BA ID Unit 1 and 2

History and Theory Exhibition and Site Visits

Sketches in reaction to the exhibition

Sketches people who visited the exhibition left to reinforce the issue of climate change and how we need to act against it. Some of the sketches look like they are made by young children which is inspiring as it is their future climate change will effect the most so is very important they are aware of the issues as well and wonderful to see they are making a stand against the issues at a young age. 

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The Dolphin Embassy

The Dolphin Embassy 1974-1978 by Curtis Schreier is unrealised project from the Ant Farm and is a proposal for a floating communication station for interactions with humans and dolphins in the wild. The craft is designed to act as a home, work space and laboratory for artists and scientists interested in dolphins. Allowing them to analise the dolphins upfront and gain the most out of their studies. It was intended to be fitted with technology such as wireless biological sensors and seagoing computers fit for research. This project's purpose was to create a deeper understanding between human and non-human species using art, research and science. 

I was fascinated by the idea of the Dolphin Embassy whilst looking round the exhibition. Firstly due to the beautiful reproduction drawings which show what the embassy would look like and the interaction between the humans and dolphins which I think is a beautiful concept due to the heartache humans often cause to many of the oceans species. 

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Akaska Chair

 The Alaska Chair 2018 by Virgil Abloh was originally designed as a wooden chair for Ikea. The chair represents the effects of our everyday lives and  mass-consumption has on the global rising of sea levels and climate change. The chair was specifically inspired by 'acqua alta' which is an Italian term used to describe floods in Venice, caused by high tides and warm winds. The doorstop wedge is symbolic of the short-term solutions we have for tackling climate change and the chair is casted in bronze which is a material meant to last a long time. The message the chair presents is that climate change is a long-term problem that is not fixed easily.

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RA Eco-Visionaries Exhibition

'Eco-Visionaries. Confronting a planet in a state of emergency.' This exhibition title is extremely powerful and represents the exhibition itself, incredibly moving which has left an impact on myself and many of it's visitors. When entering the exhibition the room is painted black deliberately to create an uneasy mood as the exhibition presents the extremely relevant, damaging impacts us as human are causing to the environment and the devastating effects this may have for our future. All the pieces in the exhibition are thought provoking; some present the damaging issues themselves whilst others present possible solutions to our destruction to the planet. 

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Lost Horizon I, 2008.

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Consists of 32 life-sized solid iron copies of Gormley's body adorning the floor, walls and ceiling of one room in the gallery.

Drawings

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Mother's Pride

 Mother's Pride is a piece which focuses on the connection between bread, the body and human life. The silhouette is the memory of the foetal body created by single thickness of sliced bread on the wall which is a life-supporting material. The bites of bread represent traces in time and the measuring of life, the distance go, the distance  we travel in a body, a moment at a time. Gormley used the most commonly bought processed white bread in Britain: 'Mother's Pride'.

When viewing this piece I was captivated firstly by the material displayed as using food to create artwork is often seen as strange and disgusting but it is clever as food is the source to the body and life so was a perfect material for the piece. I was then curious by the bite marks on the bread to create the silhouette and wondered if Gormley himself had bitten the bread and if not who did. This piece is definitely one that I will remember. 

"Sculpture has traditionally been about imposing mind over matter by an act of intelligence and will. I was looking for a more natural process, and eating is the primal process by which matter is transformed into mind." - Anthony Gormley. 

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Clearing VII 2019

'Clearing VII 2019' is a four and a half miles long steel tubing structure that is coiled and then allowed to expand until restricted by the walls, ceiling and floor, filling the room. 'Clearing VII 2019' was my favourite piece in the exhibition as when I entered the room it completely filled the space which Gormley designed deliberately to destroy the fixed co-ordinates of a room and make a 'line without end'. I was fascinated by this piece as it's viewer has to physically interact with it by moving through the coils while they clang and make marks on the walls which was amusing to watch people laugh and help each other step, duck and clamber through the structure and therefore completely engage with it. 

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Slabworks 2019

The idea of the body is presented in varied ways throughout the exhibition. The exhibition lay out is ordered by the theme of each piece rather than by date created, allowing the exhibition to flow. 

