Quote from MacDonald, Helen (2014). H is for Hawk- ‘There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps.’
In consideration of this theme I discovered some really interesting work, most of the artists new to me. Janet Hollins blog relating to her MA Fine art in 2012 makes a really interesting resource. There is a lovely video of the artist showing her Mum, who is a subject in the work, around the final exhibititon. Not only does this give a good insight to how she exhibited her work in relation to the theme, but also to the reactions of her mother, heard to say, ‘I’m there but I’m not but I know I’m there’.
I found myself making lots of notes, in particular to the means by which she has exhibited her work, with the addition of sound, use of projection, backlighting, etc. It is also a good resource in terms of other artists/resources to chase up in relation to this theme.
Chilaru Shiota’s work is new to me. ‘A room of memory’, ‘During sleep’, ‘Other side’, ‘Accumulation-search for the destination’- these are titles of some of Shiotas installations, moody, evocative spaces often with webs of connections featuring objectsthat make us think about what’s not there- an empty chair, collections of single shoes or old suitcases.
My search brought me to a review relating to the work of Catherine Howard and her installation ‘Veil tease’. The author wrote, ‘Its hard to locate the image in each painting as you walk among them’ and ‘enough to seem naturally occurring like trees, prompting curious exploration of space’. This did make me start thinking about my own work and how it might be shown, and indeed how I might make the work. The idea of walking through a wood kind of appealed to me. I found myself thinking about the duality in the theme and the idea of using tracing paper or tissue paper and painting on both sides- this idea has appealed to me before when looking at the work of Ellen Gallagher.
Doris Salcedo seems an important artist to consider in relation to this theme, as Memory, which is the essence of her work, is very closely related. In the video, Doris Salcedo on the importance of memory, she talks about prompting memory to raise issues whilst recognising her work can’t solve problems, but through her work the viewer may be able to make their own connections. I was also very interested to see the video about the work, ‘A Flor de piel’– a shroud made of rose petals. To hear about the use of organic materials and the research required to preserve and around mummification that was required to make it happen was quite inspiring, and very relevant in many ways to my own work.
Tom Price is a British born artist whose exhibition ‘The presence of absence’ is an installation of figures that have been made using coal. The figures look very fragile, there are gaps, fissures, you can see right through them in places, they look like they could crumble at any minute. In his video he describes his thinking behind the process and the use of coal- a form of carbon, a basic building block.
Unrelated to this I was doing some reading about charcoal, and the process through which it comes about-pyrolosis. The process is how we turn the willow to charcoal by burning it in the absences of oxygen. It struck me then that this somehow makes charcoal the perfect medium through which to explore the theme of absence.
Looking at these has certainly provoked lots of though in relation to my work, particularly on process and materials, and how my work might be shown or shared.