The following artists are people whose work has inspired me and show the sort of idea I’d like to achieve in my own work.
I’ve been looking at embroiderers, photographers and artists who use groups of people or individuals as their subjects.
I know that I want to do about the hidden city and the people within it. When I am walking through the city centre I (as I’m sure most people do) generally tend to just look past the people and just look ahead, focussing on where I’m going and what I need to do. I have never really stopped and looked at the individuals, or thought about where they’re going. This is therefore what I would like to focus on: the unanswered questions. Where are they going? Where are they coming from? How are they feeling today? Have they been here before: are they a local? Tourist?
Gillian Bates is a contemporary artist who makes unique embroidered pieces. Although she does use other imagery, her work is primarily made up of figures. I really like the ‘scribbly’ style of the black stitching and her use of a variety of different fabrics for appliqué. This is a technique which I am often attracted to, I think because I don’t usually like precise marks and prefer a more spontaneous line.
I also like the natural poses in her work, particularly the one of the women above. I would like to take photos/sketches like this, rather than posed/uniform images.
Similarly to Gillian Bates, this artist also uses coloured appliqué with black stitching around the edge, however these lines are thinner and more precise. They are also portraying everyday poses and activities with normal people. I have selected these two images because they are outside, but she does also have some within the home, e.g. putting make-up on or doing the dishes.
I love the unconventional patterns on utilitarian objects such as the bench above – this is something I’d quite like to have a go with, possibly with buildings in the background?
This is another artist who does similar work. What attracted me to Sarah Walton was the absence of context. In the first picture, the subjects seem to be sat on a park bench, however this is just an assumption, because the information isn’t given to you as a viewer.
This is an interesting concept which I would like to explore further in my own work.
Today I did a workshop in the stitch room on construction. This is something that I feel like I need to work on. I tend to find it relatively easy to work out the imagery for embroidery, its just what to make it into afterwards, and how to make this.
We had the option to either make a tote bag or an arm pouch. I chose the pouch because I felt it involved more skills I needed to work on.
Although the finished bag wasn’t perfect, I was proud of it, particularly because I find zips really difficult.
Today we were developing our skills learnt in the screen printing workshop last week by using foil and flock.
First I tried the ‘steam puff’ method which I really enjoyed. I’m generally quite an impatient person so the quick results of this were good. I also need to remember to wash the screen immediately because after waiting a little bit too long (because I was washing the squeegee) it was a lot harder to remove.
First I tried it just in white and then again in a black/grey mix.
I was impressed with the results and think it would be very appropriate for a printed pattern for interior textiles. I don’t think it is very suited to mine though, which seems to be better in the more solid, flatter prints.
For me, the foil effect didn’t work very well. However looking at other people’s results, I can see that it can create some beautiful prints. It’s possible that I didn’t let it dry for long enough before putting it in the heat press, but it also could be because it wasn’t printed properly. I found it really difficult to print with the ‘texiflock’ because of its consistency. This is something I would like to practice. Steve did mention that the batch was starting to dry out so it could have been down to this.
The flock was similar to the foil so again would like to practice this another time.
Today our aim at the cathedral was to take photographs and do some drawings as initial research into our chosen topic. I’ve definitely decided on doing ‘the hidden city’ now because I feel like there is a lot can do with it and I have a lot of ideas. Before leaving I knew I wanted to predominantly visit the grave yard beside the cathedral because I am interested in the history and the stories it may hold.
Walking around, you see it as a collective: a graveyard. However by taking the time to stop and read the carvings and to take notice of each grave, I was able to find things out about the individual person: their name, date of birth, age when they passed away, wealth, if they had any family etc.
However there are also questions which still go unanswered and cannot just be found out from reading their gravestone, for example: how did they die? Did they have a happy life? Who did they leave behind?
I was also interested in looking at shared graves with husbands and wives or children.
This grave in particular had the most gifts and flower around it out of the ones I saw, which was quite uplifting to see, considering how old it is. Most of the other graves were bare. Clearly someone is still looking after the area and visiting often.
This was another one, a bit further into the graveyard. Surrounded by other graves which are crumbling and are over grown with ivy, this one stands out. It is newer than the surrounding graves, but still old enough to have aged more than it looks. This again suggests to me that someone is still around to look after and maintain it, in order for it not to become hidden amongst the others.
The text reads:
“In loving memory of Alan Standish Thompson
Who died Nov 18th 1908
Aged 18 months
Safe with Jesus”
Are the family more likely to still look after the grave because of how young he was when he died?
It is a surprisingly large grave for a child who had such a short life. Was the family well off? Was he they’re first son? Did they have any more children?
Why is no one looking after the others? Have the family moved away? If not, do they even know they’re there?
