Body confidence doesn’t come from trying to achieve the perfect body, it comes from embracing the one you’ve already got. Through experimentation with photography, collage and plaster, I am learning to feel confident with my figure and embracing it instead of hiding it.
I found it difficult to have to refer back to my work before Christmas as I am very disappointed with myself, my work and my potential to have created a piece that could have worked out well. I feel that although my concept of the ‘ideal’ body and anti-beauty was good, my motivation and creative ability lacked which lead to not doing what I said I would be doing and resulting in a messy and unprofessional presentation for the formative assessment at Christmas.
After receiving my feedback after the Christmas holidays, I knew that I needed to get back into a hard working work ethic that meant I would be challenging myself. At first I found that using my own body as the focus for my work incredibly scary but the more I experimented and relaxed, I found it easier to talk to people about my insecurities. I found this photo shoot really fun as I manipulated the shape of my body with the use of tights, string and perspex.
I don’t particularly like using colour within my work, mostly because I like simplicity and minimalism. However, I knew that I should at least try using colour in my work just to see what could happen. Even after multiple pieces that represented how I felt with my body through colour, I still preferred the monochromatic pieces. I thought that although different colours represented different emotions, the colour drew the attention away from the beauty that the human form displays.
I researched back into my trip to Rome for classical sculpture suggestions which I found really fun to recreate. This photo shoot helped me decide what to do for my final 3-dimensional piece whilst enabling me to relax and enjoy the work I was producing.
I felt deciding how to display my pieces was one of the most important things to do as it could compliment and correlate with my concept or imbalance everything.
1. John Coplans
Although I kept my photographs very personal, I was inspired by Coplans as he was able to detach himself from his body. His beautiful large scale photographs was motivation for me to take the next step and create larger prints and photographs.
I found Nimoy’s “The Full Body Project,” inspirational and his words, thoughts and views on beauty moving. His work really pushed me to express my own feelings on my body and focus on my shape within my work.
The traditional subject of the human form becomes contemporary and raw in Warren’s work. Similarly to Warren, I feel I have put a contemporary spin on a classical sculpture, updating the classical bust with my own figure.
Background information on beauty and size is one of the important posts, which is why I have chosen it. It starts from ancient times up until present day. My own background information is very important for this project. Unfortunately, there are no images of me from when I was younger to display how the size grew – width and height.
This post links perfectly with my documentation of sculpture recreations. I got most of my inspiration from works of art I found while I was in Rome in September 2014. Although most of the recreations were based on Pietro Canonica’s work, I mentioned other Italian artists that were relevant.
Before deciding on a final composition for presenting my work, I had to play around with where my photographs and sculpture could go. (Due to my sculpture being large and very heavy, I didn’t want to place it on the plinth until after I decided how to display my work.)
A is how I initially thought about displaying my work. I wanted to create a way of displaying my work the way I present myself. I imagined the corner to be out of sight so that it represented how I felt about my body, that I usually keep it hidden with comfy, baggy tops. When walking around the corner and into the space, the sculpture would be the focus point and represent that I am trying to embrace my figure.
With B the photographs on the back wall would have be hidden by my sculpture. Plus I don’t like the photographs separately. Although 2 sets of 3, I prefer them as a set of 6.
C was one of three top possibilities for the final presentation. I liked the plinth a little off centre but still able to walk around it on the wall without images on. I made sure that the plinth was closer to the empty wall to take into consideration that viewers were able to look at the photographs up close and maybe in small groups.
Similarly with C, D was a possibility for final presentation. This display created a powerful space with the sculpture in the centre and the images on each side. I found I wasn’t fond of the photos on both walls, although the presentation and composition of my work was a powerful image.
E and F both used the larger photographs as I wanted to see how they would look. I thought about using the 10 x 8″ photographs before I prepared my space because I wasn’t sure on what it would look like with the size of my sculpture there. I much prefer the smaller 7 x 9″ photographs. These worked better due to the fact that they are supporting the sculpture and I didn’t want the photos to distract from the sculpture.
I was tempted to experiment having the sculpture facing the back wall so that viewers could initiate themselves to walk around to the front of the work, but I thought this would be pointless as I am exposing the area of my body I dislike the most – my stomach.
I decided that F would be the final composition for display. With the plinth on an angle, facing a little toward the imagery, this created a more comfortable setting. I think that this setting creates an ambiance which compliments my concept and work well. I am still trying to learn to embrace my figure and I feel I need to learn about being comfortable nude and in my own skin. I think this display correlates well with how I am feeling.
I am looking forward to the degree show and finding out what other people’s thoughts and ideas are on it.
Rebecca Warren (b. 21/03/65)
I was recommended to look at Warren from a fellow Fine Art peer (Sam Heath) samlukeheath.wordpress.com
Warren’s sculptures range from amorphous to more recognisable forms, her sculptures creating a bold new figure for the female nude. Her subject is one of the most traditional in art history but she undermines the clichés associated with the genre, redefining what sculpture should be or should look like.
Her sculptures are sometimes sexual in nature and reference the body in challenging ways. The work shows ideas about authorship and authenticity and influences from literature, psychology, pop culture and art history are filtered, distorted and even discarded as they find their 3 dimensional form.
