Phoebe Cummings – clay sculpture. Works with clay to make lifelike natural displays, flowers, leaves, branches, moss. Each sculpture is dismantled with water and the clay is re-used again in the next work. I love this idea of renewal and using natural products; it links to her themes and gives an encompassing natural sense to her practice.
Amanda Cobbett – textile artists. Creates intricate and realistic versions of natural paraphernalia using embroidery. She says that we need to pay attention to the little things as much as the big, as when they are gone how will we ever know that they were there?
I have been greatly considering how to present my bronze sculptures for gallery exhibition.
Following my tutorial with Julie Bacon, one of the possibilities we discussed was accompanying audio/moving image.
I have been deeply considering my practice and what it means to me. Nature has always been a huge part of my life, and is nearly always the inspiration for my artistic endeavours. The act of walking, exploring and taking in natural surroundings is my greatest comfort. I find being outdoors therapeutic and calming.
Considering this, I would like to portray this more through my work.
I want to enable the viewer to feel how I feel when in nature. I want them to appreciate it and take notice of it, and see it through my eyes.
With this in mind, I set out to take some recordings in some of my favoured nature spots. I also took along a camera, as usual, to document my time spent there. Even filming different aspects, such as my feet walking through the forest and along the beach. My shadow through the trees, my hands touching the different moss and lichens. I want to create a visual aid with a sensory vibe. Encouraging viewers to interact with their surroundings and with nature, but with a respectful level.
I would like to introduce the audio aspect with my Embassy gallery entry, pairing it some of my bronze mushroom sculptures. I want it to become an interactive piece, offering a respite from the outside world where the viewer can sit and listen to nature and take a sculpture to hold and feel. I want to create a tiny relaxing slither of nature within a busy gallery showing. Nature is my escape from the business of life, and so I want the viewer to escape when immersing themselves with my work.
I have found the process of casting metal to be therapeutic due to the physical methods and time involved. I find that it relates to my practice well, offering the same levels patience and care. There is no quick way to do create work when casting with metal. It is a several day process, and one that I have quickly grown to adore.
For my second casting, I wanted to revisit the sculptures that I made last semester. I made several different types of mushroom out of bronze. There was a very experimental element this first time, as it was my first go at working with metal and I did not know how the mushrooms would turn out in the end. After completing it and feeling very happy with the outcome I wanted to create more; yet this time with one specific type of mushroom.
Below you can see the process, from the “tree” that I created during the wax work.
I then cut each of my mushrooms off of the tree using an angle grinder, and proceeded to grind down the bases to give a smooth outcome.
These are the mushrooms once cut from the tree, and with the bases smoothed down.
The one I am holding is actually from my first casting, and is a finished piece.
I then used a Dremel to give the mushrooms a more finished look. I wanted the mushrooms to still retain a lot of the textures colours that were revealed during the casting. I did not want them to be fully polished as I feel that this would give them an almost garish out come. However I still wanted them to have a golden, rich quality and by using a metal brush I was able to bring out the beautiful warm bronze that I feel gives them a twinkling, gold, precious appearance which exactly what I had wanted to achieve.
I still have more work to do before I feel that they are finished.
A long standing decision was how to display them. I had originally intended to inset a screw into the base, so that they could be screwed into a wall or other flat surface, imitating their natural positions. However, I feel like that would be placing them back to square one. As I have taken these mushrooms from their natural positions and I feel that to display them as such would be besides their purpose. I want these pieces to reveal the true beauty and fascination of nature and natural objects.
Considering this, I have noticed that people are very drawn to touching and holding them. They fit so pleasantly and ergonomically into peoples hands and this has led me to consider displaying them as an interactive piece. I will continue working along this thought trail when thinking of how I want these sculptures to be interpreted by their audience.
For the project space I decided to take down my large portrait and use a new space to attempt to finish it. I found it very helpful to have a fresh space to work in where there were no distractions and I had space in which to step back and view my work at regular intervals.
I had some other plans for working in the project space, such as some sculptural work with a window/door. However, unfortunately my metal work coincided with my project space, which used up a significant amount of my time. This meant that I could not do as much as I wanted in the space, and so will potentially ask other students if I may be allowed to use a small area during their use of the space. I could also create these pieces in the studio and then take them down to I05 and try them out in the space to see what they look like.
From working on this painting for the time that I had in IO5, it has enabled me to realise that this painting is not working out as I had hoped. I feel that it is basic, bland and does not relate to my work in the way that I wanted it to. I had originally intended for the subject to have mushrooms growing rather grotesquely from the mouth, which illustrated the way that I feel it is to be a woman in todays society. The slow suffocation that we face on a daily bases, our thoughts and feelings amounting to nothing as they are snubbed out and not listened to. I felt that this might be too literal, or even comical in a way and so decided against it. Yet now I feel that I have ended up with a straight, even boring, portrait and I feel does not offer anything in the way of my thought process.
After consideration, I may try building on it in the future, perhaps with some three-dimensional elements. I would like to experiment with creating a moulding effect on the painting, or creating some mushrooms to “grow” out of certain parts. I would still like to create the effect that the subject is being engulfed and decaying; representing my take on what it feels to be female in our current time.
For the sites project I am taking inspiration from “the wood wide web”, the hidden underground network of roots, fungi and bacteria that connects trees and plants and each keep the other alive.
I would like to apply this concept to women in the community, focusing on the struggles and anxiety that we face in our daily lives.
Violence against women has been a problem for decades, and during lockdown last year, when the awful stories of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa broke, they were at the forefront of the news and social media platforms. Women everywhere came together to show their support, anger, care and solidarity with the horrendous events.
At this time, I was investigating and researching fungi. To me, the action of these women bore close resemblance to the wood wide web in the way that they came together with these tragedies and connected with one another. We have a very powerful connection as women, understanding what it is like and how we each feel, and we use that as a means to stay connected.
This is how I came up with the project: The Women’s Wide Web.
I would like to place several solar powered mushroom sculptures around the city, in notoriously unsafe areas, dark alleys/parks/streets. These glowing mushrooms will be connected to an app that people can download to their devices. These will then serve as pinpoints around the city which will appear on the users map within the app.
The mushrooms will serve as a check point, so users movements will be tracked. This can only be seen by other users with that users mobile number, so all information will not be visible to strangers. This could be helpful in certain cases where people have gone missing, providing the last known tracking spot and their movements to get there. It can also help so users can see when the friends/families arrive home safely from a night out, or their whereabouts when they are on the move. As it is common knowledge amongst women to text or call when they are on route or in the taxi, for safety and to make the whereabouts known to their friends and families. I feel that this app could provide an extra level of comfort for those using it.
I also think that a useful addition would be that users can “toggle” a mushroom pinpoint if there was an incident that occurred there or it was particularly unsafe. This will then cause the mushroom to glow red, in reality and also on the app map; warning other users to avoid this area as it has been deemed unsafe by other users.
Diemut Strebe, an artist who’s worked at MIT since 2010, recently in an MIT residency program, has a lot to say about the United States’ failure to contain or even meaningfully slow down the coronavirus pandemic.
But she decided to let a single-celled organism called Physarum polycephalum, better known as slime mold, do the talking. In a new project titled “HYDRA,” Strebe and scientist collaborators at the Santa Fe Institute and Australia’s Macquarie University plopped blobs of slime mold onto a map of the USA — one on each of the first ten counties to hit 1,000 cases of COVID-19 per day. They allowed the slime mold to grow, extending its unsettling tendrils outward, in a biological mirror of how the coronavirus spread across the country.