Type Three Diabetes

Following my previous brain storm, it was necessary to narrow my concept into one research path. To do this I studied Women’s Health magazine April 2017 which proved a good source of up to date scientists research. Health magazines are full of headlines and advice on which food to consume, how to exercise and a general review on the well-being of the human body. The articles in April 2017 included information of subject such as; probiotics, wheat free diets, fitness bloggers and mindfulness. However, the most interesting article was titled ‘Future-Proof Your Brain’ with the summary of ‘Pioneering research linking Alzheimer’s with diabetes offers new hope that diet and lifestyle changes could provide protection. And the earlier you take action, the better.’ This instantly caught my attention because the article linked my interest in food intake/well-being to a widely discussed and feared disease. The article is explaining that some scientists are calling for the disease to be renamed as ‘Type Three Diabetes’ as much like type two diabetes, insulin can be rejected from the brain. Professor de la Monte studied rats that had insulin deprived brains and found that the animals became disorientated and not able to find their way through a maze. The rats suffered brain shrinkage which is a common defect caused from Alzheimer’s disease. After this discovery the scientists performed autopsies on human brains and found that those who had died from Alzheimer’s also had insulin deprived brains. The article further explains that ‘brain cells require double the glucose levels of normal cells, so if the brain becomes resistant to insulin it sparks a tsunami of neurodegeneration’ meaning the brain starves. Alzheimer’s can occur decades before the symptoms are recognisable, and a diet with a high sugar or processed food intake will accelerate the brain degeneration. The best foods to eat are ‘whole foods’ including fruits, vegetables and cereals- less red meat. Taking regular exercise, or allowing the brain to be challenged can also prevent the disease.

In particular, I found that the new medical term and links between brain shrinkage and lifestyle choices were subjects I could respond to through visual medias. Before creating a visual brainstorm, I also wanted to discover the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. In summary Dementia is a general term for memory loss and disorientation, although Alzheimer’s is the cause of 50%-70% of all dementia cases.


To begin the visual process, I highlighted playful words or descriptions within the article which I could reimagine. I began with using black Indian ink as it is a loose medium allowing for freedom of brush strokes, but also encourages a fast paced working style so all ideas can be recorded. I also added red ink to highlight certain sections of the drawing and to enter in sections of colour which could later be digitally changed. Some of my most visually successful sketches are those with a playful description of the scientific detail, for example the image with the brain in the washing machine explaining the shrinkage of the organ.



FMP Starting Points

After discussing my FMP concept with my tutor, I have decided to consider food and health headlines as my exploration. This is extending my first project of Coeliac disease further than a niche audience, and understanding how scares and strong media influences can affect the intake of an individual. At present I have a broad range of examples to play with, and the only way to find a more focussed discussion is by working visually and researching together. This will allow me to experiment with imagery and medium whilst discovering which issues need to addressed.

To start the process, I created a list of health headlines which have affected the way that I have approached food both negatively and positively. I have then visualised these concerns within a number of postcard sized drawings so as I can test the strength of the visuals.

At the moment my list consists of;

Blue rays from phones ruining your eyes

Burnt toast will give you cancer

Dairy makes you fat

Sausages will also give you cancer

Is it unethical to eat egg?

Green teas and black coffee will heal everything

The contraceptive pill will give you a stroke

Gum will stay in your system for 7 years if you swallow

Charcoal makes you teeth white

Sugar or sweeteners?

Skinny jeans, fur hoods and cross bags will hurt your back

Blue berries are brain food

Blueberries also help eliminate baby blues

Too many bananas= too much potassium

10 a day or 5 a day?

Rainbow food is good for you

Caffeine is evil

Red meats could be horse meat

If I eat meat will I harm the environment?

Tomatoes help fertility


It is impossible to keep up with all these diet changes, and therefore which media announcements can we trust? The next steps in my research will aim towards one subject which I can investigate thoroughly and will comfort concerns. I shall listen to health announcements on the news and breakfast shows such as ITV’s This Morning. I feel it may also be useful to watch documentaries such as ‘Food Unwrapped’ and to buy health magazines to get a good overview of the current situation. If I was to focus my studies on veganism, a good source of discussion would be the book eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, as he discusses the dangers of eating meats and processing.

This is only the start of my research and I am welcoming any interesting topics surrounding health, fitness of well-being. I shall look into these research avenues and find one smaller topic which I can then focus on and expand my knowledge.

