some news / third year plans

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.

hand-in prep and an artist study round-up / oliver raymond-barker - natural alchemy / lucy may schofield / Xandra van der Eijk - seaweed study

The past couple of days I have been finishing my series of 'Stretched Horizons' and gathering all the loose odds and ends of my studio work together in preparation for hand-in on Friday. I re-worked my artist statement and completed the necessary self-assessment ahead of time, so I could use these last few days before the deadline to focus on the finer details.

Once I had finished making all the works I had set out to make before assessment, I documented them for my website and wrote up a portfolio list to make for an easy, clear and straight-forward assessment format.

I have also been focusing on strengthening my supporting work/sketchbooks ahead of my deadline. I took all of my natural dye experiments and frottage swatches and complied them into an annotated sketchbook, displaying my progression with the new techniques and exploration of the bundle dye process, too.

I will also be working on my drawings sketchbook in the run up to the deadline, to be sure I have as much supporting work behind my larger works as possible.

Today I have been de-cluttering and re-arranging my studio space; switching my desk around, neatly displaying work for assessment and clearing out any messy old work, tools or materials. The last two pieces I have made in this collection - both acting as a diptych of sorts, 'mapping' Swanpool Headland at Springtime - are the pieces I have displayed for assessment.

I have hung these two works up on the studio wall for presentation with my other large works stacked beside and photographs, supporting work and my online portfolio all numbered to correlate with my previously written up portfolio list.

There are also a few artists who I have been meaning to write about and record my research of for some time. Now seems the perfect opportunity, given that I have finished all the practical studio-based work I needed to do. The first of these artists is Oliver Raymond Barker.

 oliver raymond-barker

Oliver Raymond-Barker lives in Cornwall, working under a photography practice that stretches from analogue and digital processes to the use of natural materials and camera less methods of image making. He works with the available light and its potential when transformed by the mechanics of photography.

I am particularly drawn to Raymond-Barker's involvement in The Natural Alchemy project - an exploration into process; using the properties of plants, rocks, minerals and metals combined with the organisms that surround them to create works of art.

Raymond-Barker works with Dr. Chris Bryan of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) to explore the latent potential of natural materials, the innovative use of contaminated waste, the dynamic between autonomous and governed process and the fusion of ancient and modern systems.

The above photographs were taken at Wheal Maid near Bissoe.  The project used the site to experiment with displacement reactions and as a source of Pyritic rock samples for making pigments with.

The project continue to make experimental works using pioneering techniques. The below pieces were made by applying red oxide from wrought iron plates straight onto wet ferric chloride.

lucy may schofield

‘Living in cities as an artist has meant certain concerns and constraints are always apparent.  I relish the opportunity to be immersed in a rural community, awarded a sense of quiet contemplation for the creation of a new body of work… inspired by members of the rural community and with the opportunity to interact.’

Lucy May Schofield’s practice attempts to capture moments and to make a record of mortality or place, through alternative methods of photography, performance, sculpture, painting, collage and print-making.

Between sunrise and sunset throughout November and December 2015, each days' sunlight in Northern Iceland was captured in a cyanotype print on handmade Japanese washi by Schofield. Each day a shade of cyan emerged, affected by heavy rain, wind, snow, sleet, hail. 

Aura's of discarded beach-washed objects appear and disappear amongst the blue. This self-imposed routine marked the countdown to the Winter Solstice on December 21st 2015, a time of celebration in Iceland, marking the shortest day of the year and an end to the darkest days.

Xandra van der Eijk - Colors of the Oosterschelde

In 2015, artist and researcher Xandra van der Eijk presented new research into the applicability and properties of algae and seaweed in textiles.

Xandra van der Eijk harvested over twenty different species of seaweed and with this harvest a wide color palette came to life, mirroring the colours find in the Dutch coastal area. 

In the Oosterschelde area, a Dutch coastal zone sheltered from the Northsea by a storm surge barrier, the artist collated over 400 samples of colored fabric and yarn.

