My practice motivated me to explore the conversations between objects, to create sculptures that converse with one another and to build more narratives. I devoted the beginning of Unit 3 on researching ways to combine common objects materials in manners that express my message and my thoughts. At the same time, I started to research the work of several artists whose work is related to everyday objects, scale and plastic. The following three artists were very influential on my work at the time: Ian Dawson, Bill Woodrow, Tony Cragg.
While creating my artwork “Bloom” I came across the works of Ian Dawson who is mainly interested in sculpture and collage. What inspired me from his artwork is his experimental work with plastic and epoxy resin and the forms of his sculptures. Furthermore, I was intrigued by his sculptures that give abstract meanings to common, everyday objects. His work helped me improve the way that I use plastic in my works.
(Making Contemporary Sculpture, Ramsbury, England: Crowood 2012)
Bill Woodrow is a sculptor that uses scrap materials and consumer goods in his work.
I am attracted by the way he cuts and transforms his objects of choice and the structure that he gives them. Bill Woodrow inspired me to re-use scrap materials in a way that communicates my thoughts.
(Bill Woodrow - Sculptures 1981-1988, Waddington Custot Galleries, 2011)
Tony Cragg has an obvious interest in ordinary everyday objects such as stones, dinner plates, bottles, chairs, tables and in simple forms such as circles, squares and spirals. His work is an inquiry into banality, bringing together a rich source of evidence from the everyday world, including discarded materials, old plastic objects and pieces of furniture.His sculptures are a ‘negative’, i.e. reverses reality in order to expose the essentially basis of construction; like a sandcastle in which sand and scoria have been pressed into shape by a bucket according to the laws of rigid forms. Tony Cragg’s work helped me develop my thoughts and introduce new ways of working with everyday objects and discarded materials.
(Tony Cragg, Monographies, p.268 - 280, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1995)
During that period, my artwork “Bloom” was shortlisted for the exhibition The Universal Sea - Pure or Plastic!? that took place in Poland.
I was not within the five finalists, yet my artwork was included in the official Universal of the Sea Guide Book that was supported by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union.
However, I reached a point of confusion with regards to the direction I needed to follow. On the one side, I had my artwork “Bloom” and on the other side I had the artwork “Have you got a light”. They are two significantly different types of artwork that require different technical process and tell different narratives. Because I was confused, I started experimenting with both ways.
Initially, I re-started working with plastic bottles of water. I tried to explore several techniques on how to transform the plastic bottles of water in order to give them interesting forms and to combine them with other objects and materials. I transformed plastic bottles of waters in spiral forms in an attempt to re-create the termination part of a tap while water is flowing.
At the same time, I started to think about which everyday objects may give me the possibility to create a dialogue with them. My main target was to find simple objects that have a rich potential for irony and can be linked in a playful manner to the consumerist sins of our society and the green environment.
As a result, I decided to create two objects with different uses and different purposes. I realised that these two objects can communicate in an odd and playful way as they metaphorically express some of the most pressing world problems. These two objects are a hair brush and a bank debit card. With regards to objects, I amplified their size and I changed the materials from which they are normally made. I made the brush from wood and foam and the bank card from acrylic plastic. I used the brush in order to pass the message that modern life is interested in taking care the surface of the problems rather their substance. Moreover, I used the bank card in order to highlight our dependency on plastic money and our exaggerated focus on financial development irrespective of its consequences .
In the meantime, I was selected to participate in an exhibition in the art space “ArtNumber 23” in Bermonsdey. The title of the exhibition was “Vibrant” and I was selected for my artwork “Bloom”.
I eventually realised that it is better if I continue focusing on one of my original two directions, namely transforming everyday materials in abstract forms and size with the aim of communicating.
In that process, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Therrien are the two artists that influenced me the most with their technique and the way that they experiment with the scale of their objects.
Claes Oldenburg is an American artist that creates large-scale sculptures and installations of everyday objects. He has influenced me in experimenting with large-scale objects and adding humour in them. Moreover, his work prompted me to observe everyday objects as if they were alive.
(Oldenburg, Six Themes, Intoduction by Martin Friedman and interviews with Claes Oldenburg, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1975)
Robert Therrien is another artist that creates large-scale ordinary objects. I am attracted to his work because he uses size in an attempt to change the narrative and the emotional connection we have with these objects. His work has helped me to look into everyday objects at a secondary level, namely identify or create their story and what actually connects us with each one of them.
