The Exhibition Marathon

This week’s task was to visit five London exhibitions which would help us engage in contemporary and visual culture. We were asked to review two of the most engaging exhibitions (please see below) in order to discuss how the artists could lead into our research and personal practice.

Antony Gormley, Fit, White Cube Bermondsey

30th September – 6th November 2016

Within the South Galleries of the White Cube Gallery, Gormley has created a labyrinth of 15 chambers each housing a variety of geometric sculptural works. The exhibition was not only a display of a series of works, but also a physiological experience which becomes rather disorientating to the viewer. The exhibition begins through one passageway which then leads the viewer to make a choice of which path to follow through the rest of the space. It was particularly interesting to note that although you could catch glimpses of what laid ahead, it was not possible to fully anticipate what the next chamber offered.

One of the most distinctive works, Run (2016) Cast Iron, was showcased within the third chamber on the floor plan. The open structure seemed to illustrate the exhibition as a whole and encouraged the viewer to move through the sculpture rather than view the exhibit from the outside. Within the details of the simple linear structure, it was clear to see that the work had been created from a single cast, which is puzzling when one considers the way that the shape defies gravity. Gormley’s intention was to create a physical challenge which asks the question of how the human body can fit within the allocated room. When one stands within the structure it became apparent that each height of the inner beams represents a significant feature of the human body. For example, when standing just within the corners of outer edges, the beams fell in the rough position of both my shoulders and eye level, whilst also framing my head and feet. Moreover, whilst leaving the space it was then clear that the sculpture, Mean (2016) 8mm mild steel bar, was a foreshadow of this exact concept. This was a piece which I passed by initially, through intrigue into the curation of Fit. It is a simplistic structure which outlines the human figure in a geometric form, similar to a stickman. This figure both faces Run, but also when one places themselves square on to both sculptures you can then see that the figure lines up with each beam within Run. This gives the illusion that the figure is integrated within the space identical to the way that I was previously.

It is clear that a theme of Gormley’s work is focused at the placement of the human body within a confined space and sub sequentially how this releases us from preconceptions of the effect that sculpture has on us. Within my personal practice, I intend to reconsider the power of the body and how expectations can be reconsidered when an idea is shed in a different light. Through understanding Gormley’s distinct concept, I feel it is necessary to now look at how the human body can be presented through other ideas rather than illustrating the obvious.

http://whitecube.com/exhibitions/antony_gormley_bermondsey_2016/

img_4678Mean (2016) 8mm mild steel barimg_4676img_4674Run (2016) Cast Ironimg_4671img_4677Other images of the exhibition ( photographed by me)

Ed Ruscha, Extremes and In-betweens, Gagosain Gallery

October 5th– December 17th 2016

Ed Ruscha’s Extremes and In-betweens is the current exhibition held at the Gagosain Gallery, Grosvenor Hill.  It is a collection of large scale acrylic paintings on canvas which are placed in four distinct sections of the space. As explained through the accompanying information, Ruscha entered into the world of placing both singular words and their meanings in ascending and descending shifts of scale. Each word stands out from a subtle, earthy background color in which Ruscha describes as a “color which forgot it was a color”. The combination of dynamic typeface and muted tones allows for the viewer to be drawn completely into the words and their significance. “Words” as Ruscha explains, “live in a world of no size. You can make them any size, and what’s their real size? Nobody knows”

Silence with Wrinkles (2016) hangs within the second room in the gallery space and struck me as the only painting that seemed to appear the opposite in direction of scale to the size of the word. This is a subject matter which is open to interpretation unlike other works such as Universe with Wrinkles (2016) in which the size of each being is somewhat factual. Here the word “silence” appears in the painting as being top of the scale, however words such as “commotion” and “racket” are lower and smaller within the frame. In my mind, when I consider these sounds in order of size I would immediately place the louder sound at the top and then descend through the quieter sounds until silence is where the viewer studies the painting closer and in a focused manner. Furthermore, throughout the collection all words had a form of clarity in which the audience could fully understand the scale on show. Within Silence with Wrinkles (2016) the smallest word on the scale was not legible, which poses the question of why did the artist want us to be unclear of the boundary of this particular concept?

The relationship between typeface and size is often a graphic design consideration, however when incorporating the relationship of words and size we begin to ask why size is not used to its full extent in slogans and message writing. This concept is something that I am looking to incorporate into my practice, however not just through size, but through medium choice. Through observing Ruscha’s work I believe that by humanizing the words and message of a piece, one is able to create a long-lasting impact on an audience.

http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/ed-ruscha–october-05-2016

img_4707Silence with Wrinkles (2016)img_4706Universe with Wrinkles (2016)img_4700img_4696Other images of exhibition (photographed by me)

Other exhibition visits;

Louise Bourgeois, Tate Modern

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/artist-rooms-louise-bourgeois

img_4660(photographed by me)

Living Cities, Tate Modern

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/living-cities

img_4667(photographed by me)

Ardizzone: A Retrospective, House of Illustration

http://www.houseofillustration.org.uk/whats-on/current-future-events/ardizzone-a-retrospective/

No photographs could be taken in the gallery

My Progress This Week

On Tuesday I went to my tutorial with a bunch of postcard sized drawing with all my weird and wonderful thoughts visualized onto the canvas. At the end of this week I have now created the best part of 70 Indian ink paintings A3 in size. WHAT A WHIRLWIND OF IDEAS!

