Key Concept: Failure

Today we had our first key concept lecture of the term, covering the topic of failure in art.

Failure is a central subject of investigation in recent art. Artists have actively begun the claim the space of failure to propose a resistant view of the world.

In the words of John Baldessari, “Art comes out of failure. You have to try things out. You can’t sit around, terrified of being incorrect, saying “I won’t do anything until I do a masterpiece.”

Failure is impossible to avoid. Through failure one has the potential to stumble upon the unexpected.

“To be an artist is to fail” – Samuel Beckett

Cary Leibowitz ‘Kick Me (Burgundy Pants)’, 1990

Although failure is the key to development, you can’t set out to make work about failure. There needs to be an attempt at success, even if there is a minute chance, or no chance of it at all.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, ‘Untitled (Perfect Lovers)’, 1991

Within Gonzalez-Torres’ ‘Untitled (Perfect Lovers)’, the perfection lies in the failure. The two identical digital clocks will eventually fall out of sync with each other and will no longer be perfect lovers.

Bas Jan Ader, ‘In Search of the Miraculous’, 1975

In 1975, Jan Ader set out on a voyage from the USA to Ireland, as the title says, ‘In Search of the Miraculous’. It was obvious that this was a a futile voyage, that would not end well, but it was about the attempt. In some way this was a suicide mission, but in others it was just failed art. Jan Ader was never found, and the boat was found in pieces.

Failure and doubt is what drives us into the unknown.

If an artist were to make a perfect piece of work then there would be no need to make any more. Therefore failure is key to development, continuation and progress.

Embarrassment is a natural response to failure, and for me, the fear of judgement endures.

There is something infallible about taking on a project that will never be finished. It is more authentic and gives hope that success is pitted from failure. Failure creates questions rather than just answering one. Without failure nothing would ever develop.

This key note made me think and question my own creative process. A lot of the time I am hesitant to make work as I don’t think it will be successful, and become nervous at the prospect of failure. I also get anxious of the prospect of judgement of my work. I think I need to learn to embrace failure within my practice, as currently it is something I hide away. Before this lecture I had never thought about how key it could be to my own work. I aim to be less nervous of it in the future.



Morocco Reflection

I chose to got to Morocco for my second module of Field as I thought it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit and explore a completely new culture. In addition to this, I have based the majority of my work so far this year around the concept of colours and patterns and the ways they can be used to create different effects. Before Morocco I felt like I was coming to a roadblock within my work and didn’t know where and how I could develop it further. Just doing quick research on Marrakech, I discovered that it was a vibrant city full of patterned ornamentation. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to tie together all the work I have been creating with patterns, both in my term 1 Field project and in my subject work, develop it and put some context behind it.

Visiting Morocco has given me a new found confidence. Before the trip I had done a lot of travelling but never to a non-westernised country out of Europe. It is fair to say that I was really nervous about going as I didn’t know if I would be able to handle such a change in culture and was really nervous about being the minority. I found when I arrived in Marrakech that it was a completely different way of living, but that was actually quite refreshing to see. A surprising turn of events was that the wifi in Marrakech was awful, even in our Riad. Although this seems trivial, it was quite daunting to begin with as I was worried about being completely cut off from my life at home. But as the week progressed, it was actually a huge relief not to be tied to my phone 24/7. I think I was able to appreciate Marrakech on a deeper level and was able to get a lot more sketching done as i had no other distractions. Visiting Morocco has given me an intercultural awareness that I was lacking before, and has given me a new found confidence to visit other countries in the future, that before I would have been to nervous to visit.

I found it really stimulating to work as a group, especially with students from different disciplines as I was opened to new ways of thinking. I found that being around illustration students meant that I started to adopt a more illustrative style in some of my drawings, and added narrations which I have never done before. Also being around and working in a group with textiles students, I noticed that they are way more focused on the senses, especially touch. It never crossed my mind how I could use touch to create multi sensory work, as within Fine Art, touching work is normally prohibited. It has made me question why this is so. I hope to create some multi-sensory responses to Morocco in future work. I have enjoyed working as a group as I think it has led to a more successful outcome. The combination and merging ideas and skills has meant that our group was able to create a strong final piece that reflected all of our ideas within the theme of covering.