(Robert Therrien, Publication Gagosian Gallery, 2008)
While researching and experimenting with several objects I thought about body wounds and their metaphorical relation to “wounded earth”. I liked the idea and I then started to think how we cover our wounds (real & metaphorical, bodily and psychological). I soon realised that usually cover them in a superficial way taking care of only the surface of the problem rather than inquiring about the underlying causes. As a result, I decided to create an object that resembles a common medicine plaster (band aid) that we use in everyday life to cover small wounds and scratches. At the beginning I was perplexed by the material of choice to create the medicine plasters. I made some mock ups from MDF but I was not convinced that this was the best choice During the process, I created several types of medicine plasters in a big scale (1st type: 70x20cm, 2nd type: 70x40cm, 3rd type: 30x30cm, 4rd type: 40x10cm) and I used two different types of skin colour, as well as the blue colour that the food industry uses in plasters. Upon completion, I displayed them on walls to metaphorically portray the attempt to cover the ugliness of industrial buildings.
However, I encountered problems in finding ways to develop the idea of the “wounds” and, specifically, how to improve the plasters to communicate better my ideas. Also, I realised during the one-day exhibition that we held in the College that my plasters had technical problems apart from the issue of communicating my ideas.
First of all, the wood did not give them the flexibility and the thickness that medical plasters have. Moreover, I felt that I needed extra objects to surround plasters in an attempt to start a dialogue. However, I enjoyed this idea and I saw it as a challenge to improve it both in terms of technical matters but also in terms of context . As such, I started creating bigger plasters from thin plywood that is flexible and can be shaped in a way to create angles with the plasters. At the same time, I made a collage with the MDF plasters in a frame (150x150cm). The frame contained holes depicting a wound in the skin and their combination with the plasters created interesting layers. Moreover, I covered the entire surface, apart from the holes and the plasters, with sand that was mixed with colour to portray a deserted surface. However, I was not sure the synthesis worked so I continued my research on how to improve the materials that I use and to find objects that can communicate in a humorous and ironic way with the plasters.
I also looked into the work of artists that create sculptures in different ways, techniques and meanings. Some of these artists are:
Grenville Davey is a British sculptor that creates sculptures with simple forms and experiments with industrial materials. I am influenced by his work because he simplifies the forms of his objects of choice, tending close to minimalism.
(Objectives: The sculpture, Newport Horbour Art MUseum, 1990)
Elizabeth Wright is a British sculptor. I am attracted to her artwork with a race bike that was enlarged by 135%. I am impressed by her technique in creating sculpture and also by its emotional background that is depicted in its small details like the broken wheels rubber.
(Elizabeth Wrigth, Showroom, London, 1996)
Jane Simpson is a British sculptor that creates artworks by using several different materials like wood, metal, silicone rubber and also, household objects. I am attracted to her work as she is using readymade objects available on the internet in her sculpture , finding the right balance between them.
(Jane Simpson - Tableau, Centro de Arte Contemporereo de Malaga, 2004)
An important part of this period was my collaboration with Mark Jeffrey's. We selected parts of our artwork and we started experimenting with them at a public space. We combined a part of my “Band Aid” artwork with Marks fabric and we displayed them on the trees of Wimbledon Park. I believe that our experimentation produced results that were aesthetically interesting and helpful for our practices.
During the same period, carpet at the reception of the College was changed. The original carpet was from linoleum and I found big parts of it in the bin. I decided to use some if it because its flexibility might have been helpful for my practise. Following several trials I remade the plasters with the linoleum carpet. The benefits of this material was that the linoleum carpet was damaged and dirty while having the flexibility that I wanted. It did help me a lot to create an odd and damaged bandage while its flexibility allowed me to experiment with the space. Moreover, the damaged texture allowed me to link the bandage to the industrial theme of my artwork I gave the title “Band Aid” to this artwork.
At the same time, I started to study the works of sociologist Ulrich Beck on “Risk Society”. I focused on the following three works:
1.How Climate Change Might Save the World: Metamorphosis.
2.Remapping social inequalities in an age of climate change: for a cosmopolitan renewal of sociology.
3.Climate for Change, or how to create a Green Modernity.
