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craft 

 

In Unit 1 I explored clothing as an art material through the likes of Boltanski, Karina Kaikkonen, Jannis Kounellis, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Manish Nai, and how this repurposing of fabrics explores collective memory, recycling and the transformation of material through hand-made processes. 

 

Through my use of clothing, I’ve come to identify myself as a textile artist in a broad sense, and so in Unit 2 I’m deepening my research into textiles and craft in contemporary art, and its various connotations.

 

In many ways the work I have been making mimics craft in some way: I have set myself rigid rules and regulations in order to perfect a process, and I repeat these again and again in order to get to the desired outcome through this repeated cutting and reforming of the fabric, and my focus is very much about this interaction between my hand, tool and cloth (much like a knitter, say, focuses on the repeated movement of the yarn, needle and hand).  My practice also questions what craft is, and can be, and pushes back against some of the more traditional notions of craft as a decorative medium. Especially in contemporary art spaces, craft questions the role of craft as a domestic action, and in bringing it into the art space we take the crafted object out of the house and allow the rest of the world to scrutinise and reflect upon them as culturally relevant artefacts.

 

Harmony Hammond is known for her Floorpiece sculptures, where Hammond uses recycled cloth during rag-picking activities in New York’s textiles district and constructed using traditional braided-rug techniques. Scraps of fabric used to make them were collected from an area that’s known for factories producing machine-knit fabrics. Hammond was concerned with the often female labour of textiles, paired with art as a form of labour in and of itself. By bringing these ‘rugs’, a functional and decorative object, into the gallery, the artist no longer invites us to walk on them but instead asks us to look and consider them. They are also considered assisted readymades, due to the ready-made nature of the material, and this in turn has made me consider my own work as a kind of assisted readymade, because the  clothing I use has already undergone its own construction and are repurposed in a similar manner to Hammond’s Floorpieces. Although, there seems to me a certain irony in calling these objects readymades, because of the time and handiwork that has gone into their deliberately crafted natured, especially considering Hammond could have purchased the rugs as readymades and displayed them. It is the artist’s labour that makes the object interesting. Also, in contrast to the way I work with recycled materials, Hammond applies acrylic paint to the Floorpieces, and so she isn’t concerned with the characteristics intrinsic to the material itself, but instead treats the rugs as a canvas. I think this actually devalues the objects as an act of labour, despite the fact Hammond has ultimately continued to work on them.

 

  Harmony Hammond left clockwise, Floorpiece V; IV; II; III; VI, all 1973, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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George Kubler in The Divisions of the Arts (1962) wrote that ‘craft education is the activity of groups of learners performing identical actions, but artistic invention requires the solidarity efforts of individual persons’. This idea is further reiterated by Ulrich Lehmann, who says art ‘implies the emergence of the new, of something that is whole, from separate, often disjunctive and opposing components.’ (Ulrich Lehmann, Making is Knowing, 2012) This suggests that craft, in order to be considered art, must therefore work against the grain in some way, and find a new way of doing things (even if adhering to traditional processes). Someone who does this successfully is Sheila Hicks.

From a young age Hicks moved around the world, as her father looked for work, and these experiences of travelling, living and working around the world is a big part of what has informed her work with textiles, a globally recognised and universal material: ‘Textile is a universal language. In all of the cultures of the world, textile is a crucial and essential component’ (Sheila Hicks). Hicks dedicated a lot of her time to delving into different weaving cultures across the globe, as well as studying under Josef Albers and being inspired by George Kubler. At the centre of the ‘60s-‘70s Fiber Art movement, Hicks pushed and pulled the formal boundaries of textile work, and one way to do this was to create large, sculptural forms. I’m interested in how my work, embedded in a textile art practice, can almost work in opposition to the idea of what textiles is and can be, and Hicks was also very much interested in creating new processes and developing new ways of working that doesn’t conform to the more meticulous, traditional processes associated with weaving, dying and other textile crafts.

