I found this advertisement by The Toyota Foundation, I like it a lot… so much power in this image, and the wording:
Without nature, there are no stories…
The use of the fairy tale in all aspects of art is something that drives my own practice. Fairy tales are recognized globally just about. Their language is universal, as old as time, and yet with a firm footing in the present.
I will be so glad when this is all over… the self doubt, the exhibiting part, the assessment, the damned crazy business of getting it all as I see it in my mind, as I have seen it for the past few months. Getting others to see that vision.
Each piece of work I have undertaken this year has been installation. Not through planning, I never saw myself as an installation artist, but it has just happened. So I am discovering something about myself as an artist through my work, through experimenting, playing, making… letting the path twist and turn… But when it comes to setting up, I look at the clean simplicity of a picture on a wall, a screen on a plinth, a graphic on a laptop… and I wonder why I make things so difficult and messy for myself.
So… I made a cloak, well, part of a torn, worn, ancient cloak. I used pieces of recycled velvet in many shades of red. It is worn and torn, unpicked and restitched. This will hang on one of the trees, it represents the many layers of self, and the many retellings of the story. The story of the hero’s journey, the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the story of the wolf, the story of me…
Here is a detail of the patchwork and rough stitching…
Then I started to hang a few trees, trying to get an idea of what I need before Monday. About three of the trees/branches are good to go. I need to go and source more in the bush behind my property. A very awesome thing happened while I was hanging the trees… a gorgeous shadow picture appeared on my newly painted wall… I tried to capture it on my iPhone…
This is how ‘Desire’ is looking at the moment:
I need a title too, for the whole thing, I am thinking In Search of the Wolf…
While creating Wolfie, Ruby’s animus persona dude, I have been thinking a lot about the materials that artists use and the connotations these may have for the viewer. Because I am using faux fur as part of my animus creation I decided to investigate if and how it has been used in fine art. After all, I am guessing that quite a lot of the art viewing public would not give faux fur a place in an art gallery. I came up with quite a collection of different ways this material has been used by artists, from the obvious, to the totally out there, What the hell is that made of?!
Lets start with the more obvious, with this image of an art doll, by American artist, Linda Ehrenfried. Linda creates amazing creatures from fairy tales, mythology and her own imagination. This is Nebble, he is made from polymer clay, copper wire, faux fur and paint. I would give him a home…
This next image is a photograph by Matthew Albanese, this amazing guy creates the most incredible landscapes from materials such as corn syrup, paprika, sugar, tile grout, jelly beans and cotton wool. You can see more of his work here. Spot the faux fur:
One more example is Silver coated faux fur paint spill art by Kate Nichols… I am not even going to ask why, but you can read more about Kate’s work here
So, there we go… not only faux fur, but jelly beans. There are some art snobs out there who would turn their nose up at the use of these materials, but we have to remember that water colours and acrylics were once given the same treatment.
I know why I am using faux fur, and that’s what matters to me.
I am a big fan and supporter of Brain Pickings, possibly the best website out there, along with TED.
Every Sunday morning I try to spend a luxurious hour lost in the forest, that is the weekly Brain Pickings newsletter. The paths twist and turn, and it is easy to bet lost and not get home until dark, but whatever time I return, at the end of each journey I have a basket full of the very best and tastiest of fungi.
Today I was drawn towards an interview with Ben Schott, author of the original Schott’s Miscellany. and it’s many offspring. I recommend this interview to all designers out there. The original book which I was gifted about 10 years ago is totally unique. But only today did I discover that the design of the book is based on the golden ratio. Schott talks about design with a passion that I wish all designers had access to. The quote from the interview that really got to me today was this one:
I’m a fan Virginia Woolf — I’m a real fan of Mrs. Dalloway more than anything else she’s written. But what, I think, seduces her work is that sense that small things are significant. There’s another great quote [from To the Lighthouse] which sums up one of my theories of design, to the extent that I’m entitled to have any theories, which is: “light and evanescent but held together by bolts of iron.”
[Design] must be, on the surface, like a butterfly’s wing — but underneath it must be clamped together with bolts of iron…
This is what I think is the secret of so much craft — to make it look effortless and evanescent, like a butterfly’s wing, but it needs to have structure, rigidity, purpose.
I always try to apply strong design principles to my own work, it is almost second nature to me to ask why something has to be there. When I first began a degree in graphic design at the end of the 70’s, the teaching was somewhat different to now. there were no computers for a start. But the basics are as relevant today as they were then. A designer should be able to explain the reason for each line, each curve, each dot… it is not enough that they look good, or they work… not for me anyway, and certainly not for Mr Jessop, the demon tutor! I never finished that degree, the standards were tough and the work was tedious, hand drawing perfect Roman serifs, one after the other, printing and collating the stationary for the final year students, using big old hand rolled presses. Yeah, it was tough, and with no magic brushes to aid us on our way. Still I have not forgotten the lessons of that first year.
To this end I decided to look at my current project, and ask myself some questions, just as Mr Jessop would have done.
What is the theme of my work?
Individuation, the process of finding ones way in life, to a complete self. Driven by the works of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.
How have I conceptualised this theme?
I have placed my work within the concept of fairy tales and the hero’s journey. In particular I have focused on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. I have used the tale to illustrate Jung’s concept of the shadow, and animus and anima.
Why a forest-like installation?
Fairy tales were often set in a forest setting,many that I was familiar with as a child are set in the dark forests of Northern Europe. The forest represents the shadow, the journey through the forest is the meeting and assimilation of the shadow side of one’s nature.
Why the antlers, the wolf critter?
