I wouldn't have chosen such opposing colours, because I think the contrast breaks up the structure too much. I think it would be more interesting for the garments to stay together - staying true to individual items - and for the conversation to be between the different scales and items as if the clothes were adorning bodies. The application of the black here seems too decorative, although I like the form scaled up and the way it's A-symmetrical and slightly titled, with only the top left part of the length making contact with the wall. I'd like to continue working on this piece, and possibly cut it up again. An interesting part of the process, I'm finding, is the ability to take apart and reform the objects.
Again, focusing on the dialogue between the rigid and the organic forms, I wanted to make something that was more 3D and could stand independently. I decided to make a curved structure, that felt like it has a relationship with the body. I first made this using wooden rods and wire, using a mix of thick armature wire and then thinner wire. However, there wasn't enough structure in the wire that held the rods in place, and so I opted to use steel lengths and weld the structure together so that it was more structurally sound.
Using this work as a starting point, I wanted to try scaling it up. Using some of the lengths used in the installation in the project space, I decided to replicate the form in some way, and this time I wanted to incorporate a new colour to see how the form changes without the uniformity.
Trial #5 [112cm x 72cm x 4cm] 2022
Breathing Upwards [200cm x 94cm x 62cm] 2022
Using a vice and lengths of 5mm steel rod, I created these loose, wonky curves, similar to the irregular wire used in some of my previous trials. I then welded these to some thicker, stronger steel lengths so it become a free-standing structure that felt top-heavy and precariously balanced. In conversations with Sarah, she said there was real strength in the difference between the different thicknesses in the lengths because it makes the work more dynamic and creates tension in the work. I found it really interesting how the sculpture had so much give in its movement, and I would often prod it so that it would stand wobbling and waving. It has a real looseness that felt true to the fabric used to cover it, and it reminded me of how clothes would wave in the wind. I spoke with Ali a lot about how I could make the work kinetic, but it seemed most of my options would involve false floors (which would take away from the balancing feel of the sculpture) or it would have to be attached to a motor on the wall or ceiling, but I felt it was important that it was completely free-standing and you can walk around it, with a sense of being able to step inside the space within. Olivia made the suggestion that it be positioned in an inconvenient place in a gallery so people are forced to bump into it, which will cause it to move incidentally.
I began recording my hands as I cut the fabric; first cutting the fabric into lengths and then cutting away at each one. I thought it would be interesting to document these repetitive actions, as well as record the sound, which is a very distinct cutting sound.
I'm not sure how the video would enhance the work, or if it would remove some of the mystery of the fabric, or if it would even be too descriptive of the process.
I'll continue to think about if this is something to explore going forward.
Drawing has become a really important part of how I think through different forms and shapes, and this is a new process for me. I found it interesting how different lines have different energies, and it's a really useful tool to think about negative and positive space, and how that can be translated to 3D.
Thinking about the role the ceramic clamps could play.
When thinking about using wood and metal at the core of my sculptures, I have been questioning whether I am staying true to the material, and this new material. In turning the clothing from soft substances that can't hold its own, into a form that is hard and rigid, I'm effectively giving it a new function. However, by covering metal rods in the substance I'm effectively using the fabric to dress the sculptures, and the purpose hasn't altered that much.
I decided to use lengths of fabric as the core of the lengths, and form the new material substance around this. My curving the lengths whilst they're still wet, or partially wet, I can manipulate the shape, somewhat, and create curves. I started doing this with material that I could that re-weave together into a curved corner piece. However, I found that I don't have a great deal of control over the material and it can be hard to bring the different components together.
For dialogue week I wanted to do something that pulled together the ceiling and ground, and was a subtle knod to the fabric's transformation from soft to solid. Using what I'd learnt from forming the lengths using just fabric at the core, I used a frame to curve the inner and then applied the material to it.
I formed the wall attachment by working with the fabric pulp. When mixed with the water, sodium alginate, vegetable glycerine and glue it becomes a malleable substance that is clay-like, so I formed it by hand much like making with clay.