Slabworks 2019, by Antony Gormley consists of fourteen sculptures, in different positions across the floor of the galleries entrance. The geometric volumes replace the human form. Each sculpture is made by stacking the objects together, with no use of adhesive. Each sculpture presents a different human form; some standing, some laying at rest and some huddled.

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Anthony Gormley Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts London

Anthony Gormley is a sculptor who focuses on the human body and ideas of space to create his work. When visiting his exhibition I noticed how varied his work is in scale and material, from pieces that fill the whole exhibition room to smaller sketches and drawings. Gormley uses a wide range of material from steel to bread, and even sea water. I really admire him for using diverse and unusual materials to create his work and I feel using unique materials made the experience as a viewer more intriguing and for-filling. 

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Anthony Gormley Video:

Introduction to Anthony Gormley Video: Royal Academy of Arts London

Grace Adam: Video Notes

  • Focus on sculpture and insulation 
  • Gormley has worked as an artist for the last 40 years exploring his body in space.
  • His most famous piece of work, the Angel of the North in Gateshead, UK, 1998. 

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  • Iron Baby - tiny metal baby, placed in the courtyard of the Royal Academy. Gormley talks about this object as a bomb, it has loads of destructive potential. He is interested in the way it will grow up and have a whole life, a cycle..
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  • Matrix III, 2019 is very beautiful, it is apparently 97% re used, recycled metal. In the middle there is a space/ void which is the space of a European new build bedroom
  • Sleeping Field is a series of figures lying down. Gormley pushes the figures as far as he can take it. The are not glued or welded together, each block is laid onto another block. He is very invested in making things from industrial techniques
  • Huge body - enter through a foot, come out of a hand. The good thing is you don’t know whats going to happen, how to respond. You are not sure what he has laid out for you to experience. 
  • Gormley talks about the body as a sight, as a place. He wants us to celebrate that.

Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) Headquarters

The Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) was designed by George Grey Wornum and built in 1933-1934, located on 66 Portland Place. The front entrance is extravagant with large bronze double doors embellished with Londons most famous architectural structures making the building proudly known it is the headquarters of the RIBA. The exterior of the building is constructed using reinforced concrete and a steel-frame and clad in a Portland Stone. The interior of the building is an Art Deco style with a marble flooring, high ceilings making the building look grand. The large windows allow light to fill the room creating a positive and inspirational atmosphere for the buildings visitors and aspiring designers. 

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Broadcasting House

The Broadcasting House was built in 1930-1932 designed by George Val Myer and Watson Hart. The large building is located on Portland Palace in Central London. The building is an Art Deco style and is a Grade II listed building. The structure has a cold feel to it with its brick and steel frame and lack of decoration. The cold exterior contrasts with the interior as it is far more stylish with a sculpture of by Gill, a statue of "The Sower" presented in the foyer as well with a concert hall designed by George Val Myer. 

The building has nine stories which is perfect for being the hub of the British broadcasting cooperation (BBC) since the early 1930s. The first radio broadcast from the building was made on 15 March 1932. 

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Sir William Rothenstein

'The Doll's House' by Sir William Rothenstein 

The artist Augustus John and Rothenstein's wife Alice Knewstub (the actress Alice Kingsley) posed for the picture.The painting was posed on a staircase of a cottage in Vattètot whist the Rothenstein’s were on their honeymoon. The painting's title is influenced by Ibsen's play A Doll's House (1879), first preformed in London in 1889. The painting presents the climax of the drama in Act III, during a dance at the Helmers' house which presents the exposure of deception and hypocrisy of a marriage. Augustus John parodied the painting as if it were a typical Victorian painting and merely referred to Alice and himself as people, not characters in the play. 

The mood in this painting is very dreary, the man's stance is almost threatening, presenting his dominance over the woman as he stands upright in front of her, blocking her access down the stairs, while dressed in dark clothing. The woman is sitting glumly on the stairs as if she has given in to the man's dominance. The woman's white gown may represent her innocence in her controlling marriage. 

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Sir William Quiller Orchardson

'The First Cloud', 1887, oil on canvas, by Sir William Quiller Orchardson

'The First Cloud' is part of thee pictures by Orchardson that focus on the theme of the unhappy marriage. The first two in the series, Mariage de Convenance (1883, Glasgow Museums) and Mariage à la Mode - After! (1886, Aberdeen Art Gallery) depict the sacrifice of marrying for wealth rather than for love. The setting is an elegant Victorian drawing room, presenting the status of the couple. The painting presents the break down of a superficial marriage between an elderly rich husband and his bored, beautiful, young wife. In The First Cloud, the marriage is based on an exchange of the young brides' beauty matched with the mans' wealth, however, the age gap isn't as noticeable. It is clear that this is a marriage which lacks love, held together only by his wealth and her youth and beauty. 

