Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas has been and gone, but this module still lingers...

My work is still not finished! And it's driving me mad!  I really had so many high hopes for this project, and in the beginning I had so much determination to get the best of it, but instead, it seems to have got the best of me.  Here is my plan for the next 16 days!
  • Before the new year I want to have at least 3 long panels finished and ready to be watered.  This is so I can wet them once hung as a full wallpaper on one of the panels in Studio 11.  It takes about a day to fully stitch, seed, leaf and moss up my wallpaper, so this should give me just enough time.  I want to make each panel long enough to fit the length of a panel, but this makes it very difficult to work with, so I might have to change it to 2 panels for one length, just so i get a better finish.  This will mean one being the top, with leaves and a seed with the roots beginning, and then the lower part just being roots.
  • The college opens on the 4th January so my plan is to sign-out a moving image camera and tripod(x2, one for my digital stills camera) to record and shoot:1, my plants growing by photographing them every few hours, and 2, to record the process of them being put up, the reactions of the audience and them growing all in one moving image shot, which will then be played as part of my assessment piece.
  • Hang my wallpaper, water it when needed, whilst filming for different parts of the day, photographing the growth and possibly the audience's reactions to its constantly changing body.
Another crazy artist I found who works with seeds is James Buhler, check him out!

Thursday, 16 December 2010


So here is the beginnings of my situations work.  It's still work in progress but it's slowly coming into a finalised idea.  My time plan is to get the basics finished before the Christmas holidays, including watering some seeds and beginning the molding process, and then over the holidays and the last 2 weeks place the grwoing cottonwallpaper in different situations.  These situations have yet to be discovered and decided upon but I want places indoors and out, public and solitary, rural and urban, filming putting the pieces in place, and also documenting the decreation, fluctuation and dynamic change through photography and again, film.
 I saw work by Sybille Hotz which inspired me to try and do some interior work of a plant as my main sewn image onto cottonwool, but I'm still unsure.
 About a month ago I tried to start my moss graffiti project by growing my own moss, This is how it ended up, pure mold pretty much, colourful though, although I don't know how good it is for my health with it being in the kitchen!
 Tree roots, my favourite so far, I would love to incorporate the thickness, overall shape and form in with the texture of the cottonwool once worked over. 
 The beginning of a seedling with a large group of roots, using multi-coloured cotton sewn root systems, stem, leaves and seed.
 My first attempt of a complete tree.
 Cow parsley, easy and effective.
 A full seedling, with first leaves coloured with green and black thread.
Place of piece and work, sewing and sowing!
Over Your Cities, Grass Will Grow
Anselm Kiefer

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Artist research:
Ghada Amer
This image above is made by Amer sewing onto a dark surface with cotton and leaving the threads loose.  I love the effect of the final piece without looking at her concepts, just looking at the piece aesthetically.  They immediately reminded me of roots, and spurs me on to continue with sewing and not worry about getting bits wrong, nothing is perfect and if I can incorporate this type of idea of roots and cotton, like some ideas I had for the last module but was unable to grow off it then, something could come of it now.

Susie Macmurray
This is a photograph of Macmurray's site specific work, a piece called Echo.  It is made up of 10,000 hairnets all weaved with violin bow-hair.  The way she's made it fit in with the site, by the colours filtering in beautifully, and how it makes the photo almost seemed aged or like a painting.  She produced this work with the idea in mind of a cloud, which the virgin mary is traditionally taken up to heaven in a cloud.    She is also shown with a hourde of angels all playing musical instruments, hense the violin bow hairs incorporated.  The hairnets all gather together like droplets creating a cloud.

Catherine Bertola
I've had Betola's book 'Lost Narritives' out from the library for a week or 2 now, and it covers this piece of work which, has to be my favourite of her work.  I love the way it's a very ordinary, everyday 2D wallpaper, and she's made it come alive, just by changing its dimension.  The contrast of the shadow on the cream background is brilliant.

Good morning, anyone for a cuppa research?...

