Category Archives: Other artists

Quilts!!

The course notes are currently majoring on chance, which is a coincidence as I found something really relevant to my project at a quilting exhibition at Rheged last weekend (Anon, 2017).

The exhibition itself featured a range of quilted artworks by local, national and international quilters, in a wide range of styles from fairly traditional quilts to artworks which’simply’ use quilting as their medium..

One work which particularly caught my eye was ‘Then and Now’ by Hungarian  artist Eszter Bornemisza. (Bornemisza, 2017)

The work, a triptych, is completed in her characteristic palette of rusty browns, sands and gold and consists of layers of newspapers, text and hand sketches collaged using quilting techniques onto fabric sheets. For those with an interest in the techniques, there are closeups of this and other works on her website.

There are snippets of maps overlaid on other maps and the whole represents the development over time of her home town of Budapest.

According to the catalog of her work I bought on the day she sees her work as a sort of inverse archaeology (my words not hers). Where an archaeologist uncovers layers to reveal the passage of time, she adds layers to express similar ideas.

In the context of the layers of history beneath my feet when I’m standing on an old blast furnace site , straight photography suddenly seems very one-dimensional and I wonder about the potential for layering images either virtually, in book form, or actually, by cutting and sticking.

Something to discuss with my tutor after I eventually submit my next assignment.

Anon, 2017, New Quilting – Rheged. Available at: https://www.rheged.com/event/new-quilting/ [Accessed March 12, 2017].

Bornemisza, E., 2017. Than and Now | bornemisza.com. Available at: http://www.bornemisza.com/thanandnow [Accessed March 12, 2017].

Another Water – Roni Horn

The original ‘Another water’ was a series of large images of the surface of the Thames supported by footnoted text, with the numerical references to the footnotes dotted over the surface of the images. The version I own is a book of the same, with the footnotes included, but no numbering visible on the images themselves.

By combining ambiguous images with text which includes quotations, news items and Horn’s own thought and commentaries the whole becomes a meditation on our relationship with water and rivers in general. I also found it invoked thoughts about what had driven the several suicide victims it mentioned to their fate, and to wonder what they may have been like as individuals and why they had chosen the Thames (some had travelled significant distances) for their final desperate act.

Setting that to one side though, for this review it is the physical structure which interests me the most. The images are printed full bleed on the top 90% of each double page spread with the footnotes in the remaining white strip at the bottom of each spread. There are also around 6 spreads which appear to contain summary police or coroner’s reports on victims recovered from the river.

The footnotes themselves appear largely to be Horn’s own words, interspersed with references to and quotes from fiction, film, poetry and music. In recent months I’ve accumulated a small number of these and I feel sure there are more available without forcing it. Horn’s citation come from sources which are not always directly related to her subject matter e.g. references to sound in  Antonioni’s Blow-up reminding her of the sound of the river.

As an example of my own, with relevance to my own final submission I found the following in Steinhart’s ‘The Company of Wolves’:

What have we seen here? Tracks in the snow. Hieroglyphs of struggle. Tufts of hair. Crystals of blood. What is the nature of the beast that left them? What is the nature of the world inhabited by such a beast? What’s going on here?

Time to make some progress…after months of procrastination I can finally see a genuine way forward.

 

Photographing things that aren’t there (i)

http://www.bethatkinson.co.uk/Missing-Buildings

Missing Buildings, by Thom and Beth Atkinson is a project which captures sites where buildings have been “removed” from the streetscape – perhaps by fire, as a result of wartime bombing, maybe even deliberately. The clues of the removal are there if you know what to look for..most frequently incongruous architectural neighbours or internal walls re-rendered as external, with chimney breasts showing clearly.

The houses are gone, the sites are frequently built over, so we are left to imagine what may have been there and to contemplate what happened to eradicate all but small traces.

As with much of this type of photography it would be difficult to interpret without the initial words, but after that you can let your imagination take over.

Hannah Collins

At my tutors suggestion I have been looking at the work of Hannah Collins – in particular “In the course of time”. It is difficult to get a good picture from the relatively limited material available on her website, but the project appears, to me at least,  to be about the decay of a society and the memories it leaves behind.  Of the images I could find online, this one from the Tate collection, coupled with a poem by the artist is perhaps the best illustration of that. 

However both this and the other samples available on the artists website make extensive use of objects in place – a luxury which with a few limited exceptions I don’t have in the places that interest me.

Closer to the challenge I face is her work Drawing on the City – especially Part 3 An industrial history, which proposes an artistic treatment for the location of a soon to be demolished power station in Barcelona. In particular she suggests using the side wall of the building to form a sort of terrace which would allow future walkers a direct physical link to the past. The idea should be seen within the broader suggestion that it links with other “horizontal artworks” at other locations to create a web of memories that relate to the reasons people were initially drawn to Barcelona.

Again, the presence of a physical link is something I don’t really have available in most of my sites, so I will need to concentrate on other relics/artefacts to create that link in my images.

References

Collins, H. (n.d.). In the course of time – Hannah Collins – contemporary artist and film maker. [Online]. Available at: http://hannahcollins.net/projects/archive/in-the-course-of-time.html [Accessed: 1 May 2016].

Collins, H. (1994). In the course of time II. Tate. [Online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/collins-in-the-course-of-time-ii-t06971 [Accessed: 1 May 2016].

Collins, H. (2008). DrawingCity book3. [Online]. Available at: http://hannahcollins.net/images/pdfs/HannahCollins_DrawingCity_Book3.pdf [Accessed: 1 May 2016].

