Wednesday, 4 May 2011

a plans a plan, but only if you follow it...

This module has been full of ups and downs for me, especially with my ideas.  I seem to end up with none, and then have a influx of loads at once.

The last post on here was my brainstorming out loud, as I now hate the idea of using text in my work like that, and want my work to be a simple idea, which is aesthicically pleasing, and isn't as complex as my old stuff. 
The ideas from all my brainstorming has brought me to a solid conclusion of what I want to get out of the next few weeks.  I've decided to try something I've done before, and that I really enjoyed and found very successful.  It's wheatpasting.  It was in my orginal plan for this project but when I want something have a really amazing outcome I tend to get too carried away with ideas and over do it, especially with time.

I've managed to use the Bunker Project Exhibition as a mid-point in my FMP.  It was a defining moment for decision making in the way I know I still want to look at roots and horticulture, but I think the ways I've been trying to approach it haven't been what I've wanted.  In the beginning of this year, I just wanted to get the highest grade I could by doing what I thought the tutors would want me to do, but now I've realised that all I want out of this course, is to have enjoyed my time here, and make the most of the opportunity to make art.  By looking into growing things to really incorporate art and horticulture, was too much for me conceptually, I've always said I aim for process and an aesthetically pleasing finish.

Wheatpaste is a process I'm familiar with (which I think is important with my time scale) it's something I can bring into the studio, and it will be site situated too so I can do it from home and at college.  I've got some wicked ideas so it's just getting on with them, so now I have only 1 other deadline (in tomorrow) apart from my FMP, I'm revved up and ready to run with this space.

Monday, 18 April 2011

easter egg holidays...

The holidays that seem to loom in the far distance have now passed me by, by almost half already, and I still have a whole heap of work to do, but I am feeling positive with my progress on most of my modules.

WBL is pretty much done and dusted, I just have to look over it all again, Professional Practise, again almost there just to practise my talk through a few times so I feel confident about what to chat about, and then there's Practise In Context and my Final Major.  I'm hoping to knuckle down with nothing by my essay and have it in ofr 1st fraft making with my tutor by friday at the latest, I'm 1960 words in, and a lot more to get off my chest yet.  Once thats clear, I feel the runway is ready to let the last and most important module take off properly(finally) which is my Final Major.

I want to create a sketchbook (along with this blog), a set of progress material and 2 final pieces which will work together; a wallpaper of photogram based mud screen print roots including the scientific and horticultural meaning of roots and a sculpture of the roots used for the images on the wallpaper finely presented, (varnished or left to look natural?) with laser cuttings from horticulture text books of words and phrases about roots.

I want my work to echo where I am at in my life, my strong interests of horticulture and the science behind plants, the idea of an obsession of roots and it would be brilliant to have an educational side to my work too.  This, I then feel brings in a purpose and essence to my work, whilst also being aesthetically pleasing.  It takes away this idea of a concept you have to look hard for in a lot of work, which I don't strongly agree with, as I think art should speak for itself, not have a whole lot of blurb to speak for it.

Lets just see...

Monday, 4 April 2011

bunker project documentation...

It may have been a few weeks ago, but here are the set up photos from the bunker project...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

business is business as usual...

My business cards for my professional practise module:  I've gone with the 2nd idea, with front and back, as I think they hold their own a lot better, and are simple, using just black font and design, and I love the double-sided design:
These two go together

If only I had as much work done as I do Ideas...

They just keep coming all these ideas, and it's pretty cool.  I just have to make sure I pick the right ones. 
My idea at the moment is to move away from actually working onto the roots I have found and instead of using them as the art, use them for the influence of the art.  I've displayed my roots as artwork for the Bunker Project Exhibiton and I used it as a stepping stone for my ideas, I wanted to see how they work as pieces themselves, and I'm not disapointed with the result, I just feel I could do better, and do something that shows my interests more and something that I enjoy more. 

I'm not 100% sure on installations as a final piece, so I was thinking about going back to the idea of wallpaper, but without the repetition of pattern.  I wanted to use as much organic material as possible, but include the experience of screen printing, laser cutting and using different materials and ideas, so I feel confident in things I've already done, but still be learning new things.  Finding a balance with all these things with the time I have left.