Ok, so I realise I've been a bit disheartened and slack on getting on with my situations project.  After getting a lower mark than I aimed for with my last module, and being side-tracked with Christmas just around the corner, visiting Berlin and other family commitments, I've now taken it on to kick myself up the butt and get on with it.  I'm getting a sewing machine out from college for a few days from this afternoon, and this morning I went to the library and got out loads of relevant books to research a bit more.  I have a good idea of what I want to produce:
  • A wallpaper made up of natural materials, the base of it being cotton wool, 
  • sewed into with cotton stitching on the sewing machine, maybe layering with
  • fabrics and recycled material, and
  • different types of seed and bulb laced into and onto all this, 
  • the only thing I'm still undecided on is the pattern of which I can work with, it's between a large free-hand sewing machine stitched tree image, possibly repeated in pattern, or an old-school wallpaper pattern...still unsure.
I want this to portray my concept, my proposal being:

To create an ephemeral, dynamic and fluctuating environment, by creating a living wallpaper using mixed media that constantly fluctuates depending on its situation.  Making a few different experimental pieces (but all quite similar) that can be positioned in different situations  These situations with be different so as to affect the growth and process of the piece.
This project is to research the living element of the piece's response to changing situations and how this changes the final pieces themselves.

 The use of mixed media is for me to broaden my horizons in art practises and processes, as well as adding to the aesthetical side of the piece.  The main focus will be on the growth and change of situation and time-lapse on the living parts of the wallpaper.  I hope to include different shapes and sizes of seeds that germinate at different rates, and produce different size, shades and colours of seedlings.  Possibly bulbs, I still have to experiment with timings and water content with these.  I would like to try using some mushroom spawn and possibly using different cultures like yoghurt mold and moss etc, the cultures and molding thoughts will fit in with the ephemeral side and be another new process.  I would like to see if it becomes a symbiotic relationship which, in turn with create my dynamic and fluctuating environments.
I realise the constraints on this project, I think these have been what have also held me back on starting this project properly already.  The most obvious being, it is winter and trying to grow alot of the seedlings in a warm inside environment is fine, but then trying to move the pieces to the situation I want them in, possibly outside will kill near to all of them.  Time constraints hold me back on using certain plants and seeds as you cannot hurry a plant!  TIME, CLIMATE and SEASON all seem to be against me, but instead of letting it defeat me, it's all about incorporating it.

Monday, 6 December 2010

motivation, only when I can be bothered...

I seem to be doing a lot of thinking and having a few different brain waves with this project, but it seems to be just thinking and not much doing, so this week, I am aiming to get doing!

First things first, I want to keep researching artists, all the way through this project, i doint think it does anything for me but improve my thinking time and imagination with what people can do with horticulture and art.  It's also quite s specialist area of fine art, that it's difficult to find a lot of artists I find iconic and influential all at once, so it does take a lot of time and effect for the research to pay off.

I also want to start sewing my seeds!  I have a start point this week of what i want to do, it's to buy a few roles of cotton wool (it's a natural, grown material, that retains water for seeds to grow in, and something I can sew into which will help it structurally and aesthetically) and grow different kinds of seeds in it, to see how they take and how they grip to it.

Aswell as cotton wool, I would like to briefly try out a few other materials, maybe a mixture of wallpaper and muslin cloth, a thicker material that can be water drenched to help seed/plant growth.

I need to continue to practise with a sewing machine, so actually getting hold of a decent one that doesn't rip my material and cotton would be lovely!

Also on my travels around the internet I was lucky enough to come across Mosstika

Monday, 29 November 2010

What a load of research!

Whilst talking over ideas in tutorials, mulling things over in my head and noting it all down in my sketchbooks, I have also been researching new and different artists, to help inspire the kind of route and a comfortable direction I want to continue with.  Here are just a few that have really made me excited!

1.2m (diameter) x 8m (h)
Tulip bulbs,  moisture, light, iron oxid, nylon thread
On each string was suspended a single growing tulip bulb. Collectively, these took on a bulbous form that from certain angles appeared to resemble a helix, sometimes a more chaotic mass. The tulips continued to grow over the 2 weeks of the show until on the verge of flowering. 

'Sometimes while I was foraging in the woods I would find these growing off of branches and logs, which I would move and shift around into new positions. The mushrooms would then start to grow at different angles in response to the change in light and gravity. After a year I would return and find that the mushrooms could be grown into right-angled steps and other interesting shapes.' Phil Ross


Anna Garforth
'Anna Garforth works with recycled and natural media, so far her sustainble artworks have been used for public events, community projects, workshops, campaigns, publications and exhibitions.
With a strong background in design and illustration, her green and nifty fingers work moss into beautiful lettering, bark into animals and rubbish into typographic wonder.' http://www.crosshatchling.co.uk/

Monday, 22 November 2010

Situations, but where am I?

