Luna Chowdhary’s work relates closely to my own practice both in intense use of colour and her motifs. She connects ideas and aesthetics from Eastern and Western worlds, exploring their relationship together. This loosely links to my subject work this year as I am looking at the different places I have visited and comparing my responses to each place and what I think it means to me. Luna Chowdhary’s work is “a kaleidoscopic vocabulary of colour, shape and patterns” that “offers unlimited possibilities that can be implemented on any scale”. The use of colour and pattern is especially important for my own work this year, therefore, I think Chowdhary will be a key artist to look at both in and out of the Home Truths field project.
I am especially interested in ‘Metropolis’ which consists of over 1000 small scale sculptures positioned in a line formation along a section of the floor in the V&A. I am focusing my Home Truths project around the objects of tourism, and associations with a specific place, connecting my personal relationships and memories to them through sgraffito. Chowdhary’s ‘Metropolis’ documents the material culture of our environment, showing the complexity of human production and the man-made. Her sculptures draw on memory which links to my idea of holidays and memories. ‘Metropolis’ is an ongoing project that Chowdhary is still adding new objects to, to the original installation. I like this idea of the instillation changing for different viewers, depending on when they visit the exhibition, no matter how minute.
Grayson Perry is an artist that I also happened to look at last year, focusing on his ceramic exploration of ‘Who are You?’, in his Channel 4 documentary. I am particularly interested in his illustrations of people on the surface decoration. The drawings are kept fairly simple, using only a black pen to complete line drawings of his subject. I think this idea of simple line drawings will translate well across into my own work as I want to use the sgraffito technique to apply illustrations from past holiday photos onto my pinch pots.
I really like Philip Eglin’s ceramics with line drawings of people on. I like how Eglin keeps the design of both the object and the surface decoration quite simple. I also like how handmade the objects he creates appear. They are not perfect like you would find in mass production. The work of Eglin has had a really profound influence on my work and he is a key artist for me to refer to for home truths.
Today we continued on making our work for the project and had a glazing demo with Matt. We discussed the various different glazes and their own unique effects as well as different methods of glazing. We began by looking at a simple clear earthenware glaze that gives the ceramics a glass-like surface and enhances the colours of the slips behind it. I glazed all of my original decorative tiles from the first week with this slip as they already had so much decoration going on that I think if I had used a coloured glaze it would be too much. I did such by dipping the tiles face down into a tub of the glaze.
We were also shown the method of tin glazing in which you apply a white glaze and then paint over the top of the glaze with either stains or oxides with a paintbrush. This very much reminded my of using watercolour paint. I used a tin glaze on a couple of test tiles to test out the process. The colours that you see unfired will change colour during the firing process. It is quite exciting not knowing exactly how my tiles will turn out and I can’t wait to see them when they come out of their glaze firing. For my test tiles I decided to utilise an idea from my subject work. I am looking at repeat patterns and how they can convey my experience of a place. Therefore on my test tiles i utilised the idea of repeat patterns. The first tile is just a play around with the colours, sponges and paintbrushes. The second tile draws in from both subject and field. I have taken a repeat pattern from my subject work that I created in response to Venice. On top of this I have painted a photo from Venice, linking to my work so far in field with the idea of using sgraffito to apply an image to a surface.
Process of applying tin glaze:
In the afternoon I carried on making my work. I finished applying a white slip to my pinch pots and to the pots I threw on Sunday and scratched into the surfaces, different images from different places.
I have encountered several issues with my pinch pots. Firstly, my Cornish pasty has structurally broken where the slabs were joined together. I think this is because I applied the slip to it when the clay itself was quite dry. Secondly, I also left a lot of the decoration too late. As I scratched into the clay today I noticed that it and the slip had completely dried on some of my pinch pots and so it made it a lot more difficult to scratch my images into the surface, causing chunks of slip to fall off in areas and the lines of the sgraffito to be less fluid. My plan is to fill in the sgraffito areas with a blue cobalt oxide, however now I’m not sure how well that will work. The images I have scratched on are not completely accurate and are distorted in areas but I don’t mind this too much. I think it makes them look more authentic and handmade.
