Tag Archives: placelessness

Statement of current practice

The last piece of written work needed to go in this week too – a critical evaluation of all of our reflection over the course of the MA. It really hits home that this is all nearly over now, and time to move onwards and upwards hopefully! We were asked to put forward a statement of our current practice – a design principle or artists’ statement for us as we move on. This was a rather pleasant task to write I thought. So here we are:

Artists’ statement:

My work explores our concepts of self, by looking for our encounters with ourselves as we travel through life, where we can glimpse some fragment of truth about who we are. By unravelling our sense of self as strands of multiple co-existing identities, we can see how these strands are built from places which become part of us through our lives. Shadows of real and imagined places embed themselves into the self, an interconnection of experience, memory and fiction. These shadows haunt us as we pass through the spaces of the world, generating belonging, displacement, familiarity or isolation. My practice is based upon exploring these shadows, searching for a sense of belonging which cannot be found. When so much of our individual experiences of people and places are filtered through our cultural psychology, what happens when you have no place you feel is home?

At its root, my work is a conversation between language and memory. These are the tools which facilitate the relationship between our internal and external worlds – the bridge between the physical world and our world of personal experience. Language allows us to communicate with each other, to talk to ourselves, and to identify ourselves. I engage with the language of poetry as a way to access the communication of our inner self, both as a raw, immediate art form in itself, as well as exploring the possibilities of the visual poem through the materiality of ink, paper and fibres.

Many of the processes I use in my work are based on the creation of structure through transformation, layering and repetition. My interests are now aligned to my methods: using a material which is conceptually elegant to make a constructed material which encapsulates both its own inherent narrative as well as my own. I have combined the use of this material language with a working process which allows the fibres space to demonstrate their properties. Installation as an immersive experience is a natural expression of a concept based around ideas of personal place.

The materiality of maps mini-project

I’ve been trying to concentrate on doing rather than thinking, so it has been a while since I’ve updated on progress. This will be a summary in two parts, reflecting the two areas of focus I am working with. This first post looks at the key point of feedback from my Unit 1 Assessment: “be more materially-led”. I started back in November looking at the idea of a map as material and seeing where it would take me.

In this post I started some ‘material sketches’, in particular a traditional-style patchwork piece which brought together significant places I cut out of an old map of where I grew up (Northumbria/South Scotland). I had written the story of why those places meant so much to me on each hexagon.

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From here I had commented on the signigfance of the stitching at the time, but on reflection was more fascinated by the bit of the map that was left behind after cutting. I said in my next map post that “There was something sad, sorrowful about the remnants. The leftover places which were devoided of all meaning through my act of cutting”.

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This took me to look more at the act of cutting to see what could be revealed though absence and incompleteness. This was quite fun actually, the process was relatively random – with no plan or meaning attached to how each map page was cut, simply an act of repetition going on through the A to Z. I moved away from the hexagon (a very quilting related shape) and moved to the more abstract circles.

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After this I had a bit of a break for Christmas and on getting back to my desk this week wasn’t really sure how to move on next. I started by playing with the pieces which had been cut out of the London AtoZ – using stitching and then folding.

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I then took a step back and went back to the idea of cutting a whole map, but this time being more selective on what to extract. I have acquired a absolutely fabulous set of old OS maps which I am using as source material. In this set I found a map of the place where I grew up on Tyneside. Having spent a lifetime with so much of my identity resonating with rivers, seas and waters (in no small part down to my fish-crazed dad), I was instantly drawn to the representation of the river, the shard of bright blue signing out amongst the city.

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I really liked these samples, there is something compelling about how the map looks once its lifeblood (and the reason the city existed in the beginning) was ripped away from the people and places around it. I thought to repeat this process on a bigger map and a different place, thinking more about the idea of deconstruction of place into constituent parts. I came across a map of my adopted home, so took that one, seeing what the material nature of the map would tell me about cutting or not cutting. This is what resulted:

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(in case you aren’t sure of the scale, fully laid out it’s about 1m x 1m)

I am quite pleased with this so far, and it is beginning to be more clearly influenced by the bigger context of my project (more on this in my next post). Now the question is where to go next from these samples?

Life on the Border

My new proposal is taking shape, having spent a week or so trying to get in touch with what really matters to me as a creative person. Having given myself the freedom to restart from a blank page, I have found a space to evaluate what is driving the pieces I want to make, and the materials/processes I am drawn to. In all honesty, I realise that my context has not been grounded at all and this has left me flipping between one thing to another without really understanding why.

So. MA Proposal v2.0 is now half drafted, under the working title of: Life on the border

Research question:
How can we use the boundaries between object, place and time to explore our sense of place in an urban society?

I am looking to create fibre sculpture alongside my 2D stitched textile work. I am also interested in exploring the ideas around site-specific art, probably combined with photography. But why borders you may ask? Well, all of my loves in life (including I suppose my view of myself) are things which exist on a boundary. Neither one thing or another, often existing in a state only for a transient moment. The perfect equilibrium before chaos takes control. This in spirit, is the same philosophy that I started with in looking at liminality back in September. However, this time I am starting from the things I want to make and at last I think I actually understand my context.

Within my project I will seek to:
— Develop a material language which resonates with the expression of my conceptual ideas
— Understand how different makers, artists and others have sought to capture the boundaries between place and placelessness through visual imagery
— Explore the potential of site-specific art as a way to alter the relationships between the object, the viewer and the place.