I have named my series of work after the Welsh term ‘Hiraeth’. It is a word that cannot be directly translated into English. For me it means to have a yearning for something: a deep connection with and a sense of being part of a place. It can be a nostalgic sense for past times, or a place itself. It is a connection with the land, rocks, earth, rivers, mountains, trees, cliffs and waves.
This is evident in my work through the process of going back home to collect objects from the beaches of my childhood, and recording these visits, so the practical side of the work is nostalgic for me. I collect objects washed up by the sea, or left on the beach by fishermen and visitors, then respond to these places by creating compositions from what I’ve found. These aim to explore the nostalgia of landscape from a personal perception, and the process of a journey around the Pembrokeshire Coastline.
The impact of my childhood memories of the Welsh coastline has made texture important in my practice. I feel I have achieved this in the handmade paper through the layers of fishing wire and rope. I felt like the lack of control I had to create the paper ‘drawings’ reflect the movement of the sea, and the idea of not knowing how the piece would turn out until the very end of the process is something that excites me.
This piece sparked my interest in working onto found objects. I found this board in a skip, and I felt that I could be more free whilst working on this board, as it did not feel as precious as a canvas or a piece of paper. This is also when I started to take an interest on textures on the beach, and the pattern of pebbles, which I developed further or a larger scale.
Following a tutorial, I began bringing in objects from the landscape itself, and tying pebbles onto my paintings, rather than just representing them through paint or other mediums. I wanted to build onto the surface to create as much texture as I could.
This piece was the beginning of my more sculptural pieces. It was the first time I created a piece without using paint or print. Although this piece no longer exists, as I used the pallet for another piece, it represents the time I stepped out of my comfort zone and began assembling using only found objects from the beach. This was the first piece I took out of my studio space and hung on another blank white wall in the studio, which is when I realized how important it was to take the work out of the workspace and display it, as the work looked so different to when it was amongst all the clutter of the studio space. This changed my way of working as I carried on doing this through the year until the set up of the degree show.
I have decided to include this post as important pieces for me as these were the first pieces of third year that I felt were finished pieces and this is when I knew which type of work I wanted to carry on experimenting with to work towards the degree show.
Although I had done papermaking before, this was the first time I had used fishing wire and rope, so it was the first time I had made paper which was quite colourful. The fishing wire created interesting patterns so I decided to develop this further, and possibly include some paper making in the degree show.
At the beginning of the year I was mostly influenced by Anselm Kiefers work, following a trip to the Anselm Kiefer exhibition in London. After seeing his work I began to work on a larger scale for the first time, and was more interested in how I could create texture.
I found that talking to artist Linda Norris was beneficial to me as a working artist in Pembrokeshire. I was able to visit her studio and gallery and talk to her about what inspires her and how she works. We discussed blogging, so this was beneficial to me as I was able to see how she networks herself, and how I was able to use my blog to show my work out to the public
At the beginning of the year I was told to stop going back to Pembrokeshire to collect objects and take photographs to bring back to the studio, and to base my work in Cardiff as it was closer. Despite trying this I found myself always returning to Pembrokeshire as I felt nostalgic for the landscape there, and was more familiar with the area. I decided to research more into the meaning of ‘Hiraeth’ which is what I decided to name my body of work in the degree show.
Margaret Mellis has been the artist who I have been most inspired by this year. I was very interested in her work from the first time I saw it, and was immediately inspired to get back out into the landscape and create work. I don’t think my work would have been quite so colourful if I had not researched into her work.
Working with Celtic Coast Sea Kayakers was important to my practice, because they were able to help me source my material, collecting driftwood for me and pointing out where were the best places to collect driftwood. They were able to get to beaches that I would not be able to get to by foot, then collect objects and put them in the kayak storage to bring back to me.
As a space next to my exhibition space became available, the tutors advised I spread my work out onto the extra wall. Luckily the wall was right next to my original wall, so I decided to split the 8 pieces of work into two sets of 4, and display them in a more orderly form. I am pleased with the result because although I liked the original display, I feel that more attention will be given to the pieces individually this way, rather than looking at them as a collection. I was able to divide the two sets of work up into similar shapes, which I had not planned. I have also displayed my paper pieces and found plastic piece on the wall opposite, which I am pleased about. I was not intending on displaying the colourful plastic piece, as I am not a fan of it, but I am pleased I did because I find the reactions to the plastic piece interesting, as people either dislike it, or it is their favourite piece out of all the pieces of work.
A lot of thought went into the display of my work, as I knew this could make the work, or could give the completely wrong look I was going for. I hung some of the work up with wire and some with mirror plates. I was debating wether to hang the work up randomly on the wall, or in a more orderly line. I had tried both ideas out previously in the studio, but I was still unsure how I wanted to display them. I began to plan my display out on the floor, but it was very hard to imagine it still because I knew it would look so different against the white wall. I decided to try a more random display because I thought it would fit better on the exhibition wall that was given to me. I was given advice by the tutors, and this made me think different when putting my work up, for example a piece that I had originally planned on displaying vertically, ended up being hung up horizontally. As it is the beginning of the week, the display may change and I still need to make a few adjustments, but I am pleased with it for now.
This week we have been busy preparing the studio for the degree show. Team work has been essential this week to build the studio ready for painting next week, which has been stressful at times, but is finally coming together! Now that I have my space, I am able to vision how I want to present my work better. I have been given two straight walls opposite each other which is what I asked for, so I need to decide which pieces to present and where to present them. I was recommended by a tutor to photograph my work, and place these images in different orders, as if I was placing them on a wall, to see which ones go together best.
Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector
As the degree show is coming up, I need to think about placement of my pieces. I was recommended to look at the Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector exhibition. It is a collection of things that artists have collected. Curator Lydia Yee goes to the artists’ homes to see how they live and what they have collected over the years. Collecting starts for childhood, and often carries on until adulthood. The exhibition displays 14 collections. The collection includes Andy Warhol’s cookie jars and an entomological cabinet containing hundreds of insect specimens that belongs to Damien Hirst.
One of the artists exhibiting is Sir Peter Blake. Sir Peter Blake says that he may have inherited his collecting mentality from his parents, who also collected things.
Blake describes his collection as his own private work of art. ‘‘The whole studio has in a way become a giant work of art,’’ he says. ‘‘There are rooms within it that are arranged with my collections. But it is a private work of art.’’
Blake’s part of the exhibition includes a collection of signs, and 37 masks that he has been given, andd collected from junk shops over the years, raning from African masks, Japanese masks, carnival masks and Mickey Mouse masks.
The exhibition shows the artist as collector revealing how they gather objects for research and inspiration.
Unfortunately I don’t think this type of display is the display I am going for, as I think it looks too cluttered and chaotic. I do not think this style will work for me as I am trying to create art works out of things that some people may regard as rubbish, so it would need to be displayed in a more orderly structure.