Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Part 1: Exercise 1.1 Identity and labels

Exercise 1.1 Identity and labels

The first part of this exercise looking at an interview with Edmund De Waal is in my A3 sketchbook. 

"The nature of labels and boundaries between disciplines" 

What examples of visual art do I consider 'Crossing boundaries' or resisting a label?

Edmund De Waal and Grayson Perry discuss the Art vs Craft debate and while De Waal considers himself a potter, Perry considers himself an artist. I'm not sure it is this clear cut though. I think Waal knows he creates works of art but is simply defending the word 'craft' as being relevant and important. Taken to its logical conclusion, is what De Waal produces 'craft' and what Perry does, 'art'. Nope... both produce fine art even though both employ craft in their production. 

Work that challenges conventional labels. 

Clyde Olliver

Clyde Olliver. Slate and jute.
In this work of disarming simplicity, above, Clyde Olliver is crossing the boundary between sculpture and embroidery. The resultant work has a timeless quality about, as if a celt had fashioned this cross in the 5th century, rather than the 21st. The stone is irregularly shaped, perhaps Olliver found it like this, or perhaps he used stone-masonary skills to carefully carve it into the desired shape. He has mounted the resultant sculpture, composed of a piece of slate and one single stitch onto a stone plinth. By doing so he elevates the work to fine art – it says 'look at me'.. I am a complete self-contained thing. A sculpture.

The single stitch is tied and the ends frayed. This echoes the timeless quality embued by his use of slate – did the rope start off like this, or did time fray its ends ?

Resembling a cross, it resembles a celtic cross or crucifix. This has given it a spiritual quality – perhaps, rather than it being created at Olliver's hand, a celtic stone mason made this work as a artifact used in religious ceremonies ?

I do not know the dimensions of this work, nor its title.   

Debbie Smyth

Debbie Smyth - Trolleyed, 525x525mm

Debbie Smyth's work combines drawing with embroidery. Like Clyde Olliver, Smyth challenges traditional notions of embroidery to create original artwork.  She uses metal pins to plot her drawing, and then wraps thread around these pins. Would I have know that the work above was created with thread if I didn't already know - perhaps I would as there is a slight 3 dimensional quality created by the shadows cast by the tangles of loose thread.  The trolley is presented at a slightly askew angle as if it has been abandoned in a roadside ditch somewhere. The title 'trolleyed' adds to this unsettling feeling. The barbed wire like spikiness, particularly around the upper edge, adds a sense of danger and peril to what is a symbol of a domestic chore.

Thread has been used to create a precise network of grids to represent the metal meshwork of the trolley - this is in contrast to the tangles of threads around the wheels. Has the same work been created with graphite, would this contrast even have been thought of - let alone realised ? Shopping, like embroidery has traditionally been seen as women's work - gentle and safe, yet this work is stark and brutal.

Debbie Lyddon

Debbie Lyndon. Liminal Objects: Sea Purses, linen, wire, wax, saltwater

I wrote about Lyddon's work in Mixed Media and have chosen the image above as a work that combines textiles and sculpture. However, she also includes chemical reactions in her work.. soaking iron thread in seawater to create rusting (as can be seen in the work above) and allowing salt crystals to form over time. She is very much a person whose work is inspired by what she experiences in her environment on the Norfolk coast, but also, she utilises the environment to create the work. Of this work, Lyndon says "Liminal Objects come from my memory and imagination. They could be the remains of creatures that have been washed ashore and caught on the strandline - the threshold between land and sea" [Lyddon, D. (2016) Moments of Being. Self published].

This work was created with linen cloth which she stitched with metal wire and allowed to rust in salt water. Of this process, Lyddon has written "The use of salt in my practice has become intrinsic to my exploration of the processes of change within the environment and the passing of time".  [Lyddon, D. (2016) Moments of Being. Self published].

I saw some of her work at the Stitching and Knit show in Harrogate last year, but her work would be equally at home in an a sculpture exhibition. Grayson Perry says it is paintings that are taken most seriously in the art world - commanding far higher prices than say, ceramics. Perhaps with sculpture the same can be said of bronze. Is the material one uses to create art so important in the way we view and define it ?

Matthew Harris

The brief is to collect images that "challenge conventional labels". The image I've chosen is not of a final piece, but of a cartoon for a final piece which I find just as pleasing as Harris's final work. 

