Bobby Baker

Bobby Baker was extremely influential for my ‘Life on Roaccutane’ paintings as of the focus of both our works on mentality.

Bobby Baker did a series of 711 paintings documenting her mental health and experiences in hospitals and psychiatric wards. Her paintings became a way for her to express her thoughts and emotions which is a concept that has been really influential for my work, as my paintings are solely focused on my thoughts and feelings experienced on Roaccutane. Although my side effects are completely caused by my medication and are in no way as severe as Baker’s mental health issues, both stand as personal accounts documenting our thoughts and emotions in the present. I like the idea of creating a continuing narrative similar to Baker on my experiences so may continue to make even more paintings if I experience any new side effects.

There is a naive quality in Baker’s work that I love so much. It is less about the aesthetic value and more about the personal connection to the paintings. Originally Baker’s paintings were not intended to be seen by the public leading to an honesty in her work that I tried to translate into some of my portraits, however I struggled with this and don’t think I managed to do so completely successfully. The colours Baker uses are extremely passionate and resonate well in what she is portraying. I think this use of colour is key as well for me in some of my paintings as certain colours associated with different emotions (such as black blues and greys for depression) can tell the viewer more about my experiences than some of the portraits.


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Jordan Clarke

I first saw Jordan Clarke during the collage workshop at the start of the year in ‘The Age of Collage Contemporary Collage in Modern Art’, but didn’t pay much attention at the time. I later properly discovered Clarke when researching collage artists that fit with the jumbling up of my Nan’s facial features, that I wanted to create within my own work. The way Clarke distorts the activity of the subject by combining both cuttings from the original image and from others is what is particularly interesting. Clarke uses vintage images he sources and the way in which he rearranges and deconstructs the photographs has a kaleidoscopic effect. This reminded me of some of the photos I took through a kaleidoscope at the start of the year that acted as inspiration for my first ripped up portrait, and is an effect I continued throughout my Outisde/Inside work. The facial and body features become unrecognisable and leave the viewer searching the collage looking for facial or body features. Clarke uses such a range of subjects from little children, to glamorous women to dancers and athletes. The wide range creates such different effects, but it is the collages of the children that I find the most interesting as their gaze has an empty quality about them. This links well to my portrayal of my Nan’s Alzheimer’s as it is one way to symbolise the loss of mentality.

Clarke uses geometric forms to rearrange his subject which reinforced my idea of using triangles to recreate my Nan’s face after the somewhat failure of my first ripped up portrait. Although I was pleased with my first collage, I didn’t like how the pieces didn’t fit together; so by using a similar technique to Clarke in my final piece, I was able to create the complete image that I desired. Clarke expands his collaging to both the body and outside of the face, almost creating movement within the collages. It is the whole sense of hidden identity that I infer from Jordan Clarke’s collages that I find so interesting, whether this be his intention or not. I find that they leave you questioning, who is this person? And the fact that they are vintage photographs leaves a whole history behind them.

A big element of Clarke’s collages is his use of colour. Inspired by Ashkan Honarvar’s ‘Rodeo 1’ series, Clarke also uses flower motifs within some of his collages and in the majority of others, colour plays a huge part in the distortion, often standing out from the rest of the photograph. However, it is more about the kaleidoscopic effect for me personally than the use of colour that I find inspirational for my own work.

Overall, Jordan Clarke’s collages had a big impact upon my own subject work in the use of geometric forms and the hiding of identity. I think I love his work so much because of the change in perspective and contrast between the detail of the photograph and its destruction through collage. Clarke’s collages offer a new insight into reality and aesthetic form that I aimed to achieve in my final pieces.


Auguste Rodin

After visiting the Van Gogh Museum and seeing the Rodin sculpture, ‘She who was Once the Helmet Makers Beautiful Aid’, I was inspired to explore the physical as well as the mental effects both in my ‘Alzheimer’s Disease’ Studies and ‘Life on Roaccutane’ paintings. Exploring both, both better links to Outside/Inside and allows for deeper exploration into complete deterioration.

When I first saw this sculpture in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam I assumed it was just another sculpture depicting the perfect and desired human form. However it was only when I properly looked at it, that I noticed that the body of the woman was completely deteriorated with age, sagging and folding. Rodin’s sculpture fights the conventionality of beauty and perfection that most sculptures portray, creating a natural honesty in the aging process.This decay in the form with age linked well with my Nan as she has obviously physically deteriorated with age as well mentally. Looking at Rodin led to me exploring her hands and in my final drawings, allowed me to contextualise the wrinkles of her skin and liver spots.

