Paint Box

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Breaking Boundaries Audience Response

I didn't record my breaking the boundaries progress on this blog because of the nature of the audience - if I was sent an image by post, it is likely that I would google search the artist to see what their other work was like. I was disappointed that the painting I felt was most successful was not returned which taught me something about the trust and cooperation you need with your audience. The questionnaires reflected some ideas which I had intended to communicate and highlighted some which I had not. Two of the recipients said that the images reminded them of something which they related to personally and one picked up on the twin aspect. This suggested to me that the viewer looked for something in the work which they could relate to - having the image in their hands rather than passing it on a wall may have forced them to look at it more carefully. Both titles suggested indicated that something had been or might be wrong i.e. 'Double Trouble' and 'Aftermath'. It was interesting to me that the pieces were given these titles by the viewer. I wonder how a titled piece would have affected their perception. All commented that they felt the eyes were an aspect which was most important. One commented that they found the image frustrating as they couldn't tell what it was about. This perhaps reflects that my narrative appears ambiguous or that my intentions are essentially unclear which I will need to address. The comments about use of paint were quite perceptive, although none of them commented on the fluid nature (maybe this is less evident than in the oil paintings) but one wrote about movement and the others the contrast between colours, light and shade as well as 'hardening expressions, bright eyes'. I have tried to create contrast in different areas of the painting to heighten some parts so this was partly accurate although the use of media didn't communicate in the conceptual way I had intended. This may be an example when the viewer needs some interpretation to measure the impact. In terms of the mood they described the works as 'still', 'spooky', 'reflective', 'pensive', 'melencholy', 'sad', 'introverted'. I felt that these works were quiet and their expressions watchful and this was communicated clearly. As the viewers recognised that these were young people, the mood may have seemed jarred with how they perceive childhood adding a sense of unease.
I was really nervous about conducting the interviews but found that this was a more personal way of recording a response and allowed me to develop the questions. Both hosts of the painting responded more favourably at the end of the day than they did at the beginning and again they found personal aspects which they could relate to in the image. The key aspect was time - I had time to talk with them, they had an extended period of time to engage with the work and formulate an opinion. This is something to consider when I am trying to exhibit work and possibly create a more interactive experience which will cause the viewer to consider more that a fast visual response to my work. I may experiment with installing paintings at other sites, or working in books to allow the viewer to handle the images and look through at their own pace.
I found this task a challenge but can see why it was important for me to consider and find my audience, and gain feedback from individuals outside of my usual demographic.

Pre BB Audience Questions

Currently, I am trying to gain exposure to diversify my audience as raise my profile as an artist.

Who is my intended audience?
How can I clearly convey meaning to my intended audience? 

Do I have an incidental audience?

Does the artist have a responsibility to the audience?

How does the artist diversify and widen audiences?

Does an audience need interpretation of a work?

Who are the performers, the artists or the audiences?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Breaking Boundaries July

 Went on an adventure today to try out putting paintings and smaller reproductions different contexts. First stop Epwell Farm, origin of the Corn Babies painting. We carried the canvas into the corn field and experimented with placing it in and in front of the corn. I had imagined the painting tucked in between the maize but these photos seemed to obstruct the surface a little too much. Then tried placing it among wild flowers - more natural theme - and in a cornflower field which had quite a different effect in that the colours of the canvas really stood out against the background. Also rather overcast unfortunately so didn't photograph as well as I would have liked but it was a good start.

We then went to Blenheim Palace to place reproductions temporarily into the maze and pleasure gardens as I wanted to before. It was much easier placing smaller images, however I am not happy with the resulting photos - the image reproduction is quite poor and they are flimsy in comparison to the canvases. Being quite claustrophobic, it was a bit scary entering the maze but it was relatively easy to solve. I could have done with having the wide angle lens to include the multiple pathways and work but this visit has now allowed me to establish that the maze doesn't work as well without the original pieces. I imagined them as quite impacting as you turned the corner but they came across more as clues in a puzzle, which is interesting in itself. Emerging from the maze I came across more puzzles and giant chess pieces so placed some images on the chess board. It was interesting to note how little notice people took when I was setting up and taking these photos - particularly the children who were absorbed in their own games. People in the maze looked more at the work - I suspect this was because they didn't know it was there until they rounded the corner and stumbled across it. Finally went to the butterfly house which was a complete sweat box - when I originally approached Blenheim I had imagined 3D pieces placed in here which having now visited I believe would work much better. As a technical thing, I'm not sure my flowl would have survived in the heat so it's probably best that they rejected the idea.