Matthew Harris Narita Bloom (cartoon for cloth), 2011. Mixed media on linen-bound paper. 52 x 35cm. 
I chose Harris's work to illustrate the discussion point regarding identity and labels. In the book Making and Drawing by Myra Kane [2012. London. Bloomsbury], Kane writes "The textile work of Matthew Harris is so intertwined with drawing that it is impossible to separate the two activities. Their symbiotic relationship means that ideas go constantly back and forth between the two processes - they are mutually dependent on each other". 

Harris records his experiences of a place through photographs, notes and sketches and I will revisit his work again in a future exercise of this course when I have to do a similar thing. Harris 'makes' his drawings from a patchworks and layers of paper, cloth, stitches and paint upon which he scrapes away at the surface making another layer of marks. The photograph above illustrates this. He constantly rearranges these 'drawings' until he is satisfied that he has captured the essence and mood of a place. Once he is happy with the result he then translates this into cloth textile pieces. I like the preparatory drawings just as much for the final textile pieces. 
I love the muted colours in the piece above, and the way he has achieved a harmony from a range of different marks, parallel lines, irregular circles and edges to create an abstract image. I do not know what the inspiration for this work was, but I can see a faded urban environment.  I am only meant to include one image in this exercise, but I really love the image below too, it reminds me of the paintings of Roger Hilton.  

Matthew Harris. Slab' series III (Cartoon for Cloth) 
While Harris's final work is wholly textile, the effect is painterly as he hand dyes his cloth and patchworks it together. 

Matthew Harris Aoyama Window Fragments Dyed, cut and hand stitched cloth fragments

Examples of my own work that cross boundaries between disciplines

I haven't titled any of my own work although I understand that titles can powerfully affect the way we view the work of others.  Cornelia Parker uses titles in her own work to give additional layers of understanding.

In Mixed Media, I combined various art disciplines in single pieces.

1) Printing and folding

This work falls into the category of 3-dimensional print making. The print came first and I wanted to introduce another element of interest into the work -  although the print works perfectly well on its own.  I liked that the 2 dimensional became 3 dimensional and was able to stand freely as a printed object. As a print it would needed to have been mounted and framed to be viewed properly. Traditional origami uses made-for-origami paper. I like that I've printed my own paper creating a unique image, and superimposed a folded texture over the top.

Folded mono-print. From Mixed Media, Assignment 5. 

2) Woodwork and Embroidery

I purchased some balsa wood to use in the Joining exercise in Mixed Media. I was surprised how easy it was to work with and combined it with some fused plastic. The work was inspired by some demolition work that was happening in Sheffield at the time. Window frames, twisted metal, glimpses of tiled bathrooms, all made the demolition site of the old Grovesner Hotel so fascinating to witness.

Stitched wood and fused plastic. 

3) Folding and Embroidery.

Pleated paper strip which was then hand stitched.
I added randomly angled creates into a strip of paper and then stitched simple embroidery stitches with sewing thread. Because they are stitches are on paper (rather than fabric), the marks look like symbols, or hieroglyphics that perhaps convey a message.

4) Lemon juice 'paintings' on folded paper, with machine stitching

Lemon juice 'paintings' on pleated paper with machine stitching. 

Early on in Mixed Media I experimented with lemon juice 'invisible ink' drawings that I had read about while researching Cornelia Parker. I folded a strip of thick paper and painted on the lemon juice which I 'developed' into brown painterly marks. Over the gas flame the paper had weakened along the fold lines and I used my sewing machine on zig-zag to keep the work from falling apart. This worked well and I continued sewing using straight stitch and zig-zag to add emphasis to the lemon juice marks.  I'm not sure I would have thought to add stitches were it not for the fact that the sample was falling apart where I had over-scorched it on the gas flame while 'developing' the lemon juice marks. 

