Whilst the period during the two exhibitions was brief and virtually all of the time was taken up in working on the different artworks and collections which have been recorded here, there were still some moments when reflection and musing took place. (Web searches began many intriguing trails which may well be followed up at a later date.)
The artists noted in the previous exhibition’s Thought Pauses continue to be of considerable interest, but it may be worthwhile noting the following points which complemented or triggered various trails of thought during the past three months.
Whilst seeking an alternative to the distractions of matching the various greens to yellow wavelengths, other colours were trialled. Blue became the initial choice, as the sky was so dominant in the summer landscape. During this period, David Hockney’s work came to mind. A television programme which followed his production line approach to creating prints of ultramarine blue prints was recalled. The immediacy of result, due to so many substrates being readily available and the readily available assistance of a team of capable people, was a joy to behold. Whilst the outcomes were appreciated and enjoyed, it was evident that such an opportunity, to concentrate purely on the process devised, rather than have to put so much time and energy into preparing appropriate substrates, was an unattainable luxury to most artists, certainly this one.
Gold. As has been explained in another section, it was eventually decided to work with gold during this stage of development. There is a long history of using gold as a material in artworks. It has always been considered valuable and highly prized. Due to predominantly financial and time restraints, the gold used was synthetic, mostly in the form of acrylic and ink pigments. This will be an enticing area to research in future.
There was some concern that as circles were being considered (alongside creating works by moving highly liquid pigment on their surface), that this might be too similar to the Spin series by Damien Hirst. This work was researched and found to be far more mechanical in its production, it was fun, but Hirst had little connection with any mindful process during their creation. Mindfulness played quite an important role in the processes which led to the artwork which was produced during the MA period of study.
At the commencement of the course, the term Process Art was a relatively unfamiliar one. Conversations, reading and web searches led to a better understanding and an appreciation of how current developments have included much Process. Whilst in the traditional world of art, process is only considered to be part of the whole artwork, and is not valued in its own right. This artist considers that it has played a valuable role in both the development of concepts and as an acceptable outcome, which can often offer continuing developmental (e.g. materials may degrade), interest over a period of time..
Elfyn Lewis is a practising Process Artist. His blurring of hues as layers of pigment are drawn across a substrate are very appealing. He discovers worlds within the products of his experiments. ‘Llanw’ (Tide), is a lovely example and although this image is a good one, in reality it is even more pleasing.
Another category, Ephemeral Art, is a concept which has often arisen for discussion during the course. It has formed an important but necessarily secondary part to the practice of this artist. Finding out more about its role as an accepted art form has been most enlightening, as this artist values the essence of the practice, where natural, biodegradable materials are involved. Within the highly restricted Classical canon, this is still considered a particularly dubious form of art.
Anya Gallacio, an installation artist whose core aspect is “change and transformation” (for full reference, follow link below) and her work is often described as being problematic, where documentation is concerned. Much of her work is specific to a site and is affected by time, thus photography is not always successful. This resonates with this artist, who has been frustrated by many an unsatisfactory outcome when attempting to document an artwork.
Martin Hill produces ephemeral art on a large scale, many set in stunning localities creating enhanced landscapes. These works (should they not degrade naturally), can be removed from their positions at a later date so that they do not damage their environment.
Joseph Beuys (a Conceptual artist), employs approaches considered to value and include process, ephemera and performance. Thanks to Miranda Whall, this artist was persuaded to allow outcomes of the large works created to be captured in video format. They became a form of performance, with dialogues between the artist and recorder and the artist and the developing work, each providing information which supported the process. Also, during the process of creating artworks, much goes unnoticed or is forgotten, the video provides a valuable record for reflection and assessment.
Paul Croft (print specialist at Aberystwyth University, School of Art), observed how the gestural component of the artist’s artwork was reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy. Early research indicated that this was particularly so, with regard to contemporary Japanese calligraphy. This insight was much valued and will be investigated further.
The application of pigment to the substrate was thought out prior to the action. Practise ‘dry-runs’ involving trying out instinctive gestures over large table surfaces were essential, as there was only ever one opportunity to apply the pigment. Whilst a ‘disaster’ might be accepted as part of the process, so much time and effort had gone into preparing the substrate that they could not help but become rather precious. Had the artist youth and energy on their side, this would not be such an important consideration.
Preparation of the first triptych elements involved a single movement, whereas the large painting in the second triptych was more evocative of a lively, blustery, boisterous day. The pigment was applied as a generous flow of rich, silken colour and then moved around and off the surface in actions informed by those observed on the hillsides.
The work of Edmund de Waal was first encountered at Waddesdon Manor (Buckinghamshire), where several of his pots were discretely displayed amongst the highly ornate decorations of the house. Their presence was being considered by several elderly visitors who were not impressed and being unfortunate to be ignorant of his oeuvre did not appreciate their delicate qualities. De Waal, whilst discussing his work (on Radio 3, ‘Free Thinking’, Oct. 2014 and Radio 4, ‘Start the Week’, Sept. 2015), referred to his book ‘The White Road: a pilgrimage of sorts’, (Random House, 2015) and stated that, “White is a way of starting again.” This resonates strongly with this artist who has always found working with white to be a difficult option, as every error is laid bare. The experiences of the course have provided wonderful opportunities to work towards banishing this feeling, even to the point of being prepared to rework a whole painting! Confidence has been gained to further exploration into further blank pages.