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.



Gillian Ayres Cardiff Museum

I was inspired by Gillian Ayres works on paper which are on display at Cardiff Museum, her paintings are an abstract representation and emotional reaction to the landscape in Wales, especially the Llyn Peninsula. However these work on paper feel to me more like representations of a domestic space, such as a kitchen rather than landscapes. I am interested in her expressive use of abstract line and colour and also the simplicity of the composition, I also want to create paintings that are simultaneously abstract and representative of s landscape.

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Victor Pasmore


Victor Pasmore, ‘Spiral Motif in Green, Violet, Blue and Gold: The Coast of the Inland Sea’ 1950
Victor Pasmore, The Coast of the Inland Sea (1950)

In reference to this painting, Pasmore has said that “the landscape themes developed by means of a free construction of pure form elements, either the spiral line as in this case or the square as in the “Eclipse”’ (Tate Gallery) Pasmore used abstract forms in his paintings not because the artist was seeking to create abstract art but because he believed that the forms he used, such as spirals, have become shorthand for constructions perceived in nature. Pasmore made a series of paintings using this re-curing motif until the 1950s when he ultimately decided that it did not adequately express the concept of space. In a similar way I have been experimenting with using found forms as representative of shapes that appear in nature. Rather than create something theoretical, with abstraction and focus on form being the primary outcome, I have used the abstract shapes to express an observed landscape .


Collabor-8 Sam Thorne


Nottingham Contemporary and Former Tate St. Ives Curator Sam Thorne gave a talk on the role of the curator and the problems they have to consider when devising an exhibition. In the first half he gave an overview of the history of art exhibitions, covering the Salon Louvre, When Attitudes Became Form 1969, Magicians of the Earth 1989 and the Utopia Station at the Venice Biennale 2003. Harald Szeemann is seen as the first curator and oversaw the When Attitudes Became Form exhibition in Bern. By the time of Magicians of the Earth, art exhibitions had become global, encompassing art from different countries, moving away from the heavy focus on Europe. As galleries become global around the late 20th century, the scale of art works get bigger and gallery spaces change to accommodate this, becoming more flexible and more open plan. By the 21st century the curator becomes somebody who deals with events more than paintings.

In the second half of the talk we were given a tour of the four gallery spaces in the Contemporary and how each spaces is suited to different types of art work. Sam Thorne also spoke on the limitations that curators have to work with, such as Lux or Light levels, humidity, and restrictions imposed by the gallery. He also explained that the design of older galleries, including Tate St. Ives present problems because they are often not equipped to display large scale installations or works that require a regulated atmosphere.

Dissertation Proposal PDP

Before starting my proposal I jotted down any relevant information as I was reading, I transferred this information to a mind map which allowed me to separate my notes into points, quotation and analysis, which then became my literature review. I have chosen to focus on J. Baudrillard Simulations, W. Benjamin The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, R. Krauss The Originality of the Avante Garde, and W.J.T Mitchell What do Pictures Want? in the literature review as these books examine theories which I feel are relevant to the topic of Authenticity;  I also referenced Exhibiting Authenticity by David Phillips which is more factual than theoretical. In this part of the proposal I have summarised the theories relevant to my dissertation question and explained how the contextual research will inform my own ideas.

I had difficulty in separating the literature review from the research plan. When answering the question ‘how will this contextual research inform your own ideas?’ I found it difficult not to go in to too much depth and add in references to case studies.  The literature review is a summary of an author’s viewpoints.

My research plan outlines what artists and case studies I am going to refer to in each chapter, why I have chosen them and how I can apply the concepts I have researched in my literature review. I had difficulties with not going into too much depth in the research plan and  separating the literature review from the research plan. I am also still not uncertain of the chronology of the points made in this section of the proposal and I may re-arrange them in the future. When answering the question ‘how will this contextual research inform your own ideas?’ I found it difficult not to go in to too add in references to case studies.

The overview is a description of the topics I am planning to discuss throughout my dissertation; I have listed these in chronological order and explained why I will discuss these ideas.

The most significant concept that has emerged from my research is that of simulations and Simulacra, written about extensively by Jean Baudrillard. This immediately led me to research modern technologies and the way that they have influenced authenticity. Baudrillard and Walter Benjamin have helped me to contextualise my artistic practice where I am experimenting with how to paint a contemporary landscape when human perception has been altered by new technologies.

The main aim of the Post Anthropocentric practices lectures was to investigate how we are entangled amongst non-human material and ecological worlds and temporalities. This theory led me to consider how the viewer’s world gets entangled with the ‘world’ and ideologies created by an artist in a painting.

The first topic of the lectures was the idea that if the containment of a material breaks, the wildness comes alive, for example in its wild state paint is a watery liquid but once placed in a container it becomes ‘domesticated’; if the pot is spilt then the paints wildness is revealed. Tim Ingold argues that material things are not solid, they are processes that are defined by the fact that they can’t always be controlled. There real agency lies precisely in the fact that ‘they cannot always be captured and contained.’ (Tim Ingold, 2010. p.8) This has influenced the way I apply materials to the canvas, trying to manipulate the paint as little as possible and use found forms rather than cutting out collage pieces. Ingold also comments that “the real house is never finished…rainwater drips through the roof…feeding a fungal growth that threatens to decompose the timbers.” This raises the question of whether art works should be preserved or if they should be left open to change from the elements, preserving them may or may not be what the artist wanted. Keeping artworks in a preserved state seems to be part of human nature’s need to maintain; like the co-dependency between a dry stone wall and the need for its maker to maintain the wall’s state.

We also looked at how An artefact can never exist independently, it is grown within a meshwork of relations,  Jeremy Deller’s The history of the world, 1997-2004 shows these relations between disparate elements. This relates to the Magical Objects Field project on African Masks. We watched ‘The Tribal Eye’ which spoke about how Dogon Masks were increasingly displayed in western art galleries during the early 1900s and the influence of African sculpture on Picasso. The concern raised in the documentary was that without context the Dogon Masks ‘meshwork of relations’ ceased to be visible to the viewer who might not be able to see that African masks were intended as functional objects.

In constellation we also researched how the word ‘object’ comes with baggage because it removes the items association with other things in the world. The world is not cut up into sections, therefore the idea of ‘objects’ and ‘things’ as being separate is a fallacy. Language and semantics cuts the world up and alters out visual perception. This is known as a Fait Accompli; something which is presented as finished and taken out of its processes of life. This is essentially a summary of the ideas i wrote about in first term’s’ essay which discussed whether a painting is ever also a physical object or do we only perceive the layer of paint.

The second Post Anthropocentric practices lecture focused on an analogy developed by the painter Paul Klee, who said that people are like seeds connected to their surroundings. The way the body has developed is dependant on its environment. The ecologist David Abram argues that humans are no longer aware of their ecological surroundings and have lost connection with nature, this has led to conflict with other species and climate change. The idea that humans have become alienated from their surroundings is similar to Baudrillard’s theory on Simulacra which are copies that become originals in their own right, meaning that human perception bears no relation to the ‘real’ environment anymore.



Chris Griffin

A volunteer at Diffusion Festival and West Wharf allowed me to photograph some of Chris Griffin’s work from when he was studying at the Royal College of Art around 1945. Griffin has superimposed x-rays of industrial worker’s lungs over photographs of the workers and of landscapes, creating abstract images. At this point in his education Griffin’s wok was social commentary with an interest in capturing the effects of mining on South Wales however the results are something that combines abstract details with urban landscape in a similar way to Prunella Clough. Griffin’s work also has a feel of being a collage, something that has influenced my practice.

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