Out of the allotted days for Home Truths, I have carried on making my work for the project. Deciding to make a series of pinch pots has meant that the making process for my work has been quite lengthy but I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the project so far. I have now made all but one of my pinch pots/ objects. The last thing I want to make is a road sign from Key West, Florida; then all of my work will be ready to be painted with white slip and have a sgraffito design put on the surface.
I had another go on the wheel, first to practice and strengthen my ability, and second as I may use these pots as testers for sgraffito.
These are the photos I have decided to use from holidays on my pinch pots:
Today we carried on with our work from Tuesday and had an open making session. I fettled the bowl I made to neaten it up and painted it with slips. Due to the large surface area of my bowl I chose to use a detailed pattern taken from a photo I took in the Damien Hirst exhibition in Venice.
When my bowl has dried a little more I plan on using sgraffito on the surface of photos most memorable from Venice.
Continuing with the making of souvenir objects I threw several pots on the wheel, playing with different sizes. I threw “shot glasses” as you can find them in all souvenir shops and I bought one in Amsterdam myself.
I wanted to get some objects built ready for tomorrow when we will be once again working with slips. I want to make a series of objects that are either tourist items mass produced and bought, or specific objects associated with places. I made these objects using the pinch pot technique.
We began the second week by having a meeting with Anna to discuss our ideas for the project. I talked about how I wanted to commemorate memories, family holidays and places but the question was raised on wether people would have been able to relate to my work at all. I planned on making plates or tiles and using the sgraffito technique to scratch illustrations of childhood photos onto them. Although I’m making my work to be personal for me, and that is the most important thing, I understand what Anna is saying. People may not be able to relate to my work. I still want to include sgraffito-ed images of personal photographs relating to places, however I want to make my work as a whole more relatable.
In the meeting I came up with the idea of hand-building a series of objects associated with places I’ve visited through tourist items, or things associated with specific places. I plan on painting these objects white and using sgraffito to scratch images that are personal to me into them. I think this makes my work both relatable for a wider audience and still keeps it personal for me. I also want to relate my field work to my subject practice with patterns. I plan on wrapping the ceramic objects I create up with my own patterns I associate with the places I’ve visited and the audience of the work have to interact with my work by unwrapping it.
In the afternoon, we made objects using moulds. I decided to make a large bowl as I wanted an object with a large surface area to work on for decoration and I didn’t like the shape of the plates. I added a foot to the bottom of my bowl.
After meeting at the museum on Tuesday where I began to generate ideas about what I want to convey through commemoration in Home Truths, we began the physical part of our exploration today.
First we had a throwing induction from Duncan. I have a fair bit of experience with ceramics and throwing so I tried to plan the shape of the objects I wanted to throw. I decided on bowls and cylinders, as I wanted forms with a large surface area as for maximum room for decoration. It went fairly well and I was able to make some useable forms to experiment on. Within the next couple of days I will turn my pots to neaten off any imperfections.
In the afternoon we moved onto trialling slip decoration. We were shown a variety of different techniques we could use to create different effects. Using slip for decoration is an easy and effective way of getting decoration, it is very similar to painting. Applied raw the colours don’t show through, but once they’ve been fired I hope for the colours to be really intensified. I trialled multiple different techniques as I wanted a lot of test tiles in order to see what works well and what doesn’t work so well.
‘Pelopennese Line’ was made directly on the wall of the gallery. By doing such, Long makes the work temporary as eventually it will have to be painted over to make room for new artworks. The gesture’s of the clay and mud were made using finger marks. I like Long’s unconventional use of clay. Clay is a material I want to heavily incorporate into my own work this year, and ‘Pelopennese Line’ has shown me an alternative way to work with clay.
Stanley Whitney ‘highsummer’, ‘Prussian Blue’, ‘May Day’, ‘Bertacca’, 2017
I found that Whitney’s four works in 180 The Strand had good applications to my own work. Whitney’s work explores the possibilities of colour within ever-changing grids. I really like this idea of testing colour combinations, arrangement of colours and the transparency of colours.
I liked how illusionistic Opie’s video installations were. Although they appear to be scenes from driving and are titled accordingly, the videos only consist of sections of colour, there is no real evidence that they are what they are titled as. I liked this use of sections of colour to trick the mind.
