Presentation 1: Bronze mushrooms presented on live moss built into a horizontal plinth. Viewers can place their ear to the mushrooms to hear the sounds of the forest. Interactive and aesthetic. Connotations of a coffin. Clinical.
Presentation 2: three tree stumps, each mushroom plays birdsong over the years and how it is declining over time. The moss/lichen on the stumps lessens also, a visual representation of the decay of nature due to climate change/other factors. Able to decipher between time gaps by having them presented on separate plinths.
For the embassy install, I displayed the books in a stand within a perspex case. This was placed on a black plinth, lit by LED lights that sat behind the lip of the plinth:
Overall, I was very pleased with my final install. I felt that it looked clean and professional and they were well lit. As I placed the plinth away from the wall, viewers could see the books from all angles which worked well seeing as the mushrooms were growing from various points.
I was worried, as the mushrooms require being sprayed with water daily, and I felt that this would distort the view. However I feel that it actually added to the mystery of what was inside the case. People were quite nervous to get close to them, fearing they might have toxic spores and be bad to inhale. I found this quite amusing, and I feel like it tied in with my concept of the Met Police. Viewers felt nervous and unsure, afraid to approach – which is how many people feel towards police themselves.
I do feel that there are things that I would do differently if I were to display a similar install. I would change the lights, as they were too bright and cause problems with reflection on the perspex. I would either light it from above – similar to an interrogation light, playing into the concept further. I would also use a glass box, as the perspex warped over time making it look unkempt and messy. Also a glass cabinet would be a good option, yet I found these to be very expensive and hard to transport.
Ultimately I was very proud of the outcome. It was a new venture, and a very risky one, as I didn’t know if the mushrooms would grow or not. They also flourished in the dark, cool Embassy gallery and grew a lot during the show which was amazing. I have more ideas to work with mushrooms, growing them on newspapers, more books etc.
I revisited the project space later in the term as I had another idea that I wanted to try out and felt that I05 was the perfect space to do so.
I have been exploring the many different meanings and connections surrounding fungi, and one of those meanings is the disgust related to mould.
I find a strong connection between mould and anxiety/depression. The way it creeps in, takes hold and can never truly be eradicated. I find it especially resonates with black mould and its connotations of toxicity/danger and that it is never wanted.
Considering this I created some sculptures using expanding foam. I wanted the forms to appear natural, textured and I felt that expanding foam would portray this. I also like the fact that you cannot control how the foam shapes itself, it is its own sculpture, much like how mould grows and forms different shapes and patterns.
I then spray painted the forms black, representing black mould. I wanted to convey a slimy wet look for the shapes, so I went on to add a layer of varnish to create a wet look. I intended for them to look natural, yet also unnatural considering their size.
I wanted it to seem as if these black slimy objects were engulfing the space, appearing in the cracks and on the walls, imitating the growth patterns of mould.
I felt that the dark walls of IO5 worked well with this installation, adding to the mystery of the forms and subtly blending them into their surroundings.
I also photographed with the lights off, using a small light. If this were to be displayed in a gallery, a small dark, dimly lit space would be preferable. The forms took on their own shadows and the sheen was picked out by the light making them appear eerily in the dark.
This was a new way of working for me, and one which I very much enjoyed. I didn’t overthink, or pre-plan as I usually do and I had fun playing around with a new technique and rearranging the objects within the space. It was spontaneous and adventurous and it payed off. The response was a mixture of intrigue and trepidation – people were unsure of their texture, what they were, where they would appear. This met my intentions for the piece.
For my time in the project space, I firstly took my painting down that I have been working on since the beginning of the course. I wanted to take this opportunity to have a new space to work in, hoping for a fresh take.
I found it very beneficial to have the space to work and take the time to stand back and see the painting from a distance.
I also took the portrait into the sculpture hall at intervals to see how it worked in a large gallery space.
Now that I have finished the portrait, I still feel that there is something missing and that the work as a whole is incomplete. The feedback I received from tutors and other students was that it is bland and dead. It is a portrait and nothing more. I agree with this, and feel similarly that there could be more to it.
I have recently been reading a book: “The Ruxton Murders” which I have found extremely interesting and educational. The book is a detailed account of what has been deemed “the first modern murder”, as it was the first time that several forensic science techniques were used to successfully solve a murder case. One particular technique that interested me was that they were able to identify the body of Bella Ruxton by superimposing a photograph of her skull over the most recent photograph of her:
They had to do this in order to identify her as she had been so grossly mutilated by her murderer – her husband, Buck Ruxton. It is unfathomable that your life partner would be capable of doing such a heinous act.
Since reading the book, I am now considering working with UV paint and lights, to recreate this image of Bella on my own portrait. Exploring my theme of violence against women even further whilst educating viewers. I find reality more hard hitting in these cases than a figment of my imagination.
Considering this development, this work remains very much in progress.
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.
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.