The feedback from my tutor was that he admired my drawing style and my passion for the subject, but also that instead of this project becoming a sob story, I need to create a strength within my visuals. From research it seems that this subject is my own stomping ground as no one has created a body of work based on being coeliac. The path which I want my work to take is to show the world that I am proud of my condition and that eating gluten free has improved my immune system but also my health. The one thing which has always struck me is the fact that people who do not have food allergies have not a clue what ingredients are contained within packaged food. I have come to the conclusion that the less ingredients that is on the back of a package, the better and purer the food is. This is the same for restaurants, if you judge the amount of gluten free choices they offer, you are also judging the quality of food you are receiving.

I walked away from the tutorial which the challenge to do as many A3 drawings with Indian ink as humanely possible. The reason behind was that I needed to free up my mark making skills as to not restrict my flow. Also working on a bigger scale allows everything to become imperfect and begins to add more expressive qualities to my style. I have taken the approach of just trying lots of different techniques whilst keeping the medium exactly the same (so as I don’t become completely confused). My work started with quite controlled linear marks and then fed through into distorting the perfect lines with the addition of water. I can then further lose control through the way that the ink reacts to the dilution and the result is effortless beauty. I took this one step further and started printing and experimenting with wheat bread and pasta. This was an experience in itself as I haven’t held this type of food for a year, and also the risk of making myself ill by accident was quite daunting! The bread turned out especially well as the ink was soaked into the surface and created sponge-like textures. The most interesting thing about working with food materials was that they disintegrated throughout each image. One of my favorite images which came from the bread getting way too soggy was, “this time I broke you’. There is something completely satisfying about defeating something that used to harm you.

img_4605img_4607img_4608img_4618img_4626My next step is to analyze NHS posters and to begin to make my own campaign surrounding the positives of being coeliac. People with Coeliac disease often suffer with IBS and Anemia, so we do not get the best reputation for being strong people. I want to change that and show that we can come through it and with the right food, we do not have to be ill people anymore- but rather much healthier and fitter people due to our dietary needs.

Creating Narratives

My next step in my studio practice was to repeat the previous bingo workshop with a little bit more time and thought placed within the visuals. I find that although there is a really great atmosphere within the university studio environment and you can share ideas with like-minded people, but I can get easily distracted. I love to be within my own bubble, this is where all my weird and wonderful thoughts arise from.

Thereforeeeeeeee I shut myself away in the dining room, took over the table and just experimented with small storytelling visuals of thoughts which popped into my brain. In previous years I was getting bogged down with research and contextualizing my imagery, which left me with little inspiration as to how to actually portray my ideas in a visual style. However, this year I am going a lot of my research and process in a parallel manner. I have got into the system of just doing and making work, it doesn’t matter because everyone makes mistakes. So, I laid out all my blank postcards that I had spare (drawing on quality paper is always uplifting as well) and drew for the best part of three hours. I started by looking at my journey through the coeliac diagnostic stage and begun to visualize the involvement of the blood tests, gastroscopy and then the dietitian’s appointments which were all new and strange experiences to me at the tim! It then turned into other weird and wonderful thoughts about red blood cells, folic acid and whether other animals suffer from similar problems. Even now as I am typing I can think of more and more ideas I need to visualize!

The amazing thing about this session was that although all the drawings are individual, I began to create a narrative through my thought process which I believe that others in a similar position will relate to. I have never really had much luck with a narrative before, however by taking the mickey out of all thing coeliac and making light of the situation it has both helped me to come to terms with my dietary needs, but may also inspired others to be creatively playful with their ideas(I hope).

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Yep We Played Bingo At Uni…

Today workshop was a cure for procrastination. A way of continually working to produce ideas quickly. But most importantly a way of zoning out from the world.

I have spoken before about gridding my work and allowing the eye to see all ideas at once (this is what my previous exhibition piece was based around). However today the tutors organized a bingo session, where we had 30 empty white pages in front of us that we were to fill within 1&30 minutes. We numbered each of the page, and we were to swap in and out of each page when their number was called. This meant that each drawing was not always finished before moving on and allowed you to really spill out all thoughts onto paper (quite refreshing if you ask me).