Warren’s work has the earthy, unfired and unfinished look; they unveil a tension between the thoughts and the processes while creating a unique sculptural mode. She uses clay as it is a very flexible medium, as it allows her to explore unconscious free association. She says:
“The beauty of working with a material like clay, is that it gives you freedom to change things … I like to keep quality that they’re breeding quite quickly, but there’s a sense of them perhaps not being complete to keep them alive and fresh.”
Warren wryly addresses her fascination with artists who have overly fetishised the female form: photographer Helmut Newton, cartoonist Robert Crumb and abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning. Her earth mothers, quote from their imagery, from that of and modernist sculpture, highlighting a shared interest in sexualising women’s shape by discarding heads and personal attributes and filtering symbols of objectification such as, aggressively cartooned buttocks, nipples and posture.
I find it interesting that Warren doesn’t fire her sculptures as you can see the rawness of her work; that she doesn’t smooth out the clay to give it a more defined shape. I like that she over exaggerates body types, creating a refreshing view on the contemporary female figure.
Working with a traditional subject, I find it quite difficult to make my work relatively contemporary and although I have experimented with everything I could think of, I feel that my work is more likely to embrace classical sculpture. In the future I hope to work with different mediums in larger scale, while still working with the human figure.
(This post was originally posted on 22/10/14 but I have since edited it to feed into my current work)
I am pleased with my dissertation mark as I knew that I would get in the 2:2 bracket. I’m not a strong writer so I knew that I wouldn’t have managed a 2:1. My feedback was generally good, I just needed to discuss more about why I chose the artists I did and I needed more theoretical and academic underpinning would have made it better. Plus I needed to have more examples and greater concepts within my dissertation.
After I handed in my dissertation I was dreading to get my mark back but after finding out the date we were getting the marks and feedback I found I really wanted to know my grade. It wasn’t until Monday night that I had a dream that I got a 3rd in my dissertation and I found that I would be so disappointed in myself if I received that mark. Then I had another dream where I got a first and I thought that this was incredible, it couldn’t have been true (still dreaming.) So, when I woke up on Tuesday, I knew that I would be happy with a 2:2.
The last ever tutorials were yesterday where I showed what I had produced over the Easter holidays and sought advice about displaying my work. My peers in my group and my tutor all preferred Plan A to B. I thought that might have been the case and I was having difficulty figuring out how to keep B stable. Plus, A is relevant to my experimental work and contextualisation.
After the tutorial, I started working on A and realised that since I had made it I have become to like it. Although I still find it hard to focus on it, I feel it is a much stronger piece than B.
I have decided to display six photos with my sculpture in either 8×6″ or 10×8″ These sizes will be finalised once I have my sculpture in my space. My sixth photograph was easy to choose as it is part of the symmetrical series, but the one thing that irritates me is that the shadows on the image aren’t in the same position as the others.
I edited the image and have used both separately to figure out which compliments the other two the best. I prefer the lighter one (middle photo) as the shadows just annoy me and look really bad in the other one and I feel the softer the photographs, the sculpture will flourish more.
Yesterday morning, I had a disaster. I mixed too much alginate so it had gone off by the time I was ready to start using it. This meant I had wasted about 1.5 bags of alginate, which honestly pissed me off that I hadn’t thought of that. I started getting really worried and thinking that I wouldn’t have a sculpture to show at the degree show. When I calmed myself down – 20 minutes later – I was trying to work out how I could create this mould without the alginate drying*.
*Alginate doesn’t technically dry when mixing, when it has gone off it cannot be used again. It does dry but it takes a few days, it is much better to use the mould as quick as possible.
I thought about making a tray from a box or creating a wall that could be placed into my bath, so I could create the mould in the bath. These would not form the mould that I want though, as my body would be a different shape. I also thought about lying down and having the alginate poured over me, but the same problem of the different shape would happen.
I decided the best way would be to make the mould bit by bit, an area at a time. This was okay, except that once one area was done, I had to make a new batch of alginate to use so that it wouldn’t go off by the time I was ready to place it onto my body. The problem with this was that an area was ready to come off before others were created. When I did take it off, some areas were thinner than others making a rip in the mould. I now know that to make the mould more sturdy, I have to cover it up with mod rock (I didn’t have this at home before I tried all this, plus my test piece was done without mod rock and was fine.)
I managed to coax in Mary (again) to help me make the mould. It took longer than I thought, I wanted to make sure that the mod rock had hardened enough before we took the mould off. The mould was more difficult to take off than I initially thought, as the alginate had not stuck to the mod rock so this meant that I had to lean forward and wiggle out of the mould, using support off Mary and myself.
Creating the cast went smoothly but I was aware that I wouldn’t have been able to make the sculpture as thin as I had wanted. In the end, the sides were very fragile (and have now broken off) but it was lighter and detailed than my other sculpture. I really liked the final outcome of this piece, I just had no idea how it would stay stable on the plinth.
I really liked how there were gaps and holes in the plaster where it had spread. I used a different plaster which made the sculpture whiter than the fuller one, which I do prefer but this piece does have less relevance to my experimental work. As much as I liked this more, I didn’t like that the stomach was flat and wobbly. This was because we couldn’t keep it shapely on the floor as I was filling the mould with the plaster.