Arthur Jafa ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’, 2016
Java’s video installation was quite emotional to watch, as it was creating a discussion about Black American history. The video was shown in a tent inspired by revival tents and consisted of a convergence of found footage that traces African-American identity.
Ryoji Ikeda ‘Test Pattern’
‘Test Pattern’ was a completely immersive installation. You were stood in this dark room and the floor flashes different patterns of lines that are constantly moving, and this is accompanied by a high pitched noise. ‘Test Pattern’ is a creative system that converts any type of data into barcode patterns and binary patterns of 0’s and 1’s. It was a really trippy installation experience.
I really liked Wade Guyton’s use of patterns in the majority of his work and how he overlapped them over the top of other images. This is a technique I was thinking of translating over into my own practice to create the idea of losing the image behind the pattern.
I started Home Truths this week. We began the field project by meeting at the National Museum of Cardiff where Duncan gave us a guided tour of the museum’s ceramics collection. The National Museum had a huge collection of ceramics, some of which I really liked and think I could relate across to my own work in Home Truths.
Work I saw:
Elizabeth Fritsch ‘Blown-away Vase, Over the Edge, Firework XII’, 2008
Philip Eglin ‘Assholes Tipped Ripely’, 2010
Felicity Aylieff ‘Still Life with Three Chinese Vases II’, 2011
Simon Carroll ‘Jug’, 2007
Takeshi Yasuda ‘Distorted Bowl’, 1999
Vase and cover, China, Wanly reign, About 1600
I really like the use of colour in a lot of these works and the textured surfaces. These are techniques I want to incorporate in my own work.
We also explored the role of a commemorative object and the historical and cultural context that can be behind this. Some examples of subjects explored through commemorative objects included: birth, death, marriage, news stories and political events. Personally I want to commemorate memories, in particular family holidays and the places that mean something to me. I plan to commemorate these places through patterns and important images that I associate with the places.
Ceramic artists I am interested in:
Dawn Youll is a ceramic artist that responds to items found around her home, studio and local area. I really like Youll’s use of ordinary objects in art and showing the beauty of the everyday item.
Dawn Youll ‘Siphon’
Dawn Youll ‘Life Support’
I love the work of Grayson Perry and his surface decoration. I think his work is very good at telling a story and conveying across a message, therefore he is definitely an artist I will refer back to throughout Home Truths.
Grayson Perry ‘The Frivolous New’, 2011
Grayson Perry ‘Barbaric Splendour’, 2003
Lubna Chowdhary’s work focuses heavily on the use of colour and use of patterns, creating the discussion that patterns are nostalgia. This use of pattern shows close similarities to my subject work so I intend on looking closely at Chowdhary’s work as a way of commemorating family holidays.
Pleasure can be problematic in writing about art. On the one hand, everyone acknowledges that pleasure is fundamental to our experience of art. If we like something that’s neither useful nor morally good, then it must be because it gives us pleasure. On the other hand, compared to something like meaning, pleasure seems trivial. Many of the arguments for funding and preserving art rely on the idea that art is serious like a religion or philosophy. As a result, pleasure is disavowed in much art writing. It’s simultaneously acknowledged and dismissed.
Carsten Höller’s ‘Test Site’ is an example of art that provides pleasure. Set up in the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern, Höller’s sculpture is that of a giant slide. I think kids are a good sign for wether art is pleasurable. Kids wouldn’t think twice about sliding down ‘Test Site’, they wouldn’t care if it’s art.
3 Forms of Pleasure:
1. Humour (laughing in a gallery, jokes, stupidity, satire)
2. The Body (sex, physical pleasure, playing)
3. Abstraction (meaningless)
How not to behave in a Gallery:
Woody Allen, scene from ‘Play It Again, Sam’ 1973
How should we behave in a gallery? What sort of things should we say about art?
The video consisted of a man and a woman looking at a Pollock, instead of him looking at the art, he’s stood there to get a date. Her response to the art is so lengthy and “deep”, that it becomes ridiculous. Both characters are taking the piss of the gallery setting and the way in which people act within the gallery setting.
Jean-Luc Godard, scene from ‘Bande á Part’
How are social forces revealed in this scene?
