Again, this is just for me, but feel free to see how much I can say about one thing:

Briefly outline the practical assignment

My practical assignment for the graded unit was to make a piece of artwork based on the natural world, I immediately began thinking about Darwin and his theory of evolution which I believe was a good choice as there is so much information about him because at the moment it is his 150th anniversary. What drew me to this topic was my love of H.G. Wells and his books which so delicately handle the theme of evolution and also make satirical remarks on the world at the same time. I wished to make something like this as my final piece. I decided to choose the relationship we humans have with nature and what contact we look at it in. Most of all this involves being at a museum or watching documentaries. I experimented with many different techniques including film, conceptual and print which related to these ideas I had come across. I stumbled upon the feeling of trust which is so very important when watching not just nature documentaries, but all documentaries. We trust what we see because of its format. This is similar to the trust that we have for artists in their work. The gallery and the museum are very similar places: both evoke a knowledgeable silence; both demand respect for the subjects; and both are places people go to understand things. In order for this understanding a certain trust is needed between the viewer and the display. It is this trust that I want to place emphasis on, it was unfortunate that I only came upon this concept during my final piece but I think that I have conveyed the concept clearly and I have handled the artwork delicately. It is vital that the artwork looks scientific and like an artistic response, this is because it makes a potent comment on both.

Review and Update Action Plan in light of experience

I can now say from experience that I should have spent more time developing my concept than developing visual stimuli. However I do feel that the visual experiments where essential in coming up with my final outcome. I may choose to revisit this topic as a subject for a later project. At one point near the beginning where I was less enthused I believed that I was spending not enough time on the project, but I backed it up with putting in a lot more hours in the coming weeks. At the end of the project I had a lot of time left over because I had put a lot of effort in the preceding weeks, this meant I was able to constantly evaluate and have time to correct any weaknesses and make the piece overall stronger. I would have given myself less time to evaluate as I seem to keep reevaluating and changing my mind about the final artwork, this would not have happened if I had given myself a maximum amount of time for evaluating, maybe a couple of days.

Summarise any unforeseen events and how they were handled

I really would have liked to visit the museum to see how their insect specimens were presented in a scientific way, but unfortunately the museum had closed its entire older half which included the animals and insects section. To get through this I attempted to call the storage place where they keep the exhibits while renovation is going on, but again I was knocked back to discover they were not taking visitors at the times I needed. The internet was where I was to find my conclusion to this rich tapestry of let-downs. I found a variety of different ways to display the hair specimens and opted for the most scientific one, placing pins through the hair. Placing the pins through the wood turned out to be impossible so I had to buy a foam board so that the pins would stick. It also turned out in the bottom two drawers, the concept was not clear, so I filled them with hair in order to clarify the concept of the truth being hidden.
Identify any knowledge and skills, which have been gained of developed.

During the project I believe I have learnt a lot about the different movements that I researched, mainly feminism, and also the dogma of the Gottbegnadeten list and their contemporaries branded the name of degenerate art. Although neither were hugely influential to my final piece, they played significant roles in my development stages as I played around with ideas. I really feel I connected with this project towards the later stage and I have learned it would be better to get more enthused earlier on in the project instead of being preoccupied with past projects. For my final piece, I am happy I opted for making something small. I was scared that because it was the final artwork of the year I would have encouraged myself to make a piece which included every concept I had looked into throughout the project, thus forming a giant installation, but I feel I stuck to the concept and produced something relevant to the brief. I also feel I have learnt a lot about digital media in my experiments. Playing about with photos from the internet and taken by me really helped me learn to work photoshop.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the final artwork.