So the idea I have going at the moment is as follows:

Using lightly coloured fabric (possibly bamboo as it's the closest kind of fabric made by trees I can find)  (instead of paper, as it will add to the texture of the piece) as a base for a wallpaper, carrying a large image of tree roots, drawn on using different textures and structures of mud and soil (this will create different shades).  It will be drawn on from actual images of roots I can project onto the material strips, and wll include mark making into the fabric from screen print and laser cutter (the laser cutter will burn into the material with a brown finish which will fit in brilliantly, and the screen printing will be based with different muds too).
The images I can find which are closest to my ideas at the moment are images from japanese art, as they use similar layouts, colours and background ideas:
So for now, I'm going to carry on experimenting with the different techniques but with this aim in mind.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

what a lovely day to be laser cutting...

So I think I'm ready to cut into my fabric and daff bulbs to start with.  I've booked in but have never been into the laser cutting room will all hopefully go to plan.  Here are my designs I want to put onto fabric and then stretch across a really wiggly frame made from bits of tree root...(if that doesn't work, just an ordinary square frame!)

They will be turned into the correct files through Illustrator so will look slightly different.  I will try and document through film or photography, which ever is easiest at the time.(probably photographs)

Monday, 7 March 2011


The first roots I found were massive.  This was a few weeks back when I still had no idea of proportioning of my roots and the heaviness of them.  So a few days before I came up with an idea.  If I couldn't take the whole root, why not take a section, to show the complexity, the size range of roots, the form and shape of each and every root in that area.  So I ventured down with a few saws a camera and my dog (big mistake taking him as he likes to bark constantly, if he's not centre of attention!) and get sawing.  Without realising, I think I picked the part of the rrot system that contained the thickest part of the roots, so after a good half hour I retired home.  Next day I came back (without the headache of the dog) and was patient.  I got through it all in about another half an hour with a beautiful piece of root system:
I managed to carry it to the car, and drive it back home. Happy days!
Next I retrieved my root from a week or so ago.  I'd left it in the back of my brothers van to stay safe and dry out slightly.  I managed to move it to the car and take it to my dads where I drilled in newly bought screw-in eyes.  2 large in the trunk and 2 small on some of the roots, so I can attach it to the ceiling by other screw-in eyes and cable ties.  I just hope the ceiling can take it.  If not I'll have to find some supports or add wood to the ceiling and screw into them.  Fingers crossed it all goes to plan.(Photos of screw-in eyes etc to come, click on featured photos for a closer look)

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

work in progress...

Ive' got my root,
I've got my bulbs
I've got my ideas...

It should be all go from here.  I just hope I can fit it all in for the exhibition, and all my ideas go to plan.  That's not too much to ask now is it?

Here are my root ideas:
  • Attach root to ceiling, attempt the idea of including mud 'clumps' on fish line or to make it sustainable and more eco-friendly, use human hair?
  • Play videos along next to tree root, of diffing up root, chain sawing, and general root videos, edited together.
  • Work into roots by different methods, of lazer cutting, soldering iron, wheatpasting onto them, or drilling.
  • Create a collection of root obsessions, by painting roots, photograms, screen prints etc
  • Cut areas of large root into squares and frame in an open and backless frame.  Possibly light from behind to show the silohuette of the root, highlighting its form and shape.
  • Cut off one single root and attach it to a metal pole attached to a plate, allowing it to sit vertically on the floor, as a single sculpture.
I'm going to move away from the bulb ideas at the moment and possibly come back to them again in a while, once I've got these root ideas rolling.
Another artist I came across today is Philippa Lawrence, amazing work, very influential, and quite similar to Claire Morgan.

Monday, 28 February 2011

roots roots, marvelous roots...

