DJCAD Reflective Research Journal – Week Three

When Mark mentioned Matisse last week, at the time, I had said that I had never been that excited by him…well I started watching videos about his life and I am now suddenly quite energized by his work.

I am also beginning to form more definite words to describe the shadow figures I am making. The fire is possibly still too raw to process directly, (really? After nearly three years…? It seems like that might be the case…) I feel a lot of anxiety, discomfort and reluctance every time I start trying to make work directly about the night of the fire or my grief about the loss of things, particularly my children’s books and toys (which used to be mine) and my sketchbooks and journals. But I realise that the figures are all about the “shadowy” explosion of emotional and sexual betrayals and separations which happened in and around my family which culminated in the fire (the sudden, very violent, mass destruction and end of two households). But shadowy (as in the Jungian shadow characters we unconsciously form as coping mechanisms) emotional and sexual dramas are happening all the time. We are being unknowingly shaken in to frenzied states of desire and propelled towards people by our genitals and our traumas (aka shadow characters) all the time, leaving trails of traumatized casualties, caught in, and enacting their own shadow dramas.

When I got back from my weekend at home, where I argued with my 22 year old daughter over cleaning methods, I was annoyed to realise that I had missed the deadline for application to join the student curatorial team at the Art Schools Cooper Gallery, but I now feel this was probably for the best, because, I have so much research I want to do for my own work as well as all the reading and research for critical and contextual studies as well as the practical work, that I think I might have found that too much. I also didn’t make it along to the NEON volunteer night because my period came, and I felt too ill. But I think for the same reasons, that’s for the best too.

We had our second two days of print inductions this week and it was screen printing this time, with paper cuts outs. I have done screen printing with my brother with acetates before, but this was much simpler and really instantly gratifying. I had tried this method on a small scale years ago too, but without the proper set up, it was messy and difficult. On the first day, I made more Hans Christian Anderson inspired paper cut outs and made a few prints with these folded-paper, symmetrical figures. I wasn’t that happy with the results, though they came out clearly and boldly, but lacking dynamism. However, when I peeled the paint soaked paper figures off the screens I decided to make some monoprints from them and felt there was more potential in these results, with their folded, twisted and broken limbs. The next day I went back to the screen printing though, and produced a small run of two Matisse inspired prints on orange paper, with two color and overlapping cutouts, which incorporate the shadow symbols with amorphous, slightly human like vegetation.

I wanted to work quickly and produce something worthwhile on the last day, as this may be the last chance we have to get into the print studios again till after Christmas and I confess, I was thinking a little commercially when I did the second lot, to see if I could produce a sellable run of prints. Though I had wanted to get away from this and feel it may be unhelpful at this stage. I haven’t tried to sell them yet, but I will, and a few people have said in theory, they would buy them.

So, pleased as I was with the results, I was also instantly bored again and felt this was the end of that particular line of enquiry, in that medium, for now. So, I did some sketchbook work, tried to organize my thoughts, in between, photoshop and premier tutorials, an artist talk (Mick Peter), a lecture plus its preparatory reading and a student pop up exhibition of re-imagined album covers.

Over the weekend I began writing my project Brief and visited two exhibitions at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh; Cut and Paste – 400 Years of Collage and Beyond Realism: Dada and Surrealism. I found both exhibitions really engaging, and I recorded ideas triggered by various work in my sketchbook. I particularly like a huge oil painting in what may be the galleries permanent collection by Peter Doig, titled; Milky Way, which prompted me to write a poem as I sat in front of it. I often respond to work in exhibitions this way. Mark said this could be an art practice in itself, which I hadn’t thought about. I also discovered an artist called Carol Rhodes and her painting Industrial Belt, which was extremely satisfying in its use of colour and application of paint. It looked highly detailed but on closer examination was quite loosely painted. A technique I have always admired.

The collage exhibition was very varied and extensive, and I discovered a work by Pauline Boty, who I hadn’t realized existed outside of Ali Smiths novel Autumn, who’s vivid descriptions of Boty’s work made me wish she was real. It made me hungry for more collage and in particular to find or make work which fully exploited the mediums potential, which maybe I felt I didn’t see here, in the way I had imagined.

I was pleased to see a Leonora Carrington painting in the flesh and also paintings (Jungle series) by Max Ernst who has been one of my clear influences.


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