Knotted [240cm] 2022
In this scale of space, and with so many works, I think the piece would have been far more effective if there had been multiple pieces that visitors would navigate through and around. However, alone it was easily lost. I also don't think that the core being fabric made very much difference to the integrity of the work.
I thought the wall attachment worked - I think it worked because the colour was different to the rest of the material and so it became obvious that it was a separate item. I think it would be interesting to see how the ceramic clamps would work differently, and I would also like to try taking the work apart and re-arranging it into a new form.
economy of materials
Leading on from the material seminars I had been presenting in, alongside Tina and Denis, Tina invited me to be part of a working group to contribute to an archive and exhibition under the title 'Economy of Materials'. We had several meetings with Ben Cain, who was developing the idea with Tina, and he shared his interest in cardboard - a throw-away item that's produced, used and discarded as a secondary, unimportant, unassuming material. He also shared his interest in labour, process and invisible workforces, and this, alongside his investigation into material, created some strong parallels between our work and interest. Ben expressed his interest in making a group of cardboard walls and tables to display work in the exhibition, and that his own work would be a series of 16 cardboard, flat-packed clothing items, displayed in a row. He suggested I make work that responds to the space, similar to my piece in the project space last term, and we wanted there to be a strong relationship between our works in the gallery. I had been speaking to Fergus on the painting pathway about his paintings depicting a collection of cloths that are often hanging in his flat, and I suggested to Tina that he join the exhibition. I was keen that there was a conversation between the three versions of cloth in the exhibition, all of which have had their material properties obscured and manipulated in some way.
The metal digs into the bone of my thumb and I see the skin turn red. Sometimes it feels heavy and arduous, and other times feels as though an extension of my own fingers, seamlessly, subconsciously opening and closing without concern for the material. I move my arm, sometimes from my shoulder, sometimes from my elbow, sometimes from my wrist, as different parts of my arm grow weary, and I find comfort each time I find a slightly new position. My mind ebbs and flows between being physically present in my body and visiting other thoughts and places, coming back to the space when there’s a prang of discomfort. I watch with gentle satisfaction as one pile gets smaller and the other builds, meticulously gathering stray bits of fabric that become scattered. I watch as the material navigates the tips of my fingers, the blades jumping side to side. Each fragment slightly different but uniform in its multiplication.
I didn't know what the cardboard walls would be like until I was in the space, and because I didn't know their relationship to the walls I had to wait to make the work when I was in the gallery. Working like this had its challenges, because I couldn't fully imagine what the work would look like, and I couldn't foresee other elements that would interrupt the work.
I always intended for there to be work either side of the wall, but I hadn't realised there would be such a heavy wooden frame present on one side of the wall creating a strong sense of 'front' and 'back'. The wood ultimately introduced a third material to the cardboard and textile focus, and I felt this impacted negative on parts of the sculpture, which resulted in me thinking the 'front' of the work was much more impactful, and I really liked the organic lines formed by the wire. It felt like the material had a distinct voice through these lines and the white clamps really stood out from the grey walls and brown card structure.
Opening and Closing [Site-specific response - variable dimensions] 2022
I decided to cut up the work I displayed in the Economy of Material exhibition because I knew that I wouldn't be displaying the work in the same way again. I have been thinking about structures that rely on the wall in order to utilise the building and space that the work is displayed in. Thinking about towel and clothes rails, scaffolding, and means of displaying and moving around spaces - the work is put together using the ceramic clamps, and is my first attempt at using the clamps.
I'm reminded of the mis-jointedness of the metal clamps and the rigid lengths in the project space last term, and I don't think that it feels as uncomfortable as it did before, because the clamps are artisanal objects and the uneven fabric of the denim lengths are irregular by nature, and so the movement between the two feels more intentional.
I'm looking forward to continuing to cut up the work and reforming as a kind of re-birthing and recycling of the work and the materials in new arrangements.