It is key to point out that these were not my best drawings, HOWEVER they are full of content, spontaneity and fun which is sometimes rather difficult to find when you are working under project pressure. I am also looking to apply the same content to my thesis session tomorrow, where I am going to lie all my research in front of me and group each piece together so as I get a real sense of where I am and where I need to be.

My plans for myself initiated project still lie within the realms of a publications which can be based on interaction, but there are other ideas I would like to pursue, such as using gluten within the process. This can either be through printing, or actual baking… I think I may try both and see what happens!

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My Starting Points For The Self Initiated Project

The way that I have started off my self initiated project by spending time in the darkroom composing some some of the doodle drawings which I created over the summer. This is a really productive way of creating visuals, but also gives you space away from the normal studio environment to have a good think. The main reason I love the darkroom is that is allows me to focus in on how I can combine my individual images together into interesting and more abstract visuals. You are also able to create a large amount of work in a small space of time (which is never a bad thing!) This year however I had to use the old fashioned way of processing my exposed prints due to the shortcut machine being broken. Although this was more time consuming, it allowed for me to go back and understand the basics of photogramming (not sure if I have just made up another word). I also love to place these images into Photoshop to edit and invert, it will allow for all the watermarks and imperfections to be highlighted!

After my session in the darkroom, I went to the gym which is where I also do some really good brainstorming! My brain was flying and I was having a peek at Instagram where I found the artist Anastasia Tasou (http://shop.anastasiatasou.com). She is an artist who has created interactive positivity books which contain both her own advice but also a way in which the reader/ do-er can bring out their own positivity. This is super inspiring to me and I may actually have to purchase a book myself, BUT I am now thinking that I could take this idea and turn it into a pocket sized “I feel crap because I have been glutenated book”. I really want to get my ideas out to the world and try and help those that may be struggling, like me! I have mapped out a variety of pages, such as a rage page where you can just take all your anger on the poor paper, also a coloring page where you can colour in my own expressions. This can also turn into a loo book, cause when a coeliac has eaten gluten, trust me the toilet is your new best friend! But to make this a reality I need to have a look at other interactive and humourous book that work along the same lines as my own. There is also a hell of a lot of technical issues that I need to consider, for example hard back book binding so as people can use the product on the go rather than being restricted to a desk. Other books that I have found is Wreck a Journal  by Keri Smith (http://www.kerismith.com), which I am going to have a look at over the weekend. This journal was a craze a few years ago, but it asks the owener to make mistakes, mess and destruction to free the restirctions of ordinary journal making. Also Happy Jackson (http://www.happyjackson.com ) is a stationary company who have rally cool and humourous sligans which is along the same format as I woukd like to play with in my project. They also use a handwritten/ casual font which is something I want to definitely adopt on my page.

I have also thought about branching away from this one idea, into a book about being on the fodmap diet which I have also tried to follow/failed to follow. But also to hot water bottle covers, pillows and blankets- comfort products which are essential for coeliac living!

Photographs of my progress are coming (I just wasn’t organized enough to bring along my USB lead today!)

Quick First Day Back Catch Up

Apologies for the break in posts over the summer, there is really no excuse but I am back on track for the final year of my Illustration and Visual Media course at London Collage of Communication, University of the Arts London.

For starters, this term we are working on a self initiated project which is purely driven by our personal interests. Naturally I am basing my body of work on my Coeliac disease at it is something which is part of who I am (fortunately or unfortunately) and I have been working on visuals throughout the summer. For those who don’t know, to save you googling away, Coeliac Disease is “a disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food”. This means that I follow a strict gluten free diet, so no food containing wheat, rye, barley, malt or traces of. Unfortunately Coeliacs also have to be extremely careful with cross contamination of gluten, in other words I have my own toaster, freezer, cupboards and spreads. The most frequently asked question is what on earth happens to you when you eat gluten? It is not like a nut allergy where you have a life threatening attack, I just feel pretty dam rubbish the next day as my body flushes out all the gluten and cannot absorb any nutrients.

Anyway, enough of the jibber jabber

My self initiated project started off life as me trying to express the feeling of being glutenated (real word I promise). I really wanted to express how harmful a tiny crumb of wheat can really be to my health in a visual manner. It is interesting to express something that effects you so much in day to day activity , and somewhat controls your life, but something that you cannot physically see. Most of my summer doodles were drawn when I was having a rough day and so are imaginatively accurate to my situation.

I want to pair these collections of drawings, with my love of pattern making, surface design and interiors to create a product which may well help those struggling to express how they feel. However the plan at present is to get making and start experimenting with different processes which may well allow for a stronger sense of communication within my work. I have been placed into Leigh Clarke’s tutorial group for the term , such an inspirational man, who said that we need to get our heads, hearts and hands all working at the same time.

This is exactly what I am wanting to achieve at the moment.

I have also set up a new Instagram account purely for my illustration ,give me a follow if you are interested https://www.instagram.com/bethanrubyillustration/img_6089img_5862