Hello again after a busy week! Since I last posted I have been to North-east Wales, Dundee, Ayr, Penicuik, Ampleforth and back up to Dundee. Tomorrow I set off at 8:30am for the south coast for another five days of UCAS fairs and train-hopping. Hopefully it will be less tiring (it’s more of a big circle than zig-zagging across the UK).
Last night Chris showed me something cool that he had found (not sure how/why) on SNAP! magazine’s website…
This is the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi, meaning “to repair with gold or silver and is generally associated with the reparation of broken pottery. Gold or silver lacquer is used to join the broken pieces together and the resulting item looks more beautiful than the original; more beautiful for having been broken.
It’s a poetic metaphor for life …”
There is something incredibly poignant about gluing something fragile back together with precious metal and Chris was right to think that this was something that I would like: much of the work that I made in the third year of my degree focused on celebrating such natural progression, renewal and embellishment.
Though not as ornamental, the blind embossed prints I was creating aimed to celebrate the miniscule imperfections in our everyday surroundings. The need to do this first made itself apparent to me within the first week of moving into studio 519 in third year. Perhaps non-art students won’t have the same visual understanding of this process, so here it is: between the end of the previous years degree show and the start of the new semester the studios are split up using black wooden boards to allow more students to work in the space. Desks are placed against the walls, and that is it.
And that is how we begin every year. It takes a while to adjust to your new surroundings. In the meantime I found it so interesting to watch how people around me reacted differently to their spaces. Those who were in the studio regularly seemed to surround themselves with stuff, plastering drawings, posters, photocopies, postcards – anything, it seemed – up their walls. I always considered it an evasion tactic, as if the unspoken pressure that an expansive blank canvas inevitably conveys was too daunting. (In hindsight, it was perhaps just a means of personalising the environment. Either way there was some great work created in that studio).
But I, on the other hand, spent my time staring at the walls, enjoying the terrifyingly clean, minimalist, white expanse. And in staring I started to see patterns and shapes: blobs of plaster that hadn’t been sanded down properly; pencil marks; brushstrokes; painted gumstrip. Perhaps the most odd was the charcoal fingerprints on the ceiling (but the attempt to capture and produce from those failed miserably [the only time I’ve ever attempted to work with solar plates myself]). I decided to make something of these imperfections that everyone else was seemingly ignoring, and the result was a series of deeply etched steel plates which when put through the press with no ink created perfectly embossed replicas of the marks on the walls.
One of the artists I was looking at during the period that these prints were made is Susan Collis, whose use of seemingly mundane, everyday objects is very much an alternative use of kintsukuroi. To the untrained eye, her exhibition spaces – such as that at Ingleby Gallery in 2008 – are unremarkable.
But upon closer inspection the flecks of paint on an old, well used broom are in fact precious metals and stones. Screw heads sticking out of the wall are solid gold. “The age-old trick of trompe l’oeil is not usually employed for such humble things, and the witty poetry in Collis’ work lies in the intense labour expended over many months to craft these precious and beautiful, but ultimately useless objects.”
There is a whole host of deeper philosophical meanings to all this. But perhaps the simpler one is the better; that in all cases – and certainly the ones I have noted here – it is a joy to celebrate the little things in life, that we generally drift over and do not stop to take the time to consider.
I am spending the next week on the south coast (Cornwall, Exeter, Portsmouth), the weekend between Sunderland and Dundee, and then I’m off to Manchester on Monday. Please bear with me on the blog front!