Land of Confusion

28378543_250112112196247_1129462146604291768_n.jpg

After a while of not posting, I feel ready again to let the world know what I’ve been working on. Since completing my MA in Fine Art, my work has taken a slight change of direction. My primary interest and focus throughout my MA had been on the natural world, and the way that I perceive it – through both its fragility and beauty, to its darker (and even on occasions terrifying) aspects. The Romantic notion of the Sublime was a big influence on my studies, and I was fascinated by the ways that viewing apparatus such as the Claude Glass and Claude Mirrors were used to create a certain view of nature that was deemed to be appealing.  I, myself, became fascinated with ways to view nature through different lenses; the camera, the mirror, using a microscope and also through scientific equipment such as petri dishes full of site specific bacteria.

After completing the 3 years of study, I decided I needed a break from this theme, and I couldn’t even bring myself to venture back into Birnam Wood, the location that I visited at least 5 times a week over my period of study.  I turned my studio into a bit of a retreat, filling it with memorabilia from the 1980s, and objects that made me feel happy. I bought a record player, and brought out a lot of my old vinyl which started to really inspire my work.

mdcGISswjFKdF9IMZHZtNqw.jpg

Along with the music from the 80s, another influence has been the graphic illustrations of Patrick Nagel, which portray strong, fashionable and glamorous women in a simplified almost Art deco style. Nagel designed the album cover of Rio by Duran Duran. Inspired by the shapes and curves and flat colours in his work, I began to create some abstract pieces using the computer, which I then translated to paint on canvas.  I started off small scale, and happy with the results, I  decided to tackle something bigger.

24294153_220690985138360_676571942166198212_n.jpg  20156152_177453652795427_3787040188010162068_n.jpg  24296653_220690988471693_5105869815664424365_n.jpg

I wanted to revisit my interest in nature, so I decided to combine the abstract 80s inspired design with organic forms to create a kind of abstract, junglesque environment. I added in pixel -like shapes which represent our digital dependancy and the tensions and divisions it creates between humans and the natural world.  I named the piece “Land of Confusion”, a nod to the 80s hit by Genesis, but also because I feel we are living in a land of confusion in many aspects.

The completed piece will be exhibited from the 23rd March at Scottish Natural Heritage, Battleby House, Perthshire, as part of the PLATFORM 2018 festival.

28378543_250112112196247_1129462146604291768_n.jpg

“Land of Confusion” Oil and Acrylic on Canvas 100cm x100cm

Tumulus

The words ‘cairn’ and ‘tumulus’ refer to mounds of earth or stones which cover over prehistoric burial grounds or tombs. Whilst a cairn is a pile of loose rocks and stones, which tends to cover over a single burial, a tumulus is more of an earthwork- a larger scale grassy mound which can often contain large tombs or multiple burials, and can date as far back as the late Neolithic period. TUMULUS  On the OS map of Comrie, around the River Ruchil area where I had been walking, I saw markings of a couple of tumuli, and they aroused my curiosity. I wondered who (or what) might be buried there, and I began to think of artefacts and bones which might be buried deep below these mounds. This is another hidden layer of the landscape- without the aid of markings on a map, and a bit of knowledge about burial mounds, an earthwork such as this would be easily overlooked, despite the fact that it had been constructed as a monument to mark the importance of someone’s life. I was thinking of layers, and burying, and wondering how I could bury fragments or words yet still allow them to be partly visible. I had a bag of wax beads in the studio, and decided to try a little experiment with them. When melted, I poured the hot wax onto paper, playing with it by allowing it to dry a little, then adding more on top. I love the semi-translucence of the wax – it allows you to see a glimpse of what is inside, yet obscures at the same time. I had some earth which I dug up in Comrie, and small stones from the banks of the Ruchil. I decided to put these into the melting pot, and mix them in to the molten wax.

IMG_5565Molten wax with earth mixed in

IMG_5567

I also mixed in some of the river gravel which I had collected 

IMG_5569

 The mixture was then poured onto canvas, left to dry, before more layers were poured on topIMG_5556

I was trying to create my own little burial mound on canvas

IMG_5557

The wax feels gorgeous to touch…a really beautiful medium to work with

IMG_5560

It now resembles the contours of an earthwork, although not quite as precise as those of Charles Jencks!

I left the wax mound for a few days, but realised that it would not be a piece which would last long, as the wax had cracked on one of the edges. Wanting to retain the translucent qualities of the wax, yet preserve the contours that it had created, I covered the piece with one layer of tissue paper and PVA glue.

IMG_6427

When dried, the wax was still visible through the tissue, as were the contours.

IMG_6450

wax

The background was painted white, to give a contrast between the opacity of the canvas and the glassy appearance of the mound.  I think that the result is interesting, and I like the fact that the earth and stones are buried inside the wax, sealed in but still visible through the layers of this translucent tumulus.

“Cells”…finally completed

whitecIt’s been a hectic couple of weeks, marking student work, attending meetings etc, but finally I managed to complete the ‘Cells” painting. I had still felt there was too much contrast in the piece, so I wanted to white out as much as possible, leaving only the bare minimum showing, forcing the viewer to look very closely to observe the shapes created by textural additives.  I  feel content with the final result, and plan to do a few more pieces using this technique.  This week I’m also hoping to get into the biology lab, to see first hand the hidden beauty of cells….so excited!!