29 June 2009

Digital 1

The project for the three days of this module is to make a short video, maximum 5 minutes, with music or sound of our own making.

First we did a drawing to amplify and extend our written description of the inside of the mouth. Then just before lunch we were shown how to use the cameras and sent out to find images, working in pairs. Juan decided to collect keyholes -
I had a complicated little scenario planned, but while unwrapping my kitkat (chocolate bar) at lunchtime, I had another (simpler) idea.

It's in the can -
And here's a taster -
Of course the change of plan meant doing a completely different worksheet to back it up -
Homework is to research Yoko Ono and give a one-minute presentation. I realised I knew nothing about her art work - she's truly a famous unknown artist.
Other people's homework involved Sam Taylor Wood, Nam June Paik, Gillian Wearing, Dan Graham, Paul McCarthy, Bill Viola, Bruce Nauman, Pipilotti Rist , Steve McQueen, Gilbert and George, Charles Atlas

Even just a brief look at stills while finding links for these artists was quite an education - "time-based" work is new to me - you have to be patient to watch it ....

Conceptual and performance artist Yoko Ono

It was her 3rd husband, John Lennon, who said Yoko Ono was the most famous unknown artist in the world.I knew she'd been connected with the Fluxus movement in the 60s. Or thought I knew that, but apparently she didn't want to promote Fluxus, she wanted to be independent.
She got involved in the art scene while at Sarah Lawrence college, after a childhood in Japan (and other places - her father was a banker and moved around). She was born in 1933 and was in college in the 50s (she started by briefly studying philosophy in Japan's elite university) and afterwards got a live-work studio loft in New York, which was used for concerts (John Cage was part of her crowd) and performances.

Her best-known performance is "Cut Piece" - where members of the audience came and cut away the garments she was wearing, leaving her naked on stage. She's performed that many times in many places, with different audience reactions. You can see a snippet of the 2003 version here.

Her 1964 book "Grapefruit" - with instructions for things that are to happen in the reader/participator's mind - has been reissued in the 70s and again in 2001.

She's had an extensive musical career - I like the animated music video "Walking on Thin Ice" which you can see here. This was the song she and Lennon were working on just before he was shot. Earlier this month she was in London to perform with Ornette Coleman, and was interviewed on the the Today programme along with her son, Sean (b.1975).

She made films between 1964 and 1972 - "No.4" is also called "Bottoms" and consists of a view of buttocks while the performer walks on a treadmill, with soundtrack of interviews of those being filmed, as well as those considering joining the project.
And she's an activist for peace and human rights.

In 2007 she unveiled the Imagine Peace Tower in Rekjavik, Iceland, a tower of light that is visible between 9 October and 8 December each year.

Danger signs - Gospel Oak

28 June 2009

Structure & volume 1

Building the monster structure -
Photographing it -
Ours included this florist's box, rescued from the rubbish -
and the few blooms that were in it -
Wrapping in fabric and string - lots of string -
Then the afternoon spent drawing it - getting the proportions of the lumps and bumps, and the angles of all that string, right. On the hottest, most humid day of the year - not much enthusiasm for doing the drawing - and I completely forgot to take any photos of the later stages. Ho hum.

An attack of covetousness

At the train station, on a lovely summer’s day, was a bag that looked like this -Well I had to stop and ask about it – so busy talking I didn’t have time to take a photo before the train came…. found the website and snaffled the photos to use here (all in the interests of publicity for the bags) -- but they are all sold out!

Here's the inspiration - the "bus stop not in use" covers supplied by London Transport -
For the proofreaders among us, St Paul's Way is in E3.

27 June 2009

Painting 1

The starting point was the box of old magazines - we had to find colour contrasts of six kinds, masking off a small area that we'd be doing a larger painting of. One should contain text, and one should be an illustration rather than a photograph. I ended up with these contrasts of complementarity, proportion, temperature, tone, hue, and saturation.
Getting started took a while, but later in the afternoon lots of finished work was up on the wall -
Amazing how quickly you can work when time is running out. "Proportion" and "temperature" were almost done before I remembered to take any photos. You can see how small the originals were. (The masking tape, when removed, gives a nice crisp edge.)
At the end of the day - a great display. But not many people got all six done.
And what with having a tutorial and collecting the work from previous colour sessions, I managed to leave my pix up on the wall. So the next day I found a whole new set, thinking ahead to having to paint them all again. I like this way of finding subjects for "abstract" paintings --Fortunately, though, they were still on the wall two days later, when we were in that room for the next class.