Agustin Bayon

Spain seems to have a knack for producing great little art museums in regional capitals and major cities. Oviedo has a jewel in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias.

I’ve visited it before, and this time I was visiting specifically to see what I took, at first, to be a photo by Agustin Bayon called ‘Yuki y Catherine’. It turns out, as far as I can tell, that it is actually a drawing – albeit a hyper-real one.  The piece is a diptych…the right hand image feature a half-portrait of a woman on the far right…the left image features a block of text on the far left.

According to the limited information I have found on the web, Bayon is known for combining text and images. Yuki y Catherine would appear to take this to its logical extreme with Catherine (an assumption based purely on the physical characteristics of the portrait) represented entirely by text. As the text is in Spanish I have a bit of work to do to confirm this assumption. I also need to count the words as this seems a clever take on the idea that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

Either way, this is another potential idea for combining words and images. It also sparks a couple of ideas…for example, could I reproduce the word ‘rust’ or ‘steel’ in the language of every country which uses Workington steel rails? Or perhaps an image of Workington or a blast furnace or Bessemer converter with a written sketch of Sir Henry Bessemer? Or perhaps some overblown claim about the future of iron and steel making?

As a footnote, although I did not visit all of it as it is spread across two buildings, if you are in Asturias the museum is well worth a visit. It features works by Miro, Goya, Dali and Picasso among many other Spanish/Asturian atrtists from the 14th century onwards. The contemporary collection alone is worth several hours of your time.

Update: 11 April 2016

I’ve translated a few snatches of the text only because they are very difficult to read in the image I captured and I don’t speak Spanish. While they may make sense in totality, it is difficult to see that they directly represent Catherine suggesting that the viewer/reader is left to infer something about her from the material.

Nick Brandt – Inherit the Dust

A short post as I’m blogging from tablet, which is not especially comfortable.

In Inherit the Dust Nick Brandt inserts images of animals that once inhabited a human ravaged landscape back into the landscape by photographing life size images of the animals in the destroyed habitat.

As a visually arresting ploy to highlight the effects of habitat destruction on animals it is certainly effective, although the impact will possibly fade as the idea gains wider coverage. By concentrating on chimpanzees and the more famous big game – elephant, lions, zebra, etc Brandt has also ensured that the images will cause maximum concern. Subject choice is important in campaigning photography – fewer people are stirred to action by snakes and rodents – sadly.

One can only guess at the resources required to print a full scale image of an elephant, mount it on aluminium sheets and erect it somewhere in Africa.

By reinserting then into the landscape in this way Brandt draws explicit attention to what has been lost. As befits a campaigning image there is no hint of nostalgia, and perhaps even more interesting there is no real sense that the artifice has any impact on the many people that feature in the photos. I imagine that reinserting wild boar, wildcats or wolves into British landscapes would attract the attention of passers-by – which does not seem to happen here.

It is clearly not feasible to insert a life size image of a blast furnace  into an old site, especially where that site has been subsequently developed but there is something to consider in the visual impact of this approach to highlighting change and loss.

I have bought a couple of antique postcards showing some of the ironworking sites as they were which will hopefully allow me to work up a couple of ideas alongside the texts/image combinations.

 

Conrad Atkinson

Went to Tullie House in Carlisle at the weekend to see “Cumbrian Art: Picturing Places” which featured primarily landscape paintings, and a few photos, from the museums collection, with the emphasis on Cumbrian artists.

In reality I went because my wife had heard there was a large scale painting of the Workington iron and steelworks on display. It turned out to be this one by Conrad Atkinson, an artist I’d not come across before but is apparently quite influential.

What to say about the picture – well first off the online version does not do it justice. It’s too bright and light – the real version is very large and the colours are much heavier, so that the overall effect is quite sombre and overpowering. It’s quite an early example of Atkinson’s work – later works feature words and photos and various differing materials – whereas this is a straight painting. The grasses in the foreground hint at a theme which pops up in some of his later work…the relationship between man and nature in an area known for natural beauty, but in reality heavily industrial in parts.

My interest piqued, I’ve done some internet research and the Tate has another of his pieces which I find more than a little fascinating – For Wordsworth, For West Cumbria – a mixed media piece containing painting, photos, quotes from Wordsworth and iron ore and coal.

This raises a number of questions in my head about how I present my photos, and how I work them to explain why I’m so interested in ex-ironworks sites. Could I, for example, introduce antique postcards of the sites (yes…they exist), incorporate iron ore into the final pieces e.g. by using  Egremont Red pigment in some way or mix the work with quotes from the time about the longevity of the sites or the products.

At last I think some ideas are crystallising.

Bibliography

Anon. (n.d.). Pigment/. [Online]. Available at: http://www.florencepaintmakers.co.uk/the-products/pigment/ [Accessed: 17 March 2016].

Atkinson, C. (1980). For Wordsworth; for west Cumbria. Tate. [Online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/atkinson-for-wordsworth-for-west-cumbria-t03229 [Accessed: 17 March 2016].

Atkinson, C. (1940). Workington Steelworks. ARTUK. [Online]. Available at: http://artuk.org/discover/artworks/workington-steelworks-144111/search/actor:atkinson-conrad-b-1940/view_as/grid/page/1 [Accessed: 17 March 2016].

Tullie House, (2016). Cumbrian art: Picturing places. [Online]. Available at: http://www.tulliehouse.co.uk/events/cumbrian-art-picturing-places [Accessed: 17 March 2016].