The Geranium Project (R&D) 07

This week spent mostly working through the ramifications of paying people through the ACE funding. Actually quite easy to sort, and not too onerous a task when you’ve worked it out, but a real pain to find and understand the information through the HMRC website.

I decided I needed to get some greenery into the studio and this prompted a new set of drawings.

Hydrangea

I started a set of six drawings, this is one,

One of six drawings made on Monday and Wednesday

I also ordered some wood to make a large chest for storage – intentionally very heavy.

Large Chest

and started a big drawing…

Large Drawing begun Monday

I’ve worked further on this on Friday but the process is quite slow as the layers are added and I’m entirely unsure about the colours.

Progress on big drawing

This may well be torn up eventually. This week is a hiatus before the work on the VR component begins in earnest.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 03

Studio View

Studio view 24th June 2019 – tidied for meetings.

This weeks starting question – Is the urge to tidy up when faced with a blank mind a symptom of age? Is having a blank mind a symptom of age? Probably worth acknowledging at this juncture that my idea of tidy may not have a very wide currency.

I visited the new studio today but it’s a building site. I was told that they were stripping out inessential fittings, like the intranet wiring and some shelving, and I should be able to move in. I’d need a hard hat and breathing apparatus to be able to move in as it stands so now I’m fingers crossed for the place to be clear by Friday so I can move next week – otherwise I’ll need to do some quick thinking. I contacted my usual van driver about the move but he no longer has a van so I’m already at the mercy of strangers which increases the effort involved.

This week I’ve got three meetings that will largely determine the timetable for the project over the next nine months, hopefully starting with an informal launch at Doncaster’s Culture Crawl on 23rd July.

1819 pair_four_blog

I organised some of the drawings in the gallery to pair the originals, made last summer, with the new ones made in the last month or two. Each original drawing, which has a collage element, – http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/gallery/paired-drawings-2018-2019/ – is copied to a small sketch and then taken to the upstairs studio and reinterpreted as a pure drawing. It’s interesting to put them together to see how closely they match or quite how far apart they’ve grown.

Wednesday had a meeting with Wayne Sables http://www.waynesablesproject.co.uk/ who is going to give feedback on aspects of production and presentation as well as, with my other collaborators, engaging in discussions about the installation as it progresses. This is what the ACE funding covers, paying for the time of experienced collaborators who can challenge the work as it progresses.

Studio Corner

I also stuck up some of the newer drawings to keep the place from seeming empty, even though I expect to be moving, and began a big version of one of them.

Drawings June 26th

Large Drawing in Progress

Friday ended up being a day of meetings and a visit to the new studio – which now won’t be the new studio. The building is being turned into apartments and all but two rooms are inaccessible.

I met with Mike Stubbs, https://www.mikestubbsart.com/ who is a collaborator/mentor for the installation and Iain Nicholls, http://iain-nicholls.com/ who is specifically helping out with the VR portion of the project.

The week leaves me with a lot of possibilities for the installation going forward – we discussed form, location, looking behind you, the way you are guided through space, the outward appearance of the space and much more. One of my major headaches is going to be holding a firm grip of what I want to achieve during the discussions I have.

NEW STUDIO Week Eleven

This week was one of those that feels unproductive and somewhat pointless. Again I was not entirely idle but I didn’t feel as driven as normal. The tell tale sign of this when the small stuff starts to be annoying, the floor needs cleaning, the table is untidy etc., things that I don’t notice when I’m in the flow.

Sketchbook 1st May

Sketchbook 1st May

I continued with the sketchbook work, looking for solutions to the 3d modelling conundrum which has occupied most of my thoughts in the last couple of weeks. I also started the next big drawing and worked on the ‘go,go,go,…’ sculpture.

Go, Go, Go, said the bird

Go, Go, Go, said the bird

Drawing in progress 01/05

Drawing in progress 01/05

The above were all made or modified at the start of the week.

At the end of the week I built a rig for slicing bottles for another piece I’m working on.