New work that crosses art disciplines

Printed, folded, stitched piece. 180 x 90 x 80cm
After finishing assignment 5 of Textiles 1: Mixed Media, I wished I had made the final piece onto fabric first, and then used the plisse technique I'd learned in the first assignment, to add folded texture. Although I had thought about it at the time briefly, I felt that I would have to wait weeks for the printing ink to dry before I was able to add folded texture with steam - I was under time constraints so dismissed the idea.  It was only while reading the brief for this piece of work that I thought about acrylic ink (which dries very quickly).. and whether I would be able to use a roller to create mono prints on cloth. Using a two inch roller I rolled acrylic ink onto a piece of cotton fabric:

|Mono print. Acrylic ink on cotton fabric

The ink did not behave in the same way as printing ink. It pooled on the roller and quickly transferred to the fabric. I had to constantly load up the roller with more ink. In some places I went over faint areas a number of times before I was able to produce interesting marks. It helped when I put a thick towel underneath the fabric - I was then able to really press the roller down and transfer the maximum amount of ink that I could.

It dried quickly on a radiator and I ironed pleats into it:

Pleats added to cloth 

Because in places a lot of ink had soaked into the cloth, the fabric became stiff and I was able to form it into a square tube that is self supporting. I used a sewing machine to join the edges.

Although I attempted to add another layer of interest to this work, by sewing paper onto it, it detracted from the simplicity of the final piece and I unpicked it. The final piece is smaller than A4 but because the cloth I folded it from was considerably larger than A4 size I think I can be forgiven.

Short analysis of this new piece 

As instructed I worked quickly with this piece and didn't over plan or over think it's construction. Acrylic ink has a lovely flowing quality and I took full advantage of this and created some fascinating marks with the roller. Pleating at 90 degrees to the parallel monoprinted stripes, I was able to draw attention to these discontinuities and this is wonderfully revealed on all faces of the fabric 'sculpture', with darker denser areas abutting paler, grainier areas.  Printing on fabric rather than paper created a set of marks that would not have been achieved with paper. 

Rather than hiding the joined edges I made a feature of it and left the edges raw so that it is possible to see the way the pleats were formed. The photograph below shows this in close up. 

The fabric, stiffened by the ink and by the pleating, has enough structural integrity to stand without support - it has a pleasing lean that would not have resulted had I used paper to print on. It has given it an organic quality to match the irregularity of the marks.

It is a folded sculpture that incorporates print making, yet the fabric makes it a textile piece. I'm not sure how it should be defined but it doesn't matter. It has a presence all of its own and cannot be improved by adding or taking anything away from it.  

Back view.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Part 1: Research point 1.1. Words and writing

Alighiero Boetti

In Florence last year, an exhbition of Boetti's work was on in a little gallery next to the Accademia. It was actually quite nice to walk past all the crowds and to be in an empty gallery with the work of Boetti.. or rather, the work is conceived by Boetti and stitched by Afghan women.

Exhibition catalogue from Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. Florence. Front cover. showing Niente de vedere niente da mascondere, 1990
I bought the exhibition catalogue but can't read any of it as it is in Italian. I would very much like to find a translation. What I love about this work is the use of the alphabet as decoration. I cannot tell what the words are or interpret them so for me I am responding to the shapes of the letters and colours which are lovely. As part of this reasearch I thought I would take the title, Niente da vedere niente da nascondere and put it into Babel fish. The result is "Nothing to see nothing to hide" . The words are embroidered top to bottom, left to right. It is noticeable that the centre four squares are blank. 

Each letter is embroidered in a very deliberate methodical way - there is nothing random about their creation. stitches run parallel and in rows within each letter shape. 

Boetti. L'energia iniziale 1990 ca.  Embroidery on fabric. 
The work above 'The initial energy' is made of grid of 4 x 4 squares. Each letter fully occupies the square space apart from the 'I' which appears as simple stripes. The 'E' is stretched out horizontally, while the 'A' appears slightly too small in comparison. There is a beautiful playfulness in the way he has drawn the letters , with the first apostrophe in L'energia added in the remaining space not taken up by the 'L'. 

Below is another work that appealed to me because of the colour palette he has chosen. It is beautiful.  
Boetti. Languidi sguardi assassini 1982. Embroidery on fabric. 

I find Boetti's work beautifully decorative and I could quite happily live with his work. I understand from reading about his work, that he embroidered large maps that had a strongly political element. I do not feel that from this work, but this could be because I do not understand the relevance of his words. It would help if I could read the exhibition catalogue. 

Tilleke Schwarz 

I came across this artist at a Knitting and Stiching show in Harrogate a few years ago. Her work was on display together with the artist herself so I was able to chat with her. 

