Bibliography: Part 5

The bibliography for this final part of the course is attached in the document below alongside my reading notes.

I have recently acquired the phone app: “Ref Me” which has made the whole process much easier to manage,. This has enabled me to log all of my reading rather than a selection and the list is quite extensive for that reason. Also  I had a period of illness when I was not able to produce any physical artwork but was able to read, which allowed me to spend more time on the contextual side.

bibliography-part-5

Statement of Intent (update)

My aim is to re-use the same premise of Loss, absence and presence as a basis for this part of the course.

As a subject I intend to use a found dead yellowhammer as the starting point.

Context

 Critical Theory

 Hauntology

Further reading around the subject led me to Derrida’s essay “What Is Ideology” from Spectres of Marx.

In this particular work he is discussing the ghosts that Marx continually refers to within his work ‘Capital’, i.e. the cultural and historical references that are part of the objects / art forms that we are surrounded by in everyday life. Within this text Derrida uses the word ‘hauntology’ for the first time. The side table to which Derrida refers to here is a reference to Marx’s use of that object as a metaphor within his earlier work:

“The commodity-form, to be sure, is not use-value, we must grant this to Marx and take account of the analytic power this distinction gives us. But if the commodity-form is not, presently, use-value, and even if it is not actually present, it affects in advance the use-value of the wooden table. It affects and bereaves in advance, like the ghost it will become, but this is precisely where haunting begins. And its time, and the untimeliness of its present, of its being “out of joint”. To haunt does not mean to be present, and it is necessary to introduce haunting into the very construction of a concept. Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here hauntology. Ontology opposes it only in a movement of exorcism. Ontology is a conjuration. (Derrida, 1994.12)

Here, Derrida is questioning Marx’s (and other philosophers) approach to time as a rigid, linear spectrum. He is stating that we / an object / an artwork can be haunted by a future yet to pass as much as by our past. Later on in his writing he clarifies this point further, in regard with the virtual worlds that exist within contemporary life:

“It obliges us more than ever to think the virtualisation of space and time, the possibility of virtual events whose movement and speed prohibit us more and more than ever (more and otherwise than ever, for this is not absolutely and thoroughly new) from opposing presence to its representation, “real time” to “deferred time”, effectivity to its simulacrum, the living to the non-living, in short, the living-dead of its ghosts” (Derrida, 1994.20)

We currently live in a world where it is hard to fathom what is real or unreal- a ghost; this ephemerality is very much a part of our existence today…even more-so in the twenty-first century twenty year after Derrida wrote these words originally.

In his closing words, Derrida concludes that hauntology is pretty much a given, an inescapable truth and ghosts permeate all aspects of our world and times:

“they are always there, spectres, even if they do not exist, even if they are no longer, even if they are not yet. They give us to rethink the “there” as soon as we open our mouths, even at a colloquium and especially when one speaks there in a foreign language” (Derrida, 1994.26)

Deep Ecology

Considering the yellowhammer which has recently been in decline as a species within the UK, I am also interested in the wider environmental issues relating to the natural world and how mankind can impact upon it.

Research into this area has led to the idea around ‘Deep Ecology’ which was pioneered by the Norweigen philosopher Arne Naess, who believed that the world is in ecological crisis. He developed a theory asking for a fundamental shift in thinking within human civilisation, as the rapid growth of human population and excessive consumption within the western world is unsustainable and negatively affecting other life forms, which we should learn to repect and understand how vital they are for the world to function as a whole. The outlook is bleak:

“Without changes in basic values and practices, we will destroy the diversity and beauty in the world and its ability to support diverse human cultures.” (Drengson s.d.)

Techniques & processes

  •  Collagraph methods as per course instructions
  • Limited subtle / monochrome palette in an attempt to convey a mood and atmosphere of loss / melancholy/ fading.
  • Blind embossing – which can be used to demonstrate the idea of absence and material presence.
  • Explore use of negative space.
  • Continue using text within the work as an important element – linking with literary sources.
  • Try using carborundum – which can provide very strong darks and leave a very physical embossed mark on the paper.