Little Jams tombola

The concept of "tombola" was new to me until not too long ago-- and this pic from Waitrose Food magazine shows how it works. You need prizes and a book of cloakroom tickets - the actual tombola barrel is optional, but a nice touch. The prizes get tickets stuck on them, with numbers ending in 0 or 5 - and tickets with numbers from 0 to 9 go into the barrel. So drawing a ticket out of the barrel has a 1 in 5 chance of winning.

You could say that "Little Gems" are appetisers for making bigger quilts? Or, if you make enough of them, satisfying in themselves?

21 June 2009

Saving the day

Resident technician rescues several hundred photos from very old computer, saving the £100 the shop would charge to do this, and making it possible to get rid of this machine -- and the desk it was sitting on. This frees space for storage of fabric!

20 June 2009

Little Gem kits

Most of the Little Gem kits have been snapped up at London Quilters and the June regional day, but there are still 14 left, in the colourways show above - blue, purple, green and the one with the dark fabric.

The kits include wadding, backing (batik fabric) and two smaller pieces of "inspirational fabric", also batik, that co-ordinates with the backing, either a binding strip or some tulle, a label for the quilt, a label for sending it in -- and a sew-on gem. You'll need to add some of your own fabric, and use your own design or one of those that are on the website (http://littlegemquilts.wordpress.com).

If you'd like me to send you one, leave a comment, or email me via the profile page (click on "View my complete profile" in the sidebar). The cost is £3, including UK postage.

Graphics 3

The final day of "visual communication" - it's hard to define this area, seems like it could be anything!

To continue with the "plastic" project, I brought in my ever-growing ball of strips of plastic bags, photos of it in progress, and some heat-sealed "pillows" filled with shredded plastic. The pillows didn't really fit on the engulfing wave of plastic -
but they're lovely on their own. Less is more here. The middle one is filled with cellophane rather than plastic - it makes a crinkly noise, adding another (invisible) dimension. The edges are sealed with a quick swipe of a moderate iron, between sheets of baking parchment.
The wave worked a bit better with the photos of the sea of plastic bags. But it's not a finished project, just another bit of "research" along the way.
On to the real thing -
And the finished project - taking a line for a walk - one person unwinds the ball, leaving a length of string on the ground; another person walks behind, rewinding it. The final roundup -
Rod showed us slide shows of his own work and talked about his experience of how the art world works, and of the work of David Shrigley (check out his animations).

19 June 2009

Colour 5

"Bring in an A4-sized black and white photograph. A blowup of your passport photo, maybe."

For "expressive colour" we were to paint three (or more) versions. First, tracing the light and dark areas and transferring the picture to paper, then putting masking tape round the area to be painted. A demonstration of how to use colour to show different moods -
I experienced intense frustration with the clunky brushes and the runnyness of the paint ("the poor workman blames the tools") - and that helped me "let go" and just get on with it. All the time, you're watching yourself and assessing not just how but why you're doing what you're doing, and trying to find out what you need to know, and how to get that information. I need to watch people using brushes to apply paint, see what they do that I could try.
Another thing that helped was working with the paper upside down, to get away from ingrained notions of what a face should be.
There was time to do another, larger painting. Upside down again, without drawing it first -
Here you have many degrees of removal from "reality". You're seeing a photograph on a screen of the person and the starting point of the painting is a photocopy of a printout of a digital photograph. In all these transformations, has information - or value - been lost, or added?
Lots of activity in the rest of the room -
And an exciting variety of results -

It's interesting to see my paintings on screen and consider how different they looked in real and in the context of all these others. I was pleased with the outcome, after the little hissy fit with the yellow paint, and feel I've really moved on. And got favourable comments. But painting isn't likely to be one of my subject choices. We have to choose our areas in the next week or so. There are a lot of factors to be considered in this!

And after class ...

... mocha at Eataly, near Holborn Station. Then on to the British Museum, as it was late opening night. At the entrance to the Korean gallery, this huge pot caught my eye. It's by Kim Ik-kyung (born 1935) and is based on a Choson period (1392-1910) rice measure, which would have been made in bronze. It's made from pure white porcelain clay, slab-built, carved and covered with a clear glaze. The potter studied chemistry and then ceramics in New York and was inspired by her admiration of Western potters, such as Bernard Leach, to explore her own native ceramic traditions.
This large vase, by Won Dae-jong (born 1920) is modelled in a traditional form and decorated around the shoulder with incised and inlaid lines of copper-red decoration beneath a clear glaze. Won Dae-jong's work echoes traditional Korean ceramics painted beneath the glaze with volatile copper oxide pigment.
The Percival David collection of Chinese ceramics has been beautifully rehoused in the British Museum - information on the individual pieces is available on computer screens, and the labels in the cases give more general information.
I love the way the case reflects the ceramics in other cases in the room -