Research – Journal artists

Not only have I been having trouble with imagery, but I have also had difficulties in finding relevant artists to research. While I have looking at other art medallists, in terms of their use of the medal as an object, of front and obverse, but this does not speak of the actual subject matter of my work which I am trying to tackle; of personal narrative, growth, loss, change and development over time. I have found it very difficult to find artists relating to these topics, as when researching on the internet using these search terms doesn’t yield many relevant results, and I’ve found that most artists while they may have their work online, is largely presented purely as a set of images and titles with no explanation or context as you might get in a gallery. Because of this, while there are likely many artists who are relevant to look at in relation to my work, I am struggling to find them as I have no point of reference in which to search them by. On the advice of a tutor, I took myself into the library and looked through a variety of journals for the day.

This piece is a series of everyday hand held objects, all of which are linked to techonology (remotes, a modern day mobile phone) are carved from stone to create these beautiful, dead objects. The way in which they are half formed, eroded, yet still recognisable and clearly designed for the human hand, and yet are also from nature. To me this piece speaks of loss, and there is no other word I can use to describe these objects other than “dead”, inert. In their very nature is a heaviness and they are cold to the touch, they are no longer extensions of ourselves, but broken and their only purpose is to be disregarded and abandoned. I am unsure how I would tie this into my own work, and I certainly do not want my pieces to speak so profoundly of loss, but I found these pieces very striking nonetheless. Perhaps the weight and coldness of the bronze is something I could factor into my design in this manner.

"Each other" - Helen Carnac

“Each other” – Helen Carnac

Another piece that spoke to me was this series of bowls, or in particular the center bowl, by Helen Carnac. The use of patern, which is reminiscent of text, almost transcends being mere pattern and has an energy and expression of its own. The bowl itself seems to be merely a canvas with having little importance placed upon it, the white chipping off in large pieces around the rum, and having brown smudges across the white surface, the pattern is the focus here. Despite being the focus of the work, it does not lay where the viewer can easily observe it, on the rim or the inside of the bowl, but rather the lower two thirds, all the way to the underside of the piece and even seemingly spilling over onto the surface below. The pattern itself seems to have a sense of agency, its purpose is not to serve you and pander to your needs and desires. There is also the nature of the bowls being in a set, which is relevant to me as I am looking to create a set, although the other pieces in this set do not interest me so much.

"Hole from carrying wallet in pocket, number 1" - celia pym

“Hole from carrying wallet in pocket, number 1” – Celia Pym

"Norwegian sweater" - Celia Pym

“Norwegian sweater” – Celia Pym

Celia Pym’s work is something which really speaks to me of narrative. She is a textile arist who takes old and worn clothes, and brings them back to life by darning the holes with cotton. However, rather than using a colour which blends with the original piece of clothing, she chooses colours that are distinctly different and obvious. This creates a piece of clothing which is functional, and yet has been transformed in terms of narrative, and wears its history for all to see. The banal and ordinary, holes made socks and pockets through every day use are pulled into the foreground, made to be celebrated and witnessed, rather than an inconvenience to be discarded and forgotten about.

"Scotts Cumbrian Blues, Cow in a Medow" - Paul Scott - 2007

“Scotts Cumbrian Blues, Cow in a Medow” – Paul Scott – 2007

"Scotts Cumbrian Blues, Fukushima" - Paul Scott 2014

“Scotts Cumbrian Blues, Fukushima” – Paul Scott 2014

Paul Scott is an artist who subverts the classic blue and white ware imagery, often using willow pattern, and changing the context or meaning of the piece to something much more humorous. These always have a political and serious undertone to them, and yet the manner in which it is executed and presented with this play on classic imagery is inherently amusing, to see something being repurposed and recontextualised.

This reminds me of Banksy’s paintings in which he often takes a seemingly unremarkable, classic style painting, and adds elements into the background or foreground to completely change the context of the image

"Carwreck" - Banksy

“Carwreck” – Banksy

By doing this, these arists are changing the narrative and meaning of the piece you are looking at. It then has a sense of duality in that it still contains the original context and ideals behind it, but this has then been layered with a new meaning which has given the piece a completely new perspetive and message.

"Eight Unsaid" - Louise Boscacci - 2007

“Eight Unsaid” – Louise Boscacci – 2007

This is a piece that is in fact very relevant to my work, which is a set of eight cups. Each of these are designed to be held in the hand, and are functional in their use, but also fit together as a set interchangeably. Despite these cups not sharing an image, they still work very clearly as a set. This may be due to the fact they are hand cups, without a ringed base to sit on and so cannot stand by themselves, so it is a more natural assumption to fit them together, rather than having them stand on their own in a row. Although they may not have a shared image, they do very clearly have a shared aesthetic, both in their form and decoration, and are very distinctly part of a set. The cups are interchangeable, and unlike my previous ideas do not in any way have images that fit or link together in some way. While this works very well for this piece, I’m not sure that this style of disjointed patterns or images set in the same aesthetic would work for my medals for several reasons. None of these pieces individually strike me as representing any particular thing, and seem more visually decorative than conceptual. While I have read that this piece is supposed to represent a sentence, and each cup a word in the sentence, this is not something I would have gotten from simply looking at them or even from interacting with them.

"Bowl for 264 species"

“Bowl for 264 species” – Louise Boscacci – 2007

Much of Boscacci’s work involves the use of text, but is often made unreadable and forms more of a scrawl than legible text, taking on a life of it’s own much as the pattern earlier in Helen Carnac’s piece “Each Other”. This very physical use of text is something I find very striking, and considering that text is often a significant feature of a medal could be something to investigate and potentially emulate or synthesise into my own pieces.

"Ven Guapo #1" - Todd Cero-Atl 2007

“Ven Guapo #1” – Todd Cero-Atl 2007

I was most struck by this piece by Todd Cero-Atl, which consists of a pair of teacups and saucers, which are held together by a halo of safety pins and pom-poms. This piece is truly personal, with what may seem to be innocent teacups to the viewer representing the discrimination that Cero-Atl’s lover who was suffering from AIDs faced in a cafe having seen the waitress throw away their teacups after the two having used them. He then sadly passed away, and this piece is part of Cero-Atl’s reconciling with his grief. The halo of safety pins represents his grief, piercing and yet enclosing, binding the two together.

It’s the holding together of the two separate objects that interests me here, the fragility and the tension between them, and this directly influenced me to try and incorporate this into my medals.

handheld medal stack

In order to be held together, it then makes sense for the medals to fit the hand, the fingers, in a way that makes them both intuitive and comfortable to hold. In this way the piece is also responding to the viewer in a physical sense, and that sense of compromise, of the object adapting itself to you in a very obvious and inoffensive manner encourages the forming of bonds and attachment to the object, a sense of warmth and engagement. As the medals are looking to express the states of being in the human experience, and act as a platform or as a mirror on which the viewer can reflect, this physical relationship with the object is key. The medals are then seen less as “the other” and more as an extension of the self, and the viewer willingly picks up, engages and invites the object into their own personal space. This is also an excellent use of the edge of the medal, learning from the previous year where I had given almost no consideration to the edge and then when the physical object was made found myself completely taken aback by it, and certainly an idea I am going to carry forward with the design.


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