Dremel jig

Dremel jig

This allows me to use my Dremel with a diamond blade to cut a mayonnaise jar, it’s a slow process by this method though it does the job and I don’t have the facilities to use the ice water method.

 

‘How I look at sculpture (the same way that I make it?)’

some thoughts about making and looking

The Yorkshire Sculpture International takes place in June 2019 in four venues and across two cities, Leeds and Wakefield. Each of the venues is interpreting a ‘provocation’ by Phyllida Barlow – “sculpture is the most anthropological of the artforms”. At the Aesthetica Future Now symposium – 7th and 8th March 2019 – Jane Bhoyroo, Producer of YSI, delivered a session in which she referred to the Hepworth Wakefield concentrating on ‘Material Literacy’ in their interpretation.

At the symposium I had a portfolio review with Bhoyroo in which I showed photographs of some of my sculptures – the Ptolemy’s Garden series [link to gallery, put a picture in!] – that are made from used or waste materials. In this case an old bathroom floor and a randomly torn and re-purposed set of drawings. During this review I was confronted with the need to explain the gestation of the sculpture, which inevitably led to talking about the materials they are constructed from. In this case the connection between the source of the material and the finished work is quite clear, they are built, in part, from flooring removed from the bathroom which is broken and used to represent views of the garden. The cat, Ptolemy, is present as part of the material, as are myself and my wife, having walked on and interacted with the flooring and also as a memory alluded to in the representation.

Ptolemy's Garden 1

Ptolemy’s Garden 1

It strikes me that there are a series of questions asked consciously or unconsciously when contemplating a sculpture, does it represent, how does it occupy space, what does it feel like, does it have a front view, should you be inside it or more distant from it? Does it want you to touch it, and do you want to touch it? Does it confront or invite? Should these questions be asked and perhaps answered before any sense of meaning is addressed, or is meaning inevitably a precursor to, or at least concurrent with the approach to the object? Essentially the language we use parses from Pestalozzi’s schools through Elizabeth Mayo’s Lessons on Objects to the Bauhaus courses of Moholy-Nagy. We are asked to learn the formal elements of art through experiential encounters with materials and through analysis of these encounters develop a language to describe them.

I continually question myself about these resonances in the things I make. Whilst they are obviously necessary in the making of the object are they at all significant in the understanding of the object for the audience? Is too much explanation an attempt to cover a weakness in the work and/or does it add to the viewers appreciation of it? Given that the work is addressing a memory that is specifically mine, does revealing this disavow a more personal response, a different evocation, from a viewer?

Three Graces Hexthorpe 2012

Three Graces Hexthorpe 2012

Ann-Sophie Lehmann quotes Moholy Nagy in her 2017 essay in Bauhaus Zeitschrift – ‘Material Literacy’

Everyone is equipped by nature to receive and to assimilate sensory experiences. Everyone is sensitive to tones and colours, everyone has a sure ‘touch’ and space reactions, and so on. This means that everyone by nature is able to participate in all the pleasures of sensory experience, that any healthy man can become a musician, painter, sculptor, or architect, just as when he speaks, he is ‘a speaker.’ That is, he can give form to his reactions in any material.”

she goes on to state that ‘this quote summarizes the core of László Moholy Nagy’s seminal book Von Material zu Architektur. Published in 1929 in the Bauhaus series and translated with revisions into English as The New Vision a couple of years later .Lehmann, A. 2017. Material Literacy. Bauhaus Zeitschrift . Nr 9 (“Substance”), pp. 20-27

She suggests there is ‘…a collective urge to grasp— intellectually and physically—the substances of which this world and the things within it are made. This urge is channelled into a call for material literacy, a term that denotes a broad sensitivity to materials and their diverse meanings. Lehmann (2017)

Starting with this need to think and to feel the things the world is made of, sculpture should thus be designed to be touched intellectually and physically, rendering it at least transient if not ephemeral. [There is an aside here about curating ‘experiences’ rather than exhibitions and the development of “relational aesthetics”i in driving cultural experiences.]

