25 August 2012

Sleeveless in Seattle

It's nearing assessment time for the current module on the MA, and I have been looking at ways to bring my current research to a (borrowing a phrase from Helen Carnac) resting place.  Jewellery needs to connect with the human body in order to fulfil its function.  Without this connection, it is nothing more than an assemblage. Or in my case, a found object assemblage - static, or worse, stagnant.  

Being placed directly on the body, or clothing that is worn however, brings the possibility of all sorts of accidental collisions. Something worn on the wrist, has the potential to momentarily connect with a neck piece as the body goes through the unrehearsed choreography of everyday movement.  It is at these points of synthesis that the excitement happens.

Blouse Bangle - silk organza, print, stitch © Vanda Campbell 2012 
Blouse Bracelet - silk organza, found object, elastic, ceramic, aluminium © Vanda Campbell 2012 
Blouse Necklace - copper, Plastidip, cotton © Vanda Campbell 2012 
Blouse Brooch - found mirror, paper, stitch  © Vanda Campbell 2012 
Studio work - Collision © Vanda Campbell 2012 
Studio work - Collision © Vanda Campbell 2012 

21 August 2012

Crash, Bang, Wallop

Saturday morning, and my regular rummage through the local charity book shop led to a chance find of a collection of old cinema promotional photographs and postcards.  I've been aware that a connection with the body is essential to my practice, but it's not always practical to be both maker and model. Working with the anonymity of photographs might be an alternative solution.  

I anticipated that the photographs would act as mute, static models for my found object jewellery, but more significantly, I have realised they are found objects in their own right.  It is proving much more exciting to use them to create more collisions and connections.  

Studio work - found photograph, found ceramic, Plastidip
© Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - found photograph, found object
© Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - found photograph, found plastic, fabric
© Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - found photograph, found plastic
© Vanda Campbell 2012

17 August 2012

Souvenirs from St Ives

On a visit to the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro last week, I was disappointed by the lack of anything textile-based in the collection.  I suspect this is due to a number of factors, not least the inherent mortality of textiles.  I wonder, too, if the often lowly, domestic status of a large number of items made from textiles is deemed unworthy to be included in many museums.  Museums all to often seem to pride themselves on their collections of valuable status items once owned by the rich and important.  It would be nice however, to also have an insight into the lives, tools and possessions of the 'lower' echelons of society.    The inevitable exit through the giftshop, and displays of tacky souvenirs, provided plenty of food for thought.

British seaside towns are great places for souvenir spotting. Perfectly serviceable objects, such as plates or spoons are rendered functionless, by the addition of copious quantities of frilly edges, sentimental phrases, and even googley eyes. A camping holiday in a British seaside town also, inevitably, involves rain.  Tent-bound, with only a crochet hook for a studio, I set about making my own found object souvenirs.  

Everyday, thrown-away items, with the addition of textiles, and elevated to 'souvenir' status.  

Studio work - Souvenir 1, Found plastic, crochet  © Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - Souvenir 2, Found plastic, crochet  © Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - Souvenir 3, Found leather, crochet  © Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - Souvenir 1, Found wood, crochet  © Vanda Campbell 2012

13 August 2012

On the edge, part ii

Continuing with the theme of edges, I discovered these edge-on views of Shezad Dawood's textile works at the Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall.  

I love how I was rewarded with an expected mark or colour when I ventured around the side, away from the front.  I think this may be something I return to.  I am excited by the possibilities of exploring edges of differing materials, colours, marks etc., and how they relate to the main structure of a piece.  At what point does the edge lose its 'edge' status and take over I wonder?

Inverse Pyramid, acrylic on vintage textiles
Shezad Dawood 2010
The Sun Grows Cold, acrylic on vintage textiles
Shezad Dawood 2010
Cosmic Egg, acrylic on vintage textiles
Shezad Dawood 2010

10 August 2012

On the edge

I find edges intriguing.  They can be frames, forgotten spaces, points of collision between materials, or an opportunity for a bit of frivolity.  For me, edges are where the exciting stuff happens.  

I overhead an artist once talking about the importance of the ends of a (drawn) line ... something along the lines of 'if you pay attention to the ends of a line, the middle will look after itself'.

Do you think the same can be true of edges?

Vintage textile
Vintage textile
Spoon Enough,  Aluminium, found chandalier glass, crochet  © Vanda Campbell 2010

Too spoon to mention,  Aluminium, found bobbin, crochet  © Vanda Campbell 2010

7 August 2012

All form, no function

Our culture packed stay in Cornwall continues with a visit to Barbara Hepworth's house and studio.  I think this is my third visit in as many years, but unlike some of the other gems in the mecca for artists that is St Ives, I am in no hurry to return.  The house is charming, and reminds me of both Kettles Yard in Cambridge and Hoglands, Henry Moore's home in Perry Green, but it is lacking soul.  It is hard to imagine it as it once must have been, bustling with life and creativity, as the sculptures, studios and tools are all gently being overwhelmed by cobwebs and dust.  I am sure the guardians of the estate would proclaim otherwise, but the whole place feels gently stale, and dead.  Even in the gardens, which I remembered favourably, her sculptures only succeeded in underwhelming me.

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, St Ives, Cornwall
I've thought about this long and hard, and am hesitant to admit my true feelings as her work is so well revered, but admit it I must.  I find myself increasingly drawn to the world of Applied as opposed to Fine Art, and think that, for me, the allusion to function, specifically function by, or connection to, the human body is essential.  A few days previously I visited the Newlyn Art Gallery to see Shezad Dawood's solo exhibition, Piercing Brightness.  The visitors book  wasn't all complimentary (the main complaint being painting on found textiles did not equal Art!), but I was instantly attracted to the combination of painting on vintage, quilted textiles.  The potential of a function (as a quilt, or cover) allowed me to connect with the work on a personal level.  And that, for me, is a vital ingredient.

Rock of Ages, acrylic on vintage textiles
Shezad Dawood 2010
Rock of Ages (detail), acrylic on vintage textiles
Shezad Dawood 2010

5 August 2012

The wrong sort of random

Team Campbell are off on their summer holidays to sunny St Ives.  Our Bell Tent has never looked so fabulous, bedecked as it is with bunting, polka dots, and a veritable booty of solar powered lanterns.  Whilst setting up a string of 'random' coloured lights to frame the zipway (like a doorway, but in a tent), I realised I was spending an awfully long time to get the colour combination just right ... any offers of help were rebuked with a cry of "No!, that's the wrong sort of random".  

Can there be such a thing?

I've written before of my quest to add an awkwardness or 'dirtiness' to my practice, and maybe surrendering to true randomness could be a start.  

3 August 2012

Medalling with medals

The Olympics are here (in case you hadn't noticed), and there is much talk about medals.  David Watkins was responsible for designing the 2012 medals, and although I admire his previous work, I am perplexed by the monstrously large medals being held aloft by winning athletes. Large enough to fling into the sky at a clay pigeon shoot, their apparent weight just doesn't seem to match their size.  

Medals, London 2012 Olympics
So, this led me to think about the nature of medals.  Is their primary function as personal recognition of achievement, or a public display of supremacy and strength?  I am instantly attracted to the collision of textiles and metal in traditional medals, and welcome the excuse for a bit of showy colour in an otherwise sombre dresscode, but think I would prefer something a bit more subtle ... a whispering medal, if there could be such a thing.

Studio work - Medal 1, found textile, found metal, plastidip  © Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - Medal 2, found textile, found mirror  © Vanda Campbell 2012
Studio work - Medal 3, found textile, found glass  © Vanda Campbell 2012