Hands on volunteering, helping create papier-mâché and UV reactive rocks for Jennifer Taylor’s twilight sci-fi landscape used for her theatrical performances.
Replying to alluring email from G39 about volunteering opportunity, Morgan and I appeared in a fun and dynamic workshops creating masses of light rocks using cardboard, bubble-wrap and covering them with PVA and tissue paper. These were then covered in carpet glue so that the Daz washing powder would stick on them making them reactive to the UV light as part of multimedia ‘Silent Beach’ exhibition and performance.
We’ve soon been allocated to help with covering a large wooden skeleton with chicken wire and stuffing it with some waste paper so to create the base for small grotto, or large hollowed rock for performers to emerge from.
This encounter was so good not just by discovering the work of Jennifer Taylor who is essentially being birthed by inorganic rocks, basically rendering them alive, but by sculpting a landscape using completely different materials and techniques than I would use normally.
I realised how extremely important it is not to be stuck in clay when exploring ideas and philosophies, that are not just about the material.
In some cases I could scale up and explore ideas without extreme effort and time spend nurturing the clay; incorporating other materials in final installation as a narrative support for objects in clay. Performance could also be an important aspect in activating the installation and objects within, rendering them more alive, or dead.
Undergoing immersive week extending my skills in sculpting, hand building, collaborating, performing and story telling.
Learning how to reclaim dry blocks of clay with no plaster, and in limited time was quite challenging. Arising to smashing the clay into almost powder with heavy tools, and after saturating it with limited amounts of water, building arches to let the sloppy clay dry.
However, accustoming myself with this new, locally dug clay was easier. I really enjoyed its unique colour as well as the groggy and rather sticky texture, even though it did not record the texture of my hand, which I normally try to keep.
Set with the task of creating a kiln based on a country and its stories/folklore, I started drafting ideas and searching for stories in Slovak/Slavic mythologies. I came up with some designs based on ‘Morena’ – goddess of Winter whose effigy is burned and thrown into a stream to welcome the Spring. However, its basic story didn’t really interest me, with obvious but messy symbolisms such as female fertility, rebirth, coldness, evil and beauty, burning witches, etc.
I was wondering, that there must be a folk story for every fairy common creature and natural phenomena, over the many years and geographies of human existence.
My first search trial was snails, as I like them and could relate to their slow and quiet exploration of the world.
Within Christian traditions they are perceived as evil, symbols of the deadly sin of sloth, laziness and apathy.
However, in Aztec stories snail is representing the moon, its shell the cycles of moon and is considered humble and respectful. Moreover, it has very interesting and different back story to the moon’s creation. I was instantly captured, and felt I could retell the story to others, with the kiln supporting the theatrical presentation perfectly.
I sketched multiple designs of snail like object with circular features representing the moon. At the end I stayed with fairy simple in detail but still challenging enough shape for me.
I felt I could really develop my aesthetics in hand building and sculpting, experimenting with this semi abstract form with emphasis on empty space and more organic, uneven surface. The red slip allowed me to separate the circle – moon and shell from the base, whilst white slip brushes added a bit more movement and clay dots another voids.
As a side project we had to construct a stackable camping set, but missing a collaborative element in the residency, I teamed up with Morgan. To allow us to focus on our kilns and produce something good in such a short time, we stripped down the stackable element to the basic and pumped up the fun element. Our fun ‘Camp’-ing Picknic Set included one big serving/salad bowl with decoration imitating weaved basket, and limp wristed hands as handles. Inside the bowl could fit: 2 smaller and 2 bigger plates with penis pattern decoration and illustrations of me and Morgan; 2 high heel leg wine glasses; double bum bowl, and 2 sets of cutlery in shape of hands, penises and lips with lipstick.
Exploring France through the few trip we had was a rich experience.
With very camp and opulent, gilded Italian tea set from a car boot sale, giving us more inspirations for the Camp Camping Set and its decoration that awaited.
The cliff-side town with a whole church cut into the rockside, and small well shrines in a potter’s studio was a captivating example of slow growth and transformation: through inorganic – chiseling out the pillars, walls and features of the church, or waters eroding voids and channels into the rock; to organic – moss and mold growing on the faces of rock walls from the trickling of water and moisture present, and various plants finding any sunny surfaces to plant their roots.
It was fun to find many snails, some in crazy, almost surreal forms, in various art and souvenir shops.
Coming from Field, I was reminded of how much I actually enjoy sculpture and the synthesis of ideas within three-dimensional installation.
I went ahead with building and sketching.
Experiences from both of my fields were inspirational to the extend that they changed my work in this year’s project completely. From direct, tight, designed and functional tableware to more broad look across the art fields (illustration, sculpture, graphic design, historical collections, etc.), and practical explorations of the ideas through more fun and experimental, sculptural exploration.
The colours and animistic features of the Penguin Donkey, my catalyst object from the Ken Stradling Collection, are still present, but now I’m more free to explore ideas around containment, storage and systems that classify and order the stuff and things that they embody.