The video answers the question, how fast can you get through Le Louvre. Three people can be seen running and laughing through the gallery. There’s a conflict between their action and the stationary-ness of the gallery and art. They are breaking the conventions of the gallery.
Why is it funny when someone falls over? Why do we find human error so funny?
Henri Bergson, Laughter, An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, 1900
Human – do animals laugh?
Indifferent – is it true when we laugh at someone, we don’t care about them? However I think there are degrees if indifference. We feel more sorry for some people than we do others.
Social – does laughter reinforce social boundaries?
Laughter is triggered when someone acts outside of their allocated role and function, and fails.
Laughter is society’s revenge on the individual.
In a funny situation, the physicality of the body visibly punctures social pretension. When a model trips on the catwalk, it punctures the elegance and perfection of the catwalk, and normalises it.
Is there an equivalent in art to falling over?
The Amateur Fresco Restoration, Spain, 2012 is an example of such. ‘Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)’ by Elias Garcia Martinez had deteriorated due to moisture. An amateur painter took her brush to it to restore it. Her restoration job was so bad you can’t help but laugh and feel sorry for the “restorer”.
Is there a wisdom in the dumbness of the body?
Gelitin, ‘Nellanutella’, 2001 – deliberately falling into the canals of Venice, henceforth deliberately embarrassing themselves. I think there’s a relief in not having to think. It releases the social pressures of art and the gallery setting.
For Bergson, verbal humour works in a similar way. The set-up leads us in one direction but the punchline trips the listener up mentally and deflates our expectations.
We fall for a joke, we can laugh at our own stupidity because it’s disguised and we feel that we are laughing at someone else. Someone who doesn’t get a joke becomes the butt of others’ laughter, thus the social bond is reinforced through inclusion nd exclusion.
A news article came out in Norway titled, ‘Bus seats mistaken for burqas by members of anti-immigrant group’. Bergson would suggest that this is funny because of the stupidity of the anti-emigrant group. As we are not members of that group, and have nothing to do with its policies, we can laugh at their stupidity. The things we find funny emphasise the particular social groups in which we find ourselves in any given society.
David Shrigley ‘Untitled (I Hate Wood)’, 2013 – can it be explained with Bergson’s theory? It parallels the previous point about immigrants but with absurdity. No one really hates wood, It has the structure that Bergson identifies but there is no real target unlike with the immigrants. Anti-immigrant members are stupid whereas wood-haters are silly.
David Shrigley ‘Untitled (Fuck off I am a Painter) – I really loved this painting/drawing as I can sympathise with the predicament and find it relatable. I become a member of a social group with the painting and everyone else that doesn’t agree with the painting becomes the butt of the joke. Although it is funny overall, is the drawing funny in itself? Is it stylistically coherent? The amateur-ness of the drawing I think emphasises the point of the text so is ironically funny. Is the text funny itself? I think Shrigley purposely put the spelling mistake in the text, if it was removed it would be less funny. Additionally, if you took the “fuck off’ out of the text it wouldn’t be as powerful and therefore would be less funny. The blatancy of the language is what is funny and I think we like to hear people using it.
Freud, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, 1905
How jokes are formed:
1) Aimless play with words, concepts, things etc. ——> 2) Lifting of inhibitions, suspension of critical judgement. ——> 3) Expression of repressed ideas.
For Freud, jokes are always obscene and come from repression. Therefore, the most repressive societies will have the most (and the funniest) jokes.
For Roelstraete, the function of pleasure in a gallery is to ‘unnerve, rattle and destabilise’. Roelstraete therefore suggests that pleasure is a form of irritant.
Paul McCarthy’s ‘Tree’ is an example of an irritant. At first glance the green from resembles that of a Christmas tree, however, it is actually in the shape of a butt plug. People didn’t realise at first but once they did they knifed the sculpture, causing it to collapse as it was inflatable. This raises the question of whether the vandalism destroyed the work or vindicated it.
2 main reasons why pleasure is disapproved of within art:
Pleasure is disapproved as it’s seen as unimportant (compared to the pressing issues we currently face).