 

 

Sheila Hicks, Saffron Sentinel, 2017, Alison Jaques Gallery

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An artist who is concerned with surface, material and process is Wallen Mapondera, who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and now resides in South Africa. Much of his work is sculptural (despite often being displayed on the wall) and transforms ordinary, readily available materials into complex arrangements that feel very true to a ‘craft’ approach to making. By bringing these together, Mapondera explores power, hierarchies and corruption. By using discarded, obsolete materials he threads narratives of displacement and marginalised communities. El Anatsui’s work is a clear influence when looking at the work of Mapondera, who also uses intricate methods to make work that is both compositionally striking but also highly detailed and impactful in the way the material has been worked by the artist’s hand. His work is another example of material concerns coming out of Africa, much like the work of Nobuka Nqaba, using cheap, throw-away materials to show the precarity faced by many in the region, and the daunting image of the future.

 

Mapondera is one of four presenting at the 2022 Venice Biennale for Zimbabwe, in an exhibition titled ‘I Did Not Leave A Sign’. Curator Fadzai Veronica Muchemwa describes the exhibition as ‘magic and strange beauty in the unexpected, uncanny, disregarded, and unconventional, which are at the centre of this exploration of legacies. Haunted by the spectre of a past we cannot shake, a present we cannot bear, and a future we can no longer confidently imagine, we argue for the usefulness of enlivening stories of resistance and survival and how to centre ourselves at the heart of chaos. 

 

 

Sheila Hicks, Saffron Sentinel, 2017, Alison Jaques Gallery

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In my own practice, one of the reasons I think craft is such as crucial and pertinent part of my practice is the sensitive and intimate interactions between material and maker that is the fiber of craft and textile practices. Even as I move away from recognisably craft forms and techniques, this intimacy between my hand and the work, and the tactile nature of this remains engrained in every part of the process; from the clothing, to the deconstruction, and to the reforming.

 

I’m reminded of the ‘tactile sensibility’ of Anni Albers’ work, and her concern for the construction of material combined with the idea of ‘Matière’. Anni Albers describes the ‘inner structure’ of material as a ‘function and therefore concern of the scientist and the engineer’, whereas the matièré is an ‘aesthetic quality and therefore a medium of the artist’, and is more closely related to ‘nonfunctional, nonutilitarian and […] it cannot be experienced intellectually.’ Weaving brings these two elements together, because the structure of the weave directly corresponds and affects the surface quality: ‘The inner structure together with its effects on the outside are the main considerations,’ and this ‘tactile sensibility’ exists within all materials.

Anni Albers, South of the Border, 1958, cotton, wool

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In the 2006 installation work TEXTile, Jean Shin brings together ideas of textiles, technology, action and language. Using 22,528 recycled computer keycaps and 192 custom keycaps, Jean Shin created a long, undulating kind of ‘cloth’, on which the keycaps were embedded, with the transcription of email correspondence between Shin and the fabricators of the piece. This dialogue creates a thread between artist and maker, and as a result, the work documents its own making. Shin describes the work as speaking to the pervasiveness of email in our lives while commenting on the fact that, despite the modern technology of virtual communication, our written language is linked to the tactile sensation of moving our fingers over an outmoded typewriter system.

 

It’s the relationship to the hand movements that excites me about this work, and the way the fabric has been laid out to look, in some way, like fabric, breaking up the formal grid of the keys in order to reveal to the audience that they are attached to fabric, and behaving like fabric in some way – further emphasised by the title, TEXTile. The artist is trying to bring technology and electrical processes and analogue, textiles processes into a middle ground. And the compromise is the fact that whilst the textile nature of the sculptural form is just as relevant now as it was in 2006, the chunky white keys have quickly become out-dated, and the experience of the work would be very different now.

