The Geranium Project (R&D) 02

New Installation Drawing in progress

New Installation Drawing in progress

Three wall view of the new installation drawing.

Another week effectively lost because of extraneous factors – as much as you might plan for breaks for a variety of reasons, they have a habit of arriving at the most inopportune moments. This week a planned break to visit family clashed with the need to organise moving studios and with the progress of the installation which gains an extra patina of angst due to the ACE funding. The fact that the project is financially supported makes it obviously more important that it progresses and succeeds. The funding was paid into my account this week which makes the thing real.

So I only really got to work on Friday and moved the drawing on as illustrated.

I re-read ‘The Myth of Wu Tao-Tzu’ this week, Sven Lindqvist discusses the morality of seeking to live in art and his own efforts to do so and awakening to the retreat it represents. In the preface to the first English translation, published in 2012, Lindqvist talks about ways he has witnessed this imaginative leap, in Australian Aboriginal art for instance where the pictures are maps of territories that cross the boundaries of physical and spiritual and of his own experience of Fiona Banner and David Kohn’s ‘A Room for London’, a boat atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He recognises that “Wu Tao-Tzu had the courage for solitude[…]He had the courage to disappear and continue alone, on the other side of the visible in art.”

the other side of the visible in art.

I had a visitor a week or so ago who suggested that if your work is not about the imminent threat of our climate emergency then what’s the point of it? Lindqvist comes to much the same conclusion, and presents the same lack of hope.

A mental picture of the space;

The Garden is not a copy, or a description, is it an equivalence (obs.)

You walk in the space. There is a path through the space. There is an apparently impenetrable wall around the space but on closer inspection there are gaps. Any hole in the fence takes you to another world (.wrl sense). Through one gap you enter a vast field, at a distance is an object, you can go to it and see that it is a framework of right angles with an ordered tube curving through it. There is nothing else in this space. Yet.

I have not found a way to make roses, yet.

There is the sound of birds singing some distance away.

In the garden a bird hops from one fencepost to the next fencepost.

A cat crosses the garden, curls up under a tree, slows its breathing and disappears.

If you are here long enough you will the cat will reappear, uncurl and walk slowly out the garden. You may follow.

A bird perches on the fence, a female blackbird, she calls shrugging her wings and tail. The call is echoed from a shortening distance.

It would be good to have a secret superimposition of the real and virtual spaces – there are three spaces – REAL – INSTALLATION – VIRTUAL.

Can (shall) I play the sound from the real garden live in the installation?

NEW STUDIO Week Sixteen

This will be the last general post under the new studio banner. It’s not that I’m stopping anything, it’s because I was awarded a grant by Arts Council England to develop the Geranium project. So from next week I’ll be posting Geranium Project 01 and should run up to GP40 by the end of the funding period.

fourdrawingscolour_blog

On Monday 3rd June I worked on four drawings that I began last week, working them together towards a larger drawing that I’d stretched paper for. The drawing process is still build up, break down, build back up. I enjoy the prospect of working to correct as the drawing retains some of the character of the erroneous marks when it’s corrected.

fourdrawingstranslation_blog

fourdrawingstranslation_blog

This is the translation to a unified whole, which is far too twee – I think that’s the word – and required some dissolution and retrieval. I dripped very thin black paint over it, took it off with more paper, dripped white paint over it that I allowed to dry and then worked over that with white conté.

ourdrawingstranslation_further_blog

This is where it was at when I had to stop for the day. The reds have had more pastel applied and the central block has been worked over with more charcoal.

Wednesday 5th June I went in to the studio to find there was leak, I traced it up through three floors to the roof, it damaged a sketchbook.

dripdrysketchbook_blog

This is the sketchbook drip dried through the morning, before I had to split it up to dry in the afternoon.

sketchbookdryout_blog

I concentrated on six drawings I had started on Monday by ‘mono printing’ off the big drawing.

sixdrawings_0506_blog

Obviously these are still in progress. I then did a little work on the big drawing.

junedrawing_blog

Friday was a day full of visits again, potential building purchasers, artists looking for studio space and collaborators for the Geranium Project.

In between these and talking to builders and property agents I managed to take down the installation so that I can re-paint and reconfigure it.

installation_blog

installation2_blog

I also managed to work on two drawings from yesterday.

 

blackdrawing_blog

bluedrawing_blog

So this weekend will be spent working out the schedule for the Geranium Project.

 

NEW STUDIO Week Fifteen

Another late post – I need to sharpen up a bit.

