I haven't written about my work and the development of my studio practice in this space for a little while. Before last week, I found myself at a frustrating point with my work where I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but I was struggling to find the ways and means to say it.
In order to get myself out of the rut I had found myself in, I made a goal to be in the studio for 9am Monday to Thursday, for 7 active studio hours a day, at a minimum. I did it, and it did wonders for both my mental attitude and for my productivity.
Even if I was just reading, working on my written portfolio or doing dissertation research, distinguishing a space that I went to for work each day made me feel a lot more positive regarding my productivity. It gave me a greater sense of purpose within my work, but it also meant I felt more able to relax when away from the studio. All in all, this week has affirmed that maintaining a regular studio practice is the best thing for me, going forward.
I have decided to put a heavier emphasis on photography in my practice. Essentially, photography is drawing - drawing with light. It is taking what is all around us, the intangible, the landscape, light... and moulding these things into visuals.
I got some of my imagery printed up onto bamboo paper ready to pair with elements of frottage, natural pigment, drawings and other mediums. These arrived yesterday, so I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio next week to play around with presentation and compositions. Going forward, I plan to get back into film photography.
After my research on Anna Ayeroff, I have been taken with the concept of chemical-free film developing, using homemade caffenol. This is something I will need to spend more time researching and learning about, but a process I would like to at least trial in the near future.
I have been thinking a lot recently about how traditional cartography and mapping is, in it's conventional sense, horizonless.
A horizon is a line, a force of orientation. A horizon can help us find our position in landscape and, in a meditative sense, within ourselves - so I've been finding myself asking why this line is omitted in favour of an aerial view of the world in traditional mapping.
A regular motif in my work is the diptych format which stems from an obsession with unearthing and mapping-out the intangible space in which the horizon resides. Everything is in some sort of dualistic relationship, and I wish to communicate a dialectical view of the world in my work.
I aim to use this creative cartography practice I find myself in as a tool to reduce these complex observations down to a structure within which I can bring attention to the significance of the horizon line. The use of ‘line’ that manifests throughout my work alludes to an ever-present horizon... Paradoxically, traditional cartography excludes reference to a horizon. I aim to account for this in my mappings.
Mapping and charting the horizons, landscape, trees, earth, rock pools and hidden histories of Cornwall's coastline through photographs, drawings, pigments, written words, water, tides, waves and documentation of horizon lines.
In addition to thinking about the horizon, I have also been thinking about sculpture form and installations. Something I never imagined I would be compelled to try.
These sculptures and site specific installations will be extant for no longer than it takes for me to photograph and document them. They will play with experimentally depicting place, the sense of being in place, and acknowledge an ever-present horizon line.
Like a marker, or 'proof' and 'evidence' of my human experience in the land, the photography will form the lasting 'imprint' of the work. Nothing in nature has permanency. The photographs of these site specific sculptures could be presented with written words made on-site or even co-ordinates of the place the sculpture was formed and documented.
On Thursday I took a trip to Castle Beach, the next of my 'research sites' of which I will make work in and about.
It was a beautiful day and of course, I had forgotten it was half term, so the beach was packed. After extensive walking along the coast I found a quiet spot and sat down to do some simple preliminary drawings in my sketchbook.
Sitting on the rocks, I was taken by the textures and lines running through them. I photographed them for documentation purposes. I may do some drawings from these in the future or even use them as-is along some other form of medium.
I did some small, paper frottage drawings, then took out my charcoal, graphite and linen to make some larger frottage traces.
I was particularly interested in making use of the rock pool water on the site. I soaked parts of the linen in the water ahead of making the drawings so that some areas of the linen were denser and darker, due to the dampening of the graphite.
I also dropped my graphite stick in a pool of water, quite by accident, hence my hands getting more dirty than neccessary...
After making substantial marks upon the linen, I decided to make some site specific installations, experimenting with found materials and the traces I had made on the fabric. I sourced various stones and rocks from around the area I was working and had a play around with compositions.
The line running down the middle of the two distinct sides of the frottage insinuates an abstraction of a horizon, the two parts acting as the sky and sea. It could even be read as a nod to graticule references, a network of lines representing meridians on which maps can be drawn...
There is a sense of stones attempting to find some sort of balance with the panels of frottage, finding a capacity in which to settle. These rounded stones function as horizon slopes, reflecting the curvature of the earth.
In working with sculpture, my work continues to take landscape as subject but not as content; it is not explicitly topographical or isomorphic. I intend to represent something not readily given in landscape but to depict an immersive outdoor experience - to render the unseen, curious histories of remarkable places in Cornwall.
I am embracing a perceptual approach to land art, particularly in exploring the threshold between binaries and dichotomies, the weight of one thing to another, and the magnitude of the omnipresent horizon line on human experience.