Saatchi Gallery: Painter’s Painters

To gather inspiration for the upcoming Final Major Project, I took a research trip to the Saatchi Gallery as I find there is always a good overview of contemporary visual culture. The current exhibition is Painters’ Painters which is an exploration into the wide decline of painting as a medium and how young artists are now reviving traditional arts.

Unfortunately, the visit wasn’t particularly motivating as I couldn’t engage with many of the exhibits. However, I did connect with the work of David Salle whose striking compositions and pallet choices create large scale painted collages. Salle gains references from magazines, stock photographs and pornography to create sections of work within one border. The most successful aspect of his work is that the audience gains a new viewing experience when the angle of sight or distance is altered. When photographing Salle’s work, I saw new aspects through the screen of my phone which I didn’t recognise by the naked eye. It is also impressive that within each painting the audience can form their own opinions and narratives as the imagery is ambiguous. The artist doesn’t share too much information and blocks the audience from the reality. This in turn allows each abstracted and hidden detail to resonate in the mind as we try to place the content. Due to the layering present within the work, the artist’s process reminds me of my appliqued designs within the digital folklore outcome. Although the visual is painted as a while, it seems that there is physical layering of materials at some point within the experimentation and this could be something to consider within the experimentation stage of my project, as I could then layer up my Indian ink sketches to create the same disjointed effect.

IMG_6398IMG_6401IMG_6402 http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/david_salle.htm?section_name=paint_artist

Final Critique Comments

This final critique was one of my most successful feedback from both my tutor and fellow students. The most exciting part of showing my outcome was the positivity and interaction between people and the creatures. When I was explaining students wanted to sit and cuddle the outcome, perhaps without realising I had created elements of comfort which brought happiness to individuals. The feedback included suggestions of adult toys and larger installation pieces which immerse the viewer in a new imaginary world. I was commended on my abilities with textiles and the colour pallets of each creature. This is something that I was struggling with at the beginning of the year and I have now broken through the laziness of using black and white to become a colourist. I was also pleased with the comments on quality and craftsmanship of the outcome as I did struggle with the stuffing stage of the process as I felt a pressure to get the filling perfect. Ironically the main concern of mine was the transport of the creatures would ruin the finish of the work, however the stuffing seemed to settle and with others hugging the creatures, the animals seemed to gain personality. I feel that both the digital folklore and zoo projects have been excellent stepping stones to progress my style ready for the Final Major Project.


I have begun to consider starting points for the FMP so as I can work on research over the Easter holidays. At the moment I am brainstorming concepts such as food confusion, health and fitness or cyber bullying. These are all subjects which I could thoroughly research and reflect upon. My aim is to problem solve and replicate the comforts which I have brought through in past projects.

My Tutor’s comments;

“My feeling is that your head leads you to difficult subjects, your heart to positive solutions and your hand to beautifully crafted designs” Leigh Clarke

Outcome Tutorial

As this is a two-week project, Tuesday’s tutorial was the last before our final critique so all attention turned to final outcomes. My textile experiments and samples of work were well received when presented. The only problem that we faced was what the purpose of the textiles were. Visually my soft sculptures were engaging to the group, however should they be marketed as soft toys or installation art sculptures? To allow the eyes to see the work in a new light I photocopied each creature in colour, black and white and negative. This created a flat image in which the creature could be observed more objectively. After consideration, we decided that my work should be installed and promoted in a simillar way to that of Anette Messager’s work. This will allow me to think about my work within a space and look as ways in which it can be interpreted.

An initial idea was to have each creature standing up within an exhibition space as my creatures have more impact when displayed collectively. The issue that I had with this idea was that the sculptures would be static and I wanted them to have a sense of movement. Therefore, my sculptures are now going to be arranged and hung from the ceiling, much like an adult mobile. I am aiming to bridge the gap between Alexander Calder’s work and the soft toy mobiles in the commercial children’s market. This is an interesting format as I want viewers to look upwards at my creatures and to consider colour and form as a whole rather than induvial pieces. This reflects the interaction of the visitor and animal at the zoo, as we very rarely look at an animal straight ahead, they are more likely to be hidden in different spaces in their habitat meaning that ‘we’ as the visitor need to work harder to gain information. I am looking to arrange the work in a circular shape so as the viewer will walk around the piece and see a movement and alteration in viewpoints of each element. This will further emphasise colour relationships as other sculptures can be viewed through negative spaces and curves.

