DJCAD Reflective Research Journal – Week Four

I started the week, trying to finish writing and understanding my project brief to discuss with Mark and the group.

Decided to humorously call it ‘Genitals Rule’ with the more serious subtitle – A personal Investigation into the nature of the Shadow in Jungian Psychology. But also to mention that it may just be (and this could be an alternative subtitle) A Smoke Screen for Revenge, thus uncovering the lurking shadow already trying to lead my investigation; as my motives are, quite suspect, I feel at times. I voiced this during our group discussion and Mark felt if this stuff was coming up, it seemed a good idea to go with it and get it all out of my system in second year.

I printed out some photos of the post fire mess of twisted rust coloured metal and ash and then cut figures from them. The figures became darker and more grotesque but also a little obvious. I began a painting which used these debris-filled figures as a starting point, but the resulting painting was even more cliched and melodramatic I felt, and I wasn’t happy with it. Having got some paint on canvas which I feel I’ve been working up to, a plaster induction then led me in another direction. We also learned how to make stretched canvases in the CAP workshops a week or so back, which I already knew how to make, thanks to a friend who had been to art school, but I also learned how to use the band saw and how to make better corners.

I made some of the paper cut outs, stuck them to little metal sticks (think puppets) and dipped them in plaster with simple puppets in mind. I also dipped some paper shapes without sticks and embedded them in a plaster base with what was supposed to be a burning house between them, but which ended up collapsing and looking more like a campfire. I also made a couple of chicken wire partial bodies and coated them in plaster giving them large, extra genitalia. I really enjoyed the plaster and would like to do more of this, despite my health concerns about the dust.

My research includes some more reading into Jung’s shadow theory, from the original book which sparked my interest Romancing the Shadow by Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf and an online article called Carl Jung and the Shadow: The ultimate Guide to the Human Dark Side by Jack E. Othon, who says ‘If you want to save the world, tend to your shadow’ which I like and have written a song with exactly this theme.

There is also a quote from Herman Hesse which is useful here; ‘If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves, doesn’t disturb us.’

This is the thinking which leads me to examine my possibly unhealthy motives for this project while I am also beginning to look into the repeatedly occurring presence of the evil stepmother in fairy and folk tales, bringing me back round again to Hans Christian Andersen and his paper cut outs. I am finding it hard to find any information out about the eight legged, six armed girl that is one of Andersons characters, but I like the motif and I keep drawing and making her from paper, because I find her a useful metaphor for the hidden shadow characters we keep hidden within us but which are frequently breaking out.

I also rediscovered Carroll Dunham’s, bright bold and anatomically explicit paintings and monotypes, which I am very drawn to, (through a book in the library; Carroll Dunham, Monotypes) and I have been watching documentaries about him since. This led me to discover his wife Laurie Simmons, the artist and photographer, whose subject matter and process I find intriguing, though I am less excited by the actual photographs. Inspired by Dunham’s work, I have begun making more explicit sketches of my shadow characters/creatures.

I also did some research into Niki De Saint Phalle’s sculpture work and also came across another female sculptor, whose work I like, on Instagram; Sally Saul. Images of both these artists work were in my mind when I was playing with plaster and more sculptural work feels quite an exciting and tempting possibility now. I also have in mind Mick Peters large 2D sculptures (who gave the artists talk last week), as I like the idea of making 3D arrangements with 2D objects, and this is what I did with the paper cutouts dipped in plaster in the plaster base.

I am still planning on making a short handmade concertina book, telling the story of the fire and hinting at the surrounding events, but using photos, drawings, paper cut outs and excerpts of my short story and the characters Myopica, Wreckrash and Hardhell and bits of songs and poems I have written over the last two and a half years.

I also made the paper and plaster puppets on sticks with the intention of making a short film with the spoken word sound piece I have begun, (possibly instead of attempting animation as I had first thought).

The artists talk this week was by Alberta Whittle, whose work is in the DCA just now and who I also heard talk at the opening of her exhibition last month. She has many threads of ideas all contained in the one exhibition and I like the combination and volume of disciplines she has used. I like how shows at the DCA are often like this, for example David Austen’s underworld in the summer. He had created an interdisciplinary world which I aspire to try to do one day.


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