 

 

Jean Shin, TEXTile, 2006, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia)

References:

Book: Fray by Julia Bryan-Wilson (2017)

Essay: George Kubler in The Divisions of the Arts (1962)

Essay: Making is Knowing by Ulrich Lehmann (2012)

Website: www.moma.org/artists/2631

Book: Anni Albers: On Weaving by Anni Albers (2017)

Website: www.smacgallery.com/artist-bios-1/wallen-mapondera

Website: www.zeitzmocaa.museum/artists/wallen-mapondera/

Website: www.jeanshin.com/textile

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labour 

Modern day craft is associated with pleasure, whereas labour is associated with work. What’s more, the textiles industry is one of the most important industries in the global market, with labour and production an unavoidable context when considering cloth and clothing.

 

Against the backdrop of my interest in labour and production, textiles is a pertinent material; as one of the most important industries in the global market.  In ‘Fray: Art and textile politics’ Julia Bryan-Wilson described textiles as ‘tangibly worked and retaining some of the grain of that labor [sic], whether smooth or snagged,’ and that ‘textiles have been central both to histories of capitalism and to organized [sic] resistance against its ruthless systems of production.’ (p.7 Fray, Julia Bryan-Wilson)

 

Cecilia Vicuña, whose work I touched upon in Unit 1 for its engagement with the environment, was also interested in the textiles industry in Chile and its political repercussions, and much of her work in the 70s and 80s was engaged in ideas of labour and production. I’m interested in her work using the indigenous quipus techniques, not only because of its roots in female craft, but also because with knotting comes an opposite reaction of unknotting, or untying. To tie a knot can be incredibly strong and powerful, but it doesn’t feel as permanent as other acts that shift a material. This is interesting to me because I have an awareness that in crating this new material made from fabric, I am altering the material irreversibly, and so I have been thinking about ways I can then repurpose and reuse these materials. One thing I have tried to do this term is to break up and re-form the work I made in Unit 1, and find new ways to work with the material in that sense.  

 

Coining the term ‘arte precario’ (translating to precarious art), Vicuña was also interested in impact and temporality, of which making is intrinsically linked to. Whilst Vicuña has gained a lot of notoriety for her environmental work, it seems to me that economy (and the constituent parts of economy, such as commodity, industrialisation, production and globalisation) go hand-in-hand with ecology; with the former having a direct impact on the latter, as we witness our world currently drowning in ‘stuff’.

 

          Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu Menstrual (the blood of the glaciers), 2006

Daniela Rivera is another female, Chilean artist who has explored the labours of craft, and is particularly interested in raw materials that undergo a transformation. Labored Landscape #2 is a video that follows a family of weavers from La Ligua who produced mile long lines of woven wool, and is a tribute to the labour that went into this act. The video cameras were attached to the bodies of the makers, in order to document the physicality of this activity and thus giving an intensely intimate point of view of the material and the nature of this work. ‘She does not show their faces, seeking not to efface the bodily labor [sic] but to spectatorially inhabit their position.’ (p.142, Fray, Julia Bryan-Wilson).

 

 

                        Daniela Rivera, Labored Landscape #2, 2012

It’s hard to think about the labour and manufacturing of an object or material without considering the capitalist structures in which these activities take place.

 

The essay ‘Cloth and Clothing’ by Jane Schneider, in Handbook of Material Culture, explains the difference between Capitalist and courtly structures of clothing production: with Capitalism relying on technological advancements in production and the perpetuation of desire, and courtly production of clothing relying on elite groups acquiring artisanal and skilled commodities. Under the latter, manufacturers have a certain degree of autonomy over their processes; ‘as a result, courtly systems of production are less dehumanizing [sic] and exploitative than the system of capitalist manufacturing.’ (p.204)

 

The productionist paradigm is based on the need to produce more, and thus increasing productivity. When steam was introduced to manufacturing in 1790, 50,000 hours of cotton spinning could be done in just 300, and this is just one example of how industrial capitalism altered ways of working. This idea is based on innovation and the introduction of the machine to making. However, the textiles industry has not conformed entirely to automated technological processes like other industries, and labour is still the largest cost in the production of clothing: ‘Assembly and sewing in particular remain highly demanding of the human hand; most fabrics are simply too fluid to trust to machines alone.’ (p.214).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my practice I have been very particular about the use of analogue processes – although I have enjoyed exploring what the expanded meaning of this could become (David Pye’s 1968 text 'Is Anything Done By Hand?' for example). Exploring my body as a machine, I have been met with the limitations of the human machine, when I experienced the first possible signs of repetitive strain after successive days cutting fabric. This lead to my own research into other possible devices that could be used to perform similar tasks where the body is still the energy source but the activity is performed slightly differently.

