Throughout 4th year I was also working on R.A.E, a piece in memorial of my Papa. We had always planned to hike up to the waterfall that is near my parents’ house but we never made it. I decided that I wanted to make a hat (a symbol that represents Papa to me [see also ‘Tree Hat’ from 1st year]) to take up to the waterfall.
I made the hat out of resin (a long and trialling process to get to the end result) as it resembles glass in its transparency which I thought fitted the inspiration well and would look beautiful when installed in the waterfall. I then made the 250 mile journey from Edinburgh to the location and put the hat in the waterfall upside-down so the water could flow through it and interact with it, reflecting what would have been if Papa and I had gone to the waterfall.
I took many photos and videos of the hat installed in the waterfall, and made a short movie from the film clips. This movie and the Hat can be seen at the Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 11th-19th June 2011.
To add to the atmosphere that I was creating using the objects, I started to alter the objects themselves.
I wanted to somehow display these altered objects in a way that would add to the atmosphere. I came to the conclusion that the best way to do this was to create dark spaces to contain the objects, with direct and subtle lighting. The solution was black cubes with a small hole at the bottom on the front so the viewer could peer inside at the atmosphere and object within.
These black cubes and their contents can be seen at the 2011 Degree show, 11th-19th June. I will post photos of the set up soon.
After the dark space installation of ‘Internal Struggle’ I started looking at other ways to create atmosphere using the symbolic objects.
Once again I looked into mental issues and emotions to inspire my work. Revisiting the key aspect that I used in 1st year, this became a symbol to represent the mental issues that were the focus of the investigation. A lot of people find it difficult to admit to or address mental issues so I started thinking about that and how the mind can act like a barrier between you and your issues. Going from there I decided to use glass bottles to represent the mind itself, as there are fragile and contain things – in this instance, the keys and issues.
The next step was trying to emphasise the barrier, and I chose to do this using fire. I made a film from a series of short clips, involving various bottle and key combinations surrounded by fire. One of the most successful of these involved the use of ice as the bottle trapping the key; as the fire melts the ice the key slowly becomes more accessible, however as the ice melt it also threatens to extinguish the fire, and thus the ice will never melt enough to release the key fully and you still cannot reach the mental issues within…
I then had an idea of having some kind of tool to help you in your attempt to free the key from the bottle; however you can’t get to this tool either, and thus are trapped in a never ending loop.
I then touched on the idea of having the bottle with key trapped inside, suspended over the fire, so there was a limited time till the string holding the bottle up burned through and the bottle fell into the fire forever out of reach, taking the issues with it.
I took this into ice form; with a key trapped in the susspended ice bottle, and a hammer (meant to break the key out) trapped in another ice bottle within the fire.
Using the movie I made from the Internal Struggle film clips, I set up an installation using and eerie dark space, hanging keys and candle light.
At this point I was feeling rather uninspired… not helpful when trying to get through an art degree. So I decided to look at things that make me happy and landed on tea (not surprising as I drink more tea than should be legal and wrote my dissertation in 4th year on tea…)
I began by collecting my used tea bags (I take them out the tea before adding the milk so not as disgusting as it could have been) these became text pieces.
I also used tea as a material – literally – in brewed frozen form and in loose leaf form.
I then decided to make a giant tea bag out of teabags. So I cut apart many tea bags and stuck the paper together to form 2 large sheets, I then sewed these together in a circle and filled it with the teabags innards.
Near the beginning of third year I travelled down to Yorkshire with my brother and Grandpa for an RAF memorial service. The thing that struck me most about the journey was the beauty of the autumn trees. The mix of colours, from blood red through warm gold to strong green, gave the stunning landscape a different atmosphere. I started to contemplate “autumn” and how it marks the end of something; the end of life for the leaves of that year. They turned to the beautiful colours then detached themselves and fell to the ground to begin the decomposition process. I attempted to give some of them a new life whilst they retained the bright colours.