The separation of the couple connotes a loveless marriage as they are far away from one another. The woman is facing the darkness out the window which may represent her life without the riches as she would not live this 'privileged lifestyle' of fancy furniture and clothes she has acquired. However, she seems to be tempted by the darkness and what is beyond her loveless marriage as her attention is captivated by the darkness, the possibility of living a free life and the possible chance of finding real love.

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Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present, No 3, by Angustus Leopold Egg

In the last painting of the series, the moon occupies the same position in the sky, indicating that the scene is taking place at the same time. The children's mother, has taken refuge under one of the Adelphi arches. Under her shawl she shelters a young child, possibly the result of her affair, which is clearly now over. 

These series of paintings are effective as they are not only beautiful, but they tell a story of this broken marriage and broken family, and life in the Victorian home behind the fancy exterior. 

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Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present, No 2, by Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present No 2 presents the aftermath of discovering disloyalty between a marriage. In the first scene the family are still together, and the husband has just learned of his wife's adultery. The second scene is a depressing scene, five years later. The room is sparsely furnished and the few decorations include two paintings of the absent mother and father. The very dark paint palette used creates an unnerving atmosphere, presenting to the viewer that this is most likely an unpleasant scene for the two girls in the centre of the painting. The father has recently died and the mother has been driven out of her home due to her betrayal. The two orphaned girls comfort each other, the elder gazing sadly over the rooftops towards the moon, possibly wishing what her life could have been. 

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Angustus Leopold Egg

Past and Present, No 1, by Angustus Leopold Egg

Angustus Leopold Egg created a triptych; called Past and Present.

Past and Present, No 1, (1858) by Angustus Leopold Egg is the first of a set of three modern-life pictures on the theme of the fallen woman, presented in the Tate collection. These were popular in Victorian art and typical social moralist pictures. 

The painting presents the aftermath of a woman's infidelity and it's consequences. In this first scene the wife lies prostrate at her husband's feet, while he sits sternly at the table and their children (the older girl modelled by William Frith's daughter) play cards in the background. The husband is holding a letter, evidence of his wife's adultery. The house of cards is collapsing which signifies the breakdown of the couple's marriage. Likewise the picture in the background of the mirror reflects an open door, denoting the woman's soon departure from the home. In Victorian England a man could take a mistress without fear of judgement or rejection, but for a woman to be unfaithful was an unforgivable crime.

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Sir Anthony Caro

'The Window 1966-7' by Sir Anthony Caro. 

Sir Anthony Caro (1924–2013) was intrigued with sculpture. As a part-time tutor at St Martin's school of Art, London (1953-1979), Caro wanted his students to go beyond the limits as he states "we are all engaged on an adventure, to push sculpture where it has never been. We are explorers". From 1960 Caro focused on abstract sculpture, that sits directly on the ground with the viewer. 

This piece is a multi-part steel sculpture, painted with a combination of dark and light green. The structure consists of two rectangular sheets of steel; one, solid and dark green, faces a larger, olive green, sheet of steel mesh. These are held upright (but in landscape format) which have the dimensions of 2170 x 3740 x 3480mm presenting the sculptures' large scale. The sharp pieces of metal which stretch across the room could easily injure someone when they are not paying attention, so it is a risky choice for Caro to created such a large and possibly dangerous sculpture. 

I find this piece fascinating as it is an abstract sculpture which intrigues the viewer due to our curiousness of what it is, why is is green and why is it in it's scale and form. 

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Leo Villareal 'Pace' exhibition

'Pace' by Leo Villarreal is an abstract piece made out of LED lights and custom software to create an enchanting visual experience. At the center of the exhibition is Detector 2019, a piece over ten metres which is a monumental piece which represents stars, galaxies and other astral phenomena. The piece is incredible to look at and is how I would imagine benig in space would look like.

