Reflection (Mid-May)

By 16th May 2022 May 21st, 2022 Creative Practice

(Co)Creations, experiments and doings in the last fortnight (and up until submission)

For a full look through check the GANTT chart.

Note: edited later on to include relevant links where I’ve written up a bit later.

Coding: References to codes should be connected to this meta-post.

I haven’t managed to catch up with myself since contracting Covid last month, and in a lot of ways I’ve been flailing and struggling to keep on top everything since. I’ve been really stressed lately too so it’s making things much more difficult.

Here’s a few key reflective and evaluative thoughts on what I’ve been doing and making and thinking over the last fortnight:

  • I haven’t sown the seeds I was hoping to sow in May (during the right time lunar-wise) so I’m going to need to sow whenever I can manage before it gets too late in the year. Another example of lunar scheduling not necessarily being realistic. I have been tending to my plants though… they don’t seem to be able to cope with the chaotic weather. One minute there’s a heatwave, next minute it’s freezing. There hasn’t been much rain either which has made things more complicated! Now the last frost date has gone (1 May) I’ve been hardening plants off.
  • I made some seed papers just before I began isolating with Covid, and I’ve only just got around to burying a sample to see if the poppy seeds germinate successfully. If this works, it could lead to a really interesting artwork involving seed paper laid under earth, or turf? I recognise on reflection that poppy seeds may not be the most ideal seed to try and germinate and the paper might not be right, so I’m not especially hopeful – but it’s worth trying!
  • I enjoyed making twig sculpture maquettes. The background/photographs aren’t great, admittedly, but it was a great way of thinking of some of the things I could do with the fallen branches and logs for a future project in Hull General Cemetery. Next time, I’ll make twig maquettes away from home – had a puppy stealing and eating them! Nature loom maquettes were enjoyable too, but the scale made things quite difficult. A larger scale would make it much easier to thread things through than a small scale one did. I’d do this again, although I have concerns that if it was a large scale loom, that it would entangle birds or animals? It would have to be full/obvious-it-was-full-of-stuff and temporary to not pose a risk to the animals!
  • I’ve felt disappointed with the Anthotypes, but again, I think that’s a result of my own negligence. It was about two weeks between making the dandelion emulsion and exposing it to the sun, which I think decreased its effectiveness. I think there’s something in this, and I’d like to try it again, but I think I need to make the emulsion in the morning – or at most the day before – of exposure. I would need a better way of dipping the emulsion too – tray-dip would be better than brushing on.. although I do like the blotchy effect of brushing. I think in general this would need moore focus and care to get more effective results. I enjoyed the performative act of foraging plants and making the emulsion though – the rest felt like a chore! Something to bear in mind – perhaps the process and the ‘being in-and-with’ nature is more important than the artistic outcome?
  • I have really enjoyed retrieving artworks. I love the drawing that was left under the tree – especially the holes that were made and the erosion of the paper. The one I buried basically fell apart as I unfurled it – the non-human went to town on it but that’s okay! I’ve let it dry and I’m going to mount it so it’s somewhat coherent. The most successful – in my eyes – is the one I left in the waterbutt. It is BEAUTIFUL. There’s ink bleed, and mould, and waterspots… and it’s a stunning piece of human:non-human collaboration. I want to pursue human:non-human collaborations more, most definitely.
  • Making inscence was an interesting process – used dried flowers and herbs I had collected and dried last year, mixed with gum arabic. The process of gathering, preparing, making and finally burning the incense felt very ritualistic. I think that if I were to do something based in ritual, insence making would definitely be a starter for ten.
  • I tore up some ivy leaves that were in my studio and found myself going through a very interesting thought process about human destructiveness. It led me to questioning the ethics of making and doing using natural materials again.
  • As I was tidying my studio space up, and pinning up newer work, I reflected on how I DON’T want to present things – that is, things that are quite sciencey, neat-in-a-line, stuff in jars and containers, and so on. I realised that it’s important to aesthetically/presentationally move away from Westernised, dualistic, extractive ways of viewing and presenting the non-human. Something to bear in mind as I’m displaying/pinning/exhibiting work.
  • The dried leaf wall-hung works felt cathartic to do, and I love the subtle colours and textures. It is simple, and I like it, and the process of making it felt meaningful and relaxing to do. I like the method – which was the same process as making the seed papers – and could be something to bring forwards.
  • I’m so, so disappointed with the seed bombing/seed trails I did. I don’t know if it’s because we haven’t had much rain over the last six weeks, or because things will germinate and bloom later in the year (as expected, to be fair)… but it was looking a bit bare on the ground. There is some evidence of growth in some spaces, but I can’t be sure of if that’s my doing or that it was there already – it’s all very generic seedling-y at the moment and I won’t really know my action made a difference unless wildflowers blossom. The long line of earth that I seeded showed no growth whatsoever, although the seeds are evidently still there. I need to be patient to see any outcome – the seasons won’t rush for me! I have told myself already though that if nothing grows… that’s okay. The ungerminated seeds will feed the birds, feed the mice, nourish the soil. And that’s great. The performative ACT of seed sowing itself feels very significant in itself – ritualistic, and meaningful.
  • I’ve seen some great residencies about, which I’ve applied, or preparing to apply for. For the Compass Festival one in Leeds, I’ve proposed to transform a parking space in a deprived, urban area into a temporary garden and chat to people about ways to connect to nature, or show them some how to make some nature-based art, or just listen to their climate stories, hopes and fears. The North Sea one is about engaging local communities with the sea (still figuring out my proposal). The Land Art Biennale one is a festival about land art as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations in Norway, and it’s about making work on site and learning traditional crafts… and is such an incredible opportunity that would launch the next stage of my career. I’ve recently recognised that I need to apply myself a bit more as a professional artist and grab opportunities when they come, instead of worrying about practicalities and then passing things up. Applying to and doing things is part of being a professional artist! (EPP01)

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