One of my biggest achievements from my trip to Morocco was the amount of drawings I produced in my sketchbooks. I always take a sketchbook with me when I travel abroad, but I almost never use it, and when I do I only tend to do a couple of drawings. I normally take loads of photographs and work from them when I get back. I managed to fill 2 sketchbooks for the week that I was away which is a first for me. I think this is partly due to having the opportunity to see Chris’ collection of sketchbooks before we left and listen to how he uses them to document events or travels. I have found it so much more satisfying completing them whilst I was away, and now I can look at the drawings and remember where I was when I drew them. Doing drawings in the moment also improved my confidence as I was drawing out in public, a prospect that I usually find daunting due to fear of being judged. I learned to let go of that in Marrakech and actually found it quite liberating when people would peer over my shoulder to see what I was doing. Sketching so much in real time, I think, has also improved my drawing skills. I can now draw a lot faster and create a lot looser drawings, a concept I was never able to grasp before. I love that I have been able to move away from photo accuracy and the stress that put on me, and now just have fun with my drawings.

Taking part in the Morocco field option has given me new skills within the School of Art and Design. I was given the opportunity to partake in a video editing workshop working on Premier Pro. I have never used video as art before and always found it a really daunting concept. I never thought I would be able to use the software to create a successful video. However, after having the induction, I have found that it is not that hard to do and it has allowed me to create a video with my group for part of our final piece, that I believe to be a really strong piece of work. I would like to explore video art further on in my practice as I think it could be used to create a really strong support with an object to create a final piece.

From Morocco I am going to take away all these new skills I have acquired as well as new techniques that I can incorporate into my own practice. I learned about the process of zillij whilst in Marrakech, and the context behind it. One of the contacts I made in Marrakech has emailed me a video of the process of zillij and I have taken a book out of the library covering all of is details. I plan on using aspects of this craft, especially the patterns they use, and translate into my own practice. I was also introduced to several new artists whilst in Morocco, but my favourite was Jacques Majorelle. I plan on looking at Majorelle’s work further on in my subject practice, especially his depictions of Moroccan landscapes in which he incorporates bold, contrasting colours, as I believe this could be complementary and could be used to contextualise any work I do with patterns.

I am really pleased with both my individual final collection, and the group work we created for Morocco. I remember worrying in Marrakech on how my group were going to be able to come together to combine all of our ideas, and create one final piece reflecting the theme of covering. However, our decision to use performance art has meant we had to work as a team at all times and has given us two final pieces that combine each of our concepts within the theme of covering well. We also talked afterwards about how our work could be improved if we were to go to Morocco again or redo the trip. We thought it would be interesting to do a performance piece after our first day in Marrakesh, and then another piece at the end of our travels, and compare them to see how our opinions changed throughout the week. I am pleased with my individual work as I believe I have made a successful collection of objects that reflect my personal experience and journey through Marrakech. Although I didn’t finish my concertina book documenting the patterns of Marrakech, I am pleased with the patterns I have created as they have many different layers, and are interactive. I plan to continue adding patterns within the book after the Morocco field module is over as a starting point for any developing work.

Morocco: Final Collection

Box of Marrakech

My individual outcome for this project is ‘Box of Marrakech’. I have created a collection items I gathered in Marrakech, and responses I made to the trip. This box is the physical representation of my personal experience and journey through Morocco. I have included objects that have significance, to be, objects of interest to my practice and my own responses to my surroundings. I am really pleased with how my finished artefact has turned out, as for me, it is my perfect personal representation of my trip to Morocco.


