"Home on Me" Exhibition
These images were captured at the Home on Me exhibition which took place at the Hoxton Arches. The show was put on by UAL's curation society in collaboration with the Decolonising Fashion Society. The show focused on themes of belonging, familiarity and displacement. My painting Deep Chaos Within, that explores anxiety was placed on the furthest wall of the gallery space. The space was very large and even though my painting seemed so large when I was working on it in the studio, I wondered if the space seemed to swallow it up as it hung alone on such a vast white surface. It has caused me to think more about I would ideally choose to display my work. I did however think the arched brick ceilings provided an interesting contrast to my painting, so for the Bargehouse Exhibition I opted for it to be displayed against raw brick. I think the frayed edge of my painting got a little lost against the white background.
Something that interested me about the way the curators installed the works was that they put the two textile pieces beside my painting, and all of the works appeared to compliment each other. One of the curators posted a photograph that I never would have thought to take, and it was a shot of my painting through the sheer lace textile work that hung in the middle of the space. It made me see my painting in a new way. Seeing it through this sheer delicate material made the painting seem more intimate and personal; like you are peaking through at something you should not be seeing. It achieved something I hadn't considered before; this idea of the audience is being given intimate access to someone's private psychological unrest.
One thing that initially concerned me about this exhibition was the fact that I was displaying an unfinished work. I didn't know if this would be unprofessional, or change the viewers perception of the painting, as without context, they would believe it was a finished work. After speaking with Anna I realised this could be an opportunity to think about what it really means for a painting to be finished. Is the painting finished when there is no more negative space? Is it finished when the audience thinks it's finished? I came to the conclusion that the painting is finished when it no longer keeps me up at night. Part of my process is staring at photographs of my work in progress before I sleep and I mentally block in the next sections, and I know for the most part in my mind exactly what my painting will look like when it is finished at the very beginning. My process differs from my peers in this way, and I wondered if this way I go about my practice is not as "creative" as it should be. I have considered whether this is a negative thing in my practice, something that I should change or fix. But I have determined it is actually a strength, and my favourite part about making a painting is designing the composition, and working away at it until my vision is fully realised on my canvas.
The invigilators informed me that several people were interested in the painting but they did not give them my information. In the future I will give invigilators my business cards to hand out, or I will set the cards up beside the work for the public to take. It was encouraging to hear that there was interest in the work, and it forced me to consider my painting in a commercial context, wondering if I would be happy to sell it immediately without having shown it on a wider scale, and thinking about its commercial value versus personal value, having spent upwards of 4 months on it in the studio.
Bargehouse OXO Tower "Diffusion"
The Bargehouse show at OXO Tower was a good learning experience and I learned a lot about curation and teamwork in the context of a group show. I enjoyed the curation side of things, and seeing how certain works compliment or distract from each other. The artists in our room of the building stuck together and were adamant about the placement our our works because we strongly believed that they worked well together in the space compared to other options that had been exhausted. One of the things I was dissatisfied with was the final placement of my work on the brick walls. My painting was originally hung from a very high point on the wall which I was happy with, as tapestries are usually hung at the top of the wall and this aligned with my intention. The lighting was also working as well as would have been possible, as it is generally difficult to apply light to a glazed painting. While I was happy with it this way, curation wanted it lower on the wall which I was open to. However, the final placement on the wall was far too low and touched the electrical beam that ran across the wall, and the frayed edges of the canvas got lost against the white beam. It was too late to change it back and in the process of us reattaching the canvas to the pole, a ripple was created as it hadn't been attached properly. The image above on the left was the installation before, and the image on the right was how it was displayed for the show. The whole experience was valuable not just in terms of how important installation is, but also in reflecting on technical decisions I made while painting. It surprised me to see how light reflective the painting was outside of the studio. It made me think that although I enjoy the process and effect of glazing, it is quite high maintenance to install, and therefore I don't think I would glaze a painting of that scale again.
I was an art teacher prior to this course and one of the most interesting things about it was seeing how students used the techniques I taught in a completely different way to how I would approach them within my own practice. I learned about glazing and limited palettes from my advisor Daniel Hughes, who learned from Vincent Desiderio. Something about this verbal translation of traditional techniques between the generations feels like it is almost being lost in certain areas of the contemporary art world. So when Tom and Lucrezia took an interest in glazing in their work I wanted to share what I knew about it with them. On an aesthetic level, Tom's work couldn't be more different from mine, but I thought it brought up this interesting juxtaposition between his contemporary almost Basquiat-esque treatment of materials, and the introduction of this traditional method of glazing over his composition which aligned with his pursuit of alchemy. So in a way he is doing a similar thing to me in that he is merging the past and present. I had always been taught to use deep transparent reds or browns when glazing, but after I showed him my method, he got a few other transparent colours to glaze with that were unconventional, including an iridescent purple and blue. This is something I would never have thought was an option, but he used the pigment in the same way, and was able to come out with a really unique effect over the background of his work. So I ended up learning something from him as well in the process.
Working with Lucrezia I was reminded of the importance of understanding the properties of materials such as linseed oil. She was glazing the lower half of her painting to create an aquarium-like glossy effect by mixing a transparent glazing medium with green oil paint. The glazing medium was repelling and beading up over her painting because the paint underneath contained a greater percentage of linseed, than what we were applying over top. I then gave her my alkyd medium and she reapplied in layers, but I hadn't considered before that when you use a dark glaze, there is a lot more room for error with drip marks, but when you are working with light over light, those drip marks and bubbles are much more obvious. So in the future if a student were to attempt this again, I would encourage them to do the glaze while the painting is flat on the floor rather than hanging.
Collaboration in Painting
Our minds as we lose
Collaboration with Nicolas Holiber
Oil on canvas, 74 x 40 inches
Abstract art can evoke strong emotions perhaps in a different more intangible way than realism. I was inspired upon my visit to the Women Artists and Global Abstraction at the Whitechapel Gallery. I wondered how if I could somehow combine abstraction with my realism, and how those styles would interact and be effective. After experimenting minimally with abstract painting I decided instead of forcing something that felt completely unnatural, I would find ways to express a psychological space through realism. However I still had this interest in abstraction. After speaking with Astrid more deeply about our work, we realised we shared several themes and were seeking to achieve similar things in terms of depicting the feeling of being trapped within ourselves. I wanted to somehow place a figure in an abstracted environment as a metaphor for being trapped in a psychological space, and she was also trying to find ways to express her own sense of displacement, but in relation to landscape. The themes in her work involve nostalgia, connection to the self, anxiety around personal identity and melancholy. We recognised the similarities in our themes and this decision to use art as a way of understanding our personal experiences and realised a collaboration would be a really interesting way to achieve both of our goals, and attempt something new that we had never tried before.
There is a collaboration that I saw in Aleah Chapin's portfolio that she made with Nicolas Holliber, where they combined a hyperreal figure with abstracted bodily forms and think it evokes something different than a traditional portrait or a entirely abstracted body would. It makes me think of liminal space, and in-between states of mind and process. This example is a fairly obvious collaboration, and I think it effectively highlights both artist's own perceptions and strengths, while working towards the same goal.