So went home and found some more roots where I had already been, this time I went prepared with digging equipment and waterproof clothing.  It was pretty muddy! 
This was the first tree I had in mind, but the second visit in, I decided it wasn't going to be possible, as the root diameter was taller than me, and not all of it was out of the earth yet!  It was stunning though.  Looking at it closely, with the right light, closeups would look brilliant properly photographed.  I would like to do this and study the roots with intimacy, painting small areas of them.  The colour and form is brilliant.
Here's a closeup I took with a flash on.  If I could get a better light in here other than flash or sunlight, I think it would high light the depth of the roots brilliantly. Another idea I like, is to cut an area (probably square) out of the root, and frame it within a backless wooden frame so you can focus on the shape and form of the root itself, rather than the whole thing.
 Here, you can just about see the size of the whole tree and its root system.  Looking at this one tree, made me realise how busy underground really is, when you look at this one tree and the size of its root, and then the amount of trees surrounding it, that are still underground. 
 This is another root I found that was already mostly out of the ground.  I began diggin away at it to see what was below, and found a few hibinating hornets and a red-tailed queen bee, all happily dosing in the February chill,  I didnt want to disturb them anymore so, left it where it was.  A few days later I came back with my dad who helped me fully remove it safely.  It was the right size, weight and diameter for the bunker exhibition I'm planning.  At the moment, it's drying out and keeping safe at my mums house, later on today I hope to go and work out a way of attaching it to the ceiling of the nuclear bunker.
 Surrounded by a lot of stones that have been trapped by the roots that have grown around them.
Here is a small section of the roots I orginally wanted, they were felled trees that had been pulled up by machinery and the main roots and the secondary roots coming off, were all pretty much intact still.  I got very excited after asking permission of the land owner, and got my dad down with his chainsaw and cut the root system away, only to find that it way WAY to heavy to ever hang up on a ceiling.  Darn...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Artist blag...

(Anselm Kiefer, Palmsonntag, 2007, 44 panels of mixed media on board, fiberglass and resin palm tree, clay bricks and steel support, dimensions variable.) 
In the beginning of this project, even with all my ideas, I couldn't seem to find many artists that related to my ideas.  Through a lot of research and help from other studying artists, I have managed to find a glut all within a week of looking.  So far they mainly relate to my intended idea of bringing a root system of a tree into a space (my exhibition in March and the studio area later) and hanging it from its cut trunk so it looks as if it is growing through the ceiling, and that the viewers are standing where the soil usually is.  The idea is to put the tree into a different context, causing the viewers to question what they see and how they see it.  It's also looking at the question, 'where does nature fit into an urban space?' as the exhibition I'm showing in, is in a nuclear bunker, an urban space surrounded by a very rural landscape, it is insinuating the rural element pushing its way back in, almost like the trees in Chinobal:
 Alan Sonfist is an artist who looks at how nature reclaims urban spaces, which fits really closely into what Im doing.  His work is very different to most other 'landartists' and may it be a bit strange some of the time, he is very focused on his ideas.
Another artist, whos work utterly astounds me with its aesthetic marvel, is Giuseppe Penone:
The Ghost Forest is also a very related art project to what I am doing but on a much larger scale.  Just a different way to show the beauty of a part of nature we never get to fully see.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

roots and trees...

So I've been foraging!  Walking round local woods and forests, any areas with trees really, and looking for trees that have been felled already, fallen over themselves, or where the roots are slightly exposed already from erosion or poor soil.  So far I've founda few:  I'v had an offer from a friend with a farm, saying they have a lot of trees that have exposed roots by a river that I can go and have a look at, My dads got a sucker plum tree which he says Im more than welcome to (but I'm worried if it's a sucker, it will be growing from the old stock and be a funny shape).  I've found a few old ones down on an old train track in Cornwall, that have fallen and shouldn't have too much root damage, if they're not too rotten anyway.  Here are a few snaps I've got so far:

Monday, 31 January 2011

Final Major Project...

So here we start on the 40 credit module that will define my 2 years here at PCAD.  Where do I start?  How do I keep the underlying panic under control?  How do I make sure I enjoy this experience and not cock it up too easily like my last project?!  Well, I begin with looking at things I would love to include and continue:  sustainability of most of my work, keeping current issues intwinned with my conceptual ideas and mixing horticulture with my love of art.

I begin with looking at James Lovelocks theory of how the Earth is one complex entity, continually seeking and optimal equilibrium and one level of calm.  I've also continued looking at Claire Morgans work and the way she has an energy and movement to her work that is all in the way ech single tiny piece is positioned. 

My first idea is to include bulbs, rhizomes of some form and tree roots.  I have already hung 4 bulbs (supposedly 1 each for fire, earth, water and wind, the 4 main elements of James Lovelocks theories) and I want to work onto these with my previous experiences with the wheat paste ideas.  The bulbs have flaking thin skins that will fit in similarly with the colour and form of the wheatpaste, so this is something I want to continue experimenting with.