The concept of honesty is a really important factor for me, especially in my ‘Life on Roaccutane’ paintings where although it was hard for me to show the darker side of my medication’s effect, it was vital. Although the title of the sculpture suggests otherwise, the way Rodin shows the imperfections of the woman I find quite beautiful as they individualise her and show the traces of her life. The imperfections allowed me to break the barrier and reflect my imperfections to the public instead of hiding them away behind make-up, which is a very rare thing for me to do.

‘She who was Once the Helmet Makers Beautiful Aid’

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Francis Bacon

After visiting the Bacon to Doig exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff I discovered some of Francis Bacon’s self portraits and portraits of others. I really like the way in which Bacon completely distorts the identity and characteristics of the sitter, creating figures whose identity is completely unrecognisable. This lack of identity appears to be prominent throughout Bacon’s work as in other paintings the sitter disappears into the background, leaving no trace of their existence in the areas faded away.

In Bacon’s ‘Study for Self Portrait’ his facial features have shifted around and blended into each other. You can just about recognise the eyes, nose and mouth but all are so blurred that there is no way you would be able to identify Bacon without the artwork’s title. There is a hint of a person without them fully being there. There seems to be a darker side to Bacon’s portrais, I think showing torment in the mind of the sitter both through the choice of expression and painting technique. The background is a matte black which further amplifies this idea.

I find Bacon’s work relevant to all of my subject practice, but more closely to my study of my Nan’s Alzheimer’s, especially in works such as ‘Study for Self Portrait’. The jumbling and blurring of facial features leads to a loss of identity in the paintings, which has had influence in my final pieces with the jumbling up of my Nan’s face. The only difference is that I have used geometric shapes. I also really liked the idea of fading into the background which I think is a technique that influenced some of my paintings in my ‘Life on Roaccutane’ series.

‘Study for Self Portrait’


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Level 4 PDP: Constellation Reflection

Constellation has been really interesting and thought provoking this year, allowing me to challenge my ideas and the way I interpret other artist’s work. Although I initially found it intimidating to voice my opinions in lectures, being able to hear other students interpretations of work, working as a collective, and being encouraged to discuss my ideas was really beneficial. It allowed me to consider new concepts, and overall deepen my understanding of areas in art and design.

In the first term I had After Modernism which was exciting as it taught me a lot more about the evolution of art movements and how world events caused their advance. After Modernism also had a direct influence on my own work as it introduced me to so many artists’ work that I was previously unfamiliar with. For example, in the Abstract Expressionism lecture we looked at the work of Art & Language, ’Portrait of V.I. Lenin with Cap, in the Style of Jackson Pollock III’ which inspired me to produce portraits in my subject brief that were almost unrecognisable and research into other abstract expressionist artists outside of the lectures. We also visited the Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Tate Modern. Being able to view some of the work we had been discussing in lectures in person really benefited my understanding and learning as I think it can be easy to miss important details when looking at a photograph. It was also interesting to note the difference between the one viewpoint you get in photograph compared to the multitude of viewpoints you can get in person, and how the meaning behind the work can develop with this. Our visit to the National Museum Cardiff was particularly interesting as we not only discussed the work housed within the building, but the building itself and its architecture. Although having visited the museum many times, it was almost shocking how much I’d missed as it was hidden in plain sight. After having a discussion of the Gallery and Institutional Critique on the significance of the gallery’s layout, I can now appreciate the relevance of the surroundings in relation to the art. Through the After Modernism lectures I was introduced to work that encouraged abstract, conceptual ideas, that ended up inspiring my own work.

The second term of constellation was a lot more thought provoking for me than I initially thought it would be. I explored the topic of Things Can Be Otherwise. Although I didn’t choose this option as I had never studied philosophy before, and didn’t think it was an area that I would be interested in, it has provided me with a deeper interest in philosophical understanding. Although initially it was quite an intimidating and unknown subject for me, it allowed me to consider ideas I’d never thought of before and made me question things I thought I knew to be certain. Discussing Russell’s concept of knowledge and the table was particularly interesting as it made me question my sense awareness; for example, with an object’s colour or texture. If it is constantly changing then what is its true reality? This questioning of reality linked in well with my practice as it enabled me to analyse my own work deeper. Within Things Can Be Otherwise, we had a lot of writing practice. I found this really challenging as I am not very confident with my analytical skills. However this practice proved to be beneficial for my writing skills as it taught me how to produce concise, well structured and well supported paragraphs. This was an important skill to gain, as I also have a tendency to ramble on in essays, including a lot of information and sources with no direct relevance to my essay question. This ultimately helped me to write my final essay as it has taught me how to select important sources to support my claims and arguments, and discard anything that doesn’t directly link. I feel I have significantly improved my analytical skills thanks to writing practice, and am now confident in voicing my interpretations and opinions of other’s work.