Pleasure is disapproved of as it’s unthinking, therefore any pleasure is easily characterised as escapist. There’s a deep anxiety, Roelstraete claims, that artworks and exhibitions shouldn’t appear to be forms of entertainment. For example, video games are characterised as entertainment when some of their makers intend them to be works of art. This suggests we shouldn’t enjoy art.
2) The Body
The body becomes the object of our interest. The mind is the subject of experience.
Disney’s Inside Out: If this is what goes on inside Riley’s head, then what goes on inside Joy’s head?
Jordan Wolfson ‘Female Figure’
Wolfson’s ‘Female Figure’ presents the horror of the unthinking body. A robot dancing, faces away from you but locks eye contact with you whilst talking. It is an incredibly uncomfortable piece of work to look at, especially because it stares back at you. Being seen/ looked at by a machine is a weird concept. Although you are fully aware that it has no thought processes, you can’t hep but think about what’s going on in its mind.
Playing VS Contemplation
Ernesto Neto ‘The Bird Island’
With Neto’s sculptures, children automatically want to interact with the sculptures, exploring the work physically and having fun, whereas adults tend to stand a safe distance away and contemplate the work without touching it. Children’s first form of interaction is to play if they’re allowed, whereas adults have to be encouraged. The unspoken assumption is that playing and pleasure are bodily and therefore the opposite of thinking and intelligence. This reminds me of when I went to the Venice Bienalle. There was a sculptural piece of work that was made to be sat inside, even though I knew it was allowed, I still chose not to go inside the sculpture and just stood next to it, contemplating and drawing. I do wonder why we as adults have this idea imbedded within us that it is socially unacceptable to have fun with art. It seems that everything has to be serious for the art to be a success. This is a concept I want to look at within my own practice. I want to think about the different ways in which you can enjoy art apart from the conventional, stand back and look at it. I don’t think we always have to take work so seriously in order for us to fully understand it.
Abstract contemporary art has no identifiable objects, so it’s not about anything.
We looked at the work of Karen Davie, in particular, ‘Seeing Spots no.7’ and ‘Symptomania’. Her work is more about gesture and form, and colour relation. Colour relation is a topic I am currently looking at in my own practice. Davie works by layering up different colours using different gestures. The colours beneath should appear behind, however they are so bright in comparison to the top colour of paint that they create a flat surface and look level to the other colour. This and many other abstract works raise the question of whether once you’ve got the idea, is there anything else to look at. I think there is plenty to look at, just in the mark making alone. I get caught up in the ideas about rhythms and find pleasure in exploring how tone and balance changes. The idea behind the work is less so important than the work itself.
Karen Davie ‘Seeing Spots no.7’
Karen Davie ‘Symptomania’
Charline Von Heyl ‘Jakealoo’ – with an abstract painting like ‘Jakealoo’, you get no help from the title of the work, therefore the only thing to do is break it down into components, i.e. marks, colours etc, and make associations to it with you’re own ideas. You try and identify things in the work that make sense in your mind.
My child could do that…
In constellation we discussed the idea of “my child could do that”. I am constantly hearing from my parents “I could do that” when they are looking at abstract work. I am constantly trying to explain that although it looks simple, there is often a lot of thinking and skill behind the work. We discussed this concept in constellation and Jon tested us with a couple of examples. First we were shown two abstract paintings, one done by a master painter and the other done by a 4 year old child. I could instantly tell that the painting on the right was done by the painter. You could see more a process behind the painting and the thought processes behind the colours and forms used. Next we were shown two paintings, one done by a master painter and the other done by a chimpanzee. Although I actually preferred the painting done by the chimpanzee, I could still tell that the painting on the left was completed by the master painter. This and the multiple tests that reached the same conclusion, that the majority of people were able to identify a painting done by a painter and that done by a child, show that “my child could have done that” isn’t true.
Another study that I find interesting showed that eye-tracking patterns changed substantially when a Mondrian painting was rotated, indicating a decrease in interest. Additionally, when a small block of colour was either added or removed, viewers reported a less pleasurable reaction. This shows that a minute change to a painting can completely alter the reaction from the audience and success of a piece of art. It also shows that Mondrian was a master and that his paintings couldn’t have been done by anyone. I find this concept really interesting and want to further look into it.