The idea of the tree roots, fits in with an exhibition I'm showing at in March.  It will be to take a young tree, possibly 2-4 years of age, so as it's not too big, and cut it off from the bottom of the trunk, so just the roots and a few inches of the trunk are present.  Then, for the exhibition I want to attach the trunk to the ceiling, so the roots hang down, and again, work into the roots with the wheatpaste ideas.

So for the next week or 2, I will need to:
  • Find a source of a few young trees I can dig up myself so they have a good root structure,
  • Experiment with the wheatpaste ideas onto my bulbs and document through photography
  • Continue researching artists and James Lovelock theories and similar.

Friday, 7 January 2011

all in place and settling in nicely, hopefully!

So, last night, after I finished my last panel, I went out and found 7 different spots around Plymouth that I thought would show a different environment for each panel, whether it be dry, windy, wet, cold, warm, likely to get taken down, all of these, to see if any of them grow their seedlings so we can see them change, or if they all stay relitively similar to the way they look now.  My idea was to produce a series of wallpapers, but this wouldn't have worked with the time I had left, as wallpapers are a larger thing altogether and would have taken me ages to finish.  I wanted to be able to focus on the situation and changing of the panels, rather than making them.  I also said I wanted to creating a fluctuating, ephemeral and dynamic piece that changes with the differences in its surroundings, and I'm hoping what you see below, will not be too ephemeral, but with time, fluctuate and be dynamic in their own situations.
Here is my first panel, in a park on the side of a tree next to the path.  This will slightly blend into its environment, be sheltered from the strongest elements of the wind and rain and possibly grow.  If not, I think it makes an interesting site situated art-work on its own, as I intended.
I chose to put this one here, as it slightly merges with the moss and shrub bed above it, and below(out of the photograph)  there where bits of dirt and leaves.  By just looking at this photo, you can also see how it does stand out though too.  I also chose to put it here because again it will be naturally watered by the rain, be slightly out of the strongest elements, but be somewhere more urban than the tree above that is an unusual place for something like seedlings to grow.

My third piece, somewhere very obvious, juxtaposing and easily torn down soon as permission is required to flyer here.  It will be interesting how long it stays up, and if it even gets time to visually flucuate.
This was put on a flat surface, on top of a wall right on the edge of the barbican looking out to sea.  I placed it by some of the ivy growing over the side.  I know (especially with the weather we're having today) that this piece won't last long, or grow as a matter of fact.  The elements will be harsh on it, and more than likey rip it right away before someone else does!
This was placed in the underground bus-station, which is totally under cover.  It won't grow due to it being fry, which makes me think, should I interfer and water it every evening?  It will be out of all the elements here, but close to alot of visitors, which will make an interesting documentation...
This one is placed on an old rusting billboard, just outside the main city centre, which I have had a fascination with for a long time.  It merges in with its colour, and is so small its almost impossible many people will see it.  I set it just above eye-line, so that the people who do notice it will be suprised to see something like this here.  I think it has a chance to grow, as it's facing opposite the prevailing winds and it's not on a highly busy walkway.
Last but not least, I placed this one on a wall opposite my flat balcony, so as to watch as people view it.  It's next to a pavement which gets very busy for the local school run, and it's next to one of my pieces from a module last year of a guy drinking a pint of beer.  That's been there for amost a year, so it gives me hope about this new piece of work.
I'm off in this disgusting weather now to go and document my first day of my panels exciting outdoor lives.  I just hope they're still there after such a short time.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

5 panels down...

Ok, so sofar all they look like a bits of plant matter, but that's the idea, to begin like this, and watch how they change in the different areas I put them.  I've decided that the location should be decided by a) different weather conditions to produce different affects on the greenery and possibility of growing seedlings b) somewhere that will have a good audience, whether they know they are looking at the pieces or not, so a busy rural area, like a pathway or national trust area, and urban areas like city parks or flower beds along the main street.  The part I'm still not sure of is if I want them to be completely out of place or not.  Should I put them places like, on sides of very visible trees, or on bus shelter windows and in popular graffiti spots?  I really like this idea, as it will be more in your face, more likely to become ephemeral for the reason of people taking them down!
So far I've made 5, which I will try and put up tonight or early tomorrow morning, I would prefer to put them up when not many people are around.  I hope to make a few more, maybe another 5, as many as I can, the more the merrier!