Wrapping up the 2nd year study and showing development through key stages in Ideas, Skills, and Context.
Video from the presentation:
My presentation for March Formative Assessment, highlighting key points of development from beginning of our main SUBJECT project – Connections and Object(ions), and reflection on the Ken Stradling Collection.
Returning from FIELD module, it shows the significant creative impact it had on my SUBJECT.
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.
3. 4. two cabinet like structures which were faster to create and explore notion of space and system repetition.
Coming from the innovative furniture piece of Penguin Donkey as my catalyst object from the Ken Stradling Collection, created for the revolutionary paperback Penguin books; I want to follow the trajectory of mass production of good design for good value, available to masses, with rich context provided through the ethos of Penguin books.
I want to learn and explore the industrial processes involved in ceramic production such as technical drawing, prototype making, lathe and whirling, slip casting, CNC, etc. Looking at pure and simple functionalism, with elements drawn from the Penguin Donkey and classical Modernist designs, features including soft curves, long legs and layered plywood.
Exploring the colour scheme dominated by warm reds and mostly orange, I want to explore social ideals and directions, as another layer to the objects. With it the repetition, and presence of body within a space, and repetition relating to identity and individuality within, and its composition/curation.
I feel I want to explore these ideas through more experimental and sculptural work as well, to guide the functional design and possibly challenge preconceptions of functionalism and the processes used. This also extends the ideas and processes I’ve been through with my Public Art Field.
As my professional practice, I’m organising structural work experience, possibly in an area of selling ceramics and its industry, or teaching and providing workshops, or museums and curation as linked to our project brief.
For my technical I want to take the opportunity of exhibiting in the new Craft Gallery of Saint Fagans, and create an educational and innovative way of looking at colour through ceramics, in particularly through slips and stains.
I would join the effort with Morgan Dowdall, so we could produce more spectacular collage presenting colours in slips, in as fun and engaging way possible.
For now we would divide the colour wheel into warm and cold halves, with me exploring the warm spectrum: from warm Greens to Yellow, Reds through warm Purples.
This will contribute to my Subject project further exploring slips, its colours and colour combinations through layering.
Altering turned shape made on the plaster lethe; trying multitude of tools.
As my intention to create 4 different feet as a base for the cup, inspired by the 4 legs of the Penguin Donkey couldn’t be realised through the lathe turning stage, I had to work onto the turned form further, and carve the feet away.
Drawing a technical sketch of the base in my sketchbook, and carefully calculating the legs’ positions, I could place my turned form onto it to accurately mark the legs’ positions.
I started carving away bigger chunks with range of small hoop or cutting tools. However, that proved too brutal and I was scared I would accidentally damage the prototype.
Therefore, I went to small metals workshop and used Dremel tool to precisely carve the feet away with much more control in my hands.
This proved as a great, precise and fast way to alter a prototype. Using multitude of attachments and different speed settings I could carve away bigger chunks, take small quantity of plaster closer to the feet and get into the more awkward angles, as well as smooth the surface level.
To smooth all the edges precisely, I had to switch to using wet-and-dry sand paper of various grades, to safely file away the small quantities of plaster.
I again rather enjoyed doing small, precise and planned manual alteration of form.
However, I’m not entirely happy with the prototype. I feel the legs and bottom curve should be even more pronounced, to better represent the original Penguin Donkey and its long feet and profound curves. I’m afraid the shrinkage of the clay after glaze firing will make the features rather insignificant.
At the end, it is only a test piece to challenge my skills further. I hope I’ll be able to
produce even better and more prototypes with more confidence.
Appropriation of Penguin Books’ design and its symbolical use within art.
The distinctive, horizontal blocks of colour and text within as a cover design of Penguin’s paperbacks, proved so iconic that its appropriation on a simple utilitarian ceramic mug became highly popular merchandise.
In Grayson’s Perry “The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal” (2012), a monumental piece of tapestry from his series, he is using these mugs as a social class symbol, and the movement through classes.
“On the table is a still life demonstrating the cultural bounty of his affluent lifestyle”. Together with the French press, car keys with Damien Hirst like skull keychain, local organic jam, fresh vegetables on the Guardian newspapers or the raw wood table they are all placed on, they are the symbols, the style-creators of aspirational middle classes.
They represent an aspiration for wealth of knowledge as well as monetary wealth, success and domestic nostalgia.
Douglas Coupland is another artist, and novelist appropriating the Penguin Books in his collages, and text based visual art, blurring the boundaries of art and literature.
This collage of “Jet Boy Jet Girl”, a song name stuck as vinyl stencils onto Penguin Book titles such as “Two Adolescents” by Alberto Moravia.
The punk song by Elton Motello about 15 years old boy’s lust and sexual relationship with an older man adds another complexity to the bluring of bounderies.
The ‘correct’ place for people within their social class or sexuality is challenged, and the nature and freedom of movement between them explored.
If I want it or not, appropriating the Penguin Books or the Penguin Donkey in my work will have significant impact on the context it carries.
Visiting the Ken Stradling collection and choosing our catalysts for our projects.
My eyes were drawn to a small 1963’s book case on 4 legs, filled with orange book-spines.
The extraordinary story of this small piece of furniture took me on a journey through the world wars, revolution in book publishing, architecture and all the ambitious ideas of modernism.
The ISOKON manufactured and designed by Ernest Race in the 1963 – ISOKON PENGUIN DONKEY MARK 2, displayed within the Ken Stradling collection was the starting point for me.
The father of the original Penguin Donkey was Egon Riss. As a Bauhaus-educated architect from Vienna, relocated to the UK, he started to experiment with new exploration within plywood bending and its possibilities.
His purpose build piece of furniture was commissioned by then very new, but a very rapidly successful paperback publisher Penguin Books. They revolutionised the easy of consuming our books and made it available to masses; by having best classical and modern works of literature produced in small, portable and cheap paperback format.
The new purpose build holder needed to reflect the easy and new way of reading; the books being close, always available within an arm’s reach from a chair, compare to conventional storage of great library like bookshelves.
The Donkey was manufactured using thin birch plywood, which became unavailable due to the outbreak of the Second World War, and all the plywood was directed for war purposes.
With only 100 pieces manufactured, the production ceased to halt.
ISOKON tried to revive the forgotten and never manufactured in a larger scale design by commissioning Ernest Race to create a modern version of this highly functional piece of furniture. The form changing drastically, loosing its early modernist curves for cold and sharp minimalists angles. The top is flattened to serve another function, as a coffee/side table, but still keeping its middle gap for magazines and newspapers.
This object caught my interest most from the Ken Stradling collection because of its minimal, functional design, purpose built for another object, as well as the white neutral colours giving prominence to the bright colour sleeves and ideas of display and containment.
However, it is the original curvy design and the story surrounding it and its makers and processes that I want to expand on.
In 2003 The Donkey saw another redesign by Shin and Tomoko Azumi, bringing back the curves, but still keeping some of the right angles. I feel it’s a nice fusion of the two designs, bringing extra functionality by the side handles and completely closing the top to function as a small table.