 

The labourer has a relationship with objects that is different to the owner of the commodity, and I think this parallels the artist’s experience too. This also speaks to the bodily processes involved in the making/manufacturing process. Julie Wosk proposes that ‘people’s identities and emotional lives would take on the properties of machines.’ (Breaking Frame: Technology and the Visual Arts in the Nineteenth Century, 1992, p.81)

 

Unlike the proposition that tools were made to fit the scale of the man’s hand in Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez, the garment industry, when moved to steam-driven factories, was designed for children and women. In both instances, the machinery or tools required in the making process were designed for the bodies designed to handle them; body and machine becoming one.

 

Will Cruickshank is an artist based in the South West of England who has built a series of machines on which he creates sculptures and wall pieces reminiscent of woven works, with an emphasis on geometric shapes and patterns.  ‘You have the three things, you have the machine who knows what it wants to do or has loads of these kinds of idiosyncrasies and then you have the material which has its own things that it wants to do and then you’ve got me with an idea, maybe. It is this sort of triangle with one thing leading and the other two following and often it doesn’t feel like it’s me.’ (Will Cruickshank, Hole and Corner interview about his solo exhibition at Aspex Gallery: The Materials and Mechanics of Will Cruickshank). Cruickshank talks about the relationship between these three components being collaborative. I saw his work at The Factory Project, as part of the Recreational Grounds exhibition. The objects have an immaculateness to them that tells the audience that these objects have been made by hand, but what I find exciting is the machinery, made by the artist themselves, repurposing equipment intended for other purposes such as cement mixers, bikes or potter’s wheels. This means the product that is presented is once removed from the artist’s hand, where the craftsmanship goes into the machine more so than the artwork itself. As I start to explore new ways of breaking down the fabric, I think this relationship between artist and machine is something really important to think about, especially because there’s no off-the-shelf tool that’s fit-for-purpose and so a bespoke alternative is most likely. I think it’s also interesting to think about the machine as a result of artistic activity.

 

 

          Will Cruickshank, studio view

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Another interesting element of the making process is the fragmentation of the production process. ‘By segmenting each moment of labor [sic], its control would be totally in the hands of managers who could arbitrarily replace any “moment” in the line with an unskilled or semi-skilled worker for less money, or replace the function with machinery.’ (Piecework by Maureen P. Sherlock, p.16, The Object of Labour). In my own processes I have divided the making process into clear steps, and perform these repeatedly so as to make these elements more easily digestible. It also divides different tasks into creative and non-creative elements; deciding which form of labourer/maker I will be taking that day.

 

This leads on to a question of productivity. By specifically choosing to do something in a hand-driven, labour-intensive way to make an art object, I’m quantifying labour as a valuable element of art and pushing against the ‘need’ for productivity. The result is something that can only truly be achieved by doing by hand.

 

I would describe my approach to making as industrious; diligent and hard-working, and habitually active. In a lecture, Liane Lang speaks about a project she undertook in the Peak District about the lead industry. The project explored evidence of human activity related to industry, and industriousness as the act of needing to make and be busy: ‘The amazing thing about the Peak District are the traces left by the activity of people, digging down, building up, extracting and burying.’ Liane marries image and material as a way of documenting place, environment, industry and process, and with a clear focus on time; the past, the present, and our traces that will be witnessed in the future. As part of the project she spent time with both manufactured and natural materials, with particular interest in the commonalities between these and our own human activity.

