It has been a few weeks since hand-in and although I have enjoyed time away from constant pressure, it has been difficult to completely switch off. As a result, I've returned to a regular, daily journalling practice.
Since taking down my hand-in work and clearing my studio space, I have received notification that I am this years' recipient of the ACS / Falmouth Materials Prize - £1000 to go towards the making of works for my degree show. What this means for my 3rd year practice and the scope for my potential degree show works is immense. It also confirms a self-initiated residency of sorts, later this year, for me to completely immerse myself in a foreign landscape and to make work about and within it. I am slightly overwhelmed, still, but incredibly excited to use this award to make my most ambitious work yet.
Another exciting development for my work since hand-in is that two of the Swanpool Headland pieces from my Stretched Horizons collection were chosen to be exhibited in a group show at Penryn Campus until the end of the academic year.
My pieces are hung alongside the work of fellow student artists and Cornwall based practitioners who are "inspired by nature and a human interaction with the natural world".
It was great to see these works outside of the studio walls as they were created after my 2nd year exhibition at the poly. The pieces were a very last minute addition to my second year collection and so it feels wonderful to have them shown publicly for an extended period of time.
I feel in a good place to start third year. My ideas are finally being realised in a visual format as concrete and finished pieces of work. Perhaps it's because I have found a balance of materials, method, subject and theory that satisfies me. A balance I wasn't able to find with painting at the forefront of my studio practice.
Looking forward, I wish to return to natural dye and to make the most of all the vibrant springtime flowers around at present and the unique, fleeting, temporal natural colours they bring.
Different organic materials grow and are abundant at different times of year and because of this I am drawn to visit the same place, every few months, watching how my work changes with the seasons. For example, my first trip to Swanpool Headland in November of 2016 rewarded my dye pot with fern leaves, beech leaves and seed heads - producing shades of orange, burnt umber and brown. My second trip, at the beginning of Spring, left me collecting gorse and cow parsley - imbuing the fabric with vibrant shades of yellow.
I've been thinking a lot about the natural dye process and how I can find more ways to incorporate this into my works. I would like to start curating a collection of colours to use as a palette for a series. I wish to use unbleached threads of cotton and naturally dye them so that I can use coloured threads to stitch the panels of my work together.
I have also been thinking about materials, process and transformation. With the same collection of naturally dyed threads that will form the connections for my linen works, I plan to trial the making of a series of hanging mobile-like structures. This will stem off into the use of collected wood, twigs, pebbles and stones wrapped and hung with dyed threads.
I am currently exploring the various political themes which interest me as part of my work, considering further the angle I'll take further in both my dissertation but also my studio practice. I could, perhaps, manifest a greater discussion of authenticity in mapping or its objective/subjective accuracy. Or, I could focus my attention on the use of mapping to raise awareness of environmental concerns in an ever dilapidating world...
Again, I could bring a feminist argument to the table with a focus on the processes I use in the making of my work. As my interest in natural dyeing and hand-stitching grows, I have been looking into traditional 'women's work' and different skills that I can learn from and trial. I want to elevate these traditionally feminine techniques to the genre of fine art. Weaving, crocheting, quilting, knitting, china painting, basket making, loom work and ceramics... Expressing female subjectivity in abstract forms.
Cartography is not a traditionally female role. Fine Art has turned both the orthodox meaning of mapping as a definition and as a theological creative practice on its head. I already work with hand stitching, embroidery and natural dye, hanging linen out to dry in the process - a very 'feminine' activity or image. How can I take this as a starting point, then take it further?
It has been interesting to research the women's movement and the subsequent consequences it has brought about in contemporary feminist art. The use of fibrous materials by women has been recognised in our history for a long time, but it seems to have had some sort of awakening recently. Particularly on Instagram; the appearance of woven, knitted, printed and hand-dyed fabrics has been notable, appealing to a younger generation of female artists and makers.
I think this re-awakening may stem from a desire to return to our roots and perhaps a need to be more mindful for both our personal al wellbeing and that of our planet; shunning man made fibres in preference for natural and sustainable products, returning to a more hands-on, tactile and skilful way of making things. Recognising the artistry behind traditional ‘women’s work’ and elevating these eleborate processes to a fine art level is something I strive to explore further in third year. I plan to begin this exploration making weavings with yarn that I have naturally dyed with plants and organic materials sourced from the Cornish coast.
I have also been researching artist herman de vries. I am completely fascinated by his philosophy regarding art, the making of things and a collection of raw materials; turning the ordinary into the extraordinary - "When you walk over the earth, you don't realise, but you have collage under your feet".
de vries collects, catalogues and displays items he has found in nature. In doing this, he questions the relationship that exists between nature and culture, the ways in which they affect and influence one another.
A different spin on this art of collection, curation and documentation that I am fascinated by is seen in an Instagram account I have followed for quite some time - haarkon_. The photographic duo, India & Magnus, create a series of photographs under the hashtag #haarkoncollections - objects found on beach and forest walks, collected, arranged and beautifully photographed.
I wish to take something from the work of Haarkon and herman de vries - blending the processes of curation and collection to elevate elements from the natural world ordinarily glanced at and forgotten. A mantra of sorts for my third year practice is to allow the work itself to grow from the physical process of making - the material is where the work begins.
Next term I wish to spend more time at my field work sites. Not necessarily making, but thinking, describing the landscape through the writing of poetry and looking at how the world around me interacts and changes. How the landscape finds a balance within itself.
I feel comfortable with my work at present, but third year is not the time to feel comfortable. I am excited to take risks, make huge installations with reels and reels of linen, mark making, linen adhered to the walls and the floors and also suspended from that same ceiling with threads that allow it to drape and hang. This structure would allow people to walk under the fabric, lie under it, touch it...
Outdoors installations of the same scope could also be interesting but, instead of being static, would adhere to rocks and cave walls and thus, blow in the wind, following the nod of nature to make shapes and ripples - like living, breathing creatures or proud and elaborate flags, markers of place. These installations could form the basis for a series of video based documentative works.
I am obsessed with the transformation of raw materials taken from the landscape and turning these into materials that can be utilised. This transformation, the actual act of process is almost as important to me - at present - as making a body of finished works.
In third year, I want to make work that is more tactile. Work that is wonderful to hold. I wish to embellish surfaces that I can imbue with organic materials collected from field work trips. I aim to sculpt vessels that can hold identity of a place. Pieces that resonate with, belong and pay a homage to the specific location they originated from.