Ulrich Beck was a sociologist who connected the climate change with several modern, social inequalities . His theory helped me understand terms such as vulnerability and how to connect ecological with social issues. Furthermore, his interpretation of the term vulnerability helped me develop the way that I will display the artwork “Band Aid”. It also helped me to start thinking about my future work and how this can communicate with the artwork “Band Aid”.
Moreover, the books “Hyperobjects” and “Vibrant Matter” helped me understand the metaphorical and symbolic role that objects play in our way of living and how they affect our society and the green environment. I was also influenced by the following quotes of Ulrich Beck:
“A sociological understanding of vulnerability certainly has a crucial relationship to the future, but also has historical depth. The ‘cultural wounds’ that, for example, result from the colonial past, constitute an important part of the background to understanding border-transcending climate conflicts. The more marginal the available economic and political options are, the more vulnerable a particular group or population. The question that allows the unit of investigation to be determined is this: what constitutes vulnerability in a particular context, and how did it become what it is?”
“Our whole way of life is attuned to industrial society modernity – with its extravagant use of resources and indifference to nature, which is disappearing t hanks to the triumph of industrialism. “
As a result, I created several objects that I linked to the “Band Aids” artwork portraying in a humorous and ironic way the relation of social and ecological vulnerabilities.
Another interesting challenge was to try to communicate several messages via sculptures. I was aiming to combine objects that I will create from scratch together with ready-made objects and discarded materials that I will transform. I hoped to create odd artworks while harmoniously balancing the various objects and materials.
At that point, the following two artists were very influential on my work: Mona Hatoum and Ceal Floyer
Ceal Floyer Ceal Floyer is a British artist that creates artworks which combine ready-made objects, sculpture, installations and prints. I am attracted by her work because she instils humour in her work, while she creates a dialogue with the semiotics of everyday things.
(Ceal Floyer, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, 2001)
Mona Hatoum is a Palestinian artist that creates art about the conflicts and contradictions of our world, the relationship between politics and the individual and the systems of control within society. I am attracted by the way she uses everyday household objects in a unique and attractive manner to portray the systems of control within society.
((Mona Hatoum, Knustmuseum St.Gallen Holzworth Publications 2014)
One of the objects that I created was a temperature knob in an abstract way. This knob is wall based and is made of wood and acrylic paint. Its size is 110cm x 110cm x 10cm. With the acrylic paint I tried to visually transform the wood to look like a plastic object. My aim in bringing together the knob and with the installation of plasters is to portray the abuse of goods and natural resources and the limited chances we have to change this situation. Moreover, I decided against putting any symbols around the knob because I want to give the audience the chance to wonder what is the purpose of this object , how it affects our environment and what can be done to change its impact. I gave this artwork the title “Turn it Off”.
During the same time, I created a large replication of a used hair brush. This hairbrush is a floor-based sculpture and is made of wood and metal. Its size is 220cm x 65cm x 55cm. The base of the hair brush is made of wood and painted with varnish. Also, the metal stripes portray the hair on the brush and the bended metal stripes portray that the brush has been used. Moreover, at one end of the hair brush I put a paper label to show, with irony, that that the hair brush is sold as a new one although it has been used. Furthermore, this artwork portrays the human vanity in that we strive to maintain a perfect public image and a perfect body but we ignore the real problems that affect our society and environment. The title that I gave to this artwork is “Sold as Seen”.
My last artwork is bank card that is installed on a pot with sand and stones. The total size of the artwork is 170cm x 120cm x 60cm. The bank card is made of acrylic plastic and the pot is a ready-made object of plastic. With this artwork I created an odd and humorous combination of a debit card, a pot and the sand. By doing so I tried to portray the social and ecological vulnerabilities that are created by the capitalistic system and the ubiquitous use of finance. This artwork metaphorically depicts a tree that has grown to become a bank card. Together with the sand they portray the loose foundations of our financial system and the ensuing, un-natural development of our society and world. . Finally, the title of this artwork is “Fruition”.
In summary, the aim of my artworks is to demonstrate that through the social and ecological vulnerabilities the nature is not self-destructive but, instead, it is us who abuse it and eventually destroy it.
In Unit 2 of the course, I focused on metaphorically portraying the pipe system of the drainage system of our cities. Furthermore, I portrayed a snapshot of this system’s explosion caused by the huge pressure of the large amount of materials that are discarded daily.