Ok, so we've been given the brief of 'Situations', taken from the situations website work, with curator Claire Doherty.  We have to either take something out of its usual situation and environment and place it somewhere which shows it as something new and different, or situate our work in a new environment outside of the studio, thats the gist I've got from it so far anyway.

Last module, I chose to mix my new love of horitculture in with my art work, and I think my final piece for my assessment was pretty successful and the tutors seemed pretty impressed and happy with it, they even told me to carry on with the horticulture side of things as it could be a start of something brilliant, so this is what I will do.  I want to become 'master of the plants'!  Grow them where they might not usually grow, push them into new and intersting shapes and positions that are unnatural, but make sense to the audience, whether it be humourous or environmentally aware.

I feel pulled towards growing more quick growing and interesting plants as well as looking at the juxtapositions of town and city, urban and rural, done a million times before I know, but maybe I could do it with a new angle?  Through horitculture?

I would really like to use moss (grown from scratch), mushrooms (grown from scratch), bark (taken from trees and used as a base to grow other things) and maybe other urban materials such as street slabs etc.

Whilst researching other artists artwork, I found the website stories from space which is brilliant.  The artist running it, works in collaboration with other artists as well as on his own, taking a light hearted view on looking after our environment and humouring wildlife with his public artworks.  He gave me the first idea of using moss in my work.  I have heard it is simple to grow by making a strange concoction of old moss and beer, and he has had some amazing results

I soon started madly brainstorming, how to get hold of bark, how could I manipulate moss to be a new and exciting idea and work for this project, how could I show juxtapositions of urban ad rural?

More internet research found me Anna Garforth which kind've put me off it all, as she had already done everything I had just brainstormed, including using moss as a wall decoration (she used words and some rough picture outlines) and bark as an art medium.  But one thing that convinced me I could do work like this, but maybe even better, was the fact she had grown the moss somewhere other than the wall, and then cut and stuck it up on the wall, made me think it was a bit 'cheating' from a horticulturalists point of view.  Surely the whole point of having a piece of artwork like this was so it would grow continually, like the work from stories from space.  It was also something I hadn't been able to master with my last project and something I really want to 'master' this time.

The next steps will be to
  • Start growing my own moss from scratch
  • Start growing my mushrooms from spawn
  • Get some feedback and other ideas from tutorials
  • Find myself some natural and man-made materials to grow my work from in wallpaper designs
  • Work out if they will be situation based, or if I can move them around and change their situation
  • Find somewhere to situate them 
Other artists I found along the way

Kevin Smith 

Morten Flyverbom 

Claire Morgan 

Thursday, 4 November 2010

since then, for now, till then...

So it's less than a week away, that greats big looming deadline of this first module back and the assessment date.  I think it's going to be with Jane Joan and Sally, a good mix of judgement, each with their own personal likes and dislikes, bold statements and helpful noddings!  I'm not going to lie, I'm bricking it!  But I plan to have a bulletpointed layout of a talk ready to refer to whenever I get lost with explainations, this is usually all the way through!  So far I want to have a wallpaper background of my chosen screenprint (screenprinting room is hopefully free tomorrow so I can get in there and get it done, then get back here and sew by hand and machine into it) with my seedling canvas' hanging over the top of them.  I got a roasting from Joan today about not being in enough with work, but as this blog shows I am home, screenprint room and computer based.  Not alot to show re: paintings large canvases etc.  I would love to be able to trust my seedlings in the studio, but the amount of people, differing in temperature and lack of access late at night and very early mornings would mean no or dead seedlings.
Anyway, this is how far I've got so far over the last week of reading week (lack of internet at home last week meant I couldn't blog my work even though it was slowly progressing) and the different processes I've managed to come up with to fix shortfalls of time and mistakes.
These are 9 hand drawn images I did that all join together no matter which way they are put, except the three at the top and bottom have to stay this way.   I would love to be able to make this into a successful screenprint, but so far the screen prints I've done of these have 'bubbled' meaning they're not good enough to use, they would just look out of shape and damaged.
This is the design for the screen print, but they are all filled in black so they are picked up better when being exposed onto the screen.  I am also going to try screenprinting this:
These were scans of seedlings I have grown myself, that I have then photoshopped and continued a pattern with them symmetrically, I really like this one, and I've already done the screen for screenprinting with looks like it will print nicely.  The previous 2 designs I have printed with a large format printer, just incase anything goes wrong with the screenprinting process, which so far hasn't been very successful.
 These two images are similar images I used to print of my final print for the large format printer.  I can't upload it because it has a fault with since it was printed.  No biggy, just a shame. Its basically a clump of seeds like the above repeated over and over, again symmetrically, and looks quite good as a large image.  I would love to have enough money to be able to wallpaper it all over a rooms walls.  I think the high contrasted image and shape would look wicked.

