For this final part of the course, my objective was to respond to the challenge set me by my tutor to create work which has a personal significance. I also wanted my use of materials to be a direct response to ideas rather than being driven by the media relevant to a specific part of the course. I am aware that I can get very caught up in craft and not get sufficiently involved in content. I wanted my final work in this course to have an emotional power and provoke a response from an observer.
Two themes were explored in parallel projects, one based around masks, the other family, and in particular, maternal relationships
In the mask series, I think the modern ‘witch doctor’ is the most interesting and the fractured face with wire the most visually powerful. I have actively sought people’s responses to this series of works and have been pleased that they seem to evoke a strong response, often of revulsion. I don’t mind this; it reassures me that I have made work with a degree of power and that is not insipid.
Of the sculptures inspired by family, I think the ‘Family Ties’ is the most successful in its concept. It combines materials to create an interesting and ambiguous piece. My video and my ‘Mitrochondriam’ lack substance. The statuette from the latter is the best piece out of these works.
However, the sculptures (or video) created are not the only outcomes. The research during the course has enriched my knowledge and introduced me to new artists. Eva Hesse and Louise Borgeois will influence me for a long time to come and learning about Romuald Hazoumé and Calixte Dakpogan widened my horizons beyond West European art. The course has encouraged me to develop ideas through mind-mapping and working freely in my sketchbook. I has also encouraged me to make my ideas more personal and meaningful.
A fellow student recently said to me that only at the very end of his (photography) assignment did he realise where he had been going the whole time. I can completely echo this; I now realise that all my research and work has been about identity and relationships, and in particular, my bond with my mother. I have included knitting and threading in a number of sculptures and I think some of these have been amongst the most successful throughout the course. In retrospect, knitting holds particular significance for me and is literally a thread which connects my hands to my mother’s and grandmother’s.
The clay modelling project was a part of the course I particularly enjoyed. Without pressure to create a ‘finished’ work, I was able to add, subtract, build and destroy without risk and I found this very liberating. Letting go of the need to have an end product allowed me to take creative risks. As a result, I have become much less precious about a work and quite happy to evolve it to the point of destruction.
Throughout the final part of the course, I have tried not to think ‘I want to make a clay sculpture because that went well in Part 3’, but rather to find a source of personal inspiration and follow that wherever it took me, leading sometimes to rather surprising results. In general, I am very disappointed with the physical outcomes of this part of the course but the ideas generated will be revisited. Trying to concentrate on content, rather than making and craft skills, the works in this final part lack the finish of some of the earlier ones.
Reflecting on my tutor feedback for this final part of the course, I agree that I tried to develop too many ideas at once, and would have profited from taking a single idea or subject and developing it in more depth. I think that the ‘witch doctor’ mask and the mitrochondial shrine would have created a significant body of work on their own.
I am very pleased that my previous tutor recommended that I study Sculpture 1 as my next course. I have really appreciated how open and non-prescriptive it is. It has allowed me to experiment and devise my own projects. These will be inspiration for future work and I am already planning a print using the DNA fingerprint motif for a print exchange in the summer. The course has equipped me to consider how I can develop an idea beyond preconceived constraints of materials or technique. If successful at assessment, I plan to study Drawing 2 next and I shall be actively seeking opportunities to create or work on three dimensional surfaces or draw in three dimensions, for instance with wire.
Sculpture 1 has been my third level 1 course, and I am at a point where I can reflect back over how much my objectives for study have changed and how much my ideas have moved on. Initially, I wanted to study to improve my technical skills in draftsmanship and composition, in service of my printmaking. My ambitions have widened unrecognisably. Finally, at the very end of Sculpture 1, I feel that I have managed to move away from the technical and embrace the search for a more personal meaning in my art. This has been a very challenging journey, with the physical making of sculptures almost an incidental by-product. When I started Level 1, my concerns were how to make art, which then developed into what art to make. At the end of this course, I finally feel that I have moved on from how and what, to why.