Category Archives: 04.1 Artists references

Artists profile: Joell Baxter

An unexpected find while searching for something completely unrelated, is the weaving artist Joell Baxter. Her practice combines screen printing, weaving and colour theory in an exploration of visual perception and physical response. The placement of her multi-coloured, paper weaving sculptures evokes minimalist sculpture and interior design staples like carpets and pillows (and occasionally chairs too). Although her work is quite fine art-y (especially in the way she is inspired by the interplay of colours) but it is also very familiar and evocative of textile work. This cross-disciplinary approach inspired me as it is fascinating to see weaving linked so closely with painting and fine art instead of any formal links to contemporary basketry. Particularly while I am still searching for my own ‘label’.

383cda93e7f402ddf131c1100bc76501

In her words she describes: “I have always made work that sits between disciplines and actively engages the viewer in different modes of looking. All of my work strongly references minimalism, in terms of its approach to space and to creating a one-on-one relationship between the viewer and the work. I use very basic processes and forms that are reminiscent of grade school arts and crafts projects like weaving potholders. I want to evoke an immediate sense of familiarity, almost a muscle memory of how the work was made. But after that initial response, I hope that what at first seemed familiar becomes strange and more complex.”

xlarge_16e302a39b8638ce91a1b7baf039d094

“In planning my work, everything is extremely orderly and can be diagrammed as a set of instructions. I typically use colors in the order of the visible spectrum, so red follows orange follows yellow, and so on. But by weaving these colors together, they start to interact and become harder to name and distinguish. This is due to the inherent nature of weaving, where color relationships are constantly alternating through the pattern of over and under. So there is a kind of glitch introduced into the plans, forcing me to let go of absolute control over the results.”

medium_5d88ba512087f85131a5385edc4272af

Great stuff!

Advertisements

Artists working with experiences of place

The map experiments I have been doing brought me to look back at one of my favourite / most inspirational quilt artists, who also works with ideas around place – in particular cityscapes. I took the opportunity to look into any other people working in this sort of area.

Eszter Bornemisza

Eszter is a Hungarian fibre and textile artist, who like me had a former life as a scientific PhD researcher. Her artist’s statement picks up a number the features of place that I am working with:

My starting points are ideas that reflect our relations to traces and settlements of past cultures: the layers of existence. City plans appear as motives, signs, traces, ruins, the silt of the past. As the urban structure develops, widens, thickens, clots and creates subsystems in history, the cities that live within us undergo an endless and continuous evolution. The exploration that appears in most of my works also determines my working process: on the one hand research of civilisation history and on the other hand experiment to find the right techniques for my expressions.

EZB2

EZ3

I have loved Eszter’s work since the first time I saw her display at a quilt show. I could look to incorporate more of the actual materials of place and people (newspapers or things related to identity perhaps – family photographs? old letters?)

 

Yu-Wen Wu

Yu-Wen Wu describes herself as an interdisciplinary artist and has a range of fascinating work through drawing, installation to video. I like the way she uses abstraction, but still has the traces of the data it is built upon. A couple of her most relevant works are below.

In the broader context her work explores systems–its universal connectedness, interdependency and the persistence of change. She distills the transitory and migratory nature of our natural and built environments. Her investigations incorporate the visual language of data transforming them into abstract narratives

yww1

“Random Walks is both process and metaphor for the larger “random” paths of life. Here is structure and serendipity reflecting journeys and transitions. Throughout the years walks have been mapped in the language of informational notations with albums, video footage and drawing installations. They are manifestations of outward and inward journeys, rhythm and embodied topography.”

yww2“Mapping the Stars is part of a larger project based on constellations, constellation maps, and musical notations. Since ancient times constellations narrated the deeds of heroes and villains. They became a part of religious beliefs and at times influenced the decisions of nations.
The series Mapping the Stars is based on the charts of ancient Chinese star maps. The musical elements are from the score of Chopin’s Nocturne.”

Gail Biederman

Of the artists I found, Gail’s work most formally links identity and place. Her work is an exploration through mapping, which looks at identity and relationships as well as the physical terrain. I also noticed the way she describes mapping as both the material and process – exactly as I hope for my project to do.

Mapping is both a form my work inhabits and a strategy through which it evolves. As I work, the messiness of real life mixes with abstract information. The autobiographical and the geographical fuse, and the border between interior and exterior dissolves. Reconstructing places, personal experiences, and memories, my pieces become visual diaries, encoded narratives, even a type of portraiture. More than just a record of physical trips and places, these works symbolize passage and transition and plot the uniquely personal directions that our lives have taken. They translate an impersonal diagram of routes into an examination of identity and the ways one can define oneself in comparison to another.