Her work struck be as utterly unique - I hadn't come across anything similar before. She uses thread to make embroidered 'sketches' annotated with text to record her observations of things. Rather than try and describe her work, here is an example :

Tilleke Schwarz. Scratch (Kras) 2012. 70 x 78

She often uses bright colours (as the background fabric) or for stitching her images and words. She isn't worried about leaving blank areas of canvas and I wonder when she knows her work is finished ? Each piece contains disparate apparently unrelated imagery. In this work above, entitled 'Scratch'.. Schwarz says "I like the expression 'start from scratch' (on top of this work). I love flowers. From the early blooming winter Aconite and the Wood Anemones in the spring, the the lavishly painted flowers by famous Dutch artists, such as Bosschaert, De Heem and Van der Ast. That's why I have incorporated flowers into this piece. I also included some memories of the hotel toilet in Kaunas (Lthuania) and, of course, a calico cat". [Schwatz, T. (2012). New Potatoes. Self Published]. 

In her book, New Potatoes, Schwarz reveals how she is inspired by the words she encounters in her every day life. "Press resume key to resume" or "Please return all crockery to the servery and pull all rubbish in the bins provided. Thank you". She is particularly drawn to safety notices such as "In the event of an avalanche you should; keep your head up, by swimming". She talks about the 'idiocy' of our times. "We live in an idiotic world, all those security measures, the lengths we go to in order to feel safe. But we have forgotten how to accept that we don't have everything under control. All those instructions are actually laughing at us. " .  I think she is perfect to research for this part of the Ideas and Processes course because of how text inspires her work. 

Tilleke Schwarz Beware of embroidery (Pas op voor bourduurwerk) 1993 70 x 65mm

In the preface of her book "New Potatoes" Schwarz states "I barely use my imagination because real life if often stranger than fantasy". Every day life inspires her, she uses letters, emails and newspaper cuttings and makes notes and sketches in her sketchbook. Maps she says "offer beautiful lines".

Detail: Tilleke Schwarz. Free recovery (Gratis herstel) 2016. 66 x 68cm. 
The image above is a part of a larger work entitled "Free recovery". Schwarz says of this work "In the UK I often see signs along the road, stating: 'Free recovery, await rescue'. I like these a lot as they are so optimistic and full of trust. This work contains more memories of our trip to the UK". In detail of the work below, she includes words she found in her B&B.. "Dear guests... breakfast is served..."

Detail: Tilleke Schwarz. Free recovery (Gratis herstel) 2016. 66 x 68cm
Tillike Schwarz was initially discouraged from using embroidery when she was at an academy in The Hague and describes the deputy director of the college giving her a 'dirty look' when she showed him her work (which at that time was traditional and simple). It was one helpful tutor who suggested "Why don't you stitch like your draw?". This was the catalyst that enabled her to find her own unique voice. 

Detail. Tilleke Schwarz. Always (Altijd) 2007 70 x 54cm.
In the work above, Schwarz quotes from avalanche advice that she found in a telephone directory. In other parts of the same work is embroidered are maps, flowers and other pieces of text, including news of her friend's tortoise (her friend being Matthew Harris which coincidently I have already written about in this blog!) 

Detail: Tilleke Schwarz Playground (Speelplaats) 2008 51 x 55cm
I will again quote from Small Potatoes, the book by Schwarz to give context to the work above: "The title playground is a literal translation of the Swedish text: 'plats for lek'. It contains a few quotes by the famous poet Alfred Tennyson (UK) to celebrate his 200th birthday in 2009. For instance the lines: 'As the thistle shakes when three gray linnets wrangle for the seed; I am part of all that I have met; And I sat down and wrote, in such a hand as when a field of corn; See what a lovely shell. '"

I notice the words 'Mist is' embroidered perpendicular to the background text; at the bottom right, again, words are placed above words. Schwarz uses different thread to write the words - varying the colour and thickness, as well as different stitches - back stitch, couching and cross stitch. 

To summarise Schwarz's approach
- 'Inspiration is everywhere' - everyday life particularly.
- images and text "[texts' add a graphic quality to my work. I like to use texts out of context in order to reveal our strange way of communicating"
- a reflection on modern life
- not pre-planned but develop organically. 
- Schwarz is very influenced by contemporary art 
- Playful attitude combined with meaningful commentary on contemporary society.
- Inspired by her travel. Journeys to the UK. 