The project had environmental concerns at it's core; using seaweed as a resource has the advantage of it growing fast without using agricultural land and, by cultivating it in the sea, it could contribute to balance out CO2 levels in the water.  

Fuelled by the diversity in colour that came out of the experiments, the versatility of the material and the unique environment in which it grows, Xandra van der Eijk continues her research in this area to this day.

field trip process - working on the headland and castle beach

Last week I took a trip down to Castle Beach with photography student, Livie, to do some field work for a few new pieces and to take some photographs for her project. A collaboration of sorts. We spoke about my process whilst we shot, and how it is of equal importance to the finished works.

Livie took photographs as I soaked the linen in the seawater, took impressions of the rocks with my charcoal and rubbed the fabric against algae to pick up some of the natural green colour on the fabric.

I decided to take away some seaweed in a bid to make a natural dye with. I got thinking about my materials and the importance of the transformation of raw materials into something that I can utilise into work-making. 

So I got thinking about the importance of transformation. How can I take this further? 

I have curated a biodiversity of plant based colours, taken from the land I am working with.  The colour alludes to an unlikely landscape, a cataloguing of seasonal Cornish colours, curated into a collection of organic matter that presents itself as a mapping of place, alongside frottage traces. In elevating the organic materials I have foraged for and found, I create colour palettes of places. Through the dye process, I am reconnecting with the outdoors personally as well as in a creative sense. This element of feeling and touching and smelling things I would have previously seen and walked straight past has deepened my appreciation of the natural world. 

In terms of what’s to come next for my form and materials, I want to not only return to making my own pigments with both the previously explored process of natural dye but also explore the new process of using a pestle + mortar to grind rock and earth and minerals and ash - making colour directly from the landscape. 

I also went on a trip to the headland to go foraging for gorse flowers and cow parsley on Monday evening, in anticipation of making some new natural pigments for the Spring collection of my Swanpool series. It's still my favourite place in Cornwall. It was quite late in the day, around 5pm, so the light was incredible.

Along with collecting gorse and cow parsley for dye making, I took the opportunity to make some frottage drawings of the rocks. Although I have taken traces of these same rocks before, the result I achieved was vastly different. Last time I took drawings of the rocks on the headland, over 20 weeks ago, it was early November and lashing down with rain.

The minimalistic marks that were made on this second tracing of the headland rocks were proof of that. The sun and the dry rocks meant that the frottage was lighter, less harsh and wild, more delicate. The graphite didn't bleed - the linen simply took the impression of the most textural and raised areas of the rock.

This is what drives me to re-visit places and make seasonal series' of works within a collection of 'place'. The work will differ so vastly, depending on the elements and the seasonal plants growing in the area.

Back in the studio, I have been busy stitching together separate panels of frottage and dyed fabrics, then experimenting with stretching the pieces over canvas supports. 

As well as making and stretching new pieces, I have re-worked two old and redundant pieces from last semester.

I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere with this collection - it has come together fairly quickly now that I have found a format that seems to work with the work.

My plan for next week - the last four days of second year studio practice, is to finish this series of seven stretched horizon works. Once these have been completed, I will begin to gather together my sketchbook work and my artist research into a document for hand-in.

I will be photographing all my new works ready for uploading onto my website to act as an online portfolio for assessment. This will include my photography pieces, my drawings, sketchbook works of interest, larger linen pieces and sculptural works.

I am also planning on making an 'experimental' swatches sketchbook, with pieces of cut offs of frottage and natural dye that didn't make it to final works but have informed my practice and research in the areas along the way nonetheless.

stretched horizons / photography and sculpture / tutorial summary & Rachel Garrard

On Monday morning I had a tutorial with Virginia. We spoke about how last week's exhibition went and how I was feeling about it. She was really positive about the 'stretched' canvas pieces, particularly the element of the hand stitched seam - alluding to a horizon or longitude line. 

I also re-worked two pieces from last term, with more stitched elements, so they could also be stretched over canvas supports. Virginia and I both agreed that the stretched works have a greater authority in comparison to the works in their raw linen form. They are elevated from pieces of linen to pieces of art simply due to being presented in more of a clean-cut, finished way. 