I have already begun the making process of the outcome by planning a 2-metre-high creature to be the largest of my piece. This will then be accompanied by varying other sized creatures to show the difference of each specie at the zoo. I am aiming to complete three sculptures (more if possible within the time scale) all with improved detail and organic shapes than the experiments. Making on a larger scale means that I can return to my Indian ink drawings as guidance for the free flowing shapes and abstracted ideas. My colour schemes were guided by the availability of felt colours on this scale. I chose to use similar relationships of colours to that of my experiments, but to also place new colours so as to enhance my understanding of block colour. My thinking was to use black, white and dark purple as a constant throughout each sculpture so as they sit together as a series, and then vary the lighter tones. Furthermore, the designs which I have chosen are not replicates of my previous studies, but mixes of each successful section. The largest sculpture is created from my interpretation of an iguana’s head and a bird’s body in which the shapes are formatted from my original mark making. These shapes worked well in the experimentation and provided with a good quality outcome. Where quality is concerned the most important parts are to make sure the shapes are within the seam allowances, that there is minimal puckering and that if a pattern is carried onto the opposite side, the pattern matches up. Furthermore, I am looking to add wood in the necks of each sculpture so as to strengthen the join.

Contextual Research

As this project is a visual exploration focusing on memories, it is necessary for me to contextualise my thoughts.

Annette Messager is an installation artist whose body of work encompasses elements of drawing, photography, needlework and sculpture. Messager’s artworks are unique within the choice of material, often reusing clothing, badges, stuffed toys and synthetic hair to create an unsettling effect on the observer. The main interest in Messager’s practice is her creature creations which are neither animal nor human, reflecting the shadows in our personality. These creatures are both beautiful and unnerving as they have recognisable and ambiguous features combined together. These creatures are exhibited in multiples and are spread amongst the space by hangings and floor installation. Motion is a key consideration within Messager’s recent work and the creatures are often accompanied by fans which will disturb the stillness of an object. Other movements include inflating ad deflating materials and hanging pieces so as the air movements of the viewers will sway the exhibit slightly. Messager’s work is therefore transformed into an interactive experience and is an inspiration when considering how my illustration will be exhibited. Within this project I am looking to create endearing creatures which represent the exaggeration of the memories of the animals at ZSL London Zoo. The response which I have already had from my work is that people start to guess my drawn/textiles forms and associate these to an animal. The issue which my textiles experiments at the moment is that they are becoming increasingly like the original animal due to the making process. By scaling up my design I am hoping to gain back the organic forms which my drawings possessed (as there will be more scope for detail) and exaggerate certain features further.


I have mentioned the work of Louise Bourgeois previously during the Self-Initiated Project, however her work is now relevant to my textile experiments. Bourgeois’ work is currently displayed within the Artist Rooms as the Tate modern (Switch House Level 4 East.) The exhibition is a collection of Bourgeois’ late autobiographical work which covers other experiences such as birth, death, love, loss and fear. Through drawing and sculpture the artist tells honest personal stories and memories which have affected her life experiences. Bourgeois often experiments with one idea in a number of different forms including cast bronze and stuffed fabrics so as to produce a strong parallel between concept and process. Like Messager, Bourgeois’ textile sculptures often have a human or animalistic quality, making strong references to body parts. Furthermore, the colour pallet featured within the work is reflective of the human body and flesh. This could be something to consider within my outcome, especially if I am to produce more abstract forms, colour could create a link.


Experimenting with Felt

After researching into Jon Burgerman and Felt Mistress’ soft sculptures, I purchased a number of felt sheets so as to experiment with the material. The idea was to create a smaller mock-up of a creature created from photocopying my Indian ink drawings. I collected felt sheets which were vibrant in colour and would create a complimentary contrast when placed within one shape.

The main purpose of this experiment was to consider colour pallets, final shapes and how to work with the unfamiliar fabric. I started the process with cutting a basic shape out of two layers of felt, with a seam allowance added. These shapes were then flipped to the opposite (finished) side as when the fabric is sewn together, the pieces will be turned the right side round. This finished side will then have no pencil markings on, but will also have appliqued shapes to create the features of the originally designed creature. Following the ink version, I cut shapes from coloured felt and layered sections so as to replicate the personality of the creature. These were then sewn onto one piece of the main fabric with a similar colour thread to be invisible. The most challenging part of the appliqueing process was matching the stripes on the point of the face so as they would run in a circular format when stuffed.

