Monday, 31 March 2014

The week I've been counting down for weeks is this week...

So assessment week is finally here.  Its not our final assessment quite yet but its still assessing work that is the beginnings of our summer show, I'm pleased I'm almost past this benchmark.  

As well as going out and working on putting out a couple of wheat pastes I've used as examples (see below), I've also done a video to document them and I've started the idea of a 'forgotten fieldbook' to be a handheld documentation of my drawn work out on the street.  I'm thinking it will have snippets of the actual wheatpaste in a scruffy sketchbook way as well as a few notes and other smaller drawings related to the species in question.  For example, The dormouse I've looked at, I'm going to add a half eaten hazelnut drawing to and the fritillary butterfly, I'm thinking I'll draw a small sketchy landscape of its habitat and the flower it is associated with etc.  Im going to add a map in the sketchbook with each wheatpaste marked off on it so that people can use it to explore Plymouth and my work in it.  

 So above and below are the images I've blown up and used for my assessment.  They and the video I've made document the places I've put my wheatpastes, the video shows the idea I want to work on for the audio.  Tied together the fieldbook and the audio will guide the viewer around the city to and past my pieces.  They will also aid in getting the message across about humans detrimental effect on these endangered species and their habitats. I'm super excited about it and I really hope it all comes together as I hope, as I think it will work really well!

Above is an image of a Dianthus armeria, a rare species closely related to our garden favourite, Sweet William.  Its really rare in the Devon area because of the reduction of its habitat.

 I placed it down on the barbican as it likes sandy soils and coastal regions.

The natterjack toad, near water by the Civic centre.  The next whatpastes I do for my final piece, I'll make sure I'm more careful about the positioning of them as I think the toads are sitting too high up, floating in the air.

 Another Natterjack outside the Civic centre.  I did one more of the same up on the Hoe but didnt think it was urban enough up around there.

This Dianthus is positioned on the bombed out church roundabout right in the centre of Plymouth.  I loved putting it here, its right in the open and even though its quite small you cant miss it!  Its surrounded by people and cars and big concrete buildings, exactly where it wouldnt usually grow.  I put it right here because naturally they grow in big open space.  I also placed another of the same in the Vue cinema car park suggesting a big open space again.  I am still to document this one. 

These are extracts of my sketchbook work that I'm yet to turn into fieldbook pieces.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Time is slowly running out but my ideas never seem to run dry...

So, this time next week I'll only have a day to go until I have my assessment, pretty nerve racking as I feel I don't really have much to show for the last couple of months so this week it's all hands on deck and no excuses Niki!

My toads, all ready for wheatpasting around the city!!

I've done so much research into my chosen species though, it makes me feel a bit better about my summer show.  I've emailed a lot of specialists, companies and charities to find out about local endangered species of flora and fauna.  Some people how got back to me very quickly with really useful information I can use and others haven't replied at all.

People who have replied are people like David Fenwick, a wildlife photographer who looks a lot at endangered species and he grew up in and around Plymouth and now lives in Penzance.  He told me great species such as Pyrus Cordata, the Plymouth pear, a wild species that is only found in Plymouth or in Truro at current.  I think this species would be great at full size for my summer show.  He also told me about Dianthus armerai, the Deptford Pink, which has been endangered in Devon for a number of years and is a really pretty flowering plant.  I've already started my work on this one...

 Black pen outline over the top of printed flowers with similar structure as the Deptford Pink.  It's nothing like my toad work or anything I've done so far this project but I actually really like it despite this.  Im going to see where I can go with the same style with a Fritilary butterfly or curlew...

 My extremely messy work station at work.  It may look unorganised, but I know where everything is...honest!

A couple of the drawings I did with added watercolour.  I think it looks good before theyre cut out as wheatpastes, but will wait and see how they look as wheatpastes, both colour or plain.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Janet Cardiff and her Case Study B...

So, I was given some ideas from my tutors recently in a tutorial and they suggested I look at researching into ways I can get my message across about humans and their effect on the surrounding environment.  My pieces of the endangered species or chosen animals plants etc. tend to show the subject as slightly worshiped or slightly idolized but the message about them being endangered because of humans movements and increase of space and habitat don't really come across.

Neil Rose gave me a sound artist called Janet Cardiff to research, saying the idea of a tour or some kind of spoken piece would work quite well in relation to my work.  So I looked at Janet's Case Study B and was completely blown away!  Her use of words and sounds link not only the listener to the space they're in, but also links the city itself to the work.  She twists in and out of different characters and trails from one tangent of thought to another whilst still making sense and leading the listener to where they need to be. 

Janet's work has made me have a really good think about how I could do something similar to link my work to the city itself (as I'm going to try and do species that are effected in this particular area) and to make it clear to the audience how our everyday actions have put other species in danger.

I'd like to get a bin-aural recording device so I can get the surround sound effect that I loved so much In Cardiff's work into my own.  Luckily, I have my father (who is a sound engineer), Neil (a sound artist) as my tutor and my fathers friends (who should have equipment I can use) all at hand who I can use and will help guide me through the technical aspects of the ideas I want to bring together.  But for now, I have to try to get my images done and finished to a level I feel happy with and can happily show it to the tutors at my final 302 assessment.  I've got to stop putting it off (the drawing itself) and concentrate on finding animals and plants I want to work on that are from around this area.

Watch this space...

Saturday, 8 March 2014


So I've been looking at the Natterjack toad as it is a decreasing and endangered species in the UK.  I've already drawn in great detail an piece but I wanted to have a go at something along the lines of gyotaku, similar to the work I did for my Atlantic herring.  So!  I went and caught an amphibian, a common frog from my garden pond!  I found a non toxic type of paint that I would try and print with.  I placed a dob of paint onto a large piece of paper and put the frog on it to move around as it pleased. Then I tried to take prints from painting a thin layer on it's back and gently pressing paper on it.

I can't say any of the printing of trails it left where much of a success and I think the frog was happy to be plopped back into the pond after twenty minutes of harassment, but I'm glad I've tried.  I've got a few marks where you can clearly see the outline of huge frog, so maybe I can do something with these.  We shall see!

Everydays an opportunity...

The last couple of weeks Ive been pretty slow on getting back into my final year.  I've had a pretty horrific car accident to get over but it hasn't stopped me, just slowed me for a while and now I'm getting back into my work, despite extenuating circumstances, I'm ridiculously behind.  So behind infact, I've got less that four weeks to complete a three month project that is worth 30% of my final grade and the lead up to my summer show idea. All I can say is EEK.

As I've previously said, I'm going in the direction of endangered species in the British Isles, well this was my starting point idea anyway.  I'm thinking of going a little more local.

As part of my Open Call application, I applied for a residency in Paris.  With this I wrote a Statement of Intent showing if I got the residency I would make pieces to put up around Paris of endangered or extinct species from the Parisian area.  This gave me the idea of making my current endangered species project more local to the Plymouth area.

In a tutorial with Steven and Neil, we discussed other ways to get the idea across to my art work.  We looked at Janey Cardiff and her piece Case Study B.  I love the idea of finding local endangered flora and fauna and making pieces of them around the city and finding a environmental scientist to do a walked tour just by sound.  This way, I can give a specific audience headsets that lead them around the city and talk about why I've chosen these specific flora and fauna and get my message across more clearly.

Exciting stuff.  A long way to go.