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Millicent Fawcett, campaigner for women's suffrage

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The statue of Millicent Fawcett, a campaigner for women's suffrage was one of the pieces I found most relatable and moved by. Not only due to the sculpture detail where her tartan skirt looks like real life fabric but also due to the story behind the piece. The suffragettes fought bravely for the right for women to vote and live independently. I am thankful to these brave women who fought for our rights and therefore allowed me to have the opportunities I do today such as studying at university which not that long ago many women did not. 

The photographs on the platform Fawcett is on is of other suffragettes which makes the statue feel like a unity of the powerful and brave women together. 

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Parliament Square

Whilst thinking about memorials I thought about memorials near me and visited Parliament Square down the road from my University. 

My favourite statue within the square is the Winston Churchill statue and it is the biggest there so stands out and my admiration for him made viewing the statue alike many around me a moving experience. 

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One of the reasons I really enjoyed the exhibition was due to the positive messages spread throughout the exhibition. I left feeling Walker had left a positive impact on my life. 

At the end of the exhibition there were book collages that were big enough for a giant to read. This fit within Walker's theme of fantasy and dreams and was an effective way to present messages. 

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Box of Delights

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When entering Walker's room 'Box of Delights' collection the room felt like walking back in time into a vintage dream which displayed his extravagant staged photography on a pink floral wallpaper with vintage furniture and a 1960's television which played a video of the proaction of the work for the collection. 

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Tim Walker 'Wonderful Things' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum

I visited the Tim Walker 'Wonderful Things' exhibition. Having been an admirer of Walker's work for a long time I was excited to see his masterpieces in person and it was one of the best exhibitions I have seen. I have always admired the way Walker is not only an incredible photographer but the way he sets and dresses the scene for his shoots. This skill flourished into his exhibition as he transformed the space in a way that did not feel like a room but almost as if you were inside the mind of Walker seeing all of his ideas in action which he presented successfully.  

Tim Walker, born in 1970 has a unique style that plays with form and colour, presented in his extravagant staging. Each room of Walker's exhibition contrasted largely with different themes which felt like a fantastical world.

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'Living and Dying' Ceramic Pots

When looking through the Asian artefacts, I was intrigued by these beautifully detailed Chinese ceramic pots. These pots were part of the living and dying section, a ritual of cremation as they were made for the cremated ashes of a person of middle social rank who died in Zhejiang in the 1200s. The ceramic pots were personalised with such detail specific to the deceased individual. Although looking at these pots felt initially morbid they also felt uplifting as they are a personal and lovely way for people to remember their loved ones. 

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Sketch of the steps of the ritual of recycling a plastic bottle

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Place group presentation video on womens cloth here 

Women's Cloth

Whilst visiting the British Museum and looking out for rituals I came across the piece below called 'Women's Cloth' 1998-2001 by artist El Anatsui, born in 1944, Ghana. This piece caught my eye as it is constructed by recycled metal bottle tops and copper wire. The theme of this piece is about the memory of Anatsui's cultural background, and in this case the beautiful woven silk called kente cloth is Anatsui's inspiration as well as the theme of loss, particuallary based on consumerism and it's negative effects. 

Whilst looking at this piece and it's use of recycled materials it made me think about the ritual of recycling itself. Recycling has been around for thousands of years, relevant prior to the industrial age. This being because people couldn't make goods cheaply or quickly so recycling was a efficient way to produce their goods. The 1970s environmental movement presented a huge drive to encourage recycling announced by the first Earth Day and a push to recycling being a mainstream idea that many would follow. 

Within developing countries recycling has been a massive part of their cultures, remaking new furniture, clothing, accessories etc out of recycled materials or unwanted objects. Economic depressions have highlighted recycling as a fundamental ritual for many people to survive, as they simply cannot afford new products, and recycling is the only option they have.  

Many people in developing countries are also seeing first hand negative environmental effects of consumerism culture and what mass cheap production is causing to our environment, so they recognise the importance of recycling and use the ritual in their everyday lives. 

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British Museum

When looking at the practices of rituals I visited the British Museum to find objects and artefacts that presented rituals that interested me. Some of the rituals I discovered were extremely old and it was interesting to find out information I never knew before; especially about different cultures. 

Ideal House (Palladium House)

The Ideal House, modernly known as 'The Palladium House' is an Art Deco style building designed by architects Raymond Hood and Gordon Jeeves built between 1928-1929 and located on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Argyll Street in London. 