I made a series of test videos and tried them out in the space, last weeks caveats apply to the finishes.

The time it takes to render the models is horrendous with my equipment so I need to invest in some better kit.

I was only in the studio for two days because of a meeting and started some drawing and stretched some paper.

In between time I started a painting based on one of the attic drawings.

garden painting May 2019

All in all a bit of a week to forget.

 

NEW STUDIO Week Fourteen

Continuing with drawing this week, and having to concentrate on the 3d model because of the poorly cat.

six new drawings started

On Monday I started six new drawings, these had white emulsion painted on the 17th (Friday) and were added to on Monday.

Garden Drawing 20/05/19

Also began this drawing on four sheets of A1 cartridge. It harks back, as I realised afterwards, to the ladybird drawings I did an age ago –

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/08/08/ladybird/

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/08/15/ladybird-2/

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/11/28/ladybird-2-finished-in-so-far-as/

All of these drawings are trying to find a way to realise the 3d model as projection and environment for the installation.

sketch notes 20/05/19

I thought it was worth including a picture of a sketchbook page with reflections of the day’s activities. I often write in the sketchbook or my diary to record the way I’m thinking, not really to hold on to it but more to be able to see how my thinking has changed through the process.

drawings continued

On Wednesday I continued working on the drawings from Monday, for some reason I didn’t photograph one of them and I can’t remember why. Wednesday was split up by a visit to a potential new studio in the morning, it has twenty rooms including a small hall/gym and a roof terrace and is just around the corner from where I am now. In the afternoon I had a visit from the architects for the potential buyers who spent two hours measuring for drawings so I’m on borrowed time at the minute.

Wednesday Sketchbook

I started to pick up the elements from the six drawings in the sketchbook and then developed three new ones from the bottom right sketch.

three new drawings

On Friday, as I couldn’t get in to the studio I made a model of the middle drawing.

There are also two new garden videos ready for project with a more robust model integrated as a walkthrough but I’m dissatisfied with the experience as it lacks the quality of the drawings.

NEW STUDIO Week Thirteen

A late blog after what seems like something of a hiatus. The visit by the contractors last week reminded me of the fragility of my tenure in the space, which made me look at how much stuff I’d generated in it and almost overwhelmed me with the prospect of moving it. At the back of my mind the ‘big skip’ solution, exercised a good many times over the years.

four drawings 130519

four more drawings 130519

I completed some of the drawings begun last week, and continued working with others.

six drawings in progress 130519

On Tuesday I split my time in the garden at home and the attic studio.

Garden 14th May 2019

A set of colour sketches accompanies this piece.

colour sketch 14th May

There are also the set of drawings started last week, that can be seen in this gallery.

Garden Drawings May 2019

On Wednesday I was back in the shop continuing with the drawings.

gardensketch_1_15519

gardensketch_2_15519

gardensketch_3_15519

gardensketch_4_15519

Completing these drawings and beginning to re-interpret these into the sketchbook towards a 3d model.

sketchbook_2_blog

sketchbook_3_blog

sketchbook_blog

Friday was a truncated day, after more modelling, working on new drawings (prep only) and sketches.

sketchbook170519_blog

NEW STUDIO Week Twelve

NEW STUDIO Week Twelve

Coming to the end of three months in the shop, and looking like the end might be near – A contractor is looking around the property on Monday. It’s time to take stock of progress and in particular to examine where I am as an artist after retirement.

The shop looks like a gallery and I’ve had a few visitors, enough to mean I need to order some new cards, that have been very complementary. On the other hand I’m a six foot skinhead in overalls and steel toecaps so who wouldn’t be. Nothing is translating to sales but that’s never been the purpose, I don’t have a catalogue or pricelist (add to the to-do list) and the shop signage as yet is tiny. I’m in that mid grant application limbo where my intellectual energies are pointing me at things I can’t develop lest I start the thing I’ve applied for funding for and thus invalidate my application. It remains inordinately difficult to apply for funding as a practice led artist as you don’t know what you’re going to do until you do it. The ‘studio’ space of the shop looks like it’s working, plenty of space and I’m continually refining the way I use it.

As well as tidying up and maintaining equipment I started this week working on the computer – I’ll write a separate post to describe that work – and continued in the sketchbook on Wednesday.

Sketchbook images from 8th May

Sketchbook images from 8th May

I came up with a brief catalogue introduction for the Ptolemy’s Garden, work in progress exhibition.

