Cardiff Museum (1) and Introduction to the Wunderkammer Field project

Introduction to the project; to the nature of collections, its acquisition, its taxonomy, presentation, housing, as well as our first visit to a museum.


We had an extensive and compelling 2 introductions to the project and nature of collections. From eclectic collection of all the possibilities in arranging and categorising collections: from alphabetical order, colour and material, size and description, geographical location, grouping by type and theme, artist or collector, taste and style.

Other artists or curators took these aspects even further, and layer multiple meanings and categorisation into one, exploring the new relationships created, such as Richard Wentworth with his Boost to Wham, Claire Twomey and her engaging interventions, or David Shrigley shining a critical eye on how objects are displayed  and what ideas are presented in public establishments.

Scrutinising and looking at museums and collections more deeply raised basic questions of what they are actually for, and what can we find in them or what can we learn from them.


Cardiff Museum was constructed later than any other major cities, as a status of newly established, industrial cities. Built together and alongside the the City Hall and the Court of Justice, as an essential part in the life of city and it’s urbanised community.
The classical building, build in modern industrial era is presenting a forward-looking ideas, showing the past but finishing with the ambitions of current workers, about the social progress, advancing to a female graduate.

The main art collection that the Museum holds is the acquisitions of the Davies Sisters. Their industrial father built the 2nd largest port of that time in Barry (after Cardiff).
Despite the extreme industrial landscape of then current Cardiff and the area, and the source of their inherited income, their choice in art was mainly based on romantic landscape, and mythical imagery and figures; seemingly to counteract the ugliness, desperation and fast progress caused by the rapid industrialisation.
Their collection show the middle ground between the current, very conservative art of the Royal Academy of Arts, such as Constable, and The New English Club and avant-garde with acquisitions like Monet, Rembrandt or Van Gogh. Other acquisitions include works by Walter Sickert, Augustus John, Rodin, Van Gogh or J.M.W Turner.

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This really makes the answers even more complex and raises more questions. Mostly about context and motivations for a collections. Through who’s eyes is the art collection reflecting the world they see. What is the art doing to them and what to public that see it. How the ethos of the building and the institution shapes the collections and ideas presented. ….

Sculpting

I wanted to extend my interest and experience in sculpture by sneaking into 2 workshops by incredible Claire Curneen, looking into figurative clay forms.


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In her workshop into building heads, she could talk so beautifully about the expressive and representational forms we were asked to crate. Lose ourselves and stop thinking about realism.
She also directed us to acknowledge the natural properties of the clay and how we can use it for our advantage, not needing to faff and smooth and play with the surface unnecessarily.

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With slip we could add another layer and narrative into the figure, with simple sgraffito and layering colours. Thinking about simple feeling, narrative, and trying to translate it onto the figure.

I created this almost tree trunk looking face, thinking about my autumnal bicycle ride back home from university, through a wast park with an allay of trees.

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Another demonstration I managed to catch was her never work of tree like/figure like forms.
It is always so fascinating to observe her ways of handling clay, and her ideas translated through it into the sculptures.

I want to explore and extend my main Subject and Field through sculpture in some ways, to inform even my functional practice, and exploration of the public space.

Pop Up Play – Summer Competition

Our “Forest of Plinths” realisation.
An exciting opportunity to revamp an old concrete patch.


 In June, before finishing the academic year, I, Toni and Alice teamed-up to put forward a proposal for a live brief competition. The brief was set-up by the Cardiff School of Education as they wanted to transform an unused concrete patch on their Cyncoed Campus.
The concrete patch is located nearby a forest that is used for outdoor learning activities with the CSE students and children from local primary schools. They wanted to utilise the previously unused space as play and storage area for the kids and their finds and creations from the forest, as well as seminar space for the university students.

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After few visit to the concrete patch as well as the forest area, we felt strongly about bringing certain elements and feelings from the forest to the exposed concrete patch.
The two locations couldn’t be more different, with uncovered and exposed area with carpark, walkways and stairs all around, and the covered, enclosed and safe space protected by the trees.
We particularly liked the few log circles in the forest, and a small bridge, leaning over a tiny stream. They represented a common theme for us, about collaboration, enclosure and bridging over ideas and people.
We wanted to bring over these themes we found in the forest, onto the empty patch.

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The hard work creating the proposal haven’t actually prepared us for the actual realisation, after our idea won.
Tight time limitations, as well as money, materials and physics meant our plans had significantly changed, and we had to respond to problems swiftly.

Biggest changes happened when we had to draw the design in Illustrator for the CNC for cutting. Realistically it had to fit onto the number of plywood sheets we had budget for – this reduced the number of the plinths from 25 to 13, and scaled the area they take up on the tiles by half. Structural and locking mechanisms had to be designed.

After hard thinking, with the essential help of Olivia, Morgan expertly drew the design in Rhino and transferred to Illustrator, ready for CNC cutting.

Lengthly sanding, glueing, sanding again for safety precautions and then painting and varnishing for number of coats.

While living with the plinths for few good days, if not weeks, we discovered number of advantages:
1. They are actually very comfortable to sit on.
2. They are rather spacious, so you can hide many things in them.
3. The lid is a perfect shield.
4. The locking stick is a perfect sword.
5. Upside down they look like castles.
6. They are a cool, but rather heavy helmets.