I'd like to keep developing this collection of wall-based work and think about how I can make the arrangements more complex, and have a stronger relationship to the body.
I had hurt my hand which prevented me from hand cutting fabric, and so I wanted to think about different repetitive processes I could apply to apply to the deconstructed fabric. Utilising the metal frame work I had been working with, I created this looped form. I cut a blouse into strips and knotted the fabric, repeating this basic action again and again.
Whilst I like the effect of the knotted material, I think that the choice of material made the sculpture look too flowery, and it would be interesting to try the repetitive processes with a heavy-weight material, perhaps work overall or something that's linked to labour or manufacturing.
Working freely using different thicknesss of wire, I made a structure that felt like it brought together some of the elements I had been exploring through drawing. Whilst I don't usually work with machetes I found this experience useful, and I was really happy with the end product.
I also keep aside an amount of fabric from each sculpture so that I can fill in gaps caused by shrinkage. The amount of shrinkage differs between different fabrics, and so creating the smaller sculptures has meant that I'm able to use up some of the left-over fabric scraps.
I decided to scale up the machete and
I'm excited about how this is going to look when it's covered in fabric. I tried to keep some of the metal curved and I made others more irregular and I like the lines that feel more like hand-made.
With the curved base, it sits at a tilt and there's an exciting feeling of movement in the structure, even when stationary. It's increased my interest in how to incorporate a kinetic element to some of my work.
In Unit 3 I will apply the material to the structure and see how it develops.
Whilst I like the form as-is, I know that once I start to apply the fabric it's going to be hard to work with the pulp because I have to squeeze and squish the substance when it's wet so that the fibres become entangled and this helps keep the material together once dried. Going into Unit 3 I'm going to re-wire the sculpture so that there is more space for me to work with the material, but it's important that I want the material to still appear woven. I will then cover the sculpture in the fabric pulp and I'm interested to see how this new form develops.
When thinking about how to incorporate more fabric-like elements, I had the idea to create these woven surfaces that are suggestive of the construction of cloth, and then think about how these could become 3D forms that speak to the language of sculpture.
I decided to start with a column-type shape in the hope that I can progress into more complex structures.
What would happen to the dynamic of the work if the forms reflected the origin of the fabric? Here, I've imagined a top and a sleeve in 3D, and the lengths of fabric will have a relationship to the seams and threads that make up the garment construction.
Thinking about the relationship between sculptures and different elements of the room in which it exists, I made this low piece that felt like it was really grounded to the floor and had a different relationship to the ground than other pieces. I wanted to continue to explore the rigid/organic elements and have these grid-like shapes combined with curves that feel like they're breaking away from the rules of the form.
Whilst I think I was successful in this, I do think that the form feels too similar to other imagery that it invites everyone to question what it represents instead of think about the form in and of itself.
The successful element of the work, though, is that there's a clear distinction between positive and negative spaces, and I used two garments that are black with specks of colour, so there's a uniformity to the material application but the shift in the colour of the speckles means that the surface noise changes more subtly than when there's a complete change in fabric.
Underside of the Room [230cm x 32cm x 60cm] 2022
As I started to rely on the fabric pulp I found it more and more physically difficult to hand-cut the fabric, and whilst the physically intense process is an important part of my practice I also have to be careful about my physical limitations and health.
I found an industrial mini grinder that works using a simple blade system, with cogs and crank. It is important to me that the process remains analogue, and the body is still the source of energy.
The result of the grinding was completely different to the hand cut material, which was much more uniform. The ground material was much more irregular and it is interesting to me that the more mechanised process created results that are harder to predict.
The fabric was grinder produced dust as well as large, formed pieces of fabric, and I didn't know what the result would be once it is mixed with the sodium alginate and vegetable glycerine mix.
However, the material mixed really well, and the difference in the surface texture wasn't as extremely different as I had expected.
Going into Unit 3 I'm looking forward to working with this new version of the material mix further, and see how these processes change and develop.