Monday, 26 April 2010

Ideas Ideas Ideas

So I had a tutorial today which I found extremely useful and it triggered some ideas. A lot of what we discussed was how to get away from a purely embroidered piece which would be highly time consuming and incorporating different techniques to create a possibly slightly larger final outcome. Some Ideas...
  • Screen printing my own images and patterns onto fabric
  • Block and pattern squares of material to form a larger image- ambiguous from close up and becomes clearer from a distance
  • Combination of detailed embroidery, faster sewing machine work and transfer printed photos
  • Simplifying the images completely creating a kind of series of symbols to represent specific family members and then this code could come together to form one main image
  • Using a cross stitch method

A Change of direction

My initial trigger for this project was the word missing. I was going to focus on missing people who leave their families unexpectedly, either by choice or by a series of random events which lead to their disappearance. However, I decided to start my research by looking through old photo albums (some photos below) and look at in detail the people 'missing' in my family, who I did not meet but were still integral to my family and obviously had a huge influence on my parents and therefore this filtered through to me. I also find it fascinating how little a lot of us know about our families, almost assuming we have no need to know it. The photos were beautiful in themselves and I was really drawn to them. Therefore, I have decided to focus my project on the missing people in my family and create a final outcome based around the idea of making their absence a presence. I also see my final outcome as a product of a learning exercise about family origins etc.

My drawings as a whole will be created from photo source material and luckily I have a huge range to choose from. My experiments so far with image have been fairly crude, simply trying to get a good grasp of the figures, however I will soon move onto developing the images more. I have done some initial work on the sewing machine with some hand stitched pattern added later. Though I like the image I may stick with all hand done embroidery, though it will be time consuming, I think it will be more effective or I will try a combination of the two techniques as a labour saving device.

"Quilts are repositories of memory"

I recently went to the V and A to see the Quilting exhibition which I was really impressed by. The sheer time and discipline which must have gone into making them (especially the earlier quilts) was really clear. I was also really aware that the materials were recycled, with quilts being made up of a once treasured dress or a child's pyjames
giving the quilts a great history and highlighting their use as memory collectors. This is really relevant to my project and although I could create nothing in comparison to these quilts in the exhibition in terms of scale, it was a good source of inspiration. I was particularly interested by Natasha Kerr's work who was using her quilt to convey a little of her heritage ...

Another exhibition very relevant to my project was 'American Servicemen and Women' by Emily Prince at the Saatchi Gallery. The portraits of 5,158 American soldiers fill a room at the Gallery – all of them different and all of them dead. They are meticulously drawn in tribute to each American serviceman and woman killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2004 – the year President George W. Bush was re-elected. Frustrated by the direction America was headed in, artist Emily Prince began channelling her energy into creating this memorial project. The pencilled portraits appear on small cards corresponding to skin colour, forming a study of the racial demographics for soldiers sent to war. Since the Saatchi installation was finalised, there have been 169 more American soldiers killed. Prince, who has returned to her home in San Francisco, has continued to add to her portraits and she says the project won't be complete until the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq stop for good. I found the work very poignant and also very impressive in terms of scale and her commitment to the project.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A little development...

Working from my life drawings (some below) I began to develop some of the images, adding simple flat colour. The use of line and pattern has become particularly interesting to me recently and Julia Potts work has been quite a big influence. I used fairly muted tones as I felt this suited the images I was drawing.

Here you can see Julia Pott's Work

Initial Research

I was a little unsure how to start my research in terms of drawing so I am keeping it fairly simple and started drawing from the huge pile of photos I found, using images I found particularly interesting, to see where this would take me. Most of the photos were black and white so i either used a simple colour palette or stuck to black and white images. Here are some of my sketch book pages. The middle two images were observations from life.

Some Source Material

It was a mammoth task searching through piles of photo albums with crumbling pages but it was definitely worth it for the material I found. I am pretty sure they were taken on a box brownie camera as that was all my mum owned at the time, yet the images are surprisingly crisp. Searching through all the photos made me really wish we still arranged them in albums like this. It is time consuming but there is something so much more satisfying about physically turning the pages.

Starting Point

I have decided to explore the issue of Missing Persons. Both exploring the 'missing' in my family and also missing people on a wider scale. I am going to explore temporary absence and also permanent absence, and then hopefully as the project develops it will become clearer which element I should focus on. The aim of this project is to create a body of detailed research and a final outcome. I will use films, documentaries (referenced in bibliography) and relevant books as a secondary resource. Primary research may comprise of interviewing family members and using relevant internet resources. I am not definite of what physical form my ideas will take, but embroidery is a medium that I would like to explore more fully. I hope through this project to make an absence a visible presence.