As such, I replaced the contaminated and dirty water with a synthesis of plastic water bottles and several types of plastic containers that we use daily. I used several types of plastic because they are among the most difficult materials to dissipate in water or the soil. As a result, they have the potential to cause serious problems to the “Green Environment” and inevitably to our lives. Moreover, the burning of plastic creates large amounts of CO2 emissions that harms our ecosystem.
I started working with plastic bottles of water, plastic cups and other plastic objects that I cut in different shapes and forms. Then, I started to stick the plastic pieces together in a way that portrays the movement of water during an explosion. I also used real pipes in the synthesis to give the sense of explosion a realistic form.
I faced a lot of difficulties in finding ways to connect the bits and pieces of plastic with the pipes. The main problem was to stabilize the artwork as its size was growing. Also, I was burning the ends of the plastics in order to give them form, but this technique did not work out so I tried for alternatives in shaping them. Experimenting with several techniques and after a long time I found the way to give the sense of pressure to the synthesis.
Furthermore, I used epoxy resin when I finalized parts of the body work. My aim was to mix epoxy resin with ultra-marine acrylic color and white acrylic and use the mixture to carefully cover the surfaces of the body work. I believe that this mixture gave a “magical” feeling to the pipes and the plastic pieces. By doing so, I tried to transform all these objects and materials in a manner that they are not identifiable. Furthermore, the mixture of epoxy resin and acrylics allowed me to create the feeling of overflowing water and dissolutions.
I gave the title “Bloom” to this artwork as an irony for the growing destruction of our ecosystem by our consumerist ways of living. My friend and classmate Mark Jeffreys helped me a lot in identifying an appropriate title. Originally, I thought of naming the project “bloom” (μπλουμ) as a tribute to he sound that a water drop makes . Mark explained to me that bloom in English means the growth of a flower – which motivated me to think of a way to connect this word to my work in an ironic and humorous way.
Summarizing, my aim with the artwork “Bloom” is to metaphorically portray the destruction that of our “Green Environment” through our modern, consumerist ways of living and our choices of industrial materials.
At the same time I created an artwork for the exhibition at the Crypt Gallery in Euston entitled “One that Holds Everything”.
Influenced by the history and the atmosphere of the Crypt, I created seven matchsticks (five normal and two burned ones) and I gave them the title “Have you Got a Light?”. I attempted to use the light of the matchsticks to portray the hope of the people who used the Crypt as a shelter during the WWII. A hope that the war will come to an end and they will lead peaceful lives.
One of the artworks I created in the first part of the course is based on the concept of void and portrays a dead Mediterranean monk seal on dried soil. I started creating this artwork on MDF (medium-density fibreboard) and I aimed to replicate the actual size of a new-born Mediterranean monk seal (approximately 80 centimetres). Upon completion of the basic shape, I decided to create grooves around the void. By doing so I depicted the dried grooves that the water leaves in the soil. I also took the decision to fill void with sand, as it expresses more accurately the elimination of water and the ensuing dried surface .
My second artwork follows the same logic, i.e. depicting the void, by means of a cut tree. I stabilized the artwork by creating a cement base that attempts to portray the soil with grooves and imprints of leaves. Towards the end of the process, I had the idea of transforming a piece of MDF into a sling. To do so, I painted the wood part, while constructing an elastic tube that metaphorically portrays the sling. I did have problems identifying the appropriate type of elastic tube, yet I went ahead. Also, I made rocks out of plaster to support the concept of the sling.
Finally, I decided to put together the sling, the cut tree and the Mediterranean monk seal for the following reasons:
Historically, the sling was used for survival.
The sling was used to kill animals so that humans could satisfy their basic needs.
Its use changed nature but did not destroy it.
Humans were part of the ecosystem and were using it together with its other main users, namely animals.
As such there was a harmonious coexistence.
With the passing of time this harmonious coexistence gradually disappeared.
The sling was used as a weapon for the destruction of the ecosystem.
A destruction that is portrayed by the void.
A further artwork from the first part of the course is entitled “Waterfall” and expresses the elimination of water resources by means of a dried waterfall made of wood. I curved the wood to portray the grooves of the waterfall and the flow that the water creates. This proved to be a great learning experience as I realised that better quality wood is amenable to curving and facilitates the expression of my ideas. Furthermore, it gave me a good chance to create an actual natural place and to depict environmental destruction in a more obvious way.