In Stage 1 of the design process (blogged 22-Dec-2012) I reviewed my course work looking for connections to my theme of Ageing. I’ve since been looking through my theme-book and now feel I have considerable clarity of what I want to work on.
* An exhibition piece. Given my theme is intensely personal I don’t want to use it as decoration on a functional item. I want to express emotion, to make visible something which is often invisible – extreme old age and the consequences of our platitudes and good intentions.
* Focus on an individual. So much of my reading and research has been about generalisations and statistics. I want to show something about this person – Nancy.
* Focus on a critical experience – loss of choice, trapped in intense physical and emotional pain. I’ve spent a lot of time in my theme-book thinking about happier memories, a rich life, the process of change and so on, but in the end I don’t want to soften or hide the reality of what we have forced upon this individual, what she suffers because of smug morals and outdated cultural and legal institutions.
Here is my “moodboard” of some core images selected from my themebook:
Top row, left to right: Edvard Munch, The Scream (source: http://www.bridgemaneducation.com ; a sculpture by Judith Scott (source: http://www.judithandjoycescott.com/); Tadek Beutlich, Figures in Cocoons 2 (source: illustration in Mary Schoeser’s Textiles).
Second row, left to right: detail of Truth to Power by Adrienne Sloan (source: http://www.adriennesloane.com/NewNPR/NPR.html); Francis Bacon, Study for a figure at the base of a crucifixion (source: illustration in Francis Bacon five decades catalogue); Rodney Love, Silence (source: Sensorial Loop catalogue)
Third row, left to right: Nathan Sawaya, Trapped (source http://www.forbes.com/2011/05/11/nathan-sawaya-lego-artist_slide_8.html); a sketch in oil pastels done for this Stage of the course.
Bottom: one of many sketches done following my visit to the Francis Bacon exhibition in Sydney (blogged 25-Nov-2012)
The Francis Bacon work is the core of my current ideas. Walking through the exhibition every scream I saw was Nancy’s, every cage her nursing home room. I didn’t have a clear idea of how to use the idea, despite my rather obsessive drawing (the version at the bottom of the photo shows the figure with its back to the window, just as Nancy had her back to the window following her recent stroke – highly symbolic to me). Then one afternoon I was looking through Mary Schoeser’s recently published Textiles to see if anything caught my eye for the theme. Judith Scott’s work on page 22, binding figures. It felt right – that sense of constriction and constraint. Just an hour or two later I was catching up on blog reading and came to Shipbuilding (http://shipbuildingblog.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/judith-scott.html), with photos and links for Scott’s work, including that bound up and distorted body shape. The other images in my photo have stories too, but not that body-blow impact.
There are many, many areas to be defined further:
* materials. I could wrap in yarns. I also have access to some of Nancy’s old clothing and it might be effective to use torn strips of that on the figure – perhaps being “overwritten” by drab institutional, or dark/sharp pain colours or red tape or… Would that blunt the metaphor of being bound up by society/culture, using her own choice of clothes?
* making the figure. The whole thing needs to go through the postal system four times, so there are constraints on size and weight, plus it should be reasonably sturdy. I also really want an arch in the back and a sense of tension, of struggle against the confines.
* the container. First there’s a question of shape. Coffin seems both too obvious and off-target – Nancy isn’t trying to escape from death. It could be a jail. I keep coming back to an earlier idea of a box of mementos, so shoebox size and proportions. The trapped figure needs to be visible and to remain the main focus of attention.
The sketch in the middle of the moodboard shows the spiky yarn I made in Project 8 (blogged 16-Sept-2012). I like the “red tape” (actually a paper yarn).
I also have a second mood board with lots of samples created during the printing and fabric manipulation experiments earlier in the course. Some of them are distorted and have holes, which could reveal the figure. Others are very light and see-through. At one point I considered using something more opaque and using lighting so that just the shadow of the figure could be seen, but the constraints of viewing under assessing and special requirements in a (hypothetical) exhibition rule that out. The printed fabrics suggest the option of including some text (eg “protecting the vulnerable”).
Jackie, another OCA student, used a really interesting process in her Project 8 (http://mytextileadventure.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/part-four-project-8-stage-2-ex-4.html). Follow the link to her post to get all the detail, but the use of tyvek also holds possibilities for introducing text, and the addition of weaving as a technique is attractive/personal to me. The amount of disintegration (more metaphors?) would have to be controlled for visibility of the figure. How much needs to be suggested, how much displayed???
* colours. Orange is the major colour on the moodboard, but in the sketchbook pages I chose earlier there was a preponderance of black and purple, with just flashes of green and orange. As mentioned above the idea of legal red tape, and blood red keep returning, as does institutional drab.
* wrapping. In my earlier plan of a box of mementos I was thinking of a wrapping like the blanket on Nancy’s bed, smothering and hiding the individual, or the layers of assumptions and generalisations that need to unwrapped to reach the kernel and desires of the person. I liked the idea of discovery in viewing the work. I was concerned about how this could work both in a package for assessors and as displayed in an exhibition, and even considered making a short video (asking mum to be a “hand model”), showing the unwrapping of the box, the examination of the contents. In exhibition the blanket could be piled up behind perhaps.
While I was reviewing the themebook I jotted notes and reminders, including “Link elements. Edit – see the whole – give up bits you love if necessary”. It was the next day I realised this could mean giving up the wrapping. I suspect it distracts and weakens the idea rather than adding to it. Maybe. Probably.
The course notes ask for at least two large drawings based on the source material, and I certainly have that – see more in my sketchbook on 7-Dec-2012, 11-Dec-2012, 18-Dec-2012, 19-Dec-2012, 23-Dec-2012 and 26-Dec-2012. Next will be Developing Your Design.
http://www.adriennesloane.com/NewNPR/NPR.html Accessed 26-Dec-2012
Bond, A. (ed) (2012) Francis Bacon: five decades. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales
http://www.bridgemaneducation.com Accessed 23-Dec-2012
http://www.forbes.com/2011/05/11/nathan-sawaya-lego-artist_slide_8.html Accessed 23-Dec-2012
http://www.judithandjoycescott.com/ Accessed 7-Dec-2012
Exhibition catalogue (2011) Sensorial Loop: 1st Tamworth Textile Triennial 2011. Tamworth: Tamworth Regional Art Gallery
http://shipbuildingblog.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/judith-scott.html Accessed 7-Dec-2012
Shoeser, M. (2012) Textiles: The art of mankind. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.