Ruby’s wolf/wild thing head dress represents the male creature that she meets with in the forest and assimilates as part of her self. When Ruby meets her animus, she comes together with him, and realises that rather than be enemies the strength is in joining together.
Why a trophy like sculpture?
Achieving individuation is celebrated by this trophy. Ruby has come out of the forest more complete. The antlers and wolf like mask represent her achievement, of meeting with, and assimilating the shadow side, the animus. At the same time I didn’t want the cut off head trophy look, like those of the hunter, this trophy is more about creation or recreation. This is why the wolf head dress is a patchwork of women’s crafts, knitting, weaving. The things we gather throughout our lives become who we are, each thread gets woven into our being. By using creative fabrics rather than dead animal skin I am representing life and growth.
Why is she called Ruby?
Her true name is Ruby Tuesday, because I always wanted a child called Ruby Tuesday. But none of my children were born on a Tuesday so it didn’t seem right, (Thanks Mr Jessop…). I loved the song written by Keith Richards:
but I prefer the version by Melanie, I have been singing it for years, and years. I almost have it perfect… for me…
And that’s it really, it’s about love and desire. My mixed media painting, that may or may not be part of the installation is called Desire, because that is what it is about. Our journey’s through the shadows are generally led by desire.
I have spent a good few hours here and there trying to create the perfect for Ruby wolf fur, and so I empathise with all those two legged creatures out there who are attempting to grow their own. Here are some images of a few attempts of late to create Ruby’s Wolf persona.
The first one is kind of cute and scary and wild thing, but maybe too gonky… I worked out that it was because the nose fur is too long… needs to be more close cropped.
The knitted texture I think works well, it is important to my work to have the element of craft within the Ruby/wolf/animus persona. The following is a quote from an interview by Christine Kuan with artist Kiki Smith. It illustrates my own reasons for wanting to have an aspect of craft or woman’s work.
CK: Speaking of the ‘burden of history’, some your work incorporates materials and processes that have traditionally been identified with women’s productions for example, embroidery, sewing, etc. Do these materials and processes still retain vestiges of the art/craft divide today, or is that a barrier that’’s been broken down?
KS: Oh, I still think it’s a barrier, but one can still have a playful attitude towards it and try to some extent to disempower and disassemble it. Maybe in one or two generations it won’t exist. Those things that are barriers can give you energy as much as they can thwart your ambitions.
In the images below I changed the nose fur and played around with some of the different textures to try and create the Wolf like appearance, yet not totally wolf. This is animus, not just wolf, and I must remember that there are antlers to throw into the mix too. I need to experiment with the wolf mask and the antlers. The ears are still to be arranged!
I think with ears this will definitely look much more like the wolf/animus mask I imagined in my earlier sketches.
I like the bits that hang down at the sides, they give it a feel of the hunter and yet not being fur they subvert the traditional hunting to kill, and turn it into more of a creation process.
This last photo below really gives me an idea of the way forward. I think I know just how to attach the fur on the back of the head now. Many thanks to my beautiful daughter and close companion Phoebe Rose Anastasia, for her modeling and understanding of her crazy mother. Nothing I do is strange to my children, all weird behaviour has it’s own category, entitled: The sort of thing mummy would do.
Wow, unbelievable service from Diamond Photo! I ordered a large canvas print of my artwork on Tuesday and it arrived today – Friday,… how awesome is that? It is huge! I am really pleased with it, cant wait to see it in a gallery setting. Meanwhile here is a pic or two to give you an idea of the size:
Look at the size of my head next to Red’s!
I like this spooky black and white hand effect, and it is Halloween in some parts of the world…
Phoebe and I went to check out The Refinery today, to view the space that one of our curators suggested might suit my installation. It is perfect! Enough room, dimmable lighting and I can hang stuff from the ceiling! There is an artist installation in there at the minute, as you can see, which is not connected in any way to my work. The photos are just to give an idea.
It is Dylan Thomas 100th birthday today… or it would have been. I read ‘Do Not Go gently Into That Good Night’ at my local club to celebrate. Not sure if they were impressed, but it was important to me.
Taking authors and books…look at this, the latest item on my list of ‘Beautiful Things I Desire’:
The Library Chair was created by Alexander Love, in New York, and if you live in the USA and have 3k to spare, then you can buy one.
Now for the hardest part… the animal print or the pink?
I think I would like dusky pink velvet, like the stuff that is on the old Chaise-Longue, way down on the list of ‘Beautiful Things I Desire’ Yeah, this pink is a bit too…shiny… And maybe oak, or mahogany wood. It will need to go with the other coveted items, in my witch’s cottage in North Yorkshire. Yup – that’s on the list too.
I have had three commissions for custom Tarot Bags in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would share them here. Two were for the Thoth Tarot, but with very different requirements. The images below were for a regular size Thoth deck, and the client wanted an embroidered bag to reflect the energy of the Two of Disks card, she was delighted:
The bag arrived today!! I was surprised it got here so quickly. It is exquisite! My husband says it is the most beautiful Tarot bag that I have and I agree! Love all of the different colors in it and the way it reflects the 2 of disks card. I love holding it in my hands and feeling the wonderful energy from it. The cards fit perfectly into it. My husband and I were just looking at the amazing bag again. He is an artist and I thought you’d enjoy hearing one of the things he said. He said, “It’s like painting with thread and fabric.”
Here is the bag, front and back:
The bag pictured below was for a Tarot reader who wanted his own sigil embroidered on a heavyily padded velvet bag with wraparound spread cloth. This was for the large Thoth deck.