The strength of the artwork lies mostly in its concept and my ability to fool others into believing its real. All the people who I have asked have trusted my words and have taken as fact that these pieces of hair are from the islands I designated. I think this is born from my understanding in the trust the viewer has for the artist which I discovered in my contextual research for a different project. This understanding is mainly due to me trusting the artist Conrad Shawcross who I saw the work of in the Darwin exhibition at the Baltic gallery. The concept evolved from me eventually questioning it.
I believe I have created an antique look extremely well in the display drawers and this is another triumph of the artwork. The antiquity of the piece is vital in portraying the nineteenth century science methods which I learnt about and also the links with Darwin. It is also important in showing the covering up of something to fool someone, reflecting the concept of the piece. However as for a small weakness, the drawers have their original cut-out handles still visible which was impossible to cover up no matter how hard I tried. On a good note, this let scope for seeing an insight into the concept without opening the remaining drawers. The top drawer is, I think, very strong in representing the status and importance of the specimens but I do think the other two drawers are less effective. If I move out of the artist’s role I find it quite confusing to discover the half finished drawers, I would think that maybe I was not supposed to open the drawers, this is supported by the messages “private” written on the front of the drawers. Truthfully, it just looks unfinished and careless. It has changed since before evaluation it was completely empty, I believe putting the hair into them makes this less confusing. It now appears as if the hair in the top drawer was just taken from the bottom two.
Although the frame gives the map significance in the art I wish I had taken more time to look for a more suitable, antique frame which would match the drawers and thus link them together. If I take myself out of the artists role then I would be confused as to the link between the two. However, it is a strength having them close to each other, because it automatically forms a link between the two. Another problem with the link between the specimens and the map, is that its not clear what the annotations next to the hair means, many people who have viewed the work have read the names of the islands as names of the people I cut the hair from. However I do not wish to make the artwork simple as it would complicate the concept. It should become obvious if they spent more time analysing it. The visible words on the map: “astle,” “erchiston,” “Brunts” would be recognisable to locals of Edinburgh but it may not work on an international scale. However I do feel the piece is strong internationally as science and nature are traits common among all of the population, people can relate to it wherever they are from. The scientific, clinical idea is continued with me filling he inside of the top drawer with a white base, this not only helps the specimens be more visible, but also softly implies science. I also think the pins are incredibly effective in portraying the specimens like insect specimen.
During my development stages I feel like I let myself down in my sketchbook, using it more like a log book, documenting all the processes I had used but not really showing my thought process very well. I think maybe the project would have come to a conclusion earlier and therefore have developed more by the end of the time scale. I have learnt from this and will from now on attempt to make my sketchbooks a real tool in the development process. For future projects I will use maybe a lined notebook to document, this will make me think and reflect upon my process a lot more. I will continue this until I am able to use plain paper books again.

Did the work meet the original brief?

I believe my final outcome highlights the issues and concerns over the natural world stated originally in the brief. My interest in science and faith shines through and really makes the piece intriguing. I see the piece as a delightful insight into the world of nature through the eyes of a human. I looked into our relationship with the environment and how we fit into the natural world; this let me make a deep response to the theme of faith and trust whilst cloaking it in a scientific mask. This trust and belief in science, which reminds me of trusting art, was a satirical point I wished to make just like Wells had made in several of his books. I believe this is what makes the art effective and what relates it to the brief.


Site-specific contextual

Okay, so I haven’t been delegating a lot of time to site-specific as i’m getting really into this graded unit thang which reminds me, i really need to upload photos of what i’ve been up to.

So for site-specific i’ve been looking into the ambiguity between life and death in the action of floating. It works in two ways, the serenity of floating and also the stillness of death in the water. The reason I looked into this was because of the links with the Leith docks that ocean terminal has. At the moment, I’m thinking of putting a license plate entitled T1M B3R onto a car at the carpark. Another idea is that I place a duck which has been taxidermicised on one of the roof tops.

But for contextual we must look into some site-specific stuff.

People I’m going to look into are Richard Wilson, Anthony Gormley, Richard Long, Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Smithson.

