Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Exhibition videos

In the final exhibition of the City and Lit Fine Art course 2012, I exhibited two videos. Ideas for both have appeared earlier in the blog. Picasso is quoted as saying "Bad artists copy and good artists steal". I am hoping that I have stolen a lot from William Kentridge, his work and approach has certainly been a great inspiration. What these videos demonstrate (I hope) is his belief in the malleability of charcoal drawing and the potential for narrative. I have brought some of my media skills to bear in the editing, but tried to stay true to the tentative and rough nature of the actual drawing.

The first is An animation made up of charcoal and pastel drawings and sculptured polymer clay. It shows three different representations of hands each of which explore the theme of mortality. In the first a hand floats below the surface in a river gradually disappearing from view. In the second the bones of a hand are revealed in the sand and in the final section an X Ray of a hand illustrates the effect of a dislocated finger. The second is a series of animated charcoal and pastel drawings that tell the story of three of the less hopeful aspects of my father's inheritance. The first is a fear of confined spaces that he experienced most vividly when digging an escape tunnel in the Italy in 1942. The second a loss of hearing which in my father's case was largely caused by the effect of artillery fire (he was a Gunner). And finally a surprising heart attack, which I am hoping to avoid.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

What has been happening since January?

It is not wholly insignificant that I have not written anything on this blog since January 30th. Of course it is partly laziness, but rather more it is a reflection of my loss of direction and decline in morale. The last few posts describe my tentative work using the copy stand to animate my charcoal drawings and experiment with the sculpted bones. It did excite me for a while, and yet, reading the blogs I already detect an uncertainty. I am clearly worried about letting my film making knowledge with its emphasis on carefully structured narrative and 'looking slick', intrude into my much less confident and certainly non-professional  art work.

I also went through a bad case of the "so what"s. It is the nature of the City Lit Fine Art Course that you are left to your own devices. The tutors do their best and I had a few good tutorials that gave me hope, but generally there is a little support to see you past the nihilism that overcomes you. And perhaps, nor should there be. If you have any aspirations to becoming an artist: it seems obvious that you need to get yourself through to a place where it does seem worthwhile.

At some point in the spring when I was feeling particularly down, I had a tutorial with Liz Ellis. She is very supportive (background as a mental health nurse!) and picked up on my interest in William Kentridge. She lent me a substantial catalogue from his big London show of five years ago. It was a hugely stimulating. Not only supporting my interest in his animation, but also some excellent material on his approach to art and making art. One particular quote stood out for me and had a significant impact on kick starting me into a more productive phase:

The pure light of inspiration, for me, is always to be treated with caution.
 Things that leap out as ‘good ideas’ are often best left at that. It is in the physical act of their coming into being, and in the form they finally achieve that they have to show their worth, and often things that start rather in the alleys and sluices of the mind, hold their own in the end.
 William Kentridge  Fortuna: Neither programme nor chance in the making of images 1994  

I had been spending far too much time on what I thought were 'good ideas': only to have them crumble under my clumsy hand. Kentridge told me to abandon that level of planning and so called creative excitement and instead get on and TRY stuff. Let its potential demonstrate itself in the doing: not in the anticipation.

Now I am two weeks away from the exhibition and about to go to the last session. I will promote my blog  at the exhibition so the next few posts will be by way of description and explanation of what I ended up doing and , perhaps more importantly, valuing  my work over the last two years.