The box itself is painted with the majorelle blue paint powder I bought in a pharmacy in Marrakech, and on each side I have hand drawn the Henna design I had put on the back of my hand in the Henna Café. I chose to paint the box this blue as I fell in love with it in Marrakech, and I want to carry on using this colour within my own work. I decided to draw the henna designs on each side as just painted blue, the box looked a bit boring. I think having those designs there gives my box an intrigue and encourages the audience to look in more detail. It found it really rewarding drawing it as well as I have developed a deeper understanding of the pattern. When I got it put on my hand originally I thought it just liked pretty, now I have it memorised in my brain and will always associate it with Marrakech. On the inside I have lined the box with clippings of Marrakech newspapers.


Collection within the box:


There are several photographs and postcards within my box. They are taken from disposable and polaroid cameras, and capture some of the key influential moments of the trip for me, such as the visit to the Majorelle Gardens. The postcards highlight the heavy use of zillij within Morocco that I have focused my field work on.


Below are a few of the contact cards and tickets I collected from various places in Marrakech. The card on the top right is from a man we met and befriended in the souks, named Abdel, who spends most of his life in the Sahara doing tours and sleeping out under the stars. It is his contact card for if we were ever to visit Marrakech again.


The map of the Medina with the name of our Riad on the front.



Here are a couple of tiles I collected in the souks of Marrakech. The tile on the left I found on the floor as we were walking through. I thought it was a really good visual example of the zillij pattern I have been studying. The tile on the right I bought from a man in the souks.


The book I bought from the Henna Cafe. Within it I have kept a log of each day’s activities as well as my thoughts and feelings throughout the trip. I did this as I wanted a verbal representation of the trip to go alongside my visual work, I think it helps give my work a bit of context and would be interesting for an audience member to read. On pages I have added illustrations to aid my writing and other cards and papers I collected.


This is another box I created to hold all of my sketchbooks from the trip. On the outside I painted a simplified design of one of the patterns I collected in the Tiskiwin Museum.


One of my main final pieces, my concertina book is also kept inside my ‘Box of Marrakech’ as I wanted to keep all my work together in one place.



I have included within my box one of my attempts of Arabic calligraphy that I learned in the calligraphy workshop in Marrakech. The background is painted with the same Majorelle blue paint as the outside of the box, and I have used an Moroccan bamboo calligraphy pen, similar to the ones we used in the workshop, to write my full name. In there as well is the calligraphy that I did in the workshop in Café Clock. I wanted to include an example of one of the skills I learned out in Marrakech within my box.




Finally I have included some of my final collages that merge English architecture and Moroccan ornamentation together, and my attempt at drawing out a zillij pattern.

Morocco: Concertina Book and Collages

Concertina Book

After my meeting with Helen when I got back from Morocco, I concluded that I was going to create a book full of patterns that I collected in Marrakech. I had already begun the book before the meeting and we talked about how the patterns were very flat, and how it would be interesting to create depth within them. This has resulted in my concertina book developing almost like a story. In the end I didn’t finish it in time as I didn’t want to rush it, but I plan on carrying on with it after the field module is over. The further through the book you get the more the patterns become three dimensional and interactive. I have made certain patterns span over several pages by cutting out sections of the pages. The last pattern I did, I did onto the many bags I collected in Marrakech. I took one of the zillij patterns I collected and broke it down into sections of colour. On each layer I did a different colour, and so the pattern builds up with each layer of fabric you join. I am really pleased with the outcome of the book and think it will be a great source of inspiration for future pattern work I do.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also discussed with Helen and Chris how much I loved the architecture of Marrakech with its ornamentation, compared to that of England. I came up with the idea after our meeting and after looking into some collage artists, of merging the two together and creating collages combining English buildings with Moroccan zillij. The collages I created are made from photographs of buildings that have significance to me and patterns I collected whilst walking through Marrakech. I am really pleased with the outcome of the collages as it think they make quirky fun pieces. I am definitely going to continue to make more, and maybe even swap the idea around by putting our white washed walls over their ornamentation. I think it would also be interesting to create some sort of kaleidoscope in which the viewer can switch the patterns around underneath the buildings. It is a concept I really want to play around more with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Group Performance

