Category Archives: Art Making

Adventures

I always think of August as a month for action and adventure. The days are long, the weather is mild, the evenings are warm and the mind and body can wander with ease.
Adventure is a wonderful thing. I’m off to the Brecons in Wales for a walking adventure this weekend. What does adventure really mean though in art?

“A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind”

This is a quote by French-Romanian Playwright and author

Eugène Ionesco in his discussion on the purpose of art and theatre. [1]  He describes how through the exploration of the human imagination can bring to life imaginary constructs that otherwise

Eugene Ionesco
Eugene Ionesco – Photograph by Richard Avedon

would have no purpose in the real world. Through art we create a whole new world, a world which doesn’t ever need to exist but nevertheless does come to exist through the act of making.
Eugène suggests that making art and theatre  the creation of art seems to stem from an adventure which happens alone in the mind. I would have to disagree however and instead consider art making as a process which can combine or involve all three faculties; that of the mind, the body and the spirit.

Let’s consider two quite different works of art in relation to this idea. The first is Frida Kahlo’s Self-portrait with Monkey’, 1938 [2]. The second is Jackson Pollock’s ‘Autumn Rhythm (number 30)’, 1950 [3].

Frida & Monkey
‘Self-Portrait with Monkey’ – Frida Kahlo, 1938

There is physical adventure in the making; in Pollock’s case this was an exploration of free movement and open gestures; Frida Kahlo on the other hand practiced a more precise method of painting. There is clear evidence of a journey made mentally by the artists as they worked: one occupying the dimensions of the canvas to portray a sense of culture and statement about the subject of the self-portrait; the other defying boundaries and conventional representation to communicate expression of thought and feeling. Finally, there is a touch of the spiritual that can be seen in the creation of these works a sense of deep feeling and emotion which leaves the work open to interpretation by the viewer.

 

Jackson Pollock - autumn rhythm (number 30)
Jackson Pollock – autumn rhythm (number 30), 1950

 

By no means do I believe however that all three paths of wondering through art making are present in each artwork. Every artist’s creative journey is a unique one and some may favour some modes of adventuring than others. I personally, in my practice, tend to prefer to find a balance between the three but occasionally will spend longer going in one direction than another. An adventure is an adventure though, however far you go and whichever way you wonder, there’s bound to be rewards a plenty.

 

[1] “The Marvellous Come to Life” by Eugène Ionesco Antonio de Luca Studio © Open Inc. 2000-2016

 [2[ Frida Kahlo – ‘Self Portrait with Monkey’, 2010 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

[3] Jackson Pollock – “Autumn Rhythm (number 30)’ On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 921 © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

 

York Curiouser Festival – Workshop of Historical Corrections

This summer has been incredibly busy. I have had parallel projects running, the Midsummer Nights Dream project and this other, even bigger task. We have been commissioned by Janet Hodgson and York Curiouser Festival to produce work for the installation of The Workshop of Historical Correction at the historical site The Postern Tower in Fishergate, York.

It has been a really challenging and wonderful experience. Working alongside Janet, has been a really valuable insight into how a contemporary art project is put together. While we students are individually working hard making the physical artefacts for the Workshop Janet is making a video installation for the top floor which involves a lot of auditions, assistants, actors an editor etc… All in all it’s been quite the show!

My work was a fictionalised account of how William Shakespeare wrote his play. It was a play itself on the words “writers block”. The idea is that he had a kind of frame of cubes, a bit like an abacus; each cube had four words on it and the whole this formed eight rows, each with eight blocks which he spun to gain inspiration for his writing.

I made an online version of this for fun which was linked into the piece via a QR Code. You can find the online version here.