The leaves I didn’t save went on to decay, so I forced some leaves to do the same. I researched into how to skeletonise leaves and experimented with the process. I found ivy leaves to be the most successful so I used ivy skeletons for my next piece. In a small dark room I installed one of these leaves and a single light to create intriquet shadows and patterns on the walls.
Another piece under this inspiration was a video of a wax tree, slowly melting to look dead. I made the wax tree and took photos every 5 seconds as the branches melted away and made a stop-motion film from the shots.
Once the leaves had fallen and the trees were all bare, I wanted to bring the red of autumn back to them. I did this by lighting them using spotlights and red acetate.
During the christmas break I installed this on a large scale, up North where I come from.
The first project of second year was titled Incident Room. My train of thought went through; prison, being trapped, mental prison, and so on, eventually arriving at mental illness – being trapped in your own mental prison. And since the project was wood I came up with this:
A wooden cage to represent the mental prison. Roughly a metre square, with sharp points and twine holding it all together. I hung this above a door to an empty room (empty due to the “lack of an incident”), the room in complete darkness… except for on small source of light at the back of the room:
This small cage front, made in the same way as the cage, is roughly 7x6x1cm in size. Illuminated by a hanging LED light. This dream-like image attracts the viewer to the back of the room, and upon turning round they then notice the cage above where they stood moments ago… and must pass under again to escape. The intention of this instalation is to create unease and other such emotions. I was very pleased with the atmosphere created by the small cage front subtley lit in the darkness.
The next project was bronze casting, using a rubber mould – wax cast – burn out method. I decided to revisit the element of the key I had touched on in 1st year, taking these into wax. I made many of these wax keys for the basis of my piece, decided for the bronze element to be a direct burn out of a miniature version of the cage I made:
The cage is around 7cm square, and the keys are normal key-size. I decided to use these colours for the keys as they are cold and slightly naturalistic. I chemically darkened the bronze cage and sat in ontop of a ‘mountain’ of keys… A mental object to overcome and conquer.
During the year we also have RDVT (research drawing and visua thinking) so to correspond to my cage projects I did a series of paintings from the shadow created by the small cage front:
These are roughly A2. I also painted a massive one around 8′ high, with a mini cage front attached to the bottom points of the shadow. I feel these are very effective and I plan to do more, also research further into the atmosphere created.
The next project title was Perimeter, a metal project. I started looking at types of perimeter such as fences and walls, and was drawn to the corrosion of these, which lead me to time:
I decided to create something resembling a cuckoo clock, although not including the actual clock part so it was less literal – has no actual purpose, the loss of time. I added an aged mirror to emphasise the idea of time having passed.
The brief for the first term of First year studies at ECA was The City. Being a complete country bumpkin, I found this brief rather daunting. I found myself attracted to the historic architecture that can be found all around Edinburgh.
Buildings made from; Mod Roc, matchsticks, plastic, knitted wire, card, thread and other assorted materials. Averaging on 12X5X5cm in size. Studies of texture. (November 2007).
This cage, at about 70cm high and 30cm in diameter, is filled with “buildings” made from; breeze block, wood (covered in graphite powder), plaster, soap & polystyrene. This piece represents my initial feelings of being trapped in Edinburgh. On shrinking the city and capturing it in a cage itself, the feelings were flipped and the city was the trapped party. (November 2007).
For the third term we were being introduced to our specialist subjects, in my case sculpture.
A4 pencil sketch of an idea for a piece. Inspired by the death of my Papa the previous month, his love of trees and birds very important elements. The key is to represent the secrets and issues that came out within the family, following his death, things that had been “locked up”. (April 2008).
The piece inspired by my Papa’s death. again using the aspects of the tree and the keys, including a hat. Papa always wore a hat so I felt it was an important element. I hung it on an old door as if it were placed there and never again picked up, forgotten about and lost even after the door was no longer in use. (May 2008).
The last next project of 1st year was Aluminium casting, so again I used the tree element. This is 25x77x3cm in size, and was created by pressing twigs into “green sand” then pouring on molten aluminium. (June 2008).
This concluded 1st year, all geared up for starting second year in September 2008, specialising in sculpture.