After the details were sewn, I placed both pieces together (with the insides facing out) and used the original pencil marks as a sewing guide. This line was important as it will form the outline of the final shape and therefore smooth curves without any sudden changes were required. I left an open space for the fabric to be turn the correct way around and for stuffing to be placed inside. For the mock up I created two sections of the creature, both the face and foot, so as I could practice joining the two parts together.

I was pleased with the outcome of this experiment as the material was easy to manage and the finish was professional. After discussing with my tutor it is now necessary to further contextualise my concepts and the purpose of my soft sculptures. I am looking to create more creatures of the same size as the mock-up, perhaps to hang when exhibited, and also consider creating a larger sculpture. It is clear that this project is a visual exploration, focusing on memories and exaggeration of the original observations. These are elements which need to be emphasised through the next sculptures so as to improve my visual communication.


Artist Influences

After considering the concepts surrounding my visuals, it was necessary to look at artists whose imagery contains animals, characters and creatures. Furthermore, I wanted to consider where my characters could fit within contemporary visual practice, and what is there purpose.

 SKWAK is a graphic illustrator who creates a ‘manic world’ full of monstrous creatures and characters. His work is widely popular and has been commissioned by Microsoft, Google and Nike to produce an array of product. The most striking aspect of SKWAK’s illustration is the colour pallet and the interaction between each character. The creatures are recognisable as living beings as they have similarities to real life animals, such as limbs and wings. These characters are then placed into a black background, which means that they are taken out of context and allowed to function in a surreal environment. An outcome typically consists of a number of individual creatures or patterns flowing and existing together. This is the reason why the illustrations are engaging, as the eyes are directed around each detail. SKWAK has used these creatures as his visual identity, allowing them to exist on t-shirts, toys, trainers and other surface designs. This is something I am looking to achieve with my creatures as I want to bring them to life and enhance interaction.



Oliver Hibert creates striking digital illustrations which are surreal and psychedelic. Hibert’s work is unique in context as he takes influences from the past to suggest the future. The interest for my project is found within the alluring figures and bold patterns featured within his outcomes. Furthermore, these characters are a combination of imaginative, animalistic and human-like features which together create an individual personality. My most successful visual experiments are the illustrations with a narrative and attitude which project to the viewer. This is something which Hibert creates effortlessly within each character through facial expressions and body language, so as to personify and relate the creature to human emotions. Hibert is also a commercial artist commissioned by BBC, Disney and Addias to work across a number of mediums.



Jon Burgerman is commonly named the king of doodles and his illustration has appeared on I-pad covers, jigsaw puzzles and children’s toys. The most recognisable piece of work is a colour yourself wallpaper which proved popular amongst all generations of people. The aspect of Burgerman’s portfolio which I am particularly interested in is the collaboration with Felt Mistress in 2009, where the company created a range of soft sculptures of Hipster characters.  Felt Mistress creates bespoke creatures in collaboration with illustrator Jonathan Edwards and other artists. These felt characters are an example of an outcome idea for this project as I can envision my drawings coming to life in the same manner as Burgerman’s. However, I am considering changing the scale of these creatures to be life sized so as they could be likened more to the animals observed at the zoo and become a true reflection of the distorted memories produced from man-made enclosures.




New Creatures

As my drawings were existing as singular parts of each animal I observed, I wanted to join these parts back together to create surrealist and playful work. The way that I approached this idea was to photocopy each image and invert some to change the negative space. I also altered the sizing of some to A3 to create a bigger outcome. These images were then cut around the main outline and placed into different categories. I realised that I had been drawing mainly the facial features or limbs of each animal, but I didn’t want to place the same section of the animals together in the new creatures. This is because I want the final illustration to have a sense of reality so as the viewer will still recognise the visual as being animalistic.  It was also important to match the drawings together so as the mark makings would flow from one part to another without any harsh changes.

The experiments were successful as the new animals gained a personality and run parallel with my concepts. These illustrations are an exaggerated reflection of the memories and observations that we take away from the zoo. As we only have access too distortions and sections of the animal, this means that we have a mish mash of different visuals in our heads which I am then placing together as one. The next step to the illustrations is to draw bigger sketches so as I can create larger creatures. I also want to consider a textile outcome which could be in the format of wall hangings or soft toys. Another idea was to name to characters and create a range of different animals based on people, for example the Beyoncé creature?