Archive for February 27th, 2016

T1-MMT-P5-s2 Research – El Anatsui

Yesterday I visited El Anatsui: Five decades at the Carriageworks.

There are a few previous mentions of his work in this blog: 27-Aug-2012 seen at the 18th Biennale Sydney: all our relations and discussed in the context of “Textile Art” research; 27-Mar-2015 as an example of surface distortion in research for assignment 1 of this course; and 29-Aug-2015 when I used the quote “He feels it is important to work with a newly discovered medium until you really understand it and can “get something intrinsic out of it” in support of my decision to narrow and deepen my exploration of molding materials in assignment 3. In that final post I also referenced a post by fellow student Nina, on ninaoconnor.wordpress.com which gives an excellent overview and related links about El Anatsui’s work.

This post is going to focus purely on what attracted my attention as related to my current project, An exploration of materials and space, also known as a collection of vessels.

El Anatsui

El Anatsui

El Anatsui Imbroglio

El Anatsui Imbroglio

At one end of a large space there were a series of objects. They were made at different times – 1979, 1987, 1995. They used a variety of materials – most manganese, but also oyili-oji wood and black afara wood. The spaced arrangement, the height, made it easy to walk around, to peer into the works. It also tended to homogenize them, to isolate them.

This would not be an effective method to display a collection as an interacting group of objects nor to explore space.

El Anatsui Waste paper bags

El Anatsui Waste paper bags

Waste paper bags is clearly a single work consisting of multiple elements. I find this presentation of the work particularly evocative. Anatsui’s work frequently references waste and recycling. Here it is presented in a building which was in a sense waste, when no longer required for building and maintaining railway carriages, and which now has been “recycled” into a contemporary multi-arts centre. The original fabric of the building is largely intact, with new structures inserted within. The mix of old and new materials of the gallery provides a very appropriate backdrop to Anatsui’s work. The high roof and skylights also allows shafts of light to enter and illuminate the works to very good effect.

My own vessels are new constructs of new materials. However the potential of different surrounds and natural light, at least as a supplement, is relevant to my thinking.

Viewers are able to move around the works, to peer into them in a very direct way. So far I have been considering my samples as complete at their existing size. Could they be scaled up so that people could walk amongst them? I can’t see that, at least not directly. I have been working with the properties of the materials, and the textures and forms created would not become larger simply by using more of the same materials. They could be made somewhat larger, but not human sized without a translation to other materials.

El Anatsui  Drainpipe (detail)

El Anatsui
Drainpipe (detail)

El Anatsui  Drainpipe

El Anatsui
Drainpipe

Finally another reminder of the impact of the surface on which the work is shown. An internet search easily finds photographs of it exhibited on marble, on polished work, on blemish-free polished concrete. It’s a little different every time. That’s certainly something I want to experiment with over the next few weeks.

T1-MMT-P5-s2 Research – El Anatsui
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 2: Research
El Anatsui

T1-MMT-P5 Sketchbook update 27-Feb-2016

p5-sketchpage 049; 20160214

p5-sketchpage 049; 20160214

Sketch 20150601b

Sketch 20150601b

I was very pleased to get some corrugations in my samples – corrugated cardboard has been a recurring material during this course (for example 6-Jun-2015). I started thinking about how to link in crumpled paper. Sample p5-3 (31-Jan-2016) used the technique and was an interesting result, but the green didn’t seem to fit as part of the collection. I now have some other samples that may forge a link, with the advantage of being a little less obvious.
p5-sketchpage 050; 20160216

p5-sketchpage 050; 20160216

This biro drawing was inspired by a sketch by Gillian Lowndes. Some good energy and pattern, but the vessel itself (sample p5-10) got lost.
p5-sketchpage 051; 20160217

p5-sketchpage 051; 20160217

Collage! Not a technique I am comfortable with, and this was a warmup prior to the Ruth Hadlow workshop where I expected to do lots. That didn’t happen (I sense an inner sigh of relief), but it helped me approach sample p5-8 in a different way.
p5-sketchpage 052; 20160219