We produced number of ceramic tiles to lay over 2 of the plinth tops.
Scanned children’s drawings, which were then processed in Illustrator, were laser etched onto number of them.

However, due to our lack of experience in surface decoration with oxide washes, the final result after firing them to 1240C for weather proofing wasn’t satisfactory enough for us to put them onto the plinths.

We would really like to place some ceramics onto the plinths, or into the space. Making the tiles with the kids would have better effect and be more fun, as the laser etched patterns will never be visible clearly enough.


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Painting the floor tiles itself, was a good compromise to the lesser amount of plinths filling the empty space.
We collaborated with two great 3rd year BA Illustration students, filling number of the tiles with deliciously bright colours and cute insect (and a snake) designs.


This was such an enriching collaboration between different students and staff from CSAD and CSE, Cyncoed Campus and Llandaff Campus. Between wood and clay, concrete and paint, machine and hand, nature and man.
Being part of a close group of people and working on a live project, from abstract proposal to real realisation was tremendously helpful in learning how a real project comes alive.
From networking, sharing ideas and working together; to use of software and hardware to produce something, but also to overcome number of arising problems.

Working on this project, I definitely acquired at least some confidence in using wood, but also in manipulation of other materials, to incorporate into my ceramic practice and BA course. In my new brief for Level 5, I now want to incorporate wood, furniture and design processes, and let them enrich my ceramic practice. I also acquired a sense that I should really treat every brief as live, more direct and outcome focused brief, especially coming closer to my 3rd year. Or at least search for optional live briefs, as exploration and experimentation is still important, but finalising something is rather rewarding.

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1D Museum visit – Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal

In our last session at the museum we were on our own to search for a definition for the 1st dimension, backing up with found text.


  1. A pin, defining an insect a specimen.
  2. A single grain in an oyster creating precious pearl
  3. The initial form, ideal. What something should look like.

 

Thinking about 1D and the First Dimension in some context of transparency was 20160310_103725.jpgchallenging.
Walking around the natural history part of the Museum, and finding a transparent wall full of pinned insect, the pin and pinning itself seemed literal 1D to me.
Looking at the phenomenal level, pinpointing and displaying a specimen, a perfect representation of a living creature in the outside world, was very peculiar, but useful procedure.

Later on, I came across a video explaining Plato’s ideas behind forms.
It explained how important it is to pinpoint and imagine ideals, such as how would a perfect friendship, school or city look like.

The insect in the same way is presented like a form, a perfect representation of a certain species, family of an animal.

 

 

Into the Fold – Harriet McCarmick

At this week’s ‘Into the Fold’ lectures, a recent MA Ceramics graduate presented her Degree work, future plans, Fireworks studios and participation at exhibition at ‘Made in Roath’


Harriet McCarmick is interested in investigation and using natural elements such as deer antlers, legs, feathers; as well as taxidermy, and translating all of this into ceramics, through abstracted forms.
These then acquire metamorphic, and narrative qualities – with help of using colour, shape, position and light.
Through this she questions how objects are perceived in space, and impact on the visual connections with natural world.

2D, sketchbook work was always important to her, and in MA, colour starts to creep into her work.20151016_12381320151016_124111
She is creating cast for all her objects, and casting using stained slip, never any glaze, but fires them slightly higher for her distinctive finish.


Harriet’s career in ceramics started when she missed her interview for Fine Art course, and came to the BA Ceramics at CSAD instead. She then stayed for her MA and now she is part of the Graduate Residency at the Fireworks Clay Studios in Cardiff.
Exhibiting her MA work in September, she is trying to exhibit as much as possible, setting up a gallery with other MA graduates at the Made in Roath festival.
Her ambition is PHD and possibly lecturing in the future, which I hope will be a success as I found her lecture and work very captivating.

It’s a great inspiration listening to a successful and interesting recent graduate, with a such great body of work, sketchbook pages and explorational journey.

Jen Hawthorn – Making Sculpturaly, Building Large

This Wednesday it was the first lecture of the Vicarious Wednesday series, where students and practitioners share their techniques with others through life demonstration of their skills.


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Spending some time in Sweden in her second year of BA Ceramics, Jennifer learned a technique, an adapted coil building for a large structures.
The technique involves pressing a coil inside and stretch/massage the outer wall up and in, fusing with the inside coil. Going too thin and fast might be a problem, but essentially this technique allows building of a large sculptures and structures relatively fast.
When not smoothed, the coils make an interesting, layered pattern.
In her workshop stretched over several weeks in Sweden, they produced a very large artefacts in a gallery space, from unfired clay, just to be thrown down and recycled again. However, this process was rather enriching in learning and letting go of own creations.
Jennifer tried to create a large scale bowl with this techniques, but even with strong dedication, the walls kept falling. Creating special supports/scaffoldings with the clay and same techniques, gave the bowl original characteristics, but haven’t fixed the problem fully.
The final piece, alongside the supported bowl, was an abstract form, almost as a resting creature you can lean on and relax with.

It was great to see fellow students of BA Ceramics try and present their new skills in front of others. Getting practice at presenting, confidence, and inspiration for others, creating a great community feel within the studio.

http://www.jenniferhawthornceramics.wordpress.com