Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Without Within

We officially started our 'Image and observation' module last week, and I've already mentioned that I'm probably doing something based on the local 'stitch'n'bitch. This week though, to prepare us for the longer project, we did two short one-day versions. On Monday we had turned up for a workshop at which we talked about working on/from a location and then creating our response to it. We talked about collecting information about the place/event (or even the journey to/from it) by drawing, sketching, photography, collecting ephemera at/from the scene, doing background research, taping sounds, making videos, smelling (!), talking to people there, setting up interviews, listening in on conversations, getting involved in (ie doing) whatever is happening at the place, etc etc. The point being there's more to a place than just your drawings of what it looks like - its a full sensory experience, and then what is your response to that experience? We also talked about all the different ways we could do the work as a 'collaboration'.

We were split into groups of three/four (I teamed up with Charlie and Sara), and threw a dart on a map of central Bristol that the tutor put up on the wall. We ended up at the St Michael Archangel on the Mount Without, on St Michael's Hill. It's a disused church and it was all locked up and surrounded by overgrown ivy. It was a very overcast day and we all felt a bit spooked by it. We wondered what was within?

Each of us happened to be inspired by some piece of the architecture; me the stained glass windows, Charlie the windows on the other side of the church and Sara by the numerous doors all around the church. It started raining to we headed to a cafe and talked through our sketches and photographs and decided what we wanted to do as a group - and spent the rest of the day finishing off the pieces. At the top is the finished hanging sculpture/mobile/thing, and below is a closeup my response:

LOTS more photos (from every angle possible) here.

I had the top of the tower. While I was taking photos of it I noticed how it was full of plants and wildlife; especially this squirrel that kept watching me and making loud rasping noises. I felt really uncomfortable and kept imagining that it was rabid and was going to jump off the tree and bite me! ... so anyways, my take was that within, it was taken over by nature. So that's what I did - birds, squirrel and plants behind the stained glass window (all the creature photos were taken at the church).

Charlie had the middle window, and she did the all encompassing ivy (again photos taken at the location which she printed out and collaged). Her window is shut because she thought what was within was scary and should be kept locked up! Lots more photos here.

Sara noticed the inordinate amount (7!) of doors around the bottom of the church (including a really small almost child sized one). So she did several layers of doors within doors within doors. More pictures of her layers here.

Then we strung the whole thing together with the word 'WITHOUT' running through it ... its called 'Without' because when it was build, it was not within, but outside the Bristol city walls ... So there you have it ... "What Is Within Is Without"

Tuesday we swapped location with another random group (the aim being then we could see how different groups responded to the same location). Unfortunately now we only had till 3 pm that day to finish everything and present it. We ended up on a bit of tarmac by the Bristol harbourside, which was quite uninspiring really. But what we thought was that although there was nothing of interest at the location; if you stood there, there was a lot to be seen FROM the location. So we three stood back-to-back in a triangle, and drew our impression of what we saw. Again we assembled it as a hanging sculpture:

The top photo is all of us looking at the spot we stood on; the bottom photo is of our feet pointing to this spot; the three photos on the third layer are of each of us looking out to our individual views, and the drawings on the second layer are our actual drawings.

This is my version of my view. I'm not happy with how it came out as we had so little time and I found it very hard to work in the studio with so much noise (I need my time and quiet space) but I'm pleased with the concept we came up with together, and also the concept I had for my picture which was to do a layered collage of drawings and photographs (its just not excecuted very well) ...

So there you have it - two days of location work .... now we can get back to our longer project ... and don't forget to look at the photos here.


Shirley said...

I LOVE reading about the challenges/exercises/assignments that you do. This is a great brain stretching exercise and so interesting to anyone who wants to be more original in their creativity. Great job on the old church. Do you have written instructions for some of these really interesting challenges?

littlemithi said...

Thanks Shirley, Unfortunately we don't usually get written instructions - its all very organic and we get a lot from discussing the subject during the workshops (thats why I've been writing these blog entries - it helps me remember the things we talked about!)

Lindsay said...

Thanks for sharing your process. I love the church assignment and what you three did with it. The interplay between 2d and 3d is very interesting.

ksklein said...

wow love the project and idea with the stained glass windows.

Marie-Dom said...

I really like this collaboration you've done. I love the 3D effect combined with the drawing and photos. It's very effective. Fantastic piece.
PS Thanks for visiting me and leaving those encouraging comments. They do help you know. ;-)

Adele said...

Fantastic! Really interesting stuff.

Emma said...

I really love all those little doors and windows.