I decided to write my essay on indexical drawing, which having attended the Things Can Be Otherwise lectures, I now have a deeper understanding of. I wanted to focus on indexical drawing as I found it inspirational for my studio work, and was a topic I wanted to learn more about. I think that the relation I created between constellation and my own work was really important as it enabled me to contextualise my essay into my work, and create an essay that I was really interested in exploring. Indexical drawing is a key concept for me that without constellation, I would be unaware of.

By attending the keynotes I was able to learn about such a broad range of subjects and discover new artists every week. For me, the most significant lecture was Tradition & Originality. Having attended this lecture, I now have insight in the misunderstanding between tradition and originality and am able to put in into context. In the lecture we discussed how the future changes history. At first I found this concept hard to grasp but when put into an example of how Vermeer’s paintings were only understood when the camera was invented years later, does it then make sense. This knowledge could be useful to me as a learner, as previously I had only considered how the past affects the future; now I have a broader understanding of the significance of all art on each other.

In conclusion, I found that all of the areas of constellation were really beneficial for the development of my understanding, especially the second term. I feel that I now have a deeper knowledge of more areas of art and design, and how it is linked and impacted upon by the ever-changing world. Constellation allowed me to develop my analytical skills and consider how I can relate my own practice to different subjects’ concepts, that I was previously unaware of.

This Is Not An Essay: Writing Course 4/4

On the final day of the writing workshop I began by once again looking at Alfred Wallis’ ‘St Ives’. This time I had to write three true things about it, three fictitious and had to find 3 images to link to the painting.

3 True Statements:

  1. The painting has a resourceful link to St Ives, painted on a scavenged piece of wood.
  2. ‘St Ives’ is representational of Wallis’ “naive’ style.
  3. Wallis’ paintings were to combat his loneliness from the dress of his wife.

3 Fictitious Statements:

  1. This is the last painting Wallis painted before his death.
  2. Accurate representation is key for Wallis.
  3. The town is quiet as all the local have gone fishing.

My most interesting statement was the last of the fictitious as there are no people painted. Although the statement is completely made up, it is a possible truth as during Wallis’ year St Ives was a fishing town. It makes threader see further past the painting and imagine the scenario.

3 Linking Images:

  1. I first chose a Canaletto painting which is incredibly accurate and detailed, to act as a complete contrast to the ‘naive’ nature of Wallis’ painting. Although the other fine art students and I can appreciate both paintings for their own qualities, in the words of Clement Greenburg, the “commoners” would only be able to appreciate the Canaletto. I know this first hand as my parents, who have no knowledge on art consider Wallis’ work childish and think that they could do it.
  2. The second image I chose was of the Titanic before and whilst it was sinking. I chose this image as Wallis only began painting after the death of his wife, to combat his loneliness. Although not as extreme as the Titanic, the idea of loss circulates between the two.
  3. The final image I chose was a photograph I had take of humpback whales in Monterey a couple of years ago. This photo was probably my weakest link to ‘St Ives’ but I wanted to introduce unfamiliar marine life to an area Alfred Wallis was so familiar with.

To round up the writing course, I used the artwork I picked (Alfred Wallis ‘St Ives’), and put together words and images that generated complexity and insight.

This was my final result:


Presenting different words and images in this format really allowed me to expand from the original artwork and generate new ideas to branch off from. I used the same three images I used before but this time also added in photographs and other paintings of St Ives. I found it interesting to see how a lot of seaside art is simple in depiction, almost looking cartoonish. I additionally added in key words to help spark thinking behind the pictures. This task reminded me of the ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ activity we did the day before as it allowed me to identify common links between different artworks and photographs.

Overall I found this writing course really useful for the development of my analytical skills. Before this, when analysing artists’ work I used to just focus on specific areas of the work; but by describing everything I could see, I noticed new objects and people that I had never noticed before. It also has helped to develop links between artworks that I never would have thought would have linked, which consequently has also expanded to my own practice.


Grayson Perry: Who Are You?

