My project is about me,
It’s about Being – the nature or essence of a person, their soul, spirit, nature.
It’s about how I see and express emotions through movement, music and art.
It’s about connection, nature gifts us some beautiful connections.
It’s about memories both happy and sad.
It’s about the hidden symbolism I take from patterns in nature and animals.
It’s about colour and how I associate that with emotions.
It’s about what defines me.

I was in two minds about posting this as the college art show is this week and some of my friends and family who follow this blog will be going to see it. However, reading the notes of what we needed to have on our blog for college, our best work needs to be showcased here. And this is my best work.

It took me a long time to work out how I wanted my final piece to look, originally I was thinking 4 paintings on repurposed surfaces, I may still do something with that idea, yet when I was looking at my own reference photos and blending and mixing then together in photoshop, I stumbled across am image I wanted to recreate. It includes, movement, connection and nature. Three of the things that help keep me grounded.

From my sketchbook

Up until the point of visiting the Immersive Van Gogh Experience in Bristol, I was going to produce four paintings as a series which represented the concept of my project. However, I was struggling with this as a conclusion as I felt that I should possibly do more to push myself. I found the way they had presented his work quite enlightening and started thinking about anamorphic art as a way to present my final piece. Van Gogh used quite limited pallets and I was quite taken by his comments and interpretation of Japanese Art. This exhibition made me re-think my final piece and I decided that I had a very strong image from a photography workshop I attended in 2019 and if I merged that with another image, I could create a mock up of what I wanted. I also liked the fact that Van Gogh’s work was not realism and in more of a style I could relate too, a little more abstract and suggestive in some cases. The deliberate brush strokes and using less rather than more colours is something I have used in my work, I found that I had to think a lot more about textures and tones and how I wish to address them in my application of layers and colour etc.

Other artists I researched relating to anamorphic art are Felice Varini 8, Michael Murphy 9, and Truly/Urban Artists 10. Felice Varini and Truly/Urban Artists, tend to large scale works on or in buildings and to get the full picture you have to stand at a certain viewpoint or all you see are lots of patterns and shapes. The article on Truly/Urban Artists gave tips on how to create your own anamorphic piece of art, and I found that very useful now I had my idea forming of what I wanted to do and I followed the advice whilst making my maquette and piecing the final installation together. Michael Murphy is more a perceptual artist and his final pieces are quite inspiring, they also have a message in them, sometimes political. You can look at his work from different angles and see different elements, but again only one view point gave you the overall image. I am no way on his level of genius, however, the attention to detail and ensuring I used the same spot to view my work as I a) painted the detail and b) installed the various elements together, was something I took away.

My main source of research is me and my life experiences. I have included photos and information about the memories they invoke, like every time I see blue hydrangeas outside a red brick house, I immediately think of my grandparents. I think it is really about what defines me? Is it my life experiences? Expectations of others? My actions and responses? My hobbies and interests? The things that I really struggle to be without in my life?

Horses have been pretty much a constant my entire life, as long as I can remember. Even when my life is going great, and there have been plenty of times when it hasn’t, I feel like a part of me is missing if there aren’t horses around. They ground me, there is something so completely intrinsic about the smell of stables and horses, the soft muzzles nuzzling you and breathing each other in, because that’s what they do and they are so gentle, even those that take a while to gain your trust. I am totally lost without my fix of horses. It makes sense that this connection and freedom of spirit is something that I wanted to depict as my final piece.

This was quite a challenging concept for me, the perspex to represent the spirit of the horse was very difficult to work with as it was quite fragile.

I feel like I spent a lot of time tracing and cutting out various templates, and made a maquette to help me figure out where each piece had to go amd the best viewpoint to see it as a whole.

In my research I found I was drawn to the Chinese Yin and Yang, the Phoenix and the Dragon which are often seen decorating wedding vases. The dragon symbolises good luck, great power and strength. The phoenix brings good luck, harmony, balance, peace and prosperity. I found I kept being drawn to ceramics, robes and various other items with these symbols on, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate them in my piece. The background of my piece if you look closely has two phoenixs’ rising and they are nose to nose, they in turn create a dragons head, Yin and Yang.

I used modrock to create the Pheonix’s, I found a free vector online and used an overhead projector to trace the outline on to my mdf background.

So how do I incorporate music and the repeating patterns in my life?

The most testing problem I had was the idea to sandblast musical notes onto glass bottles. Talking through with one of my peers about needing something to weigh down the different hung pieces, and because of the trauma and abuse I suffered as a child and an adult in both instances the perpetrators were alcoholics/drug addicts. I felt that the recurring pattern of my life would be best shown by the use of wine/beer bottles that were the same, and I calculated that I would probably need 10. The idea was to choose a song that meant a lot to me and sandblast the musical note phrasing for each line onto the bottles. Problem one was I couldn’t choose just one song, so it ended up being two. One represented the darkness that is always there and threatens to overwhelm me sometimes and the other represents how I am now, now that I no longer see myself with the negative labels of shame etc, and I have a myriad of metaphorical tools in my box to help me stay grounded and present. Such a small detail in that the observer won’t necessary see the notes on the clear bottles, or even understand the relevance but really important for me to follow through with this idea. The issues I had were:
• Ensuring areas I didn’t want to be sandblasted were completely covered or they became pitted
• Cutting the notes out on various materials, paper, masking tape etc without losing their structure and sticking them on the bottles
• Paper and sticky labels proving to be too thin and not strong enough to stay in place without lifting, or being blasted off, so not a clear pattern.

The song lyrics represented on the bottles,
The dark ones, “I’m so tired of being here, these wounds won’t seem to heal, this pain is just to real. There’s just too much that time cannot erase.” Immortal, Evanescence

The light ones: “it’s time to begin, isn’t it? I get a little bit bigger, but then , I’ll admit, I’m just the same as I was. Now don’t you understand that I’m never changing who I am?” It’s Time, Imagine Dragons.

The final pieces to the puzzle, the figures in the foreground, made out of hardboard from the backs of old wardrobes. I painted those using a palette knife and a sponge that I’d cut into the shape of a lotus flower, again something that is meaningful to me and I know but not obvious on the final piece. I did a lot of listening to my favourite songs whilst creating this whole project and painted as I felt.

Installing and hanging all the individual pieces was a two person job, with lots of stepping back and adjusting the lines of fishing wire holding it all in place.

I am really pleased with the final installation and how it has all pulled together. It will be interesting to see what the feedback from visitors to the show is.


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