 

‘We spent millions of years working stone, thousands working metal, hundreds working glass and the speed of our material discoveries and energy exploitation increases at a heart stopping speed. Perhaps in this ingenuity lies the possibility of inventing ourselves out of the precipice of environmental damage, the destruction of our own habitat. It is easy to think that all our actions are there to generate profit, to exploit resources for fast wealth. But this isn’t entirely true. Much of what we have built and constructed is instead about memory. The mounds and pyramids, engraved and standing stones hold the remains of loved ones. In the face of the devastating knowledge of impending death, our own and those we love or admire, we have to find ways to keep them close, to hold them within our realm of influence, to invoke magic, to give a location, a space and ritual to that memory. This connect us across the millennia to all the people who came before.’ (Touch Stone, A Monument for the Anthropocene, by Liane Lang)

 

 

          Liane Lang, Tunnelling, Mine shaft printed on lead sheet, The Lodge Project, 2021

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Another female voice providing a valuable insight into globalisation and productivity in certain locations and cultures is Yin Xiuzhen. Yin’s work alludes to collective memory and personal experience through sometimes highly personal, and more widely recognised collections of recycle materials and objects. In ‘Beijing Tiles’ in 1999, Yin gathered tiles from demolished buildings in Beijing throughout a period of widespread regeneration of the city. By restoring and exhibiting these tiles, Yin was giving a voice to the displaced people who were forced out and questions our constant need for renewal and improvement. Yin’s practice also addresses homogenization, and the disappearing of Chinese cultures and identities through rapid development, urbanisation and a growing globalised economy that has so heavy impacted China and its residents.

 

 

          Yin Xiuzhen, Trojan, 2016-2017, steel frame, used clothes

language of materials 

Carl Andre created a vector triangle to describe the act of making art. The subjective characteristics of artworker vector relates to the individual abilities of the artist; the objective characteristics of materials relates to the properties of materials and the limitations that exist in the material world; and the availability of economic resources vector relates to the practicalities of being able to make the work according to the resources available. ‘If the subjective, the objective and the economic do not close, there is no possibility of production.’

Carl Andre, vector triangle                   Carl Andre, Sculpture, tin, proposed in 1969, made in 1997

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The objective characteristics is something that I find very interesting, and how the language of the material can shift and alter. In the modern industry, as human’s have had to stop continually pushing forward with production on the same trajectory as they have, and are having to re-think this model, there has been a shift to material. It’s no longer good enough to just make the strongest, or the most durable, or the lightest, or the shiniest material. We now have to consider where the material came from, how the material can be reused and recycled, how the material affects the environment, and the availability of the material. In a sense there’s been a shift in the things we value about materials, and the material possibilities that we’re now having to think about.

In Art in the Anthropocene, Pinar Yoldas’ essay Ecosystems of Excess ‘envisions life forms of greater complexity, life forms that can thrive in extreme, man-made environments, life forms that can turn the toxic surplus of our capitalistic desire into eggs, vibrations, and joy,’ and poses the question, ‘if life evolved from our current, plastic debris-filled oceans, what would emerge?’ Yoldas includes images of organisms that have the ability to digest plastic, which have been influencing some of the more organic forms I’ve been incorporating into my work, as well as a lecture we had with Sean Steadman whereby we discussed the possibility that materials all have their own consciousness. Similarly, in a lecture with Ian, he talked about the fact that crude oils are the result of billions of years of organic matter breaking down and being compressed until it becomes this entirely new material. I think this idea of pressure and reducing something down until it becomes something entirely new is really exciting, and really parallels the intensive processes through which I put the clothing that I work with, and the result is this new substance that’s neither one thing, nor the other. In this sense, my work relates to ideas of meta-modernism; sitting somewhere between two opposing ideas without diminishing the other.

 

    images from Ecosystems of Excess by Pinar Yoldas                   

‘I do not think we need a separate ecology of mind, distinct from the ecology of energy flows and material exchanges. We do however need to rethink our understanding of life. And at the most fundamental level of all, we need to think again about the relation between form and process. Biology is – or at least is supposed to be – the science of living organisations. Yet a biologists gaze into the mirror of nature, what they see – reflected back in the morphology and behaviour of organisms – is their own reason.’

