Crow paper – Collaboration with Industry 12.3.19

I have been collaborating with technical demonstrator Sue Debney of Salford Art School. This was the third session of papermaking that had developed into pulp painting with Sue – a new area of development for both of us. It is a long, technical, creative and involved process. This time I brought in meaningful items: two 100% cotton faded black martial arts t-shirts that my son and I had worn up to brown belt grading over three years. They represented the battle, internal struggle, technical development of form, awareness of flow, family connection, legacy, evolution, strength, and growth.

To convey a sense of the complexity and length of the process involved, I have included some photos and notes made at the time:

Afore mentioned martial arts t-shirts.
Cotton t shirts cut into small squares with the help of Sue Debney and Alexis Reeves.

The small squares of cotton were then added to the Hollander Beater to be gradually pulped over the morning.
The pulping process, using up to 2lb of dry weight natural fabric, circulating in the Hollander Beater

It took several hours but finally we were rewarded with a beautiful black pulp to work with.

We lined the large deckle box with a sheet of plastic
Then added half of the beautiful black pulp.
It took three of us to pull out the plastic , like a magician’s table cloth, whilst one held the deckle box. Then we had to cause constant ripples by shaking the box, first one way and then another as the pulp set and the water drained.
The sides of the box were removed leaving a sodden, smooth pulp rectangle. This was the resulting thick black sheet. I then tweezered out anything that had invaded the piece – like straw.
Then it was carefully couched onto a flat absorbent surface and the process from deckle box onwards was repeated to get 2 decent substantial sheets to work with.

I had brought two reels of cotton from my mother’s sewing box that I inherited from her. To keep a limited palette I chose a deep crimson and white. I then ‘drew’ with the threads on the sheets before pressing.

I used actual crow feathers to create stencils and pulped recycled art paper in a blender to papermake. This stencil was held on the mould screen and dipped in a vat of pulp. The stencil was removed and the pulp pressed carefully onto the black pulp and thread.

I finally finished by pulp painting the thread and feathers with a watery slurry.

The paper was then pressed and took the rest of the week to dry.
It can’t be worked upon for another week.

Although this seems lengthy for our modern day instant culture mindset. Sue described this as ‘speed paper making’ as in Japan this process can take up to a year.

I am very inspired by this whole experience, from selecting threads and materials imbued with meaning right through to seeing the results of this intense creative process…

Crow by Boria Sax

As I am working with crow symbolism and meaning, I am currently reading this captivating book by American writer Boria Sax. It spans science, folklore, history and mythology of the corvid family across different cultures. What is fascinating in chapter three is the account given by the Roman historian Livy of single combat between a giant Gaul and Valerius Corvus, ‘Valerius the Crow’ (p56) where a raven landed on his helmet and helped the warrior win the battle by swooping on his foe. This idea of a raven/ crow helmet is further exemplified in the chapter:

“A Celtic helmet of Iron from the second or third century BC, found in Ciumesti, Romania is topped by an image of a Raven with hinged wings.” (p57)

I found that this idea of a raven or crow helmet fired my imagination and wanted to incorporate it into the current work I am creating about my father, his links to Celtic and Irish history and our original ancestor: Caoilte. The crow or raven is intimately linked to the Celtic battle goddess: the Morrigan, ruler of war and fate.

What is also fascinating is the ambivalent symbology of the corvid over time:
“The crow or raven might represent extremes of good or evil, depending on the context in which it appeared” (p80)
and the alchemical symbology of the Corvid:
“The raven eating carrion, even the dead bodies of human beings, signified the transformation of all things as the world, slowly but inexorably, moved towards perfection.” (p81)

In corvids, I find the reflection of human nature and the symbology of the internal/ external battles we face as individuals: the armor we wear and the allies we choose.
As humans, we see through our own lense of perception; we anthropomorphize the nature of corvids which is essentially something ‘other’.

Crow Paper

Crow Feather Paper
Created by a stencil I cut from a crow feather and using pulp painting with thread added too. Made with the help of Sue Debney In the Salford Art School Print Room. It has the suggestion of a feather through reshaping the form by hand whist allowing the pulp and thread to fall and flow where it will. The process is fairly long and involved and I am busy collecting meaningful shreds of paper and detritus to pulp…

In this process , discussed with Sue, I was mindful about the space around the feather shape, the flow and impermanence almost like a zen paper painting. This would become an exhibited piece and part of the group exposition.

See how the moment flies

Following the reading of the poetical work Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Portman, the consideration of the role of time healing all wounds and slowly inexorably changing perspective through it’s process; I reread through my mum’s poetry. This is a poem taken from my mum’s journal mid 1970s. It is similar to Zen poetry in that it captures something uncapturable: the moment, truth, time and being.