At the moment, I'm preparing my seeds on canvas for my final pieces for assessment.  I have one busy yet ordered canvas with a grid of seeds laid out and growing.  I'm documenting them by photographing them every few hours to show the growth as it happens.  I hope to make this into a video flip book and will try and post up on here after the weekend.

Friday, 22 October 2010

basic wallpaper design...

I'm planning on just having this as the background, and then building up other designs on top/between the design...my main plan is to have my 2 square linen canvas' with lots of seeds growing on one and only one ungrowingseed on another, sitting on the walpaper on the wall.  On the side of the many seeded canvas,have the wallpaper busier behind it and very minimal on the side of the singular seeded canvas.  Let's just see how it goes!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

screenprint finals so far...

feeling like im at a roots end...

So, I dont really know where I'm off too next with this project, in many ways I have more than enough to keep me busy but I dont feel like I have an idea that growing anywhere special.  Today I tried to take a leaf out of Claire Scullys book by drawing the seeds rather than just scanning them in, I did quite enjoy it and then I played with the images but I still can't find the next route to follow from here.
Here's my days work...

 This is just a pencil drawing on paper, scanned in and fiddled with.
And this is a basic idea of making the roots seem longer, to make an interesting continuing wallpaper pattern.
Older seedlings of my lettuces and rocket.  Trying to look at older roots, I seem to have an obsession with roots today...
The colourfulness and pretty bits of my fake roots.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

snipets of my work...

This was probably my starting point for this project.  I knew I wanted to be using horticulture in my work as I'm currently doing my RHS level 2 as well as this degree, and I very much got into my gardening over the summer, so it only feels and seems like the right thing to intergrate the two.
I really love images that have been worked by hand to be scanned in.  They seem to get a second depth to them because of the shadow.  I think it just enhances their quality and gives them a slight painterly style.

Notes at work, trying to fill up an empty space of my time.

A day at the screenprinting room...

researching other artists...

Karl Blossfeldt "Trollius europaeus (Europäische Trollblume)", Gelatin Silver Print. Blattgröße: 30,5 x 23,8 cm

Blossfeldt systematically documents plant samples photographically, which captures the smallest of detail by a great use of light and shade, and different processes of capturing the image.

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger 37 different Ladybird Beetles from Switzerland Watercolor, 1976 - 1981

She published her work in the magazine of the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger in January 1988. Swiss scientists, however, expressed criticism of her research, insisting that the fallout in Western Europe from the Chernobyl accident was too small to cause morphological disturbances in insects.

After this attack from the Swiss scientific community on her findings, Cornelia became even more intrigued about the effects of radiation on the health of insects. She wondered whether the insects living in the environs of Swiss nuclear power plants, which emit significantly lower levels of radiation than the fallout from Chernobyl, would therefore be healthy.

In 1989 Cornelia made her first trip to collect leaf bugs in the environs of the Swiss  

 Claire Scully Christmas wrapping paper design Her website...

Totally brilliant stuff and possible one of my favourite artists I'm researching for this project..so far anyway.  I'll have to see what else I can find to beat her.

Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman's Garden, Dungeness, Kent

He is remembered for his famous shingle cottage-garden, created in the latter years of his life, in the shadow of the Dungeness power station.
The cottage's beach garden was made using local materials and has been the subject of several books, seeing how it would survive in the powerstations fumes.