Richard Wilson is an artist who essentially “plays” with reality, he makes the most firmest of objects such as architecture and he Turning_the_place_overmakes them so unbelievable. He tests engineering, stretching it to new levels, essentially using technology just for the hell of it. However, I feel the artists work is incredibly successful, he hasn’t really used the site-specific formula, which i feel makes the work less generic and more about the actual space it is seen in. His piece, Turning the place over, is a building wall that has been sliced out of the res of the building, and rotates in a wobbly fashion. Wilson deals with the issues of trust and faith in modern architecture here as passers by will be genuinely frightened that he has been able to achieve such a thing. He was nominated for the Turner prize in both 1988 and 1989. A pice called Slice of Reality is also a work I would consider his strongest. It involves a cross section of ship hanging off the river thames bank on top of the river. The artist invites people to enter the ship although it looks incredibly rickety. Again the artist deals with the trust in technology and also the publics trust in him.

250px-Fly-AngelAntony Gormley is a world class British sculptor who deals primarily with the human figure. I am not a huge fan of his work, or really a fan of his personality but I can see why his work is so astonishing. In his site-specific work he creates a change in the environment, his pieces look almost monumental. His most famous piece of work is the Angel of the North a steel structure shaped like an angel on top of a hill in Gasteshead. In Another Place, he deals with loneliness and how however lonely we feel there are always people with us to help us. It also deals with waiting and the people who were waiting for their friends to come back from ocean voyages. I suppose in a way he is also a bit narcisistic putting copies of his body all over London and the UK but as an artist I suppose you have to market yourself some way.

Robert Smithson has made possibly the most famous site-specific work, Spiral Jetty,400px-Spiral-jetty-from-rozel-point it deals with the balance of nature and also the circle of life. He sees the food chain and other common animal processes as a cycle, continuing on forever in an eternal action. The lake that he chose to site it in was also very heavily damaged by industrial action, and I suppose it was a way to make something pretty to break up the barren landscape. The artist unfortunately died in a plane crash three years after the thing was built.

Andy Goldsworthy is another artist who deals with nature as his materials and also his subject matter. He works primarily in subtle andy-goldsworthy3works, maybe the combining of leaves to form a circle or with lines on stones, and he photographs them. The fact that they are temporary is critical to the enjoyment of the work, after something beautiful has gone there is a certain nostalgia towards it. Also it is important to the decay of the beauty of the landscape and also the way in which everything dies eventually. A truly fascinating artist.

Richard Long is a similar artist with similar ideas but his work mainly centres around the journeys he himself takes. imagesHe is alsot eh only artist to be nominated four times for the Turner Prize. A line made by walking is one of his most famous pieces, where he has deliberately changed the environment in some form, showing man’s impact on nature, how we are walking all over it and taking advantage.

Graded Unit Action Plan

this is more for me, but it might be interesting for others to see what I based the graded unit on:

Chosen Brief and Initial Research

I chose the brief entitled natural world, a brief demanded an insight into the relationship between animals and the environment and between humanity and these two also. I suppose I chose this theme due to my love and interest in the topic, I am always reading books which question the morality of nature and the manipulation of it, so I suppose it has always been there. H.G Wells I would say is a huge influence on me, and I would love him to be a part of this project. Another thing is that I would love to learn more about certain things in the natural world, possibly ants being the most significant, I have a huge phobia of those little creatures and tackling this issue may be an interesting part of an art project. When I first saw the brief I immediately thought of Darwin and his theory of evolution, this may be due to the anniversary of him this year. I then thought about the book I was just reading, “First Men on the Moon” by H.G. Wells which describes an antlike alien being living on the inside of the moon which has a huge caste system. This leads me on to ant colonies, beehives and animal intelligence. I may choose to look into the relationships animals have to one another and also the way which they communicate with one another. The collective intelligence is something that also fascinates me about the colony, and I may attempt to compare this to social networking sites, and our source of information, the internet. Wells also used satirical commentary in his work, it would interesting to incorporate this into my piece. Another thing which is important in evolution is the manipulation of genetics to create the perfect race, eugenics. For this, I must look into the nazi policy, the aryan race and the roots of this theory.