The image reproductions on photographic paper are not ideal for rephotographing due to the shiny surface. Ideally genuine paintings need to be used so I will try to do this as far at possible. Works on paper and canvas off the stretcher are also options I intend to explore as these should be more flexible in where they can be positioned and 'smuggled' into. My strategy is now going to be to take as many photos in different locations as possible to give myself a broad range to select from. Some may need editing to adjust the light and contrast. I now plan to use some of my maze photos to create a superimposed maze exhibition, adding imagery with photoshop to achieve the desired scale of work on the hedges. I will try and talk to people about the work as I'm setting it up if I have the opportunity, and record their response. It surprised me how little questioning I received in relation to what I was doing in the maze - visitors did look at the work but passed by without any interaction with me despite the enclosed space. In fact I had more response from the woman at asda who developed my photos!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Breaking Boundaries

6th June 2011

Spoke about choice of double portrait to create tension and contrast. I want to display my work somewhere which adds another layer of tension to the encounter. Discussed displaying paintings in toilets - i like this as I would expect there to be mirrors which would add to the idea of pairings and reflection. C suggested I look at the 'Toilet Gallery' in Kingston...!/pages/The-Toilet-Gallery/155105784539119
I want to create contrast and develop the idea of the playful menace. Another idea is to display work in a maze because of the sense of trapping but also play. Logistically, the current pieces I'm working on would be difficult to move due to the dimensions being bigger than my car. However, I don't want to loose the sense of scale as this is an important part of the encounter. M suggested that I Photoshop images of these works into different settings which would allow me to envisage how they would look. Also spoke about the possibility of photograph paintings and cramming them inside a dolls house to explore claustrophobia.

8th June

Think I'm going to have to make smaller pieces as starting with work I can't easily move is setting myself up for a fall. 3x3 should do it...

10th July

Got email back from Blenheim saying they though that my work was too fragile to go in the pleasure gardens/maze. Disappointing.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Case Study Proposal

My chosen artist for the case study is the contemporary artist Paula Rego. I eventually chose her because visually her work is very different to mine and I find the way she inhabits and personifies her studio fascinating. In addition to researching her career I intend to research ideas such as how her professional and personal relationship with her husband Victor Willing influenced her and how her use of props and stories have contributed to her work. Having identified five themes within her making process, I intend to structure my investigation around The Self, Femininity, Power, Narrative and Symbols. These are not the only themes which manifest but my reading so far has caused me to pull these strands together as prominent points of interest. Experimenting with photography and altered books to explore Rego’s themes will support me in structuring the written element and will hopefully lead to a creative response.

Artist in her Studio
The Young Poet

Friday, 25 March 2011

Case Study

With the MA has come a serious lack of confidence in my decisions. So I was sure that I was going to research Chantal Joffe during my tutorial, however am now leaning towards Paula are my pros and cons for both.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Today I visited the Museum of the History of Science and the Ashmolean with K. Was thinking about what Caroline said in her video lecture about the nature of collections, buildings and curation affecting the viewer's encounter with the work or artifacts.
MHS was the original holder of the Ashmolean's collection, but in 1924 the collection of Lewis Evans was given to the University and the Museum begin to take on its role as a Museum of the History of Science as it stands today. Being there in an educational sense, it was really interesting to see how this resource could be used to stimulate a project, or in fact be used as an opportunity for recording, and looking at symbolism. Chris described MHS as having four key points of interest, that it referenced a different time, how the artifacts were crafted, a sense of discovery and attention to detail. There have been some contemporary artists who have worked with and within the space, reflecting on the history of science. There was something magical about this first room, the glass cabinets housing curiosities and treasures from another time. I was particularly taken by the spherical glass containers and a radium home kit - perhaps made more resonant because of the tragic Japan nuclear disaster...the glass conjured lots of ideas - reflection, alchemy, magic, orbs, bubbles and Susan Hiller's painting grenades. The Al-Mizan exhibition was full of golden treasures including the golden compass like, 'cosmic calculators' - astrolabes. Al-Mizan means balance, in a metaphysical sense. This made me think about balance in my own practice; use of colour to achieve a sense of balance, the process of painting being cathartic, the balancing act of work and play. I'm not going to write here about this exhibition, or about what we focused on at the Ashmolean later in the day. However, there were many things which made me consider a different element to my practice; in a sense reengaging with these types of museums as an artist not an educator. The process of looking at objects - not painting or photographs - and drawing, was something which I didn't realise I missed. I plan to go back to both places and spend longer looking and recording, trying to achieve some stillness in my mind to capture that sense of discovery and magic. The geometric Islamic designs, comprising of triangles (consciousness), squares (elements) and hexagons (heaven/perfection) reminded me of something which came up just before this course began. What can be known? What is worth knowing? and what can be done with the knowledge once it is discovered? A sense of balance in consciousness, the knower, the known and the knowing. All I know is that I need to know more...