Lehmann discusses the tangibility of materials bent to a purpose through the design process in line with Moholy-Nagy’s Bauhaus course which ‘created a unifying experience through the exploration of materials. The interaction with a wide variety of materials— wood, glass, metal, wool, paper, etc.—enabled students indeed to ‘form experience in any material’ and resulted in countless Materialstudien (material studies), only a couple of which survived.’ She goes on to state that ‘Moholy-Nagy’s manifesto-like style reads like a blueprint for contemporary discourses on sustainability and their inherent intentions to change the world for the better. This ideal (prone to abduction by commercial interests) often resurfaces when materials are at stake. Materials, of course, are always at stake, because everything in and around us is material.’ Lehmann (2017)

Three Sculptures 2004

My inarticulacy around making is apparent and it has taken me a couple of weeks to write this vague and erratic text, but this lack in and of itself reflects the way that I make things. Thoughts piled over thoughts, things read and interpreted, understood or misunderstood, reflection, rejection and grudging acceptance delivered through attempts to control media, to overcome perceived limitations it has and then to backtrack and accept the way the material asserts itself despite my efforts to control it. I appreciate the practice that suggests you develop understanding of the material, learn to work with it and build something in concert with it, but I find myself consistently engaged in a battle with all sorts of forces that eventually ends in an exhausted acquiescence.

Bibliography

Young , A. 2013. Material Wisdom. Cabinet. (50),pp. 16-18

Lehmann, A. (2016). Cube of Wood. Material Literacy for Art History..

i“Relational aesthetics” is a term coined by curator Nicolas Bourriaud for the exhibition “Traffic,” held at the CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux in 1996. It refers to installations and interactive events designed to facilitate community among participants (both artists and viewers). Rather than producing objects for individual aesthetic contemplation, Relational artists attempt to produce new human relationships through collective experiences. Artspace editors. 2016. What Is Relational Aesthetics? Here’s How Hanging Out, Eating Dinner, and Feeling Awkward Became Art. [Online]. [10 March 2019]. Available from: http://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/what-is-relational-aesthetics

Tomatoes

Over the summer I planted tomatoes for the first time in years. I didn’t get them in until May so the fruit ripened in September and was so ugly that may wife declared they could not be eaten. So here’s what I did with them.

This is the first painting – I tend to find first versions are over involved, become fussy and subject to continual finessing, and make me wish there was someone there to tie my hands so that I stopped. These are placed on a drawing board on my turntable in my attic studio. Oil on Paper 90×90.

Two tomatoes Oil on board 46x81cm

Two tomatoes Oil on board 46x81cm

As I progressed I used a lot of red and yellow paint so I started other paintings so as not to waste any. This is the first, on hardboard that was lying around. I’m trying to establish their weight and get the right shininess onto the surface.

Two Tomatoes Two oil on board 46x81cm

Two Tomatoes Two oil on board 46x81cm

another Two tomatoes version done at the same time and with the same ends. I decided I wanted to paint all eight with a different background to concentrate their redness.

Tomatoes on Yellow oil on paper 115x90cm

Tomatoes on Yellow oil on paper 115x90cm

The photograph doesn’t do complete justice to the yellow, the two tones are a lot closer.

At the same time I made two sets of three tomatoes.

three tomatoes two oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

three tomatoes two oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

I did these as I had some watercolour paper stretched and I wanted to see how the absorbency affected the paint.

three tomatoes oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

three tomatoes oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

By this time the tomatoes were beginning to get soft so I disposed of them humanely! They are heirloom beefsteak tomatoes and the biggest of them was just over a pound in weight and about eight inches across.

The whole episode took about three weeks and is easily enough red for one project.

December 2012

First post since August, what more do you need to tell you I work in education? 20121229-172905.jpg

So I’ve reached the end of the year with a mental block only marginally released by walking the dogs. The images are based on piles of gardening materials left on a council plot behind the local Academy.I started to produce the images before I took the photograph. There are more of them on the galleries page of this blog.
December 2012
I have begun to work the idea up with series of larger drawings, but early days yet.