Ptolemy’s Garden is a set of drawings and sculptures made from old flooring and drawings of gardens where I’ve buried cats over the last thirty years. Ptolemy walked down the garden one day as a kitten and stayed for a few years. He is buried here in these works as much he’s buried in Balby alongside Kelpie and Coco, or in Warmsworth next to Pliskie and Poppy, or in Sherburn in Elmet next to Polly.

I use the materials I find, ideally I like waste material that has had a previous life and breaks unpredictably. The material stops me from over directing the sculptures as the process grows towards resolution.

I collect the detritus of living, scraps randomly encountered, reflecting the memories I carry. I ascribe my deepest feelings to insignificant mementos and nostalgia orchestrates my future and my present.

Thursday I couldn’t face another day frustrated at the computer so I did some drawing, starting a set of collages from old sculpture sketches.

Nine A1 collages

Nine A1 collages May 2019

There are ten started, an individual one is below.

Thursday Collage in progress

Thursday collage in progress

On Friday I continued drawing, in the sketchbook again, then on A1 sheets.

Friday Sketchbook

Friday Sketchbook

 

Three drawings in progress

another three drawings in progress

yet another three drawings in progress

And finally did a small amount on the big garden drawing.

Large Garden May 2019

 

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.

 

NEW STUDIO Week Nine: Easter Egg Hunt

This week began badly, Monday felt like an awful day, one of this where you feel as if nothing is going right without being able to put your finger on what’s wrong.

Rendering the Garden

Rendering the Garden

I took my laptop to the shop to render out some new video while I was working on other stuff. I am encouraged by the idea of what I’m making on the computer and by where it might fit in the overall vision of geranium, but I’m not happy with what I have made yet. The idea is to have the video fade into a drawing that walks you around the garden and then fade back.

I also decided I needed to move ‘Snow Line’ so I broke it, I think this is what put me off the day, I knew I needed to move it and when I moved it was obviously too fragile so I discovered I had to break it. It did help me resolve the top piece that I was unhappy with though.

Snow Line Broken

Snow Line Broken

I also stripped out some of the underside and applied a new coat of blue and made a fillet for the top section that is ripped out which will also be blue.

Screen First Coat

Screen First Coat

and the other side

and the other side

Wednesday was a better day, although still punctuated with the rendering struggles. I continued to paint the screen, hung the drawing and stretched some new paper and fixed the blue fillet into ‘Snow Line’

Snow Line - Compass Points - 17 04 2019

Snow Line – Compass Points – 17 04 2019

The base, added Monday, is deliberate.

Screen Painting Wednesday

Screen Painting Wednesday

and the other side

and the other side

The screen has two sides now, and is progressing.

Garden Drawing

Garden Drawing

The drawing hung upstairs.

I also thought I could use a small desk at the front of the shop so I reclaimed some wood and made one.

Desk

Desk

On Friday, Good Friday, I didn’t get to the studio as I was preparing for the weekend. I did re-submit my Project application to ACE, and I made a sign for Monday!

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Out of studio diversion – ‘Snow Line’ alternatives.

It was wet & white & ...

It was wet & white & …

When I’m not in the shop building I’m generally either working on the computer or painting/drawing at home. ‘Snow Lines’ has occupied a good amount of this time in the last few weeks, particularly given that my slightly sprained ankle has meant that I couldn’t run. Running is an excellent way to empty your head.

I’ve thought about the poem on and off for a few years and for some reason it has come to the fore now. I don’t imagine why that might be, I’ll let the work that arises reveal its motivation or not. I imagined the ‘character’ of the poem as the space inside a cave, just on the snow line, injured in some way, perhaps falling into and out of existence as the temperature changes. I know, or think I know, that for Berryman Henry is the wounded creature contemplating his abandonment and feeling sorry for himself. I’d rather think of it as a literal piece for my purposes.

Drawing April 2019 - 28

Drawing April 2019 – 28

I began a drawing before I started to build the large sculpture, and I assembled a scrapbook in which I laid out the poem to play around with found materials. The drawing is based on a curled up creature, protecting itself. In this case a pangolin, I’ve seen a lot of news about pangolins lately. Apparently their scales are made of the same material as rhinoceros horn. I also found a hedgehog in the garden a week or two ago, during the day, curled up and obviously not well. The hedgehog hospital told me to put it under a bush and leave it. I buried it the next day. I’m wondering whether the drawing attracted the hedgehog or vice versa. I’m not really.

If I had to do the whole thing ...

If I had to do the whole thing …

‘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