Gail’s material choice is often more playful and occasionally uses soft textiles such as felt. She suggests that this offers a striking counterpoint to the conceptual aspects of the work. Some of her other works function clearly as psychogeographic maps or journals, some layering images of various places, networks, diagrams, and architectural plans to evoke the complexity of travel.

gb2

Gail-Biederman

Cartography down Cork Street

We had a gallery day last week, where we popped into the final days of the Ai Weiwei Exhibition at the RA. I had been to see it already but it is good to have time to revisit with a fresh eye. I still have mixed feelings about my project progress – although I am trying to have some time off thinking about it – I cannot shake the worry that I have no idea what to do next.

I always considered Ai Weiwei as a political artist, which of course he is, but within here is a lot of context about his place and the understanding of identity and place within modern China. He also has some works explicitly using topographic information – a comment on the change of identity of the Chinese people.

2015-12-07 11.55.502015-12-07 11.55.232015-12-07 11.57.30

After coming out of the RA we took a wander up what is left of Cork Street, the once gallery filled road now almost half demolished and in scaffolding.  We came across two rather interesting shows. Firstly Daniel Chadwick showing at Damiani Fine Art. Although probably better known for his mobile and kinetic works (reminiscent of Calder’s!), the Cork Street show was a collection of Chadwick’s art as an evocation of nature, using inspiration from the undulating countryside of his native Gloucestershire. His works, as with the Ai WeiWei works above, are very similar to topographical reliefs.

danny-chadwick8Please-Dont-Touch_590_590_90danny-chadwick

A little further down the street we stopped by the Alan Cristea Gallery who were showing With Space in Mind, a collection of prints by a range of leading sculptors. These sculptors have a unique approach to printmaking, one which is physical and tactile – about process and material, object as well as image. This is exactly what I hope for my own work to be about in whatever form I decide upon.

“These prints explore the relationship between multiple dimensions, whether through directly referencing sculptures or the physical process in making the print. The artists clearly convey their outlook on the development of their art and their individual approach to printmaking. This does not contradict the sculptures for which they are renowned, rather complements them as it stresses the importance of process and material and emphasises that their artwork is not only physical, but that image also holds great importance. The process of printmaking is representative of their expansion of form and ideas that spur their sculptural works and thus pave a fundamental style throughout their pieces”

A couple of sculptors stood out for me: firstly Richard Serra

Untitled

Then, most significantly (but unsurprisingly), Richard Long. He uses carborundum paste directly applied to the plates by hand, replicating the process he uses in his mud drawings. The energy, rawness and viscerality of this print overtakes everything else in the whole gallery.

Speed in the Sound of Lonliness_2014~hi

All of these different works show just a glimpse of the range of angles which a discussion about place can take. Ranging from the human interacting with raw nature from Richard Long, to the political identities of place within Ai Weiwei. I think I need to re-position my own ideas within this context – perhaps revisiting my research essay as well. Hopefully this will give me some ideas on what is the key to me moving forward.

Alexander Calder @ Tate Modern

I had a great visit with LL to see the new Alexander Calder display at the Tate Modern. Calder was born in 1898 and trained as a mechanical engineer. He developed a sculptural style which fused mechanics, motion and modernity. Many of Calder’s early works were wire sculptures based around his interests in circus and balance. These developed into motorised sculptures explicitly including kinetics and movement and at the same time became increasingly abstract.

I admitted to LL at the time that I didn’t really connect with the pieces in the first half of the exhibition. The motorised sculptures, due to their age were shown static. What is a kinetic sculpture which has been stripped of its energy? I felt so much loss in the loss of movement, that the sculptures began to resemble just shadows of what they once were.  Calder himself “recognised that the ability to control movement was perhaps less fertile than the potential infinite possibilities that opened up with free movement” [Tate Modern exhib guide, 2015].

Calder’s later works began to rely upon natural kinetics rather than embedded motors, and this was for me the most spectacular part of his collection. The mobile pieces which most clearly embodied abstraction seem also to be those which are most inspired by natural forms. Delicate sinuous shapes which drift and twist in the breeze. Even your presence offered a subtle change in movement – the work and its shadow on the walls creating an intricate dance which never has the same form twice. My favourite piece, Red sticks (1942) I couldn’t source a video of online and I will not do it the injustice of showing a static, lifeless photograph of it. We sat in the gallery for ages (room 9 in case you are interested!) completely captivated by the motions of the works.

This work, Snow Flurry was one of my favourites. Although this video below doesn’t show how the sculpture and its shadow interact as one object, it gives a lovely overview of the beauty of the movement:

This next video is a press overview of the whole exhibition, this does show the works in their settings and how the space itself becomes part of the motion of the mobiles.

 

Overall the exhibition brought be back to consider the section of my research essay I looked at on place generated through movement. These works were more based upon space than place, but showed a fascinating process capturing movement so explicitly within an object and its surroundings. The mobiles keep your attention in a way that a stationary object doesn’t.

