as I thought that they would be.  I began to feel as though I had no clear direction for the project, interms of an artistic response. My aim for the next week is to start to formulate a way in which I could turn my concept and detailed research into a piece of physical art.