Above, a delightful small detail from a larger work, Domestic, is a spray bottle, presumably of cleaning fluid. The top of has been infilled with text and we can't really make out individual words though I have a sense that they are related to the chores and housework. I love the exaggerated wavy curves at the top of the bottle where the fingers go and the random dots and lines that indicate fluid inside.   

Researching from this part of the course has been a great way of reacquainting myself with this artist. Her book New Potatoes that I bought from her stand at the Knitting and Stitching show is full of inspiration and reveals much about the way she works. 

Monday, 29 January 2018

Part 1: Exercise 1.2 Personal Experience

A walk 

Photographs and sketches from my walk - laid out in chronological order (left to right)

I chose a work from my own house – and a walk that I once attempted to run (thought I had to walk on the up hill bits ). It starts from my street – and like many streets in Sheffield the road and pavement surfaces are in a dreadful state. I haven't really been directly affected by this government's austerity programme but it is incredibly visible around the suburbs of Sheffield. Looking at this narrative journey (and I consulted my camera to arrange strictly in time order) I began and ended with a shot of the ground. Crazed patterning of cracked tarmac. The council have promised to resurface our road – which is a good thing, but the interesting patterns I see when I look down will no longer be visible. The walk cuts through the back of the houses on my street to a pretty housing development of larger houses on the sight of the old art college. Beyond it is fields and countryside and the pretty village of old Totley.

First sequence of photographs

Walking up the ginnel from my street to the new buildings behind I've noticed some colourful graffiti on a lamp post. Next to the lamp post some dead seed heads create interesting texture against the silvered grey fence behind it. I see that a theme that reoccurs within this sequence of photographs is that of the man made structures within the landscape and how they have become faded and weathered by the elements. A rusted iron gate tired with frayed rope to an old weathered fence, a marker indicating the presence of a gas main with gorgeous faded colours on the front,  man hole covers and cracked tarmac. Near the end of the journey I see some kind of metal box with an incredible dark grey staining on the front resembling a storm cloud. I like these accidental finds and see them all over the city where I work.

Alongside images of man made structures like these I've captured the colours on dry stone walls – on one wall the lichen is a vivid shade of yellow, underneath, an almost turquoise blue. I like the rusted steel wire crossing the image from right to left. The lichen on a tree trunk is also interesting. On our cracked neglected streets lichen also forms looking like so much discarded chewing gum.

Another theme that predominates is my interest in the structures of plants – some silhouetted against the sky. Rose Bay willow herb, cow parsley and other plants I can't identify. I chose to draw these in my sketchbook. Although there are some scenes of the rural landscape around me – I was really pointing at the charcoal grey and pink sky that appeared at sunset so most of the image is taken up with sky although once again there appears the silhouettes of plants (this time trees) against the backdrop of the sky. I have also been interested in the shapes of man made objects against the sky - be it telegraph poles or lamp posts. 

I am trying to decide what this collection of sketches and photographs say about me. Obviously I think anyone doing that same walk would perhaps focus on the same thing but of course that isn't true. That I am interested in the natural, organic decay seems to come across - the rusting and patina of metal – the silvering of wood, the staining that appears on street objects. But it seems I'm also drawn to the shape and structure of things. I love the energy and movement of the grasses I've captured against dry stone walls and the texture of this compared to the stone and vegetation above.

Sketches and photographs.
It is hard to be objective when answering this question as I know I love pattern so look for ways of creating pattern - whether from seed heads, or the shape and pattern of a man hole cover. 

Colour does appear frequently in this collection. The vivid red of Boston Ivy framed by the yellow lichen of a branch for example. However, I also like the colours of the man made things on this walk – double yellow lines, A no-through road sign. It is autobiographical only in the sense that it is self curated collection of my sensory perceptions (mainly visual). I did notice sounds and smells which I noted down in my sketchbook, but I'm less interested in reading my words, than looking at some of the images I've collected.  

Final images of  walk. Back to the man made. 

