The initial idea; to make a piece of work from its visible process occurred last week The Beginning. It has surprised me that I am considering using my own personal creative practice as a piece of research but it seems like an interesting way to experiment with methods and also find out more about my own interests in the areas of reflection and the design/creative process.This experiment could be considered a piece of ‘Practice-Led Research’ where I am examining and making visible the process of creating something. I intend to just ‘do’ in terms of making the work and document/ record reflections as much as I can with whatever methods seem appropriate – drawing/photographs/writing/film/audio/internal thoughts/conversations (resisting the temptation to plan without documenting).
I have thought about what this might mean for my research, looked to find any similar projects in my general research and been considering the validity of essentially using my own practice as a ‘study’. This has interfered with the practical aspects of making and documenting my process but a week on I feel ready to commit to it as an experimental study and record as much detail of my creative process as possible.
The following is a statement I use to give a background to my work;
themes, ideas & the creative process
I am inspired by often quite mundane objects with an interest in our relationship to them, how they are used, and the context in which we view them. Sentiment and nostalgia sometimes play a big part in my work, either through a personal attachment to the objects, or a constructed narrative.
The visual aesthetics of the objects and images I work with are really important and sometimes it is about finding the hidden beauty in the banal and everyday. By playing with interesting juxtapositions and making connections between seemingly disparate artifacts interesting qualities emerge.
Experiences and half recalled memories often inspire responses to objects and imagery the creative process often starts with photographs, the objects themselves and sketches. This ‘ideas research’ stage often involves revisiting existing work or developing unresolved pieces.
My background is in fine art painting and I specialise in charcoal, graphite, inks and oil paint. The materials are selected by what is most appropriate to the imagery and my ideas and sometimes a theme will be explored in different ways.
This has been a neat way to articulate what I like doing and how the work I have produced over a long period of time connects. I have always focused on defining what it is I am interested in and not particularly why. Why would someone be interested in the ‘beauty in the banal and everyday’ and ‘making connections between seemingly disparate artifacts interesting qualities emerge’ for example. A few months ago I felt like I found my answer, some reasons why I have always been interested in the things I have, why there is a tangible thread that connects my work. The answer, or construction of an explanation I made was when I came across a set of Waverly ‘The Book of Knowledge’ in a charity shop. The volumes were instantly recognisable to me as I had grown up with an identical set as a child and with few other grown up books in the house was often drawn to them. As I leafed through various volumes in the Charity Shop I began to see familiar images and juxtapositions of diagrams, images and texts in these alphabetised reference books. The physical weight and appearance of the books and smell not only brought back nostalgic memories but also a realisation that these books may have influenced my creative practice in a more significant way. If I were to re summarise my practice I would say that my work takes an encyclopaedic approach where links are made between different forms of imagery aesthetically or thematically. Seeing faded black and white images, which are difficult to distinguish as either photographs or illustrations sit alongside scientifically labelled diagrams or hand tinted colour plates of famous paintings. Where images of people curling sit alongside illustrations of cuttlefish.
I bought all twenty of the volumes and they have been sitting in my studio ever since. The information and imagery now dated both in terms of facts and political correctness is what I absorbed consciously and subconsciously and it has since occurred to me that the experience as a child of pouring through information organised as chunks of alphabet is possibly the equivalent of big broad internet searches which take a novice researcher onto interesting, unfocused and distracting journeys. Where in an instant you can access a much wider source of knowledge with equally interesting juxtapositions and contrasts.
This is the context for the work I will be making and ‘The Book of Knowledge’ volume COU – GEN the starting point. The imagery I am drawn to will be responded to in a variety of ways…