p5-sketchpage 052; 20160219

Thinking about aspects of displaying the samples, I tried to trace shadows of p5-5. Not easy as I’d set it up, as I kept bumping the sample and changing the shadows. Still, it’s an example of my ongoing efforts to move forms around the page rather than defaulting to a centered full view (as suggested in my last tutor feedback).
p5-sketchpage 053; 20160219

p5-sketchpage 053; 20160219

I wanted to use acrylic paints – not a medium I’ve experimented with much. This involved combining the major colours of my collection, black and orange, and printing onto the page using various scrap materials on the worktable as stamps. There are some interesting marks, and I think the composition that developed is effective – a fair amount of movement but overall balanced. In my eyes it resembles a potential sample sitting on a tabletop.

p5-sketchpage 054; 20160222

p5-sketchpage 054; 20160222

This grouping of samples p5-5, p5-10 and p3-35 was created using a variant of the sketching brief developed in Ruth Hadlow’s workshop (25-Feb-2016). It used charcoal and orange conte crayon. I varied the time constraint, allowing as much time as I wanted on the final layer. There’s a lot of energy. I think the under-sketching is very effective in adding movement, interest and complexity. The haze of earlier orange helps to bring the sketch together. Taking extra time on the final layer allowed me to produce a more finished, coherent result. I tried to anchor the items more, with shadows and a suggestion of edges on a round table, which I see as improvements.
p5-sketchpage 055; 20160223

p5-sketchpage 055; 20160223

Although excited by the new drawing approach I thought it was important to keep moving between approaches, so attempted this observational sketch in coloured pencil of samples p5-11, p5-12 and p5-13. Dull.

p5-sketchpage 056; 20160223

p5-sketchpage 056; 20160223

Unsatisfied by the previous sketch I did another of the same subjects using charcoal and the three layer approach. I think this version is more successful at showing the links between the objects, suggesting the lines of corrugation and the tensed distortion of organza and 3D plastic drawing.

I’d like to explore more with the 3D pen. I’ve noted the wire which animates Gillian Lowndes’ work. Perhaps 3D drawing could serve a similar function while also continuing my existing lines of enquiry during the course.

p5-sketchpage 057; 20160224

p5-sketchpage 057; 20160224

Samples p5-10 and p3-35 were the subject of this blind, continuous line drawing, done with a three minute time limit. I was surprised by the result, I expected much more – then realised the biro had run out during the time. An unanticipated drawback of blind drawing!
p5-sketchpage 058; 20160224

p5-sketchpage 058; 20160224

Another version of the previous page – with a new biro. The nature of the lines is different – not so much from examining the visual result of the first attempt, but more that some of the movements hadn’t felt right, had got me into trouble as if I knew my hand wasn’t doing the right thing even as I was working. A strange feedback. Could one exploit this, deliberately doing something that “feels” wrong, that isn’t a match for the object you’re drawing? Big bold lines to describe a delicate tracery. What would be the point?
p5-sketchpage 059; 20160225

p5-sketchpage 059; 20160225

Another sketch of another piece by Gillian Lowndes. I was using a charcoal pencil, giving a much sharper line. I think this catches the different materials – the spiky wire wrapping, the hard lines of a pot shard, the softer droop of the bag formed from fibreglass dipped in slip. I like the quality of line the pencil gave, strong and bold but not solid.
p5-sketchpage 060; 20160226

p5-sketchpage 060; 20160226

Drawn after visiting El Anatsui: Five decades at the Carriageworks. At the top is a response to Awakened, done in various colours of pen on the inside of an envelope (trying to vary my surfaces beyond the default white cartridge). I don’t find this result interesting, and I found it slightly painful to produce – those tight repetitive movements. Below is a piece of heavy drawing paper, on which I drew in 4H pencil then charcoal. I was trying to reproduce an effect seen in a sketch by El Anatsui, but this wasn’t the right method.

T1-MMT-P5 Sketchbook update 27-Feb-2016
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Sketchbook update 27-Feb-2016


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