Archives for the month of: May, 2010
Sketches of Henry Moore Sculptures

Sketches of Henry Moore Sculptures

Went up to London on the train for a Saturday visit. I took the Brompton and rode round the galleries on it which was an adventure in itself. I visited Tate Modern which was OK. I didn’t really enjoy it that much. It was very busy and full of parties of French children taking photographs of the art work with their mobile phones. In fact there was a lot of photography going on with everything from mobile phones to Nikon SLRs. I found this rather off putting somehow. It made the art tourism aspect of the place very apparent. I found a few things I liked in the gaps of the big galleries. I was particularly looking for ┬áthe work of Frederic Bruly Bouabre which I had read about and I enjoyed the collection of his little images. I also enjoyed the Exquisite Corpse etchings by the Chapman brothers. It was difficult to work out how many hands had been at the plates but there was an interesting range of marks and drawing manners in the images. There were some drypoints by Louise Bourgeois too.

I cycled round to Intaglio Printmakers just round the corner. A very fine shop indeed, packed with stuff, jars and bottles and plates and cutters and everything for the printmaker. I had a good browse round that and got a fine Italian etching needle and some oil based printing ink for relief printing.

Then I rode over to Tate Britain and spent an hour or so going round the Henry Moore show. They had a difficult task on their hands trying to sell the idea of Moore as being the radical artist throughout his life as it is so difficult to see past the ubiquity and familiarity of his work to what it might have looked like to people before the war. I enjoyed the show because I sort of like Moore. I like his drawings and some of the sculptures. My favourties are the big plaster and string piece from 1951 and some of the small lead pieces and the final elm carvings were pretty impressive. They make the point that his post war warriors and so on had a different meaning in Holland and Germany where they became war memorials. The show stops before the sixties really get going when he really diluted his reputation through repetition. Interesting show though. He was quite a celebrtity artist in his way but the way he was a celebrity is very different to the current model. He was a celebrity in a cardigan.

It was a bit of a hack on the bike up to Gimpel Fils to see Tom and his Pattern Completion project and a two hour presentation on the thinking behind the work. The neuro-science was interesting though I am not sure how much of it comes through in the work itself.

Having completed the confirmation stage and awaiting feedback I have had time to potter into the etching studio at NUCA for a couple of occasions. This week I did print a proof of the first stage.

The etchings were liked during the show I had at NUCA last month so I decided to make another as a self portrait. This is based on a photo I made for the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts show about the artist’s studio. I find the transferring of an image to the plate difficult for some reason. This one is based on a photo which has been inverted and then monochromed to give me a chance. This has been dipped twice so far and then re-grounded for further working.

I have found some nice etchings by Lucien Freud who uses etching as a drawing medium and just dips it once. This appeals.

The blog has been moribund as I have been preoccupied with the confirmation process at NUCA. I have got through this and I am now officially ‘writing up’. As I approached the confirmation meeting I re-read the 16,000 words that I had produced and realised that it wasn’t quite what I had meant, somehow. It was ever so slightly off my point, rather too much about the artist-teacher. This is pretty well-covered ground and it has been a problem in the research to deal with this, to find an angle on it.

During the meeting I was asked where the practice was in the research and where the researcher had disappeared to. It was all about the teacher bit and the relationship between the artist-teacher and the pupil’s progress. The problem is how do you access the impact of having a teacher make their own work in the classroom through the pupil’s progress. It isn’t very apparent necessarily. It might be more obvious in the sort of work that we do and, I think, some of the brio with which we do it.

The original inspiration for the research had been in looking at the sort of examplars that I made in the classroom to show the pupils what I meant or to show them a particular technique or idea. I have long thought that showing them ‘one I prepared earlier’ was borderline useless as it takes a skilled eye to be able to unpick how an image was actually made. It was more useful to see a piece of work being made before your very eyes and the only way to do that was to actually make work in front of the pupils. Doing this I think about how I learnt how to do something, it made my own learning more apparent to myself and better able to communicate this and the process helped me to anticipate the tricky bits. So, it has been a long standing habit to make work in front of and alongside the pupils. This sort of work though, made as it is with cheapish gouache on sugar paper or 1.99 watercolours on cartridge paper, I didn’t consider to be ‘my work’. I had my own paintings and so on and then I had this utilitarian work I made in class. I didn’t value it as part of my art practice but then again, I nearly always finished the work and I didn’t throw it away either. So I valued it in some way.

I never threw it away because I remember an art teacher showing us how to throw a pot and then knocking it over when he had done and we were shocked and disturbed that he did this. I was about twelve. He said he had lots of pots at home but it still seemed shocking to be able to make something like that but not value the outcome. So I don’t throw them away and I tend to finish them. I give them away sometimes, to adults, not pupils. I let the frost destroy the pots in the garden and I keep the 45 or so self-portraits in the manner of Modigliani amongst the drifts of work in the art room.

So the original interest in the research was, what happens if you take this under valued part of art making, this stream of utilitarian things made to show someone, and make that the art practice. Could it be considered part of an art practice? For a lot of art teachers it is the only art practice they have got. Should we value it more? What is different about making an art work in order to show someone how to do something or to show them an idea? What do they exemplify? Are you making examples for yourself and what might that mean?

We discussed this in the confirmation meeting and we agreed that was probably more interesting than what I had actually written. The nice thing about it is that it puts the practice back into it and stops me having to try to show that my painting a picture two years ago may, or may not, have impacted on a thirteen year old in some ill-defined way.

I have also had a show at NUCA of this sort of work and I will post pictures of this soon. What cam out of this was that everyone seemed to quite like the etchings for their awkwardness and intensity as much as anything. So I am writing this as a plate steeps. One of the 10 x 8 plates that I had before Christmas and that got subsumed in 16,000 academic words. It is based on a photo of myself sitting in the art room as studio that I made for the Artist and their Studio show at SCVA. It is an attempt to use a photo as a basis for a print.