Landscapes in the environment

I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees landscape all around them – but concealed within objects rather than the obvious views around us.  My eyes are just drawn to these beautiful miniatures.

As I live near the coast, these are often captured on boats, but also on buildings, traffic bollards, windows, washed up beach strandings and elsewhere – why not get your eye in while you are walking around – you’ll see so much more!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADell Quay Dec 16 landscape

Knots

One of the most common finds while I walk along local beaches is rope and twine.  Often this is knotted and in varying degrees of perfection – I have a whole bag of them now.

Found Knots Church Norton Feb 18.jpg

I decided to start experimenting using knots with some of my found pieces.  I had the idea of using found times which had holes in them and knotting through or around the holes.  I knew that this would be a laborious, repetitive business but was interested to see how this slow repetition would affect my thoughts as I worked.  I had read that undertakings boring tasks allowed the mind to wander and become more creative:  Read more about this here – Harvard Business Review – two studies found a strong link between boredom and creativity. In short, people who were subjected to monotonous, repetitive, or otherwise uninspiring tasks then asked to think creatively or brainstorm ideas far outperformed those who were not subjected to the drudgery.

When our minds are bored, they seek inspiration. The studies’ authors “suggest that boredom boosts creativity because of how people prefer to alleviate it. Boredom, they suggest, motivates people to approach new and rewarding activities. In other words, an idle mind will seek a toy.”

And so, I started my first project without any end goal, just to see what would happen.  I worked with a rectangle of found metal, calico and found twine from the beach.

Next, I decided to try bristles from a found brush in combination with a piece of found metal mesh.  The mesh was delicate and, by the end, had started to break up.  Like the first task, this took me several days.  I am still working on how to present it.

The next project is a little bit “out there”!  I recently found a tea strainer and decided to see what developed if I started to knot through the mesh of this.  It is very hard work and I am having to use a magnifying lamp to see the holes.

This one may not be a keeper – we will have to see.

What has been interesting, thought, is to see how my mind wandered during the long hours of knotting.  I started to think about the people in times gone by who spent their days making fishing nets.  This seemed to strike a chord and link back to the beach where I had found my objects – a research project beckons ….

The Everyday and Extraordinary – An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition at The Towner Gallery, Eastbourne

Everyday-and-Extraordinary-es-1
Jordan Baseman, Based on Actual Events, 1995, teeth and dental acrylic. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London; © the artist. Gift of Charles Saatchi 2002

A friend and I decided to visit this last week, lured by the introduction of the Gallery’s website:

“The notion of the found object as artistic material, content and subject-matter provides the inspiration for The Everyday and Extraordinary, an exhibition presenting a Wunderkammer of modern and contemporary artworks drawn from the Arts Council Collection. The show brings together a fusion of materials, processes and innovative ideas, celebrating the physicality of objects in this predominantly digital age.

Found objects or ‘objet trouvé’ provide infinite inspiration for artists. When, in 1913, Marcel Duchamp used a found object in his work, he introduced the term ‘ready-made’ to art. Whether modified, presented in a new context or left unchanged found objects have had an enduring impact on artistic practice, with artists appropriating and transforming objects in many ways to communicate particular ideas or concepts. Surrealists used ‘the everyday’ as an invocation of humour and satire whilst Pop Artists directly appropriated items from popular culture. Techniques of the ready-made continue to engage and inspire contemporary artists today.”

We both like to use found objects in our work so thought this exhibition would be right up our street.

Anya-Gallaccio-es
Anya Gallaccio, Preserve (Chateau), 1995. © The artist. Mixed media wall mounted construction. Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society Special Collection Scheme on behalf of the Towner Art Gallery, with funds from the Arts Council Lottery the Friends of the Towner, Eastbourne Borough Council, Towner Contemporary Art Fund Committee and donations.

Anya Gallacio’s installation Preserve (Chateau) shown above in its original form, has been deliberately allowed to rot and is now looking very sad. The frame is somewhat misted up and the flowers have died and are dropping out of the base.  Stated to be a sombre meditation on the passing of time, it consists of 100 red gerberas sandwiched between the wall and a pane of glass. Preserve Beauty was the paradoxical title of a work in which no attempt is made to conserve the wilting flowers.

I liked Mona Haltom’s sculpture + And – but, like many other exhibits, it does not incorporate found objects. A wooden box is filled with sand. Like a clock, it’s two hands rotate.  The serrated hand draws concentric rings in the sand  and these are then obliterated when the smooth hand follows.  There is something soothing about this repetition.

Everyday-and-Extraordinary-es-2
Tony Cragg, New Stones – Newton’s Tones, 1978, plastic. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist

The above work by Tony Cragg was made in 1978.  This does use the found – hundreds of pieces of plastic.  As a regular beachcomber, I identified with the fact that there is a horrendous amount of such items to be easily found upon our shores and I can only suppose that forty years ago this work was saying something new.  Today I found it too simplistic to be considered a piece of art.

I did like the following exhibits which I photographed together with their notes:

Bill Woodrow - Crow and CarrionBill WoodrowHermione Allsopp - Sidentary ArchiveGareth Griffiths

but, overall, my friend and I both considered the exhibition disappointing.  Too few exhibits featuring the genuinely found and those that did, were not particularly inspiring.  Do let me know what you think!

And finally, we walked along the seafront where we saw two of the five new beach huts installed recently and available to hire.  As art installations, I enjoyed them.  You can read more about them and view the others by following the link above:

Mark Making, Printing and Collage – Part 4

On the last day, I made some more paper collages and then moved on to working with fabric.  Caroline Bartlett was very helpful in experimenting and suggesting a way of using the screens to print images that were looser and more akin to drawing. This was more appealing to me and I returned to my group of chosen objects:

Group 3.jpg

Working on a screen I used three different tools to draw these and came out with an image which I felt better suited my style of working:

My first screen print of found vessels

I felt that this had possibilities although this version is a little too busy.   I prefer the reverse – as is often the case!

So I will now write up my notes, process my photographs and take a little time to digest all that I have learned, but, in the meantime, a big thank you to Caroline and the rest of the group – many lessons learned by all!

Mark Making, Printing and Collage – Part III

I had brought some papers with me and decided next that I would create a series of collages using, for the most part, genuinely “found” papers.  So often the term “found” is used to describe items which are actually “bought” from second hand shops, car boot sales, online auctions etc.  I try to work, as exclusively as possible, with items that I have found along the Chichester Harbour coastline, adding to them when necessary but always using them as the starting point for my work.  The papers used in the pieces below are:

disposable plate; take away coffee cup; take away sandwich wrapper; take away cookie bag; sandpaper; cider cardboard packaging; miscellaneous plastic; paper from an oil filter; and, most importantly, a tide table.

Disposable food service products made from paper, paperboard, and corrugated fibreboard, including cups, plates, bowls, napkins, take away bags, trays, egg cartons, doilies and tray liners, can also include or be coated with plastic to improve wet strength or grease resistance.

So, my collage collection includes hidden plastic and the title “Turning the Tide” refers not only to the use of a local tide table in the work, but also to the fact that I hope that we are now turning the tide in the fight against plastics and other rubbish in our seas.  This is and will remain the core inspiration behind the work that I produce.

Collins Dictionary – “Turn the tide” – to change the general course of events.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA