Category Archives: Assignment 2

Part 2 Screen printing Tutor report

I was extremely nervous at what my report may say, so much so that I didn’t open it until I had stared at the email for ages psyching myself up for the reveal. I am immensely pleased with the feedback I received and how in-depth it was. I have lots to look up and read which I know will inform my next body of work for part 3 Reveal and conceal.
Tutor report
Overall Comments
Sue, You again have developed ideas and concepts from a thought provoking
body of well-researched subjects. It is clear you seek out topics that are
deep, meaningful and sensitive, as you need the work to have integrity and
significance. It is a risk, to take on subjects such as Female Genital Mutilation
(FGM). Evidently you, critically think through each process finding more linear
subjects although presenting aesthetically pleasing ideas, hollow, and you
want the work to have gravity, substance and depth. This body of research
provides many possibilities; you have worked effectively through a number of
ideas and concepts. Your practice evaluates materials, consciously validating
the use of alternative and controversial mediums. This is a brave body of
work that takes risks with subject matter, materials and processes. Well done!
I understand your aim is to go for the Textiles Degree and that you plan to submit
your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have
shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe
you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the
assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will
outline in my feedback.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome,
Demonstration of Creativity
Sue, you initially began to look at manmade landscapes finding the
constructed, architectural patterns easy to work with. However, this work
gave you an, ‘empty’ feeling; you needed to stretch the parameters.
Therefore, you began to consider the physical landscape (the body). This
submission falls into two sections: The manmade landscape and the physical
landscape.
The Manmade Landscape.
Being drawn to Frank O. Gehry’s architectural practice inspired some
interesting work with manipulating personal photographs of famous landmark
buildings such as The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. O. Gehry famous
for his buildings that represent undulating free-form sculpture. He treated
each commission as: “A sculptural object, a spatial container, a space with
light and air”, a very fascinating and cutting edge architect of his time. He also
produced cardboard furniture:
http://www.design-museum.de/en/collection/100-
masterpieces/detailseiten/wiggle-side-chair-frank-o-gehry.html
Using your photographs you created montages. These distort the actual
image slightly and throw lines that inform some creative design ideas. These
ideas you sketched focusing on the shapes and angles. I actually really
enjoyed these pages of exploration using mixed media that play with structural
forms. Taking O. Gehry’s window design you made some interesting motif
and repeat pattern work. You show a good understanding of colour, laying
down confidently, line, structure and sketchbook work. Here, you have
effectively grasped ideas and successfully communicated those ideas visually.
Although, you found this work didn’t feed your ‘soul’ and wasn’t ‘challenging’
you enough. I do think it illustrates your real ability in finding interesting
sources to inspire creative and innovative design. With a closer look at O.
Gehry you may have discovered other dimensions to his work such as
‘recycling’, spatial concepts and distorting the socially acceptable using low
budget corrugated metal panels, steel poles and wire mesh fencing.
However, putting constructed landscapes to one side you began to consider
the physical, body landscape:
The Physical Landscape.
This journey led you through considering the numerous ways in which we
manipulate and distort the body including: tattoos, body piercing, cosmetic
surgery and finally to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Each one of these
subjects again, offered a wealth of research to feed numerous bodies of
artwork.
You have looked at various artists that have approached the emotive subject
of FGM or the female sexual organs such as: Jessica Stanton, Abebe
Zelelew, Ronald Jung, Olubunmi Temitope Oyesanya, The Shorditch Sisters
(Embroiderers Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation), Anish Kapoor
and Cornelia Parker (Pornographic Drawing – The Whitworth Gallery,
Manchester).
One of the most insightful quotes I found in your research was; “Yoni is the
Sanskrit word for the primal sacred place. The Yoni is as temple in which the
divine essence of a woman, in other words her soul, can be worshipped”,
(Yoni – Hindu). This summarises the sanctity of the woman. Therefore, in
violating a woman’s most sacred part leaves us with the notion that this work
seeks to highlight the gravity and inconceivable loss of innocence these
women and children have suffered.
As I stated previously this is a raw and sensitive subject and it is brave to step
into the realms of using this as a vehicle to form ideas and concepts for
design and artworks. You have effectively worked through a number of ways
in which to form design ideas. Using sketching, watercolour washes, fine
liners to draw the vagina, clitoris and labia. This didn’t work for you so you
moved forward into photographic images illustrating fingers over mouths
(Shhh!) and hands protecting sexual parts. Removing the text gave the
images more gravity and softness but you pushed through to find a method
that projected more of what you wanted.
As Africa represented a continent where FGM was prevalent you began
looking at fabrics, prints and symbolism. Choosing symbols that represented
strength, femininity, bravery, fragility, etc. The attributes you associated with
women and children who had undergone FMG. Exploring these symbols as
design elements for borders or central panels. Again, these motifs could have
easily provided you with numerous prints however, you felt that these had not
expressed or evoked the depth of feeling you desired.
Contacting an African Fabric Shop they sent samples and emails explaining
production and processes. Consider looking at Yinka Shonibare MBE, Africa
Now: Political Patterns. Shonibare explores his West African heritage; his
practice is concerned with disrupting conventional notions of race, class and
cultural identity. The significance of black diaspora of art originating from
European, American Imperialism and slavery.
http://www.yinkashonibarembe.com/articles/past/
You are very articulate and self-aware, very well researched and demonstrate
a developed intellectual understanding. This is clearly evident in the manner
in which you question materials and methodology. For instance questioning
yourself and your practice in whether to use blood was appropriate or purely
for ‘shock’ tactics. Having been on the study visit to The Whitworth Gallery in
Manchester and viewing Cornelia Parker’s work it helped you formulate
reasoning and justification in using alternative mediums.
Although you lay to one side the African symbols, you had investigated the
meaning and strength behind these. I agree that these could have led to a
body of interesting design work. The importance of these cloths and
symbolism for women carried a great weight, often unable to express
themselves they used this a medium to convey strength, courage and
celebrated their femininity. Perhaps you hadn’t expanded these enough?

S.B Response – reading this set me thinking why I hadn’t stayed with the ideas I had and developed these further, what was my ‘gut instinct’ telling me? I realised that subconsciously I view parts 1-4 of the course as a preliminary to part 5, in so much that in the back of my mind that these are all possibilities for full development in part 5. I am aware that in part 3 I can explore deconstruction and decay of fabrics, which will produce valuable samples developing the subjects I have covered in parts 1 and 2.

Tutors notes continue…
Could these become raw, exaggerated, random, distorted? This may have
provided a way in which to express a broken spirit or struggle?
Buying dried blood from an on-line butcher you began to explore making a
screen using African nations (most profound for FGM) as the design or motif.
Experimenting with various fabrics you tested and investigated methods of
printing with this medium. The Christening Dress became the symbol of
‘ceremony’, and consideration of the child’s innocence. Although you have
not stated this clearly this links very well to the research you submitted
regarding the prolific numbers of FGM in the UK, Sheffield our home city
having the 5th highest levels of FGM. This almost Victorian Christening dress
takes on the role of British Colonial Power and the dissemination of countries
affected by historical plundering of the West. Now Britain has made a
homeland for cross-pollination of cultures.

S.B response– I see how whilst in my mind I was wanting the Christening Dress to tell of the juxtaposition of British involvement in Colonising it’s perceived developing countries and the arrogance and ignorance in this alongside against the Long held cultural and social reason for the practise of F.G.M. I listened to a play on radio 4 (A cut above) some weeks ago where a young British Muslim teenage girl, arranges in secret from her family her own F.G.M, as she is attracted to a boy at school and she believes he wouldn’t be interested in her if she hadn’t undergone F.G.M. I intellectually understood that a girl would feel pressure to be made ‘clean’, yet I hadn’t felt it in a way that the play allowed me to. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vfgc8  I do need to explore all angles in my work.

Tutor’s comments continue…

Therefore, it is difficult for us to understand or come to terms with the cultural
ceremony of FGM, now legislated as illegal in the United Kingdom. I found
some of your research article very interesting and could see from both sides
the gravity of this situation:
• It is a cultural practice.
• To keep a woman whole before marriage.
• To keep the girl ‘clean’.
• To be a respected member of the community.
• Religious reasons (Muslims).
Although this carries a strong message about the subordination of women and
girls in society this practice is carried out by Christians, Muslims and followers
of indigenous religions suggesting it is more cultural rather than religious. If a
girl believes no man will marry her resulting in no off spring we begin to
understand the social pressures of FGM. It is always relevant and important
to see both sides of the argument and understand ‘why’ this procedure still
exists in the 21st Century. This conjures up even more substantial material to
inspire provocative artworks, the pull of cultural identity versus abhorrent pain
of mutilation.

S.B response – I see I have not noted my thoughts on one of the reasons I chose to use the christening gown, I wanted to take the focus away from the assumption that F.G.M was a African and/or Muslim practice. I wanted to show that F.G.M was practised world wide and was not solely a religious practice. I did not want to present a prejudicial viewpoint. If I was to present this work in an exhibition I would need to think about what content my artist statement would have. I also need to look at the work I have produced to see how I can, if possible develop the piece to be clearer in my intentions.

Tutors notes continue...
I believe the christening gown does open an uncomfortable dialogue
especially as it lies marked with blood. The dried blood becomes brown in
nature that almost signifies the passage of time, being aged and dulled, the
rawness of red has been dissipated. I imagine hundreds of your little white
christening gowns hung within a gallery on simple washing lines. The impact
would be sobering and powerful. You have shown a highly effective grasp of
ideas and communication of those ideas visually.
The stitched city masses of Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham and
Manchester again are poignant using darning techniques, surgical like running
stitch and ‘cut here’ text. This is effective work presented in a professional
way, showing strong judgement. You could consider developing these further
perhaps using splashes of blood, combining techniques. Could the stitch
work be raw almost like stitching up roughly an injury? Fabric could be frayed,
bulky, with bleeding through of other mediums. I think you could extend this.
You have competently created repeat patterns, boarders and motif designs in
accordance to the brief using land and city masses as the design element.
This didn’t have any gravity or weight for you. Again, consider the materials
used and application. Consider distortion, blending of nations or torn divides
to give more power and depth to repeat designs.

S.B response– I am looking to sample ways of decaying and de-constructing fabrics in this manner in part 3. One of the workshops suggested is called De-constructing and disintegration. I like the idea of blurring the boundaries of the nations and cities. This adds the visual narrative I am missing.

Tutors notes continue…
Sketchbooks
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Sue, you have worked in a considered and thoughtful manner pushing the
boundaries of ideas and concepts. These sketchbooks evidence
experimentation and exploration of mixed media, textile cloth and inspirational
materials. You are hungry to find methods of expressing evocative and highly
charged emotive issues. Here, you are creative, taking risks with imaginative
and successful outcomes, with a strong evidence of personal voice.

I do think you could at times push ideas further before laying them to one side.
Each element you select for research and inspiration holds weight and if
pushed could result in some amazing outcomes. You have a natural ability to
sketch beautifully using line and colour very effectively (Frank O. Gehry’s
architectural practice work). The christening gown evidences your ability to
develop concepts and take risks with successful outcomes. I agree at times
the work become flat as you process repeats and motif designs. Consider
pushing the boundaries of these. Perhaps these could hold as much gravity
as the gown via exploring further ways in which to manipulate or distress cloth
or experimenting with applying dye mediums in a more aggressive or
deliberate manner.

(S.B response – This could be samples worked in the part 3 workshop Deconstruction and decay?

Tutor’s notes continue…
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Context
Sue, your on-line learning log effectively charts your journey. You post
regularly, updating ideas and concepts, personal reflection, lines of research
plus personal discoveries. This log is well written, easy to navigate, presented
in a professional way showing a fluency of technical, visual and research
skills. You are articulate, self aware, very well researched and demonstrating
a developed intellectual understanding.
It is good to see that you are actively seeking our study visits and gathered so
much from the Whitworth Gallery, experiencing Cornelia Parker’s work. It is
clearly evident that you are inspired by contemporary art and focus on ways in
which you can address grave issues via your art practice. I am interested to
see where the old cine films will take you. Revisiting the old workhouse
before its demolition and projecting the images. Your work looks to uncover
hidden prejudices, discrimination and abuse of women through the ages and
cultural divides. The workhouse does have an affinity with the plight of FGM
in the links between women suffering due to birthright.
You include relevant website links and a cohesive bibliography again,
highlighting the depth of research gathered. I would encourage you to
continue scratching below the surface to find sources of inspirational
research. Perhaps argue both sides in your critical writing. You have papers
that relate to ‘why’ FGM happens, just highlight this in your own writing.
Imagine how difficult it must be to be born into this traditional cultural situation.
The stigma associated with not going through with FGM.

S.B response – I have completely missed this out in my consciousness, execution of the work and the blog.

Tutor’s notes continue…

Continue to photograph your work this is an excellent record of the processes,
applications, experimentation and exploration of materials. You include
relevant artists work images that have had an impact your development both
conceptually and methodologically. Experiencing the work is so important and
I would encourage you to continue visiting exhibitions and galleries as this
feeds your creative mind. Your personal reflection is always very heartfelt and
insightful. Well done!
Suggested reading/viewing
Context
Other sites connected with FGM:
http://africandigitalart.com/tag/female-­‐genital-­‐mutilation/

http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/press_releases/26_february_
southbank_centre_announces_wow_-­‐
_women_of_the_world_festival_2015_visual_arts_programme.pdf

http://aachronym.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/new-­‐exhibition-­‐at-­‐center-­‐for.html
http://www.naijablog.co.uk/2009/02/like-­‐virgin-­‐lucy-­‐azubuike-­‐zanele-­‐muholi.html
http://www.brandeis.edu/wsrc/arts/pastexhibits/rosowsky.html
http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=96792
http://www.artistsagainstfgm.com/
Tracey Emin:
Often make provocative work relating to the body, sexuality and being female.
http://www.traceyeminstudio.com/homepage/
http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/tracey_emin.htm
Judy Chicago – The Dinner Party: (with a view to the table runner concept).
http://flavorwire.com/273653/10-famous-feminist-artworks
Nara Lubelski – (A Situation, Clumsy, Side Dish).
https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/feminist_art_base/gallery/nava_lubel
ski.php?i=2393
Nara Lubelski – (Repair & mend).
http://www.navalubelski.com/statement.html
Books:

Coppard, Abbie and Costanza, Enrico and Pasqui Eleonora, Aware (2011),
Aware, art Fashion Identity. Damiani Editore, London, Royal Academy of Arts.

Wolf, Naomi,(1991), The Beauty Myth. 2nd ed., London, Vintage Books.
Pointers for the next assignment
• Maintain your excellent working practices.
• Continue to seek out inspirational research sites including galleries,
shows and exhibitions to feed your practice.
• Explain both arguments.
• Sketch regularly.
• Expand and push the boundaries of ideas before moving on.
• Consider merging concepts such as using symbols within the work.
• Push methods of exploration such as distorting, distressing,
exaggerating, etc.
• Continue taking risks and pushing the boundaries!

Well done Sue, this was a thought provoking and insightful body of
experimental work. I look forward to your next assignment.
Tutor name Lizzy Levy
Date 18th June 2015
Next assignment due TBC

Review of Part 2 Screen printing

I started this module full of gusto – as usual – I thought it was an easy brief working with pattern from a man-made landscape. I began using my photographs to produce resource materials and the patterns were easy to find and work with but, I had an empty feeling in my gut about what I was doing. I knew I wasn’t challenging myself with what I was doing. Unless I am grappling with something new I don’t feel I am doing my best. I’m not sure I want to ‘unpick’ this thought but, I am wanting to push myself completely with my studies and if I feel like I’m coasting I worry I am not investing in me enough. Anyway, I decided to look for the stretch which took me to looking at the extremes man goes to change their own personal landscape.   This took me through the tattoos, body piercings, cosmetic surgery and finally to female genital mutilation. An extremely challenging subject in itself but then I had to create some pattern so I would meet the brief.

What I have found is that my ease in finding patterns was challenged by the subject in a way I hadn’t envisaged. I found that it wasn’t the pattern that occupied my mind but the situation or place where the pattern would be. What would be the right place to put the images I had found and wished to use? They weren’t appropriate to use as a scarf, table linen or clothing. The print needed to be situated in the right place. This took me to thinking about relevance, reverence to the subject and appropriateness of the prints placing. Where I began with buildings, the print pattern could have gone anywhere, it was simply a pattern with no meaning. With this subject I had to place the pattern – though it was a simple pattern – in a location that was an intrinsic component of the piece.

I wrestled not only with this but also with my confidence at being able to handle this subject and tie it into the course brief. I often thought I should’ve stuck with the buildings and the patterns I had started to develop, but I knew for myself I had to work through the issues I had in order to feel that I had challenged myself.

I finally felt that a simple border on a simple christening gown should be how I presented the print. I felt it would support the work in 2 ways;

Firstly you see a small gown and think of innocence, purity and vulnerability juxtapose this with the pattern printed in blood, denoting the often hidden barbaric act of F.G.M which is often undertaken by babies who would be small enough to wear the gown.

Secondly the mix of a Victorian gown, alluding to British cultural/ceremonial history and the print of current cities in England where recent high incidents of reported F.G.M have been recorded, brings notice of the practice of F.G.M that has being introduced into our cities and the British citizens who have endured F.G.M.

I feel I have responded well to the challenge I presented myself and, I am satisfied with the result of my labours. I could’ve taken the route of presenting a variety of screen printed designs that would grace any manner of household linens or clothing, but instead I through ignorance, ended up down the route of exploring the relevance and importance of the space/place or item that a design may end up on. Thus I found I chanced on what was an incredibly important exercise.

 

I did also have a further idea of developing the idea by printing onto a white table runner on which I would embroider in white cotton the outlines of English cities, and the number of reported incidents of F.G.M. This idea has been marked for possible future development.

Part 2 Screen printing – Sketchbook work and printing techniques

After working with photography and feeling that it wasn’t going where I wanted it too, I decided to look at what fabrics were used and also if symbols were used in telling the story of the wearer. I have in the past bought african beads from The African Fabric Shop, and have seen the vast array of fabrics being imported into the U.K by this company. I enquired if they could tell me how their fabrics were printed and, kindly they sent me many samples and emails explaining processes.

bark dyed fabric

bark dyed fabric

shwe shwe fabric from South Africa

shwe shwe fabric from South Africa

 

kente woven cloth (Ghana) and wax printed fabrics using kola nut dye. kolanut is deemed as being sacred and is used in ceremonies

kente woven cloth (Ghana) and wax printed fabrics using kola nut dye. kolanut is deemed as being sacred and is used in ceremonies

Whilst looking at symbols used in African fabric printing I came across a variety of resources and i chose some symbols that told of strength, femininity, bravery, fragility etc. that i associated with the women and children who had undergone F.G.M. I explored using them as designs for borders on fabric and also centre panels.

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst I could see easily how I could produce innumerable patterns and designs, I just couldn’t see that this work told the story in a way that I wanted it to be. It all looked quite twee. I was still curious about printing using blood, but what image or design would I use? I looked at outlines of countries in Africa where record of incidences of F.G.M were recorded in detail and began to form some ideas. I wanted to show something of the innocence that is taken at the hands of F.G.M and thought initially of something that symbolised innocence to me that was familiar. I chose a christening gown. I collaged what I envisaged it could look like.

 

 

 

I decided it was really time to see what printing with blood would involve. I had purchased dried blood from a butchers on-line as it was the only source I could find to buy blood. I made a screen using screen printing fabric and stuck to it a stencil made of sticky plastic This I used to make prints on a variety of fabric to see how it reacted.

 

 

 

 

Often I find I find I am unsure that the path I am following as the right one, and I have taken to simply doing a basic mind map in order to get me back on track or to help me focus on what I feel is important at that time to move forward. I had worked on many ideas and was feeling I was wandering and not actually committing to any one idea. The above paper was what I decided to tuned to after printing with the blood. I wanted to know that I was using the blood in the correct context and not just using it because it was to me an unusual medium.  I found that yes, it was unusual but to me it was the best suited medium to use, not to sensationalise in any way but I could see that if I was to develop this idea further I would take it to the extent of working with women who had endured F.G.M and, using their blood I would want to print the area where they were living when their cutting had taken place. I was aware that all my designs were of African countries and I wanted to get away from the stereotypical idea that this is the only place F.G.M took place. There is documented information now of the numbers of girls that are cut in this country. I spoke to someone from the Orchid Project based in London, and also Ashiana based in Sheffield to find out a little about what was happening in the U.K and especially my home city of Sheffield.

I had felt pulled back to the brief outlined in Exploring ideas of developing patterns to be printed, so I worked by hand drawing designs using countries in Africa and then I worked using Photoshop to produce some designs using cities in England where high growth in reported cases of F.G.M .

 

Hand drawn patterns below.

 

 

 

 

 

Photoshop designs below.

border design

border design

 

 

 

Whilst I find it easy to create patterns using repeats etc. I was thinking that twee patterns didn’t actually hold the weight I wanted to offer the subject. I then began to this that it was actually where the patterns were placed that would add gravitas to the design. I thought again of the christening gown and even an alter cloth, to express the ceremonial aspect of the cutting. I returned again to the idea of the christening gown as it resonated with me as part of my own culture intertwined with the culture of where F.G.M is seen as a right of passage. I thought this would speak of girls who are now brought up in the duality of British culture and that of their parents and grand-parents county of origin.

I also thought of adding stitching to the piece which I explored in the sample below.

 

 

I am now I feel ready to complete this section of work by actually printing my final sample. I have decided to use the simplest method of printing and, I am going to use a stencil of the cities in England to create a border onto a Victorian christening gown I have, using blood.

 

Screen printing part 2 & personal project development 28.04.15

I’ve now taken nearly two weeks out from working. I say that, I mean from working full tilt. I have slowed down as I have had a feeling in my gut that something isn’t going the way I’m wanting it too.  I am learning to listen to this feeling and give myself space for the uncertainty in my head to assemble itself into something I can recognise and work from.

I am using blood to print, locating a source has taken me nearly two weeks as I struggled to find a supplier. I have an abattoir pretty local and they wouldn’t entertain giving me any. Butchers and local farms also have rejected me. Finally I found a source on-line who I could buy dried blood from, it’s used to make black pudding. The up side of this is I don’t need to keep a bucket of fresh blood in my fridge, and I can mix just the amount I need. It’s an add water substance. I have samples bloodied and I am eager to see how the fabric reacts, if it rots, smells or how permanent the blood is. I have enjoyed more than I thought this process. I am amused that I would consider let alone actually use such a medium, if it could be considered a medium. I did realise last week that it is in fact using blood that has thrown me off kilter. Am I using the right material, is it because I want to shock, is it appropriate, what is it about the blood? It wasn’t until Sunday’s study visit to the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester that I finally accepted, Yes, blood is the right material for me. One of the images I have referenced in this work is a piece called ‘pornographic drawing’ by Cornelia Parker. I had hoped it would be in the exhibition but I didn’t know for certain. The itinerary for the visit looked tight and left me thinking that I wouldn’t be able to visit the exhibition. fortunately we were given free rein in the morning to go where we wished. Parker’s exhibition greeted me as soon as I turned a corner, and there in front of me was the piece. Her use of Customs, confiscated porn films,  gave her a supply of cellulose from which, mixed with some solvent gave her a substance she could print from. I liked the whole idea of alchemy, changing something to produce something else. I spent nearly 3 hours with the Parker exhibition. I found it exhilarating, and more than anything it opened up so many possibilities. There wasn’t one piece of her exhibition I didn’t get or like. To say I was inspired was an understatement.  What I am finding as I work through the courses is a feeling of possibilities opening out before me. It’s like I am walking down a corridor and the walls and ceiling are moving further apart giving me wider scope to work. Exciting in its self.

I had visited the workhouse buildings the week before to take photographs and to also see if I could bring away any artefacts I could use in my personal project work. I had sat in the grounds looking at the door the inmates would have gone through, wondering how I could touch that moment. Again I thought of using blood, mine. I had come home and on sheets of paper, brainstormed what it was I was hoping to do, what did I want? I wanted to acknowledge the part of me, the DNA that my ancestors had taken into that place, a place that had impacted on my grand-mother in such a way it had affected her ability to parent. The impact that had on my father and in turn his ability to parent. How he parented me had no excuse in the history of his upbringing, though it did have a contributory cause. If I could step into their world and change it, or at least tell them what would happen generationally as a consequence, maybe I would not have had the experiences I did have as a child. I wanted to put my DNA, from my body in the building. I wanted to use my blood to make a print of my feet standing on the threshold of that building. The same threshold they would have trod on. Did this have weight as a piece of work, Was it relevant, did it convey What I hoped it would?

storming my brain!

storming my brain!

In Parkers exhibition there were four pictures together, ‘Self portrait as a square’, ‘Self portrait as a line’, ‘Self portrait as a circle’ and ‘Self portrait as a triangle’. The four shapes she had drawn in her own blood. If this was endorsement that what I wanted to do had substance, this was it. This moment then acted as a catalyst for the ideas that tumbled out of me over that night and the following morning. I have ideas of three exercises I want to undertake as further development of part 1’s work. I explored my ancestry and the foot prints in blood on the threshold will be the first exercise. I got to wonder about how experiences of my ancestors went towards shaping how they behaved and more importantly, parented. How could I show this?

self portraits using own blood Cornelia Parker

self portraits using own blood
Cornelia Parker

I have had for a number of years a small box with 6 reels of cine film inside. The films I am told are of me. No-one knows what the true content is. I have been afraid of viewing them as there is a possibility that they contain images of extremely traumatic and disturbing times in my life. I began to form ideas about how I could use the workhouse  building, which is soon to be demolished. I want to project the unseen films onto the exterior of the buildings. I see it as representing the experience of my ancestors, mainly my Grand-Mother, and the resulting experiences in my childhood. I will not see the contents until that showing, the whole exercise will be filmed. The practicalities of this are being ironed out this week I have acquired a projector, the cine film is being converted into a DVD format, and I have a technician who is looking at ways of my using my car battery to power the projector. I am looking at ways like Parker, of using the original cine film to produce something that will transform the once feared film. A conclusion. I also want to project the images I was given permission to use in my work on to the building so I can honour those who were inmates and celebrate for them the demolition of those walls that incarcerated them. I will take still photographs which I am going to donate to the archives. I also want to seek permission of the inhabitants of the house I was born in and in which the cine film was taken, to project images of my daughter. I see this as symbolic of how the cycle of abuse was broken. My experiences enabled me to know what is not appropriate or constitutes a loving relationship. My relationship with my daughter is one of deep, mutual love and a constantly deepening and growing friendship as she is now in her 30’s. She always tells me that her childhood was wonderful and how her friends all wished their Mother was more like me. I was a conscious and conscientious parent and, hope I still am.

My friend is a nurse and she has agreed to extract some blood for me to use in the foot prints. That would have been a major hurdle. I didn’t want to use the dried blood I have as I wouldn’t have felt I was being true to myself.  I need this work to be authentic.

I am sure that the work will be emotional, hopefully cathartic, but most of all I feel I am able to find a way to express myself in a way I wouldn’t have even considered just four days ago.

The theme for the screen printing which is given in the course is ‘man made landscapes’. I have explored female genital mutation as my subject for this. I now recognise that in telling my own story as a development of my work in part 1, I am exploring this self same concept.

Screen printing, Stage 1 sketchbook 08.04.2015

A nasty dose of noro virus left me unable to do much for the past few days except researching and working through my thought about my works and what steps I need to take next. I have looked at my first steps to finding a away of representing FGM as a man made landscape and found that where I had inserted text to offer an explanation of why I had produced an image really detracted from what I was doing. I have reprinted two of the images without text an I am now looking to use the insight that, I have used text as I feel my image doesn’t stand up on its  own. I need to look objectively at my work and assess if the work is of the quality I want and does it say what I want it too without resorting to text. I think two problems I have is confidence in my work and the need to be the best I can.

Initial images with text.

 

 

The same images with the text removed.

 

I feel the images have more gravity with the text removed.

I thought shhh! appropriate as it is a statement that F.G.M is something little talked about, only recently has this practice been challenged and campaigns to stop it have been started.

I don’t want the images to be salacious or offer titillation, but I do want the image to  pose a question to the viewer of what is F.G.M, and its implications on those who suffer it? I wonder if in thinking about this I subliminally decided a poster like approach was needed?

I decided to look at how the vagina/vulva had been portrayed in art in the past. I came across a number of articles on line some informative but a few were reported tongue in cheek as though the vision of a womans sex was a subject of humour or pornography. I have yet to find art depicting F.G.M in the portfolio of a renowned artist, so am I looking in the wrong places or has anyone yet to feel the need to use this as subject matter? I do not want to be obviously graphic or sensationalise the subject.

I was also looking at the work of Cornelia Parker and found her works entitled  Pornographic Drawings, fascinating and also inspiring. With these works Parker Uses ferric oxide on paper to produce images in the voice of the Rorschach tests (Ink blot tests) used  to assess any underlying psychological issues. Ferric oxide is used in pigments and metal polishes and on magnetic tapes, and for these works Parker dissolved pornographic videos in solvent and used the resulting material to produce the blots. In another series of work Parker uses Rattlesnake venom and black ink, Anti-venom and white ink to produce  similar prints called Poison and antidote drawings. I now wonder how I can use  these processes to inform my work on F.G.M?

 

 

 

Part 2 Screen printing, Stage 1 04.04.2015

The first part of this section asks you to spend time looking for inspiration using the title  ‘Man-made environment’. I had started an architecture theme book back in ACA and not developed it due to working on my portrait theme book.  I find it easy to pick out aspects of an image to create a design, so it hasn’t taken me long to produce a series of designs using a variety of repeats. To be honest I wasn’t feeling stretched by the work and was struggling to feel any stimulation by what I had produced. I had the option of fulfilling the brief by following the obvious or, by rethinking the whole concept of what was a man-made environment. I decided on the latter.

I spent time brainstorming what I could consider as a man-made landscape. into my mind came the sentence; ‘man forcing change on nature’. This led me to then think about how we change the landscape of our own bodies through tattoos, piercing, and plastic surgery. On-line there were many images of people who had taken each to the extremes both as fashion and as a product of their body dis-morphia for me to draw on, yet, still I didn’t feel a compulsion to explore this. Then I came across an article about female genital mutilation. Suddenly I felt the need to see where I could take this, or where this would take me? I had recognised I was now driven to research this.

I read about what was involved, the types of mutilation carried out, the circumstances and the history of the practice. There are, fortunately many charities and organisations who are working to help girls and women who have survived this practice and also to offer help to those at danger of this practice taking place.  The images on the internet are graphic and nauseating as are the details about what takes place. I searched for artists who had taken this subject to produce works. I came across many but one, one a man called Jamie McCartney who had made ‘The great wall of vagina’s’ which captured my imagination. He had taken plaster casts of 400 women’s vulvas, which he then placed them together in a landscape. His motivation was to show women how different yet beautiful our vulvas are. Vaginoplasty is apparently one of the growth areas of plastic surgery, due to the notion that women now wish to change how their vulvas look. To prettify them. I don’t understand this personally but I don’t mean that to be a judgement of those women, simply a recognition of the ignorance I have that every woman is more or less the same. I have seen only one other womans vulva, apart from my daughters when changing nappies. It was a school friend who when we were changing for a swimming lesson, asked if she could see me ‘down below’ as she was worried about how she looked. We were around 10 years old. I was only reminded of this whilst researching this work. I saw she was slightly different to me, the inner labia (Labia minora) were prominent but I was left a little puzzled why she was worried but didn’t want to pry. Whilst reading about vaginoplasty I realised what her worry was.

McCartneys Great wall of vagina HERE

How I could translate this information into a screen print I am just beginning to look at. I know that if I am to push myself and discover who I can be as an artist, I need to go with something that isn’t an obvious option.

Apart from my reaction of horror with regards to the practice of FGM, I am also curious as to the root of my feelings and reactions and why I would want to find a way of working with this type of material? I can see that since the part 1 project where I began to look at the identity of my ancestors and the imprint their lives may have had on my own. I am curious  about the wider notion of what is our identity? Is it something we are blindly ignorant to with the only references being a like and dislike of people, situations or ‘things’? I can see in many ways how my ancestors lives impacted on my parents and in turn my life, either by nature or nurture. having a very difficult relationship with my mother due to her wanting me to look and behave a certain way, and subsequently feeling rejection and admonishment for not conforming to her will, has made me question for many years who I truly am. I am certain of my identity now and aware that within my self there are aspects of my own self which are dominant depending on my role at the time. I am a Daughter, Mother, Grand-Mother, wife, artist and a woman. I am also aware of the child that lives and breathes inside me, who is shy, uncertain, yet bold and enquiring. What must it be to have the very aspect of your woman hood ripped and cut from you, often by the women you look to for comfort and approval? To have shame poured on you for having sexual organs that can facilitate enjoyment and ecstasy? I cannot comprehend the fear the children and young women must endure.

I was able through learning about my great Grandmother, to empathise and imagine how her life must have been and what thoughts she may have had. So far whilst learning about FGM, I am finding that I am unable open up and to lean in to the lives of these women in the same way. Again I feel the exploration of this subject using art may enable me to further understand my own reactions and attractions to this subject.

Initial studies from my sketchbook looking at architecture.

IMG_4475

IMG_4476

IMG_4478

IMG_4477

IMG_4479

IMG_4480

IMG_4481

IMG_4482

IMG_4483

 

I have particularly enjoyed using my photography in this way and would like to revisit the images to develop work in the future.