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.