I wondered why this is…is this because humans only respond to deltas – to changes – rather than absolutes? We cannot feel the exact temperature outside, we can only tell if it is warmer or colder than we last felt. We cannot remember time if there are no changes within it to distinguish one moment from the next. What of this can be said to be true of our sense of self: do we feel a connection to our inner self only when there is something to explicitly connect it to?  Is this where the idea of a sense of place comes from?  If our lives are a series of interconnected spaces must we generate our own meanings (our own places) in order to be able to comprehend them in any way?

Artist’s Profile: Stephen Talasnik

While doing a bit of searching on the nature of contemporary drawing practices, I came across the American sculptor Stephen Talasnik. Talasnik creates mesmerising work in both 3D form and 2D drawings, which seem to encapsulate a world within themselves. His works all have a strong sense of geometry (which is probably why they caught my attention) and the resulting structures appear familiar while being undefined and opaque.

I came across an interesting article about Talasnik, framed under the question: What is the relationship of drawing to sculpture? This is a question I’ve been harbouring for a while as I a still considering my practice as a drawing aesthetic as opposed to a sculptural one. I need to understand what this means to be able to explain and defend it in the future. On this point, the article suggests that: 

It might well be argued that sculpture, given its volumetric nature, is a more direct, or even honest, presentation of reality; drawing and painting, by contrast, are inevitably given over to a trick of the eye. Flatness suggests the recognition of two-dimensional art’s limited means in relation to the world that it takes as its cue; we can represent, to some extent, the visual complexities of what we see only if we agree to suspend our disbelief before the receding depths of what we have in front of us. Sculpture, on the other hand, has no such need to beguile us into believing what we know does not in fact exist. Its very actuality is a call to the reality we experience not only in the imagination but also in life…the art of drawing, always capable of conjuring not only what is seen in the world but also what is seen in the mind, has the freedom to extravagantly suppose. As for sculpture, it gives body to the essentially illusory nature of drawing; it puts forth, in actual terms, the imaginative compilation of drawn forms. It does what drawing cannot: it sees the form into physical reality.

Talasnik is quoted discussing how drawing is way of thinking, while sculpture provides the evidence of form:  “Drawing is a fundamental tool for invention. It is the thought process, while sculpture is the material realization. Sculpture is finite, and drawing is infinite…prior to my recent involvement in sculpture, my drawings invented the real—I was interested in designing fiction. Now, with the evolution of my sculpture, my drawings are liberated from exactitude and instead explore enigmatic structure.”  Although Talsnik’s drawings are metaphysical in nature, his process is such that makes clear the physicality of its making. Talasnik apparently shares the philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright in believing “How something is made is as important as what it looks like”. His drawing process includes abrasion of the paper with power tools, wood-carving tools, steel file cleaners, leaving a surface embodying its creation. This in stark contrast to the ‘visionary imagination’ depicted on the page.

Talasnik_Parallel_Observer_detail_

Inspiration for Talasnik’s practice seems to sit somewhere between architecture and engineering, both disciplines required exacting measurement and accuracy. He is clear however, that is work is generated from his imagination while at the same time being connected with reality. Talasnik is “intrigued by architecture that is able to integrate the engineering process as a visible, organic part of design.” Like his drawings, his sculptures depend on open articulation of form, made from small pieces of wood which are reinforced with glue, he create open shapes whose “gracefulness stems in part from the transparency of structure”.

Stephen_Talasnik_02b

The article concludes that Talasnik, for all his references to architecture and engineering, is as equally involved with the sublime.

He mediates his structures through the recognition of historical precedents that place him within a continuum of visionary artists whose imagination exceeded the ability of certain forms to be built…Talasnik is interested in approaching, even capturing, the sublime through form. His impulse to create is moderated through his extremely regulated technique; the combination of the two makes for art that is, and is not, of this world.

A couple more pictures:

96b968a4cced9a50f0d4abe80e576285 Talasnik-Floating-World-2012-bamboo-and-mixed-media

Reference: http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag02/julaug02/talasnik/tal.shtml

Locality in material & process: take kogei

In looking more into my core essay idea of ‘locality as material & process’ I have been investigating weaving techniques and materials which are completely rooted within their local cultures and history. This has brought me to the beautiful art of Japanese Bamboo Basketry. Fundamentally, I think it is the simplicity of material and elegance of form which attracts me to this most of all – and I would like to take some of my inspiration into my wheat weaving work.