Initial sketches, inspired by Angus Suttie’s colourful and imaginative ceramic alterations and surrealist’s game of ‘exquisite corpse’ of not really knowing what will happen next, a kind of system of order and dis-order.
Mick Morgan showed us his quick technique of building large pots, which I adapted to create a larger cabinet, planning to play with texture, additions, colour, etc.
2. Smaller cabinet with legs.
3. 4. two cabinet like structures which were faster to create and explore notion of space and system repetition.
SUGARCOATED COLLECTIONS Presenting my sweet proposition for the delicious Wunderkammer Field project, based on cloying experiences and deep glazed research during our scrumptiously immersive trips around the UK’s rich collections and sumptuous museums.
It was fun to create this proposition, play with individual artefacts, explore their ideas and put them in a different context, or rather present them in a different way than the traditional one.
As I wanted to make something physical and play around with clay, I quickly sculpted a ‘sketch’ of the Spanish baby Jesus. To make it more ‘commercial’ and ‘shiny’. I roughly vacuum-packed it, or rather just suggested it by slightly melting a piece of plastic from the bin over it.
I like the visual contradiction, as well as historic, from these 2 revolutionary materials; only from opposite ends of history.
Even with rather tight deadline to produce this presentation, I felt fairy confident with it.
However, presenting it I panicked and rushed it too much, not allowing me to explain my proposition as clearly and well as I would wish.
I should really just calm down and slowly make sure that people can actually understand me, and not make them confused as much as I’m normally at these situations.
My collection gathered while visiting collections and museums across the UK with the Wunderkammer Field project.
The ideas and context behind it.
Before starting our travels across the country, I decided to scrutinise the catering facilities of each of the establishments we would visit, through a quick review of cakes – their taste, texture, etc., but also the ideas behind them, the presentation, and the context – of the environment, museum, company, etc.
Classical museums were hardly built with cafes as one if its main attraction points, or hardly even included in the architecture.
However, they became the hearth of museums and galleries, which not only soothe the thirst for knowledge, but the more bodily needs too. For most visitors, cafe experience in museums is as essential as seeing the fossils and dinosaurs, learning facts about coal, playing around with electronic interactive exhibits, or seeing Rodin’s Kiss.
I like sugar. I like fat. I’m human and therefore interesting in consuming, but I’m also interested in seeing how I’m consuming art, information and knowledge, and how they effect each other, and how I remember the experiences while visiting museums and galleries on this Field trip.
Ratings of museums on Google Maps are largely influenced by the cafe experience, with as many words and photographs, if not more, dedicated to cafe – its staff, menu, cleanness, presentation or price and value.
Nevertheless, I feel that my enjoyment of the cakes had no influence on how I enjoyed and seen the art and collections.
I felt rather lost and uninspired in the Whitworth, Manchester, but their cafe was magnificent, with the highest rated cakes.
There’s a great distance from the cafe experience and museums, they don’t influence or interact with each other much, other that the medium of blood, as when my sugar levels drop I feel distracted and couldn’t concentrate.
However, there’s one aspect, and that is the feeling of welcome. I did feel more welcomed in the museum where I could slow down, reflect and satisfy my tastebuds.
I think I would ordermy collection by how welcomed the whole experience made me feel in the museum or gallery, not by the taste test (as all of them were comparatively good).
The Wellcome Collection, Cardiff Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum and St Fagans would be on first place, as their cafes are located in very central location of the establishment, with at least some exhibits or artworks displayed around. With the St Fagans it was even more special as you enjoyed themed food, technically within the exhibition object/relic, while experiencing history and tradition.
Ashmolean Museum, Birmingham Museum?, The Hepworth Wakefield, YSP?, The Whitworth or Manchester Gallery were rather disjointed from the rest of the building and collections, making the whole experience less wholesome.
At the other end, such as Hunterian Museum, had no cafe and you felt rather alienated as the building’s main purpose was to house the Royal College of Surgeons, not you as a visitor; or the Soane’s Museum where limited space restricted the maximum visitors and their time in.
The last location we ventured upon independently, during our Wunderkammer Field, was a small local, South Welsh gallery in Swansea. It was interesting to see carefully curated, poetic and colourful contemporary exhibition by Anne Gibbs, in a small, intimate, local venue dedicated to art and contemporary craft; compare to big, nationally (or even internationally) renown museums, galleries and collections we seen on our travels.
It refocused our attention on our (now very informed) practice, and how it could fit within the big world, or even the small local one.
Visiting COLLECT, as an art fair for “contemporary objects” was such a different experience, compare to the museum and gallery setting we’ve been exposed to during our Field. The excitement of new, as well as the people – makers and artists themselves standing next to their work, curators and galleries, collectors and enthusiast – made the viewing different. Sometimes it was more critical, but mostly more open minded and eager to learn more: from the makers themselves, by handling the objects or discussing with other visitors.