I watched Grayson Perry’s Channel 4 documentary on identity and found it really useful for the development of the study of my Nan and her Alzheimer’s. Grayson Perry explored the concept of identity through portraiture, meeting a variety of people who are extremes of modern life and are facing a crisis in their identity.  He attempted to portray the identity journey they were facing. Watching this DVD has re-inspired me to create portraits and has introduced me to new ways of conveying my Nan’s illness.

“Our sense of ourselves feels constant but our identity is an ongoing performance that is changed and adapted by our experiences and circumstances” 

-Grayson Perry

For one of his portraits, Perry explored the world of the deaf and the identity that comes with the deaf culture. Language is essential to identity, and the family interviewed had formed a rounded culture based on sign language. Instead of thinking of themselves as having a disability, they thought of themselves as a cultural group. Another interesting topic that was brought up was how Paula (the deaf mum) had Jewish parents who encouraged her to embrace being Jewish. However Paula chose to identify with deafness rather than her religious affinity. Being deaf appeared to strengthen the identity of this family which is an idea that was repeated throughout all the different groups of people Perry interviewed. Perry created a poster titled ‘The Deaf’ in response to how society views deaf people, including the family within it. I really like how Perry has chosen to create a silk screen print to create this portrait as it is a twist on classic portraiture and brings portraiture into the modern day.

‘The Deaf’



Another group of people explored were the BBW (Big Beautiful Women), a group of women that struggled with their weight and so their identity, but learned to accept it and love themselves for it. They created a positive identity for themselves and want their size to be seen as positive. Perry noted that how in history these figures would be seen as “fertility goddesses to be prayed to for children and a plentiful harvest” . However now their figures would be seen as a health problem. Perry has covered the female forms in images of women and food. I think this highlights the contrast between society’s ideals for the female and the temptations of everyday life.

‘Melanie, Georgina and Sarah’


The most significant interview for my work was when Perry interviewed a husband and wife where the husband was in the early stages of dementia. It highlighted how Alzheimer’s strips away our sense of identity that is perhaps held in the memories. It is an all-encompassing disease that will strip bare everything of who we think we are. For the couple, the family identity are held in the photo albums. This is a concept that I may bring into my own practice as the use of photos would be a good way to portray the loss of identity. Perry describes Alzheimer’s disease as a “random bombing raid on the city that makes up ourself”. I think it really highlights how fragile our identity is and it’s at the heart of it to see it fall apart. Perry created a vase to commemorate the identity of the couple which could also be interpreted as an earn for memories. Perry decorated the vase by cutting up photos of the couple and illustrated it by portraying some sort of a devil cutting up the photographs whilst the couples hide under a blanket. ‘Memory Jar’ has been really thought provoking and I think will act as a huge inspiration in my portrayal of my Nan’s Alzheimer’s.


During the time of his exploration into identity and who we think we are, Chris Huhne’s trial for perverting the course of justice was occurring. Perry interviewed Huhne and wanted to examine his change from a high-status alpha male to vulnerable man. The portrait needed to reflect Huhne’s seemingly invincibility and how prison would probably change that. Perry found however that there had been no change in identity and that he still showed no vulnerability. This predictable repetition was translated into a repeat pattern in ‘The Huhne Vase’. Perry decided to smash the pot and stick it back together with the cracks traced in gold, in an attempt to symbolise vulnerability. The idea of smashing the pot to create vulnerability is something I may translate into my own work.

‘The Huhne Vase’


Grayson Perry explored fame in an extreme modern manifestation by creating a portrait of Rylan Clark, a paper-thin, famous for being famous celebrity. Rylan talked about how he could never be happy with his identity because it was all fake, “Rylan” is the alter ego to the reality of “Ross”. However it is not his celebrity lifestyle that is the problem; it is how easily his fake identity is being believed that is causing a crisis in his real identity. We live in a fast moving, anonymous world now, where reality and our identity are heightened through a lens. We can pick and choose what people see of us and consequently a rise in fake identity is occurring. Perry chose to make Rylan into an Elizabethan miniature to parallel between the miniature portrait that people in history would carry on them and the iPhone. It is interesting to note how Rylan is the biggest character, but has the smallest portrait.

‘The Earl of Essex’

“For most of us, most of the time our identity works for us so we do not question it. But when it does not feel right, or is under threat, then we are suddenly made very aware of how central and vital our identity is.”

– Grayson Perry, 2014

Overall I found the programme extremely inspirational for my own practice as it introduced me to a multitude of new ways to portray identity, and more specifically the loss of it. I will consider Grayson Perry’s methods when creating my own work. 

Image Bibliography:

Intelligent Insight: Grayson Perry – Who Are You?