This history of bamboo basketry as a craft (as as a modern fine art discipline) isn’t as well known worldwide as some of the other specifically Japanese craft traditions. Bamboo is native to Japan (as well as China, South Asia and parts of Africa and South America) and there are apparently 600 different varieties in Japan – 40% of which are to be found on Kyushu. It is incredibly fast-growing and and although very resilient, can be split into very fine strips along the vertical length of the bamboo. As with willow basketry in England, the origins of the craft were in utilitarian containers made and used locally. Baskets dating back to the 700’s have been used to hold flowers scattered during Buddhist ceremonies. From the late 1600s to the early 1900s, bamboo baskets expressing a “uniquely Japanese aesthetic” were made by high-level bamboo artists as flower baskets for the sencha tea ceremony.

In the 1950’s and 60’s bamboo artists began exploring more sculptural and non-functional means of artistic expression using bamboo as their material. This opened the doors to a wave of contemporary bamboo basketry and a new fine art tradition within Japan. There is a strong heritage of artistic lineages (passing from father to son and so on) in bamboo art, and a range of amazing work which coves everything from Meiji, modern and contemporary functional baskets and art pieces. I can do this range no justice in summary – so see the book refs below if you want to know more. However, I have picked out a few artists whose work I find really inspirational for my own practice.

Honma Kazuaki 

2b

Breath, 1968

Kazuaki-honma-japanese-basketry-nitten-exhibition-basket-3Overflowing, 1973

Torii Ippo

7. Flight Torii Ippô (Japanese, born in 1930) 2003 Japanese timber bamboo (madake) and rattan * Mary Ann and Stanley Snider Collection Reproduced with permission. * Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Flight, 2003 (Photo from Museum for Fine Arts, Boston)

21940_8053W

Ueno Maseo

spiro5

Synchronizing ripple, 2015
spring

Honda Shoryu 
15853091547_a238a94f9b_b

Galaxy (Seiun), 2001

In summary, what I like most in all of these works is:

  • the strong sense of continuous lines
  • simplicity of material – often only bamboo, or bamboo with rattan for knotting and tying.
  • it is clear to see the inherent nature of the weaving material explicitly within the structure itself
  • there is a balance of energy and freedom with the tight control of the weaving process – many layers of entropy co-existing
  • these baskets couldn’t be made of anything else – they exist because of the material they are made from

Stripping the willow

I have been looking into the work of contemporary basket weavers, initially to see what people do with willow as a material, and see who resonates with me – both as inspiration and also as new references for my project proposal. I have also been keeping an eye on how these artists create their form – what inspires them, how do they decide on the form? I think now that I have begun to understand the ideas of materiality, grasping how I can develop form is my next target.

Lizzie Farey

I am fascinated by Lizzie’s work – the forms appeal to me a lot. Her statement tells that she has “a fascination with living things and natural form. For me, willow has become a medium for an interaction with nature that is deeply personal….my work ranges form traditional to organic sculptural forms”. I also noticed with interest she calls herself artist / designer / maker. These photos were of my favourites. I particularly liked the site-based one below, called ‘spirit of air’.

lfph63x

lfph74x thphlf562x

Lewis Knauss 

Lewis doesn’t generally work with willow, but I spotted his work and he works with ideas of identity and place. I noticed immediately that his statement sounds like my essay!: “The significance of place in our lives is central to my work. The textures, materials and processes of textiles allow me to explore ideas about landscape, identity and belonging…The time I spend attentive to landscape translates into process and the labor of making. Images are created thread-by-thread, line-by-line, so that my work can be viewed as landscaped textures that are naturally created, blade-by-blade, leaf-by-leaf”.

f824634846d5382a8f1eb20c7e97b623 f2a0ebb329a17921ec42199badb49cfb 5e2df99abbc44a6549ce9fdfc000f96b

Caroline Sharp

Her work uses natural materials and is strongly influenced by natural forms, containment, growth and movement. Materials used include: stone, clay, chalk, willow, poplar, birch, hazel, and dogwood stems, leaves and wood. She also notes that she has been making work “in response to the craft of charcoal burning and my auto­biographical journey in relation to walking the land and the memory of place”.

Baskets-2-860x612-px

Joe Hogan

Joe’s work is strongly influenced by the landscape of Connemara, where he lives and works. His robust, increasingly sculptural pieces are woven from native willow, and often incorporate twisted bog wood – reminiscent of bleached horns or antlers – from an area of bogland near his home. They are strong, physical pieces with a raw beauty. I also quite like the traditional baskets he makes as well.

joe_hogan_basketwithbogwood Sciob Irish Baskets big

Tim Johnson

Tim has a fascinating website with a wide range of stuff he does. He seems to make baskets out of everything (from willow to rushes to grasses) and all over the world. Here were a couple of my favourites. I particularly like the idea of the ‘woven paths’ (first photo) and wonder if I can make something inspired by this – it completely resonates with my desire line concept I think.

20121005-img_7830blog rush+weave+twinset Tim+Johnson+'keeping+time'+baskets+Rush+2015+01