And this one seems to have been long forgotten, left to crumble and fall over. It lies on the floor abandoned.
Again, do the family know it is there? Have they moved away? Is there even any family left?
This gravestone really stood out to me: it is from 2013 and all the surrounding ones are from around 100 years before it. The difference is clear: it is clean; shiny; cared for and someone had recently put flowers beside it. What is the hidden story? This was the most recent grave I could find. Why did he want to be put in such an old graveyard, amongst such decayed stones? Is it a family plot? Did the area mean something special to him? Was it even his choice?
I found this grave particularly interesting. I was attracted to it because of its size and power, and I could tell straight away that the plot belongs to a very wealthy family with such a grand gravestone.
Here it reads:
“To the blessed memory of
Charlies Philip Marment
of Petherton House Llandaff
who dies June 11th 1910
and of the said
Charles Philip Marment
who died March 31st 1942
And on the back of the stone, it says:
Second Wife of
Charles Philip Marment
Died 8th May 1958”
This really interested me that his first wife had died 32 years before he did and he had then clearly married again (how long in between?). He then died 16 years before his second wife.
But what amazed me was that she was just put at the back of the grave, hidden to anyone only walking past the front. It is nice to see that he was buried with his first wife, ‘reunited’ almost, maybe they bought the plot together? However I was surprised at the placement of ‘Constance’. She gets no ‘loving/blessed memory’, it is just plain, straight to the point. Stating the facts and nothing more.
She died last: did she request for it to be like that? Or was it his choice? Was she lucky to even be put onto this particular gravestone at all?
These unanswered (and possible unanswerable) questions are something that I am really interested in and can also be brought into street photography and drawings, because without talking to the subject, you will never even know they’re name.
In today’s print workshop, I decided to relate my screen printed image to the city project and my initial ideas of what I want to do. I am pretty sure that I would like to do something to do with the people hidden within a city and wanted to have a go at incorporating this. To prepare for the session we went to the library and had a look through the display which they have put out for us for this project. After looking for quite a long time and not really finding anything of interest, I found a book called Metropol, which was full of really nice black and white photographs of a variety of people (ages, ethnicities, class etc). The book however had hardly any text and what was there wasn’t in English, so when I got home I looked up the author on the internet and found that Kristoffer Albrecht is a Finnish photographer and researcher and has published more than this book.
From the one in the library, I photocopied on image which took my particular attention:
There are so many unanswered questions within this photograph with no caption.
Why is he stood there?
How long has he been stood there?
Is he waiting for someone?
Where is he going?
Where has he come from?
How old is he?
What is his name?
Why does he need a walking stick?
Brandon Stanton, who is the photographer behind Humans of New York, always includes an extraordinary, interesting or humorous quote from his subject as a caption to his images which can give you an insight on what sort of person they are. However this can also sometimes leave as may questions as one with no caption does.
“I went to jail for ten years, but that’s all behind me.”
“Why should I tell you?”
“It’s your story.”
“….organized crime. Allegedly.”
In order to develop the photo of the man, I traced it, and then again, this time focusing on just the outline to not only create a simpler image for printing, but to also play on one of my ideas of loss of identity, or a story.
Overall I was really please with how the screen prints came out: I mostly experimented with black and grey tones in order to keep to the idea of him being forgotten/hidden and also tried to suggest the idea of a crowd by layering the same image over and over in a row.
I did also try a resist technique that Steve showed us using ripped up pieces of paper between the screen and the fabric. I did three separate ones, adding more paper each time. I tried to create the idea of him slowly disappearing (like into a crowd?)
I am looking forward to developing this one simple image further next week. I have previously done screen printing before but have never exposed it myself of make the paints using pigments, and also haven’t used foils etc before.
I was excited to find out more about our field project this year and to get the brief this week.
After being given the three options to choose from: migration; the hidden city and power and technology, I am so far undecided which one I will choose next Monday but at the moment am slightly more interested in the hidden city. I think I would like to do something to do with people this term, in which I could incorporate photography and figurative drawing, which are both things I enjoy but need to develop further. The hidden city brief would be interesting to research because I could look at those who go unnoticed, strangers’ stories that you’ll never hear, the huge amount of homeless people in cardiff, who are almost forgotten by society. There are also a few artists, who I am already aware of (predominantly photographers) who would be useful to research, for example Lee Jeffries, Steve McCurry, Brandon Stanton and Vivian Maier.
Today Morag did briefly warn us to be careful with ethics and this would particularly apply to be if I was to photograph/draw strangers on the street. I will research this further when I am sure that this is what route I’m going to go down.
Between now and next Monday I intend to think more and take some rough notes about what I want to do so I can start researching relevant imagery.