Of all the photographs I took on the walk this is my favourite one - what does this choice say about me - I;m not sure?  But there is a playfulness and humour in this image and it reminds me of a print - possibly Hockney - or Spike Milligan ?: 

I think this box houses electrical circuits connected with the traffic lights.  I love the accidental 'storm cloud' image that has been created.  I do like rain portrayed in art and although you see it in Japanese wood prints (Horishige particularly - rain is less common in Western art).

Grouping the objects. 

This was great fun. I liked creating order and neatness in the arrangement of photographs and sketches. I'm a naturally untidy person and have to work hard not to descend into disorder. Therefore the neatness of these collections satisfy me greatly.  Some of the images appeared in more than one grouping. While they do remind me slightly of those dreadful postcards one can now buy at holiday destinations all over the world... repeating images of say Irish pubs, or bicycles in Amsterdam.. these collections of images have less obvious themes and hopefully do NOT possess the tweeness inherent in the former. 

The narrative is broken with these groupings, but it does reveal more of my character, particularly in the groupings of man made objects. It seems to show I have an interest at looking down at the surface I'm walking on. Road surfaces in our financially stricken towns and cities are criss-crossed with patches and scars. Like palimpsists they reveal their own life histories. My choice of groups perhaps also shows me responding to colour. Juxtiposing the lichen covered wall with the double yellow line reveals a relationship between the two. Both appear with a few hundred yards of each other on Baslow Road - one is man-made, the other created by nature.    

1. Gateposts and street furniture  
Each of these objects seem to have a personality and presence. They are weathered and aging and have seen better days. I love them grouped altogether in this way. 

2. Stone walls. Such gorgeous colours - greys, blues and yellow.   

I admire some of the work of Kaffe Fassett and have been to his talks and exhibitions over the years. Images like these inspire him to create his own textile works.

3. Dried plants / seedheads in profile. 

4. Trees in profile

5. Lichen 

6. Pavement & Roads

7. Skies
These skies would look great done as water colour sketches.

8. Leaves

9. Colourful metal objects 

10. Green things 

11. Yellow things 

12. Long thin vertical things 

A map of my journey

As soon as I read the details of this exercise - a map of my personal journey I immediately thought of the map in Winnie-the-Pooh and I found it on my bookshelf and took it down for the first time in many years. After the contents page is a map of Pooh Bear's house and the surrounding area entitled "DRAWN BY ME AND MR SHEPARD HELPD". I do love E H Shepard's drawings - they enchanted me when I was a child and still do.  This map is created not by careful measuring - but by the feeling of proximity from one place (the "BEE TREE".. to another "KANGAS HOUSE" [sic]. Characters are drawn on to this map and nothing is to scale; for example Christopher Robin is shown as big as a tree. Certain geographical and physical details are noted down if they are deemed significant.. for example "NICE FOR PICKNIK" ... or where a particular event has happened "WHERE THE WOOZLE WASNT". Even Pooh's feelings about a place are recorded "RATHER BOGGY AND SAD".   The points of the compass are not NSEW but instead, POOH. This map is personal and incorporates the friends, events and important details  in Poohs' life. It is an example of a personal map - it contains meaning and content and triggers memories of stores and characters. It has extra resonance for me as I studied this map as a child and was immersed in the world of Pooh Bear and his friends.  

Illustration by E.H. Sheperd from Milne, A. A.  (1970) Winne-the-Pooh, Bungay, Suffolk. Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press) Ltd. 
I will base my own map on what is described on my running App, Strava. I ran this same route a few months ago and Strava has helpfully traced it on a map for me. My photos are 6x4" and I will need a very large pice of paper. I may also have to be selective about what information to put on the map. 

My map (A1 size) Cartridge paper, photographs, sketches and OS map. 

The photograph above is poor as I had to stand on a chair and take the photograph on panoramic setting to get the entire map into one image. I interpreted the words 'draw a map' loosely by using collage. To describe the route I photocopied an OS map of the area I walked and cut it into strips. These don't show up well in the photograph above, but are shown in some of the detail pictures.

Detail of map. Area 500 yards from my house. 

I can see the beginning of my walk (bottom right) I've represented with a cracked pavement and grafitied lamp post. As the eye moves left along the route the delapidated pavements start to give way to a tree and leaves (albeit ones that appear to have some kind of disease). The furthest point I reached on my walk (top left) is represented with trees, landscape, flowers, sheep and deep blue sky.