References

Derida, J (1994) What is Ideology from Spectres of Marx [online] At: www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/derrida-what-is-ideology.html Accessed on 20th June 2016.

Drengson, A (s.d.) Some Thought on the Deep Ecology Movement [online] At: www.deepecology.org/deepecology.html Accessed on 20th June 2016.

Interrogating Landcape, Materials & the Figure- Dorset Visual Arts: Exhibition and Talk. 4th June 2016

Dorset visual arts is a not for profit charity which has 500 artist members within Dorset. They run a number of projects designed to aid networking and collaboration for their members. As part of Dorset Art weeks they held exhibition and talk at Bridport Arts centre. I decided to go along to find out more about the work of practising artists in the area.

I made notes from the afternoon in my small sketchbook (attached)

One artist that I particularly want to mention is Katy Shepherd, who works with ideas around loss and memory, which are themes that have started to arise in my own work. 

The drawings she had on display were Ines she carried out on the 20th anniversary of her mother’s death. She used no photographic references for these works. She described the whole process which she said was not easy both emotionally and technically.

She drew her as she remembered her the last time she saw her. She said she is not sure she managed to draw her at all; that she was struggling through the journey of trying to remember her as she was.

Obviously I cannot comment on whether she managed to achieve a likeness but I found the portraits remarkable in their execution. The marks were sensitively drawn reflective of the poignancy of the process the artist was undertaking.

Katy also showed an animation called “Harbour”, which she produced at college in 1999. A clip of this work can be found here: http://katyshepherd.co.uk/animations/harbour/

She explained that this was one of a series of works animating family photos- an attempt to bring the moment back to life. She explained her process that it took ages- that it is a laborious thing trying to bring a still image back to life.

I felt a particular affinity to Katy’s work as the themes she explores resonate strongly in me. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon. It makes me realise how many wonderful artists live locally and has made me think that I will join the group upon graduation, when I am completely aware of my own voice and have confidence in my own artistic practice. It is an exciting prospect.

Research point –contemporary printmakers

I researched a number of printmakers, my notes are shown in the slideshow below.

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List of Images

Fig. 1:Munter, G. (1908) Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky [Colour woodblock] At: http://www.wikiart.org/en/gabriele-munter/portrait-of-wassily-kandinsky-1906?utm_source=returned&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=referral. (Accessed on 12 April 2016)

Fig.2: Munter, G. (1906) Aurelie  [Colour woodcut] At:  http:oseculoprodigiosi.blogspot.co.uk. (Accessed on 12 April 2016)

Fig.3: Kilpper, T. (2000)The Ring: Bella Burge  [ Woodcut on fabric] At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kilpper-the-ring-bella-burge-p78541 (Accessed on 12 April 2016)

Fig.4: Kilpper, T. (2000)The Ring: Alfred Hitchcock [ Woodcut on fabric] At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kilpper-the-ring-alfred-hitchcock-p78542 (Accessed on 12 April 2016)

Fig 5:  Le Brun, C. (1998) Motif Light [Woodcut] At: http://paragonpress.co.uk/works/motif-light (Accessed on 12 April 2016)

Fig 6: Le Brun, C. (2015) Seria Ludo [Woodcut] At: http://paragonpress.co.uk/works/seria-ludo (Accessed on 12 April 2016)

Fig 7: Woodrow, B. (2000) Beekeeper #2 [Etched lino – 2 blocks] At: http://paragonpress.co.uk/works/beekeeper (Accessed on 13 April 2016)

Fig 8: Woodrow, B. (2000) Beekeeper #5  [Etched lino – 1 block] At: http://paragonpress.co.uk/works/beekeeper (Accessed 13 April 2016)

Fig 9: Johns, E. (2007) The Rose and the Nightingale  [Lino etching] At: http://emilyjohns.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/nightingale-colour-e1457881228310.jpg (Accessed 13 April 2016)

Fig 10: Johns, E. (2007) 26 May 1908  [Lino etching] At: http://emilyjohns.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/May-black-white-e1457880999464.jpg (Accessed 13 April 2016)