The exterior of the building is completely dark with a gold rim around the top of the building which gives the building an un ignorable presence as it stands out from its surrounding buildings. The building is embellished with enamel frieze and the black and gold colours of the exterior of the building are the colours of the National Radiator Company which was the original purpose of the building. The building isn't open to the public but from looking though the windows the interior is a modern office space with restaurants. 

 

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Marcel Duchamp

'Fountain' 1917 by Marcel Duchamp was seen as an icon of twentieth-century art. Duchamp focused on recycling object in his artwork by taking existing objects and placing them in different contexts. The original was lost and now a 1964 replica is in the Tate. The fact that the original is lost is interesting and ties in with the theme of the ‘throw away’ culture we live in, as we are not careful with our belongings due to our constant desire to purchase the latest model therefore disregarding and losing interest in anything previous. Showing our societies careless nature to our possessions.

Questions I thought about whilst looking at this piece:

What is a urinal doing in an art gallery?

To create a reaction, shocking it's audience.

Why was it so shocking at the time it was first seen?

Because artwork like itself was see as outrageous, inappropriate and rude, laughable and insulting rather than artwork which you can cherish, love and be inspired from. 

Is it still socially shocking/unacceptable ?

In some places and opinions, definitely as art is subjective, and especially the older generation are more likely to feel insulted seeing this piece in a gallery or perhaps confused. However I would say that times and opinions have moved on and we are living in a generation where we want to shock, outrage and grab people's attention to put our social and political views across. 

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Sarah Sze - Seamless Review

‘Seamless’ was created by Sarah Sze in 1999, made from cheap objects which are used in everyday life. These being: Lamps, plastic, fans, toothpicks, plants, string, bottles, cotton buds, compasses, pins, fire extinguisher, wire, ladder, matchsticks, humidifier, pills, wood, magnifying glasses, levels, scissors and other materials. Sze focused on using these everyday objects, designed for the human scale by changing their original context by creating a unique sculpture by combining them together. The sculpture flows into corners and doorways and even in spaces behind the wall created by rectangle holes, highlighting the galleries architecture. The title ‘Seamless’ represents its position at the seam of the two Tate buildings Sze explains, presenting its connection to the building itself.

‘Seamless’ is a modernist piece which highlights contemporary consumer culture, in modern day society as many of us have an obsession for purchase and possession of material objects which we then dispose of as we are fascinated by the latest object on the market. It is as if Sze has combined all of our perfectly working but unwanted possessions together into a striking sculpture that captures our attention due to it’s size and detail; making this piece not only fascinating to view but also a statement about the materialist society we live in. 

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Seamless - Sarah Sze, 1999

Materials and Objects display - Tate Modern

When visiting the 'Materials and Objects display' at Tate Modern I wanted to explore the range of materials and everyday objects different artists used to create their artwork. The fundamental theme the artists shared was the concept of consumerism and in-particular the issue of 'throwaway culture' in society.

Forms on a Bow 1949 by Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005

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Torso in Metal from 'The Rock Drill' 1913-15 by Jacob Epstein 1880-1959

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Tate Review - The Mud Bath

‘The Mud Bath’ was created by David Bomberg in 1914, made from oil paint on a canvas. Bomberg (1890-1975) was associated with a group of artist’s called the Vorticist’s who created artwork in response to the modern day world, which was often an abstract of the urban environment and the advance of factories and machines, highlighting Bomberg’s interest in Modernism.  

‘The Mud Bath’ includes abstract human figures formed from striking colours – red, blue and white which are geometric angles. Forcing the viewer to imagine the human form, differing from the traditional realism paintings of life form; presenting Bomberg’s role in Modernism.

‘The Mud Bath’ is influenced by Schewzik Russian Vapour Baths in Brick Lane, which were used by Jew’s for religious and hygienic practices. Jewishness was an important part in Bomberg’s identity and this piece was a way for him to express his religious beliefs in an abstract, modernist way.MUD BATHS -ASTON.jpg

Tate Britain

Visiting Tate Britain, and viewing modernist artwork from the late 19th century to the early 20th century gave me an understanding on how varied modernist artwork can be, with different themes on sculpture and scale. However, sharing the same admiration for simplicity represented by using a minimal colour palette.