Tim Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill.

Bruno Latour coined the term ‘actuant’, which Jane Bennett describes in her book Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things as a ‘a source of action that can be either human or nonhuman; it is that which has efficacy, can do things, has sufficient coherence to make a difference, produce effects, alter the course of events.’ She goes on to say she wants to ‘promote greener forms of human culture and more attentive encounters between people-materialities and thing-materialities,’ and it’s this relationship people-materiality and thing-materiality that I am forming by working with the fabrics I work with, through intimate, tactile, laborious ways, breaking down the work and reforming it into forms that are simultaneously familiar and alien.

 

Matt Franks, in our tutorials, often describes my work as chewed up. I think this description of chewing is a very apt application, because I like to imagine reducing the work down and regurgitating it back into a new world. In Timothy Morton’s ‘All Art is Ecological’, he talks about the imminence of another mass extinction, which reminded me of the manufacturing of polyester (which exists in nearly all of the clothes we buy and wear), whereby plastic is melted down and squeezed through spinnerets. A spinneret is also the organ that creates silks and webs, in spiders and other insects. In some ways, I like to imagine that this new material I’ve created is our own bodies, being reduced down and sucked through spinnerets as part of our mass extinction, and all that is left is the chewed up man-made debris - reiterating Pinar Yoldas’ question, ‘what would emerge?’ And then this becomes the building blocks upon which a new world begins.

 

Julien Creuzet is very much interested in this idea of a new reality and a telling of history through ‘a hybridisation of materials’ (is how the exhibition text at Centre Pompidou describes his work in the Prix Marcel Duchamp 2021 showcase). ‘He proposes a network of forms that links our contemporary environment and the colonial history.’ In Creuzet’s work, the constant shift between the past, present and a feeling of imagined futures is vital in understanding the materiality of his work, which sees him marrying found objects with technological devices. The imagery and objects all relate to his own experiences and identity as French-Caribbean who grew up in Martinique, which I explore further on the context page.

         Julien Creuzet, Reading Time, shown as part of the Prix Marcel Duchamp 2021, Centre Pompidou

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Julian Charriére’s work, also featured in the Pix Marcel Duchamp exhibition, explores the relationship between humans and their eco-systems, focusing on the climate crisis through an investigation of the carbon cycle. Julian Charriére collected samples of natural gas that has been trapped as air bubbles in thousand-year-old glaciers in the polar ice cap (which ‘teaches us about the history of the Earth’s atmosphere’), and transformed the gas into diamonds by combining it with the breath of 1,000 volunteers and vaporising it, and then placed these diamonds back into the water water ‘to liberate them from any productive value and symbolically break the cycle of use of our resources.’ Life cycles of a material is something I’m that is at the forefront of my mind within my practice, and the idea that as artists we can break these perpetuations through re-assessing the use and value of a material. I also think the idea of liberating a material is really interesting, and goes back to this idea of consciousness.

      Julian Charriere, Weight of Shadows, shown as part of the Prix Marcel Duchamp 2021, Centre Pompidou

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As part of my extended research in Unit 2, I have explored an entirely new artform and process through mould-making and casting – an experience I felt compelled to repeat again and again. Florian Roithmayr describes this process as an ‘ambition […] to register the consequences of one surface or material yielding another through capturing the unexpected gestures that occur in the gap between mould and cast.’ During a workshop with Florian, he encouraged us to have a conversation with rocks, and then channel the voice of the rock through ourselves, removing the barrier of the other in materials. He emphasised the importance that we shouldn’t try and understand the material, and how recognition is how we organise everything we do - it can be simultaneously helpful and our enemy – but that as an artist it should be our role to push back against recognition.