For our final group piece we decided on doing a group performance drawing in which we would all illustrate our own aspects and concentrations within the project, that came under the title of covering. We decided not to plan out exactly what we were going to do beforehand as we thought that would make it feel staged, when we really wanted in to be a free expression of our own experiences. We conducted the performance drawing in one of the dark rooms on the Fine Art floor as we knew we would not be disturbed, and the room had strong even lighting. I have worked with performance drawing before but for the textiles students within our group, it was their first time every hearing of the phrase ‘performance drawing’. It was a fun experience all crowding together within this one hub and seeing the image slowly build up. Part of the idea in not planning it meant that we all had to interact with each other more. We had discussed beforehand us moving around in intervals but we decided that it would be a lot more fitting and appropriate if we were all free to move around as we wanted. This was because some of us took longer to draw than others and so a time limit wouldn’t suit our drawing.

The inspiration behind our performance drawing mainly came from performance artist, Morgan O’Hara who videos herself creating drawings of movement. O’Hara attempts through her drawings to capture the energy of a place. With the combination of several different aspects of covering, and the range of colours and materials we used, I think our group achieved a similar idea.

I think our final piece was a success as our drawings all overlapped each other and merged into one huge response fitting the idea of covering. Also we thought that the process of making the work was just as important as the final piece itself, so we decided to video the process of making and create a video response to support our scroll of ‘covering’. We overlapped two angles of us making and merged them together. In the background of the video we played sound recordings we took in Marrakech. The first sound being the storyteller from Café Clock, and the second audio clip being traditional Moroccan music. I am really pleased with our final outcomes as I think they compliment and support each other really well. I think it would be really interesting if we used the Aurasma app (shown to us by Ingrid Murphy) on the scroll so that when you put your phone up to it using the app, it plays the video we created as well.

Morocco: Artist Research 4.0

Tim Vyner 

After getting back from Morocco we had a meeting with Chris to discuss our ideas. Chris recommend to our whole group the illustrator Tim Vyner, and to have a look at his work.

I did a quick google of his name, and found some of his illustrations. I discovered that I actually really liked his style of drawing and use of colour, and thought it had similarities to some of my sketches from Marrakech, so I decided to do a bit more research.

Tim Vyner is an illustrator that travels the world drawing life as he experiences it on the vibrant streets of our cities. He records everything from diverse communities, to public museums, to global sporting events. He is most effective on location with a pen and a sketchbook, and is guided by stories of places he visits and people he encounters. As a reportage artist his visual journalism presents a view of the passion and atmosphere. In 2012 he was The Times newspaper’s artist covering the Olympic Games in London using an iPad to draw, record and publish emerging stories in real time.
This goes to show just have far you can go with drawing when you are constantly documenting life around you. Just like me in Morocco, Vyner draws everything as he experiences it. This is a technique I am going to continue to use as it is so much more rewarding. I also found it interesting, the idea of illustrating on an iPad. I have never drawn on an iPad before, and although it sounds quite hard, it is a techniques that I would like to try!

Morocco: Artist Research 3.0

Matthieu Bourel

Matthieu Bourel is a collage artist that makes powerful combinations of similar images to create high depth pictures. Bourel credits his parents’ vast collection of vintage postcards as being an early source of inspiration for his exploration into collage.

In particular I like his portrait collages, in which he combines multiple images of facial features, I really like this idea of creating new from the old, even if it does have a slightly eerie undertone. There is something quite anatomical about Bourel’s portrait collages. As the viewer you soon become aware of how powerful the combination of a few disparate elements can be in Bourel’s work. For Bourel, creating a collage is like assembling a “fictional puzzle that doesn’t exist, but which might have a solution.”

As I said before, I really like this idea of creating new from the old, and how Bourel creates collages that are almost realistic. Looking into Bourel and having a discussion with Chris and Helen about my individual work, I think I will adopt some of Bourel’s techniques into my own work. I want to combine images of architecture from home with moroccan architectural decoration to create new buildings with a bit more excitement within them.