Contextual Research

I will attempt to use as many sources in the forming of this project, such as the LRC in the college, the Fine Art Library on the bridges, the internet of course and exhibitions in and around Edinburgh. For the latter there is an exhibition in Newcastle which is based solely on Darwin towards the end of April. I will certainly go see this once I learn more of it. For these I will endeavor to take a sketchbook or notebook with me to the exhibits and take notes, on the internet I will have to take into account contextualisation of my work. For this I will look at other contemporary artists around at the moment, and maybe into earlier stuff around the time of the Nazi revolution such as degenerate art and the art funded by the state. Another concept I could investigate is the feminist movement, this would be important as I know the queen of the ant colony is the most important ant there, this would be interesting to compare to world leaders in the human world. I must also take into account Darwin’s thoughts and his action.


Over the course of the project I intend to use a variety of techniques most suited to the project. I will look at and use conceptual art as it is the art I enjoy most, but will also draw to record and document in a sketchbook. Printing may also be important to the theme due to the number of the ants, I may need to print them to make their numbers greater. Materials which I will consider include: natural materials such as hay, barley, grass, ants, mud; inks, to print with; and whatever seems most appropriate to the message, I may have to buy things from Ikea, Homebase and B&Q. I may also use scientific apparatus to imply a scientific nature to what I am going to create. The scientific nature of what I am dealing with calls for these methods and I am sure they will evoke a positive response. I will source these items from hardware stores, maybe resorting to buying them straight from the supplier to labs etc, and will use them in the studio, maybe use the metal workshop next door and also Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop is available for me to use now that I am a member. Borrowing is also a possibility.


The timescale and how I manage time will also be vital to the success of this project, for this I will set myself a timetable to keep me on track highlighting what I must do:

Week 1 – Investigate nature: look into the collective brain, ant colonies, beehives and eugenics.

Week 2 – start to make visual responses including sketchbook work, and also on the wall. Look into making small sculptures, buying and changing things that can be bought at the annual scout jumble sale.

Week 3 – Be very focussed on making visual responses.

Week 4 – evaluate the work which you have done and develop the visual responses.

Week 5 – Evaluate developed work, consider other ways in which you can approach the work, also investigate whether you are sticking to the brief.

Week 6 – Develop newer work towards a final idea and plan how to complete the final outcome.

Week 7 – Complete final work whilst evaluating along the way.

Week 8 – Present work in exhibition-like setting for assessment and evaluate.


Although I will be evaluating all the way through in my head, at the end a final evaluation will be needed. In order to do this successfully, I will read over the brief once more and look at the work. Asking friends and colleagues what they thought and how the reacted to the piece would also be beneficial to my final evaluation. I will take careful note of what they say and what they think the art represents as they are the closest thing to an audience for the work. Looking at the artwork contextually and asking others to do so also will give me a scope of what needs to be done to the artwork and where its strengths lie.

Printing techniques and artists – more contextualisation

Robert_Rauschenberg's_untitled_'combine',_1963 Robert Rauschenberg. This artist used silkscreen printing a lot, mostly the photographic film. This was done by combining usual silkscreen methods but with a photographic film over the top instead of a paper template. The usual method works by printing ink through a screen and on to a surface. Between the two is a template which is usually cut out of, working as a negative printing technique, the area which is cut-out is where the ink will eventually rest. Essentially the template blocks the ink from getting to the surface. With photographic silkscreen printing, the method works by missing out of the the template and instead exposing the screen to a photo after a thin film has been lain over the screen.

It was most commonly used in the pop art movement with artists drawing inspiration from the world around them, depicting real scenes. Andy Warhol was also a huge fan of the photographic printmaking method.

Lithography_stone_Princeton_motifUnfortunately, I cannot remember the artist that Jenny told us about in the talk, or I may have been cleaning out a screen at the time, but I want to talk about lithography anyway as it really interests me. The intricate detail is probably the biggest selling factor for me, its slightly photographic without losing all the personalness by getting all the way there. Lithography is a technique which uses a flat stone which is worked on to with arabic gum or a wax crayon, this is a positive image which is produced so where is drawn onto is what is printed. The stone is then covered in water, only the wax oil based part remains unwet as oil and water do not mix. Ink is then dripped onto the stone and the area which is covered in wax is revealed as the ink colour as the oil based materials mix, the water drags the oil away and is left bare. The stone is then used to print onto surfaces. A photographic film can be placed on the stone to get a completely photographic lithograph, this works in a similar way to the screen process where the film covered stone is exposed to a photograph. Rauschenberg, along with other artist including Hockney, Johns and Picasso used this technique a lot in their work.