Fig 11: Bugler, J. (2014) Homs [Reduction Linocut] At: http://www.jessbugler.co.uk/gallery/syria/1 (Accessed 13 April 2016)

Fig 12: Bugler, J. (2013) Nightwatch IV  [Reduction Linocut] At: http://www.jessbugler.co.uk/gallery/nightwatch/4 (Accessed 13 April 2016)

Fig 13: Coldwell,P. (2013) A Mapping In Blue [Screen print and laser cut relief] At: http://www.edinburghprintmakers.co.uk/shop/ep-print-editions/3404/a-mapping-in-blue (Accessed 13 April 2016)

Fig 14: Coldwell,P. (2002) Border I [Inkjet] At: https://artinprint.org/article/paul-coldwell-a-layered-practice-graphic-works-1993-2012/ (Accessed 13 April 2016)

Research point – Mark Hearld.

I find it interesting that the course handbook prompts research into printmakers who are also illustrators. I find the work of Hearld and Curtis very attractive and with strong design elements but find from a Fine Art perspective, find it hard to identify with their work.

That said, it is useful to look at their prints from a technical point of view to ascertain how they produced certain effects. As I was given an option, I chose to look at Mark Hearld’s work.

I cannot deny I do really like his linocuts. He studied Natural History illustration at the Royal College of Art and so the subject matter is understandably of the flora and fauna around the UK. He uses bold designs; simplifying the form of the creature, he is depicting, into its essential elements. This works well to create eye caching work with personality that is instantly recognisable for the viewer.

The prints that I favour most are those that have a limited palette; one central focus with pattern and decoration around.

In “Spey Salmon” I am particularly taken with his colour choices. The aquamarine is very strongly contrasted against the black. I assume that this is a reduction cut as there are some areas of white inter-weaved with the blue and on the stomach of the fish.

Looking closely at his mark-making in this is also helpful. There are such a large range of marks. The handling of the salmon’s body is a much more textured approach – probably using a gouge in ‘jiggling’ fashion. The background is much more linear and bolder to differentiate between the two areas on the pictorial format.

He uses transparency of ink overlaid for differing effects. The technique used in “Ballindalloch Blackbird “ is interesting in that he layers a lighter yellow ink over the black in areas which created a matte finish in some areas, reflective of the nature of the birds plumage under different light effects.

After watching this video, I had a new respect for the artist. Particularly when he discussed his collage process and how he enjoyed exploring the tensions of the materials he used. Also, I found his relationship with objects, domesticity and his collections fascinating and made me realise that there is more than just an intention to produce decorative pieces to his work; there is more of a critical context underpinning his art practice.

Project 7: Multi-block linoprint 1: Dead Flowerheads

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREContext & Planning

When undertaking the Painting module I found I had an interest in observing and painting dead flowerheads. I am particularly drawn to the aesthetic of decay and in particular the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi: ‘beauty in impermanence, incompleteness and imperfection.’ (Koren, 1994) I wrote an overview of this theoretical framework here.

I am interested in ideas represented by Eastern philosophies and their acceptance of ‘what is’ exactly as it is. They observe the passing of time and the fragility of life in a sensitive, reflective way, which coveys a bitter /sweet dichotomy. This is what I am trying to convey in my own work and is something that I feel would lend itself well to printmaking.

I had some dead flowers that I found particularly beautiful that I wanted to work from. I produced some very quick rapid sketches just to get my eye in, these were not particularly good but were a starting point. I then moved to closer look at the subject in more detail. I found myself being particularly attracted to the textures of the dry petals and leaves.

I wanted to do some research into how other artists have depicted plants in print form. I looked at the work of Anselm Kiefer, William Morris and Katsushika Hokusai in my sketchbook. Each artist had looked at their subject in different ways. Morris’ art is all about design and decoration; Hokusai is similar as design is also important but there is a sensitivity in the handling of the subject and careful arrangement of the composition that creates a feeling that is missing in the former work. My preferred example was the expressive power conveyed by Kiefer in his sunflower woodcut. I liked the way that he had depicted the form of the flowers much less detailed and more rough, reminiscent of the German expressionists woodcuts from early 20th century. I also liked the more monochromatic use of colour and feel this adds to the atmosphere.

