Eileen Agar

 

 

elieen agar angel of anarchy
Eileen Agar, Angel of Anarchy 1936-1940

 

Seeing Eileen Agar’s Surrealist sculpture at the Tate Britain inspired me to create my own response in clay and fabric. Agar stated that she wanted to create something that is “powerful…more malign.” Agar’s work can be seen as a statement about women’s place in male dominated surrealism and gender identity. The sculpture is modelled in plaster with found materials attached to the surface; the fabrics are decorative and also suggestive of facial features. The artist was inspired by the African Mask collection in the British Museum, London which she visited regularly with Henry Moore.

 

clay mask
My response to Eileen Agar

I think my clay mask could be developed further by introducing colour and a wider range of found materials, it feels decorative to paint colour over the top of the fabric so in this case I have left colour out. I would like any elements of colour to be within the found material already. I like the reflectiveness of the gloss paint because it is an unusual texture. The mask I have created is fairly androgynous when I set out to create something specifically feminine with the use of hand made textiles, which is traditionally associated with women.

 

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How Field has influenced Subject.

The Pembrokeshire trip in the first term was the inspiration for my interest in maps and navigation. Working from memory I made a series of large scale drypoint prints from memory that functioned as maps of the area. The high vantage points I experienced within the landscapes led me to focus on lines of vision and alternate ways of viewing a landscape. I was also looking at Peter Lanyon’s glider paintings which are landscapes but from an aerial perspective; again an alternative way of viewing a traditional landscape scene.

Whilst creating the drypoint plates I became aware that whilst they were intended as landscapes they functioned as a map that was personal to my experiences. As I had been working from memory each time I created a plate the outcome was slightly different depending on which parts of the trip I recalled. At the same time as i was working on the prints I made paintings and line drawings depicting journeys i made regularly around Cardiff.

The work i created during field has influenced my studio practice because it has continued my interest in maps and psychogeography, more recently I have  changed subject matter to ones i was more familiar with such as from home and around Cardiff because the landscape in Pembrokeshire was starting to feel irrelevant to my present life. The change in subject matter to urban landscapes has led my paintings to have a more limited colour palate, something I initially struggled with as I enjoy working in colour. However I’ve found a restricted colour palate has benefitted my work because it has forced me to simplify my mark making and compositions. After simplifying down my work, in the last few weeks I have begun to re-introduce colour but in a different way.  Making these changes to my practice and the work i made during field has helped me to realise my goal of creating a series of contemporary landscape paintings.

I have experimenting with working on ripped cardboard because I find my mark making becomes less expressive and restricted by the conventions of a canvas, however I have been limited to working on small canvases because i have had to transport my work on the train. Now that I have access to studio space again I would like to work on a larger scales an experiment, but for now I am happy with 9 x 12″ canvas as working on a smaller scale makes the painting more intimate. I also set myself a challenge to create an art work without using any conventional paint because initially I was working in oil paints which I found limiting.  I enjoy using mixed media and find it difficult to concentrate upon one medium, instead I used a combination of emulsion and coffee, collage materials and oil bars. I have continued to use the 100 drawings method from Pwll Deri as I found it an effective way to gather lots of information and they also function as a body of work in their own right.

 

Clarifying the translation of my ideas

My work has come full circle since looking at Peter Blake’s collages at the beginning of the year. Blake’s exhibition featured curatorial elements which arranged the Harley Gallery’s miniature portrait collection into what was essentially a collage, seeing this exhibition made me want to focus on the associations that arrangements of objects can spark and how artists such as Blake and Jeremey Deller have devised exhibitions that ae entirely curatorial. My initial thoughts were to research the cabinet of curiosities or how found objects can be used to create a narrative.

Instead, the Field Pembrokeshire trip led me to a focus on landscape and I generated a large amount of work during the trip that it felt pretty stupid to not continue developing it.

Since I have begun to look at landscape in terms of satellite imagery I have started to include collage elements again. Rather than the work being about the placement of  faces it has been about the relationship between technology and the landscape.

How field has influenced my studio practice

Last terms trip to Pembrokeshire was the inspiration for my interest in maps and triangulation points. Working from memory I made a series of large scale drypoint prints that functioned as maps of the area. The Trig points had made me interested in lines of vision and alternate ways of viewing a landscape. I was also looking at Peter Lanyon’s glider paintings which are landscapes but from an aerial perspective; again an alternative way of viewing a traditional landscape scene.

Whilst creating the drypoint plates I became aware that whilst they were intended as landscapes they functioned as a map that was personal to my experiences. As I had been working from memory each time I created a plate the outcome was slightly different depending on which parts of the trip I recalled. At the same time as i was working on the prints I made paintings and line drawings depicting journeys i made around Cardiff.