 

In his exhibition ‘with, and, or, without’ Florian focuses on the transformation of materials and the invisible labour of the making process. The staff at the gallery were invited to make small changes to the installation each day, taking an element of control away from the artist, the idea of which contrasts against the very deliberate appearance of the work. I’m interested in the way Florian opens up new material potentials, for example, making curved objects that look like elastic made from concrete, and questions our pre-conceived associations with the materials; something I have been working a lot with in the re-forming of clothing.

          Florian Roithmayr, installation view of 'with, and, or, without' at Camden Arts Centre, 2015

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References:

Book: Fray by Julia Bryan-Wilson (2017)

Book: Handbook of Material Culture (2013)

Essay: Cloth and Clothing by Jane Schneider

Book: Breaking Frame: Technology and the Visual Arts in the Nineteenth Century by Julie Wosk (1992)

Book: Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez (2019)

Website: www.insidethefactoryproject.com/recreational-grounds

Website: www.holeandcorner.com/recommends/the-materials-and-mechanics-of-will-cruickshank

Book: The Object of Labour (2007)

Website: www.lianelang.com

Website: www.pacegallery.com/artists/yin-xiuzhen/

Website: www.artnews.com/art-in-america/features/yin-xiuzhen-62856/

Book: Women, Art and Society by Whitney Chadwick (2020)

 
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Eric Bainbridge has a preoccupation with the surface of materials – returning to the idea of matiere as well as Rothmayr’s concerns with recognisibility. Originally covering re-imagined objects (made super-sized and uniform) in fur, Bainbridge would made functional, overlooked objects have a humorous, impractical quality. He started inverting fur fabric so that it is displayed inside out, we’re left to question the material concealed within and the enclosed space. ‘Beneath the blank configurations of pseudo-Modernist architecture and industrial design lurk physical, if not aesthetic, truths. […] Bainbridge’s inside-out/outside-in working pattern, shifting from stage to stage, can be read as a ritual act.’ (Stuart Morgan, p.10) There is a sense of inviting whilst being shut out in Bainbridge’s work, and for this reason I think that we have a bodily, physical reaction to his work. In particular the everyday objects that he re-makes on a huge scale, we are forced to move and interact with them in a way we were once not used to. ‘The life and integrity of an object lies in a territory between its function, its styling, its packaging and its price,’ said Greg Hilty, and I think these are all things that Bainbridge antagonises in his quest for something that feels simultaneously sincere and ridiculous. Likewise, in his use of found materials, Bainbridge re-arranges these low-cost items in a way that seems to ridicule and respect. ‘Previously Bainbridge took the everyday and made it look like art by enlarging and covering it uniformly in brand new material; now he makes art look everyday by assembling it from the used materials of our everyday surroundings.’ (Dr Penelope Curtis, in Mastering the Art of Ventriloquism, Eric Bainbridge works: 1991-1997)

 

Eric Bainbridge, Bracket, 1989, fur fabric and fibre       Eric Bainbridge, The Mind of the Artist at the 

glass, 61x48x20 inches                                     Beginning of time, 1996, mixed media, 88.5x142x57cm

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Eric Bainbridge, The mind of the artist at the beginning of time, 1996, mixed media.jpg

References:

Book: Carl Andre: Sculpture 1959-78 by Nicholas Serota (1978)

Book: Art in the Anthropocene (2015)

Book: Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things by Jane Bennett (2010)

Book: All Art is Ecological by Timothy Morton (2021)

Website: www.camdenartcentre.org/whats-on/too-blue-too-deep-too-dark-we-sank

Website: www.julian-charriere.net/projects/exhibition-prix-marcel-duchamp-2021

Website: www.camdenartcentre.org/whats-on/with-and-or-without

Book: Eric Bainbridge exhibition catalogue (1990)

Book: Eric Bainbridge publication (1997)

Going into Unit 3 my research is going to focus more on subjects around hyperobjects, the anthropocene, hauntologies and futurities, and bodies in space. I'd also like to do some research around site-specific responses and working with buildings, and I'd also like to focus more on the relationship between the 2D drawn elements of my practice and how this translates to 3D, working with examples of other sculptors and their preparatory drawings, which I elaborate more on in my proposal.