I decided to do some more observational studies with inks and then paint working very loosely. I was not grappling with the composition at this point as things were not working. I needed to do some reading into composition and looked at ‘Mastering Composition’ by Roberts, I (2008) for inspiration. This presented the idea of underlying compositional armatures to creating a pleasing picture. This was useful reading and helped provide a starting point which I could then fit other elements into. After producing a number of small thumbnail studies in my small sketchbook, things were starting to take shape.

This starting point then led me to a closer graphite sketchbook study. I wanted to look closer at the details and gain an understanding of form, and so worked carefully and closely from life. I feel I produced a successful little study that had the feel I was after.

But how was I going to translate this into lino, which is a much bolder medium?
I gridded the drawing up and produced a sketch using a thick black marker which would be my outline. This I felt was not working – the subject looked too clumsy and not the fragility I was after. So instead, using Kiefer’s work as a reference I choe to work with large shapes of dark and use hatching for the lines. I translated the drawing onto black paper and used white ink to get a sene of how I would cut the lino. This was moving in the right direction.

But now it was looking more like a single colour linocut – how could I translate into a multi-block?

I looked at this print by Prunella Clough (Black Peony) for inspiration. The way the artist had used one dominant darker motif of the flower but with paler looser organic shapes behind appealed to me. So I used this as a starting point.

My intention was to have 3 blocks:
1. Background – with a small amount of mark-making for interest.
2. Leaf-like organic shapes –very light / transparent.
3. Main Flower design.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

I carved my main design first and then printed in black.
I scanned this into the PC and worked in layers – playing with colour & transparency to build up how the image would look.

I transferred the layers onto the other two blocks and carved.

The background layer I used a bit of experimental mark making using a V-cutter and also the dremel engraver to create some organic marks. I didn’t want too many as otherwise I would loose the base colour.

For the leaf layer I used a variety of cutters to cut the design. I didn’t want to overcut the block. I realise layers of texture are important to me rather than pristine clinical cutting so I was very rough with my carving to ensure that the marks from my gouges were still visible in places.

Printing

Proofing with watersoluble inks went quite well, as they are much more transparent in nature and I seemed to use the right amount of extender through chance.

The final printing with oil-based inks proved more of a challenge:
• Leaves – not transparent enough
• Therefore not enough contrast with the final plate.

Instead of throwing all of my prints away I decided to overprint with opaque white ink to try to fade out these prints and then be able to print the darker ink over the top. This actually worked quite well.

After these other variations in printing I tried were:
• Using a lot of extender and only small amount of pigment to produce a very transparent effect.
• Using paper mask to cover the area where the flower would sit so that the overlap wouldn’t be too distracting.
• Double printing – Overprinted a darker flower with lighter – found the 3D effect quite appealing.
• 180 degrees – turned the plate upside down and printed – my favourite print which worked very well to show the ghostly layer that I was after.

Outcome

What worked well?
• Subject matter with the fragile mark-making provided a cohesive connection.
• Use of colour: I feel this is becoming a strength. I am able to mix the colours I need quite happily and using the PC to play with how colours work together in terms of transparency really helped with that side.
• Design – I took a lot of time over this in order to get this right and did a lot of reading to understand how I can improve. This meant that I had a reasonably strong composition from the start. I feel this area is improving which is pleasing as it was one major aim I had for the course.
• Registration – I have learned various methods of registration through the books I have read and feel that this has improved greatly.

Challenges?
• Initially mixing transparent and pale colours were a problem. I now realise that a tiny amount of pigment goes a long way, so I need to add the colour slowly and gradually.
• Due to all of the above issues and learning things took longer than anticipated so I was not able to keep going developing many layers of printing which I would have liked to.

Development/ Future.
• On closer inspection I am questioning whether I have met the brief fully. Perhaps all of my layers needed to fit together as a jigsaw as in a traditional multiplate to demonstrate that I can register effectively. I plan to produce another quick multi-block just to demonstrate this correctly.

 

References

Koren, L. (1994) Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. Berkeley. Stone Bridge Press.