Todays lecture – two past students who talk about their life after Uni. First thought? Two crazy contemporary Art students, God help me. After them talking about having no money, and unemployment, I thought to myself – ‘Great, I pay nine thousand pounds a year to be unemployed and homeless, this is my future’. However, there is a silver lining and they showed that if you care passionately enough to create art, you will achieve your goals. More importantly, to ENJOY the process of creating Art and being at University. To stop panicking so much about deadlines, mountains of work, and the looming ‘need’ for a first class honours. It’s perfectly natural to be stressed but at the end of the day, less time worrying and flapping about panicking is time wasted to actual do productive things – aside from drinking!
As I continued to work, I began focusing more on the feminist/social response I seemed to be creating in my work. As many of the prints had areas that were made to look like chine-collé , I decided to actually try some, by printing Plath’s handwriting and printed text onto different types of paper i.e. gampi paper and collaging these onto the print. I also began to tear images, and burn aspects of it which I believe reflect the hysteric tone in some of Plath’s poems.
So the start of second year has been a complete whirlwind already…and blogging unfortunately got left at the bottom of the pile of work I have to do – the VERY large pile might I add. So apologies for any followers! I will start as I mean to go on!
This year already saw the start of new endeavours. I decided to extend my specialisms and branch out to Printmaking, with pleasing results. I began to fall in love with screen printing, and the process itself. I began creating prints through the actual process of printing, taking delight in mishaps, finger print marks, and inaccuracies of image replication. I decided to draw both of my degree subjects and focus my work around Sylvia Plath’s poetry, creating pieces reflecting a feminist and social comment on her poetry and relationship with Ted Hughes. This led to me producing two pieces for the School of Art Winter Exhibition 2013, both of which received a delightful reception from members of the public and fellow students. I was incredibly chuffed with my progress as a complete novice of printmaking.
I will also upload individual photos of these pieces and other final pieces that I created.
After perusing the collection of historical portraiture in the Tate Britain and also The National Gallery, it was incredibly refreshing to see the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award exhibition. I was instantly stunned by the juxtaposition between the historical portraiture I viewed beforehand, in comparison to modern portraiture and it was interesting to note how the presentation of portraits and self-portraits have changed and adapted over the years. Vincent Giarrano’s ‘Aureta Thomollari at Fashion Week – NYC’ was a particular highlight of the exhibition and I believe it embodies values present in traditional portraiture, but with an illuminating modern twist. The nonchalant pose of Thomollari surrounded by modern luxury items is far removed, yet not too distant to that of historical portrait paintings. I instantly drew associations with portraits such as those of Venus sprawled on bed sheets, or Renaissance portraits demonstrating power and wealth. Historically, portraiture was a method used by the aristocracy to emphasise wealth, power and dominance to the public and I feel that Giarrano seems to (perhaps unintentionally) replicate this idea in his piece. As a general member of the public who is distant to many luxuries possessed by the fashion blogger in the piece, the painting appears almost as a satire on contemporary culture, societies rapid consumption of material goods and obsession with wealth.
Benjamin Sullivan’s portrait of Craig Eden also seems to revise many qualities of historical portraiture, adding a contemporary spin to the piece. The sitter is in a typical pose, with multiple objects around him; which in historical portraiture would have been significant symbols or metaphors. However, in this modern piece there is simply a jacket, canvas frames and keys. The model has tattoos and wears trainers and jeans, emphasizing that to paint purely the upper class is not an accurate depiction of the people in everyday society. Consequently, I believe Sullivan attempts to address this, even if not intentionally adhering by this idea.
Regardless of whether any transitional comparisons can be made between historical and modern portraiture, it is clear from this exhibitions that many contemporary artists have broken boundaries of typical portraits. Daniel Coves’ ‘Net No. 10’ was particularly striking, in which Coves changes the viewers perceptions of a typical portrait so much that the viewer is presented with the back of a person, rather than the front. Obviously the piece is still a portrait, but leaves the viewer questioning the sitter’s emotions, expressions and feelings, which are usually asserted from an analysis of how the facial features have been represented. This one ingenious change that at first may seem and obvious twist is incredibly arresting.
From the exhibition it is clear that contemporary artists experiment with boundaries, adapting the methods and concepts behind their work to create visually attractive and intellectually stimulating works. The exhibition was invigorating to see something a lot different to that of my usual ‘taste’ and has proven that as an artist, I should continue to look ‘outside of the box’ as I might still be pleasantly surprised with what I may find.
Go and see the exhibition! It is on until the 15th of September and is FREE – so no excuses to all my fellow poor students out there.
I decided to simplify the illustrations even more as I really enjoyed the effects and the fluidity of the more relaxed pieces. I feel that these experiments are incredibly successful yet incredibly simple. They also have a sense of movement, with the splurges of ink expressing the crane taking flight, or the cranes wings expanding.