The work i created during field last term has influenced my studio practice because it has continued my interest in maps and psychogeography, however it seemed silly to carry on working from Pembrokeshire this term so i changed the landscapes to ones i was more familiar with such as from home and Cardiff.  On my studio wall is a comparison of one of these prints, a map sketch, an Ordnance survey map and a screenshot from my phone of Google maps. I have found it interesting looking at how these modes differ. Making these comparisons and the work i made during field has led me to create collages which attempt to merge a more traditional way of seeing the landscape with modern technology which has changed the way we navigate.

I have struggled with experimenting with the shape of the canvas as the landscape is not seen through a rectangle and doesn’t have a particular start or finish. In contradiction to this i also wondered whether the squareness of the canvas would emphasis the nature of LCD screens. This work has helped me to realise how at odds satellite navigation systems are with the theory of Derive and psychogeography that initially started my work. The latter is concentrated on wandering whereas the former forces people along a set route and an end point

Demonstrating my thinking for the future exhibition

My work this term has been on a mixture of cardboard and canvas which will be difficult to display side by side, to resolve this issue I am thinking of showing the works on card only as they best convey my ideas even though it might be more complicated to fix them to a gallery wall. The cardboard is not rectangular and each piece is shaped slightly differently meaning it would be impractical to frame them and also compromise the concept because the edges of the work are intended to be exposed. I think it would be most practical to use metal pins to hang my work at eye level; I don’t want to hang the works from anything (wire, string etc) because it seems unnecessary and wouldn’t bring anything to the work and I also don’t need space to create an environment or installation.

Field 500 word reflection

The things behind the sun project began with Pembrokeshire trip and 100 drawings I created. The tutorial after the visit where we displayed our work to the group helped me to realise that the majority of my drawings featured some sort of man made object, even though as I thought I was focusing on the natural environment. I became interested in the line where the sea meets the land and viewing this as an abstracted shape.

Jon Clarkson held a seminar on sublime, phenomenology and landscape in terms of economics and politics. There was a discussion about how this applied to Pembrokeshire. They were all topics I had thought about whilst on the trip; I became interested in the ecology of the area when I realised that in spite of the landscape appearing to be natural, it had been altered by humans. Climbing to the top of Garn Fawr there was a clear view across the landscape, this is what made me wonder how much was really ‘natural’. There is a superficial feeling of wildness but the fort I was standing on was man-made, the land was farmed, paths and evidence of smuggling. How humans impact the ecology is something I had been learning about in constellation as well.

I began to look at maps and geography, at the top of Garn Fawr there was a trig point which were used to plot ordinance survey maps. From the trig point you in theory can see two others at any given time, forming a triangle. This got me thinking about how lines of sight can be disrupted or the idea of focusing in on specific points in the landscape for the purpose of navigation. Being on top of the hill made me think about how Peter Lanyon used elevated viewpoints in his paintings. His gliding paintings, all have an aerial perspective inspired by his experiences as a glider pilot. They appear at first to be abstracted but closer inspection reveals them to be depictions not only of solid land, but of air currents and clouds which would’ve affected Lanyon’s navigation. Taking from this experience I sketched maps of the area, trying to be as accurate as possible, and then made some that were also from memory. I have also been comparing the differences between my drawings and google maps, my drawings are recognisably maps and function in the same way, but they are made up of expressive pencil marks rather than satellite imagery, which is more accurate. As an initial starting point for the project I created some monoprints of Pwll Deri based on a map of the area. I want to create more of these in series; the drypoint elements will stay the same and I hope to create small differences, depending on how my memory of the landscape changes, by varying the application of the ink to the plate. The trig points still interest me and are something I want to develop next term.

Looking at Guy Debord, and the theory of psychogeography in the context of Pembrokeshire. Situationists idealistically believed that public themselves should be allowed to design and choose what kind on environment they lived in. Debord defined psychogeography as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.” He advocated deviating from our daily routines and allowing ourselves to wander, people are so often focused on getting to their destination that they don’t pay attention to their surroundings. In Pembrokeshire when we were walking, there wasn’t a destination as such, therefore the focus was on the process of walking. (in the present) I have been drawing from memory, retracing the routes taken in Pembrokeshire, Neath, Port Talbot and Liverpool and also routes around Cardiff. They can be read as the documentation of wanderings around the city rather than as a geographically accurate map. In a way, this is a continuation of my summer work which documented in drawing and photography the demolition of the town centre and questioning how the changes would alter peoples behaviour and their relationship to the area.