Martha Rosler

Well I’m not writing too much about her here. But a bit about semiotics in the kitchen

In this video piece, ms Rosler is standing in a kitchen with a variety of implements, showing us how woman were perceived in that day, as the housewife. Her anger whilst acting out the actions of the tools must represent the frustration she feels, and possibly how she feels trapped within the kitchen.

text reads:

apron, bowl, chopper, dish, egg beater, fork, grater, hamburger press, ice pick, juicer, knife, ladel, measuring implements, nutcracker, opener, pan, quork bottle, rolling pin, spoon, tenderiser, u, v, w, x, y, z.

From this I decided to make a piece of artwork comparing her to the ants. This is due to the ant colony being made up of females, so I thought it only right to make the work based on feminism.


Another piece I made with inspiration from the martha rosler film was this piece, which involves an ant holding various kitchen utensils. I have chosen it to be a fire ant because of the anger and nuisance it causes to humans.


I like this one,  it has a nutcracker because its a feminist and wants to crack mens nuts. The chef hat might be a bit much but I think its necessary to give the ant an occupation, and as this is a fire ant worker then it must have a job.

I managed to get 10,000 views

a while ago

thank you to all viewers of this website, you make me so happy

i’d like to thank my mum and dad for bringing me up, and my lecturer alan for introducing me to wordpress, and ofcourse my loving fans


Printing methods and contextual stuff for that exact thing

Vija Celmins-

probably my favourite artist from the exhibition that day, her work was excellent, most of it 2D which vija_celmins_cometis interesting as I tend to be a lot more interested in 3D. This artist dealt with the issues of space and creating a third dimension within her work, essentally trying to create a third dimension within her 2 dimensional prints. She does this through layering of multiple images, and also leaving bits of the paper clear to give the piece context in the medium and enhance depth. Maybe the reason i liked her so much was due to this, or maybe it was the subject matter she chose, her galaxy work where fascinatingly aesthetic and yet I longed for more,it seemed like a record of what was there. This maybe is referencing the history of printing when it was used to document discoveries and print books. All in all she was definitely my favourite.

preserve292Ellen Gallagher-

although her technique was not exactly printing as such she used the idea of printing in two of the works on display. She used  the repeated pattern of the obvious minstrels lips to demonstrate how she had been raised as a child. In the other piece on display by hers, it involved prints from magazine adverts aimed mainly at african-americans giving advice on haircuts etc and she had changed the hair to blonde and the eyes to blue to show how the african americans were being americanised.

Damien Hirst-

Hirst looked into the theme of death through use of print in his pharmacy series. hirst_lsdHe screen printed 36 pills on a canvas. It was to show their mass producedness and how we consume them without thinking of the side effects. He is relating the pills to a form of religion as we have faith in them, and instead of turning to God people now turn to modern medication. A photo print is also successful where here it is printed onto acetate and a light is projected behind it, this is to represent the holiness behind the portrait, the underlying concept.

Andy Warhol-

artist_rooms__trash_cans_by_andy_warholthe works of Warhol’s on display were the stitched photos, they were in a sense a repeated pattern, but showed a much more reality-like base by being normal photographs rather than his silkscreen prints of vibrant colours, here the printing was used in a similar way to his earlier stuff, but with a less important aesthetic value.

I also went to the Printmakers gallery and found a really interesting artist called Jessica Harrison, theappointmentshe used lithography, a way of printing which gets minute details. Her work was essentially old religious scenes which looked normal in this lithograph way but there was also some subtle tweak like someone has an eye for a face, or similar. Her work really appealed to me because I loved the subtlety of the work, and the aesthetic was an added bonus.