Detail from map. 1 mile from my house. 

The walk started  grey.. and as the walk progressed became blue and green. There are views of expansive skies and green hillsides. Is my house rooted in grey ? And as I progressed towards nature, the view became green and blue ? Yes and no. I think actually I just love the weathering and fading of my local streets - the grafittied lamppost is attractive, the crazed pavements, interesting. I could have pointed my camera at local gardens or the sky but I chose not to.  The map says more about me and my concerns, rather than being a comment on where I live.

I could do the walk again and start by taking pictures of my beautiful garden... and later, take pictures of barbed wire, broken down farm buildings and old tin baths lying in fields...

 Mixed-media work entitled 'My Journey' 

The brief is to "communicate the important elements and experiences of [my] walk" and to "[capture] the essence of [my] journey"
I have to be exploratory and to take risks.


The elements of my journey I would like to capture are :
Suburban to rural
Grey to blue and green
Daylight to dusk
The interesting street furniture I saw on the way
The stunning colours of the lichen on a wall
The structures and textures of the grasses / plants / trees
Green hillsides.
The empty (open road) stretching ahead.

That is a lot to capture in a piece - far too much information to represent. I wish I'd done a much shorter simpler journey in an unvarying landscape. Oh well.....
So I am going to need to be selective.

I will represent the streets on one panel (the ground) , the stone walls/ grass/ plants on another (my eye level)  and the sky, fields and trees at the top (above) I will join these three panels.

 I selected these photographs and tree sketch as my main inspiration for the piece:

I like my sample - particularly the way I captured the cracked pavements. It fulfills the initial brief as it describes the transition from pavement, eye level and sky, but also, the stages in my journey from my house on a suburban road, into the rural environment nearby.

"My Journey". Paint, wax crayon, collage, hand stiching with sewing thread.
The tarmac pavement was created by rubbing pale wax crayon over the pavement right outside my house.  I washed it over with paler grey paint and drew the pattern of the cracks onto it which I then cut and stuck onto a dark grey painted background. To symbolise the man made nature of the suburban landscape, I added some double yellow lines. I find just the right shade of yellow in a broadsheet newspaper I'd been reading.

This panel works fine on its own. I haven't removed the rough edges of the piece as I think they enhance the feeling of decay and disintegration of the pavement.

Collage. Paint, wax crayon on paper

In the middle part of the piece I wanted to portray the movement and energy in the grass. I began by using a clear wax crayon to make big gestural strokes from top to bottom. I washed over this in green paint and added hand stitiching. Darker stitches to add depth in the background. I think this has worked well.

The sky - again I used paint and varied the colours to try and capture the sky just before sunset with a paler band at the horizon. The tree I sketched - it symbolises a tree.The branches are truncated but it doesn't matter. The entire piece is stylised. I did try and add a wall that I had created with pastels.. but it didn't work with everything else going on. I have created a harmonious piece with just the few simple elements I've included. So it works in aesthetic terms though though I struggled for a period for a while in its making as when I added the wall I just thought "this isn't me.. this doesn't look like my work".

Lichen covered stone wall that I created with chalk pastel - this had been initially stitched to the middle panel but I didn't work with the elements in the work, it distracted and destroyed the simple composition. 

Removing it really shifted me to understanding that it was complete as it was.  I also like each individual panel of the work in its own right. Regarding the question of whether it captures the essence of the walk.. well.. there were lots of essences.. not a single one. I've captured some, but not all elements of my walk and I'm satisfied with this.

This exercise was challenging as I just wanted to take an image I liked and work with that single image .. perhaps the storm cloud photograph. However, I  perservered with this exercise and am happy with what I've produced.  Being forced to go on a walk I'd done many times on the past did mean I studied my surroundings more closely than usual and I found this interesting. I also liked working directly from these photographs. As I was making the middle panel I looked at the photograph while making the wax crayon makes - I think it added energy to my mark making.

I varied the placement of each panel next to another, and the placement of the tree. I haven't yet decided on the configuration I am most happy with. I am happy with this one as it shows more of the sky as well as the irregular lower edge of the pavement:

Part 1: Exercise 1.1 Identity and labels

Exercise 1.1 Identity and labels The first part of this exercise looking at an interview with Edmund De Waal is in my A3 sketchbook.  ...