Black rain by Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253)
A profound poem I return to, first read in Colombia in 1996.

Studio note : Black rain

It resonated, as I use meditation as part of my process. It also reflects discussions on meditation I had with mum, who was a lifetime practitioner. I am currently collaging her poem onto tissue paper and board, reconsidering the flow of the words. I am exploring the flight of the moment and an abstracted fluid representation and expression of this theme.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

I have just read this book recommended by my tutor. It is a strange and poignant poetical tale. There were some parts of it that resonated with me, in particular, where the crow suggests a game:
” ‘You two boys’, he said, ‘must each build, here on the floor – a model of your Mother. Just as you remember her! And whichever of you builds the best model will win. Not the most realistic, but the best, the truest. ” (pp.28-29)
I felt that in some ways this is the creative process I followed with my Crow Mother portrait, creating work that expressed her true essence or that which was experienced by me., rather than her likeness.
Later in the book when it talks of moving on there is a passage that reads:
” Moving on as a concept is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows that grief is a long- term project. I refuse to rush. The pain that is thrust upon us let no man slow or speed or fix.” (p99)
Succinct and truthful. It comes in waves and we never get passed it but learn to carry it. We grieve in proportion to the love we felt.

Jake Chapman talk at the Whitworth, Manchester. 29.1.19

A reworking of 1984 titled 1984.1 was read to us at breakneck speed without pause or varied intonation. It was reading the unreadable as described at the time and challenging to listen to and follow. I came away with some notes that I am trying to make sense of such as ” the unique personification of universal suffering”, in my notes I’ve written “change final word” so that art can be the unique personification of many themes: grief, love, feeling, intellect, being, nothingness …. I was aiming to find truth that I could relate to artistically and felt applied to my process.

Art is “a contemporary discourse on the notion of identity”, it therefore discusses the concept of who we are: our existence and integrity. There is an understanding that artwork has a kind of transcendent truth; a perceived honesty.

Amongst the thought provoking questions that were asked:

“How do you make a work of art that’s lying?”

Perhaps all artwork is fiction that expresses truth.

Truth -> interpretation -> fiction

“What are the conditions that presuppose your production of a work of art?”

Time , space, intention, creative fire, tools, evolving vision.

Actually in the YouTube video: My Place: Jake Chapman.
He says that ” You have to submit to wasting time before anything becomes purposeful” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94_7_QwKp9Y 

So maybe I’ll add wasting time to that list of presuppositions.

The idea of ” a dialogue across time” resonated, as I believe an artwork to be a record of time and intention, which stops at a certain point of completion and thus begins its outer communication during its existence.

“How does a work of art work?”

  1. Ornamental
  2. We choose to do it because it expresses something important
  3. Political: critical discourse.

Jake Chapman paraphrased Modern Art being a retaliation on bourgeois taste. Yet Modern Art still subscribes to it. YBAs were also described as being a wing of gentrification. Dichotomy.

I was interested in how his change of environment had affected his process and asked him such. This tied in with a question about creating utopias as opposed to dystopias. Interestingly he answered that utopia has an element of dystopia.

I subscribe to the higher synthesis and dialectical process of art. Creative evolution.

I found the Q&A session thought-provoking, particularly the question that was so ismly convoluted that the questioner lost the thread and ended up thrusting us into a shared state of universal bafflement.

Maybe I’ll add universal bafflement to the list of conditions that presupposes the production of art.

However, as this book was suggested both in a film clip I watched pre-talk and during the talk. I decided to buy it.

A thousand years of nonlinear history, by Manuel de Landa

The next step is to read it….

Her Secret Unfolded

Image

Acrylic and collage on canvas board. I have used a sonogram of my daughter and three words of poetry from my mum’s journal.  It connects the micro of the embryo to the macro of the universe. It asks questions about authorship and is part of a body of work I am creating inspired by the myriad aspects of motherhood for the MA in Contemporary Art Practice I am working on at Salford Art School.

Winged Creatures -I see birds as messengers and symbols of freedom.

 

An Art Exhibition of Birds and Dragonflies in paint, linocut and giclee.

 

 

This Summer Solo exhibition at The Yorkshire College of Music and Drama this Summer explored the cultural meaning, beauty and significance of birds, the transcendent moment when a dragonfly appears and the otherness of winged creatures.

Corvus Corax

I see birds as messengers and symbols of freedom. 

Affinity Exhibition -Opening weekend at Wells

Posted by Lisa Kilty on Sunday, 22 April 2018

Thanks to all the people who came to see the exhibition from all over the world. We shared some very moving and profoundly insightful experiences. It has been an extremely validating experience as an artist.