Image bibliography:

Morocco: Artist Research 2.0

Jacques Majorelle

After visiting the Majorelle Gardens I decided to look into the work of Jacques Majorelle further as he is an artist that I have never heard of, before visiting Marrakech.

Jacques Majorelle was a French artist born in 1886 and arrived in Morocco in 1917 after being invited over by General Lyautey, his father’s friend. Majorelle liked to paint the Moroccan landscapes, daily activities of the locals, and street scenes from within the city of Marrakech. The bright colours, lights and fertile souks immediately bewitched him and became him sole source of inspiration in his artwork.

Majorelle completed hundreds of paintings documenting the landscapes of Morocco. Although not as detailed, I did a similar thing in completing multiple drawings of Morocco, trying to document everything that I believed to be significant.

10 -Jacques Majorelle 1886 - 1962 Aït ben Addou, Vallée de l'oued Mellah, Grand Atlas, La Séguia
‘La Seguia, Aït ben Addou, vallée du Mellah’, Jacques Majorelle 1929 Gouache, distemper, mix media on cream paper board with highlights of silver metallic powder, 55.5 x 73 cm

“a little colour that invades the canvas boldly: a flamboyant red, an intense blue, a luminous yellow and a bright green.”                                               -Majorelle booklet


My favourite painting of Majorelle’s is ‘La Seguia, Aït ben Addou, vallée du Mellah’. I love the bold use of colour in block sections. The colours of Marrakech are a key aspect of Morocco I am looking into, and the paintings of Majorelle heavily utilise this. I also really like how flat the paintings look, Majorelle depicts the scenic landscapes but in a more contemporary format.

I plan on carrying on painting Morocco as I have never seen buildings and landscapes with such colour. I will try and adopt Majorelle’s style as I don’t want my responses the be picture perfect.



Morocco: Artist Research 1.0


I really liked the idea of creating a collection as well as looking at patterns and colours. This is because everytime I go on holiday, I collect things from my trip, that being leaflets, napkins, postcards and other different nicknacks. I thought that collecting several objects that symbolise a significant event or moment from Marrakech and collecting them all together would become a personal symbol of my trip experience.

I decided to research into some artists that have also worked from the ideas of collections. I came across the Fluxus travelling boxes.

Fluxus is an international collective of artists that was founded in the 1960’s, and still continues to operate today. It has no one single style of art, and is generally hard to define as Fluxus believes that to define the movement is far too limiting. It did however want art to be available to the masses and used a ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude, often staging performances and using any available materials to make art.

“It valued simplicity and anti-commercialism, with chance and accident playing a big part in the creation of works, and humour also being an important element.”                                                                                                     -Tate Art Term

The Fluxus travelling boxes are a collection of Fluxus art collated together by Fluxus members, as well as materials for actions. They move past the traditional format of a book to organise information, and were used to represent the activity of Fluxus artists in specific geographic regions. There were boxes for the USA, Japan, France, Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

I really like this idea of using a collection of objects within a box to represent a place, and is something that I will incorporate into my work, documenting my own personal journey and impression of Marrakech.



Morocco: Performance Drawing Research

Morgan O’Hara

Morgan O’Hara is a performance based artist that creates conceptual drawings based off of watching live models. She aims to capture the energy of an event through drawing. I think O’Hara is a key artist for us to look at as she too records herself drawing, which is much a part of the final outcome as the drawing. Although O’Hara’s drawings are a lot more abstract and conceptual, the same basic idea of using lines to convey an energy can be transferred across to our final outcome.

“I draw methodically with multiple razor-sharp pencils and both hands, as time-based performance, executing a direct neural transmission from one human action into another. I condense movement into accumulations of graphite line, which combine the controlled refinement of classical drawing with the unbound sensuality of spontaneous gesture. ”                                                                                                   -Morgan O’Hara