We also spoke about my photography inductions and my ideas for the work that I will make over the summer and in third year when I have more knowledge in the field - plus once I have had my darkroom induction.

Talking about my new mediums led me to tell Virginia about my ceramic plans, too - that I want to at least have some sort of prototype in place for hand-in. This way, I can make evident in my portfolio for hand-in that for both ceramics and photography, I have been spending a lot of studio time researching and preparing for future work to come.

I also spoke about my plans to return to making my own pigments with both the previously explored process of natural dye and the new process of using a pestle + mortar to grind rock and earth and minerals and ash - making colour directly from the landscape. 

I wish to challenge myself, not to make the same work twice, and to keep my process evolving so as to not become stagnant.

The seams throughout these latest works act not only as a horizon line but also make a distinction between the two parts of the work. I have written before about my wish to make work that explores the relationship between dualities in landscape - the two panels in the work aim to address that.

In my next piece I want to take that further, using two separate panels of fabric to create a raised seam with linen frottage and naturally dyed linen.

Another thing to think about is paper. Making paper by hand. Mixing pulp that contains earth, grains of sand and other traces of the landscape, trapped within the fibres. Paper made from place. 

Over the past couple of days I have been researching the work of artist Rachel Garrard. Her process involves the use of natural materials. She also places a heavy emphasis on the process element of her work and often documents the act of making work in beautiful ways - such as video or a series of photographs - that could exist as artworks in their own right.


Rachel Garrard

256. 2016. chamomile, green buckthorn and purple cabbage on cotton. 44x48 inches.

256. 2016. chamomile, green buckthorn and purple cabbage on cotton. 44x48 inches.

"There is a sense in Rachel Garrard’s work that is internal and external, dark and light, feminine and masculine, organic and simulated, personal and universal, invisible and omnipresent."

There is a dance of dualities in the work.  

What is, perhaps, even more important than the element of dualities in the 'natural paintings' is the in-between: the process, the medium, the diversity behind the making of each work. Her art is topographical, a simple but equally complex analysis of the world. 

In her practice Garrard travels, collecting rocks and grinding them to a powder that then becomes pigment when mixed with a binder once back in the studio. The work is imbued with process: the travel, the collection of minerals, the grinding, the watering down, painting, washing, drying.  

The result could refer to landscape - work made directly from the earth - but also could be seen as the opposite of landscape. It could be argued that it cannot be seen truly as a direct representation of landscape, as the pigments and hues require a certain level of human interaction. 

320. 2016. turmeric, chamomile and green buckthorn on cotton. 44x48 Inches.

320. 2016. turmeric, chamomile and green buckthorn on cotton. 44x48 Inches.

PInacle. 2015. Rock powder pigment on linen. 22x24 Inches.

PInacle. 2015. Rock powder pigment on linen. 22x24 Inches.

The series of works Condensations use quartz and powdered ash to recreate light and shadow. There is a reference to an inward and deliberate process, a searching for materials, a drawing out of their utilisable states. 

Influx. 2014. Powdered Quartz and Ash on Linen. 33x36 Inches.

Influx. 2014. Powdered Quartz and Ash on Linen. 33x36 Inches.

Garrard uses these materials in a performative painting practice through a reduction of elements— wood into ash, stone into powder, fire into smoke.

The colours are not manufactured, they are not are simply chosen, bought in a tube and applied with a brush. The colours themselves have a life and a history, that has been brought to attention at the hand of Garrard and her practice. 

The works are all performance in that they enact a transformation, beginning in one state and transformed to another. As Garrard does, in my own practice I like to document the process of my making - due to the fact that it is the moment, a sense of being in place and the act of making that interests me.

The work that remains is a residue of that process.

Stream. 2015. Rock-powder-pigment-on-linen. 22x24 Inches.

Stream. 2015. Rock-powder-pigment-on-linen. 22x24 Inches.

Beyond. 2016. Rock Powder Pigment on Linen. 22x24 Inches.

Beyond. 2016. Rock Powder Pigment on Linen. 22x24 Inches.