A huge couple of days which has given me countless notes and thoughts. It is less time consuming to upload photos of my notes as this will provoke my thought trails even if they make no sense to anyone else…
On Sunday 7th October I visited The Brewery Theatre in Bristol to see the play Souvenirs. It is by a London based group called Write To Life who formed together to use writing as a form of recovery working with the Freedom From Torture charity group. They each tell their story of how they ended up here in the UK. I say ended up here in the UK as it was not their intention to come, it was to seek refuge. The play started with an old Senegalese man playing his Kora. It was beautiful, the music and how he completely connected with the instrument. He had everyones complete attention. He received an ongoing applause which made him emotional. That was the hint of how high the emotions were in the room.
I feel a bit uncomfortable addressing Souvenirs as a play, but that is how it is described. And although it is written and staged, it is 5 people’s life stories. Humour is added tactfully, and the horror is laid out in such a way that the group are not asking for your sympathy by giving you every detail, but they are just telling it like it is.
It’s ongoing. These people’s stories are not over. They speak of their application process and how their adjustments were made and the culture shock on arriving. Also how they look for their children every day on the bus.
I wish everyone got the chance to listen. I think people can be pretty naive (putting this a nice way…) in thinking people come to the UK seeking asylum on a hope and a whim. Wanting a better life as in regards to money. I think these people would give anything to just live in peace with their families. Everyone has a right to happiness.
I spoke to a couple of people afterwards from the Freedom From Torture group and gave my contact details offering to help with illustrations as they sell collections of poems written by the group. I hope I could offer something.
I spent another hour and a half here and again, I feel it wasn’t enough time and will have to call in again before the end of the month. I had a schedule to stick to so I had to grab what I could. This time I spent more time looking at the abstract work upstairs and watching the short interview where she spoke about forms in nature and how she never completes a collage in one sitting, she has to keep going back to it. I can relate to that, sometimes I need to look back on it with fresh eyes as if I carry on, I risk settling for the wrong components just for the sake of ‘finishing’.
I want to go again, to read more the captions and descriptions and understand more about the pieces and the sections of the exhibitions. I did take some photographs… even though you’re not allowed…
From the last visit;
Today was our introduction to our second Field module; Limited Edition… Unlimited Edition. It seems very open. I need to read the brief again, but what I got from it was that we took control, we decide what we are going to do and ask for guidance rather than be told what to do and look for approval. There is the opportunity to sell your edition, whatever it may be and there will be talks on how to go about selecting your audience and how to pitch your work. But this is an extra, not a necessity.
I’m going to use this opportunity to focus more on my collage. I made a few rough notes as I was listening to the talk. I want to make something that shows the limited edition in a limited time frame. If this makes sense? Something that I have taken and reworked from this time, this week, then together these five weeks, that will then tell a story of this time frame. As this time frame will never be repeated. History. I am thinking of making a collage per week, splicing together things that p*ss me off. I get annoyed a lot about articles on so called ‘celebrities’, glamorising air heads, forcing impressions on girls of how to look, what to judge them selves against and influencing expectations of men. I read an article last week about a woman who was taking hypnotherapy to become brain dead like Barbie. This made me rage. I now think I should turn this anger, bewilderment, questioning of “what is life?” into my work. I might actually find it therapeutic to cut the photographs of these idiots up.
I’m thinking of splicing these with politicians. They are always in the forefront of the news, with their greed, smarmy smiles and their embarrassing attempts to convince us that they know what it is like to live in the real world. With these, I don’t feel as much anger as what I do for the above, although I should; I think I have just come to the conclusion they are all the same. Like I am a bit of a loss with it all. But there is a sense of gloom in the air. No one is standing up to anything, just waiting to be pummelled like a raspberry in the bottom of a mojito glass.
So… I’m thinking of making satirical/ non sensical collages of these. Buying a newspaper and a weekly magazine (reluctantly) at the beginning of the week, seeing what is going on, what the editors think we want/need to know and coming up with something that shows just how pathetic I think it all is.
I have no idea how I want to format this. Maybe four individual collages contained in a box. Maybe a pandora’s box containing all the horrors inside. Or a box with a curtain, so when the viewer is fed up of looking at it, can just draw the curtains and not be bothered by it again. Maybe also a continuous collage running through an accordion book, running week by week. Maybe one that also runs day by day? Maybe…
This is all subject to change.
My friend gave me some magazines for my collage work. I sat in work and set myself the task of making something out of limited resources. Sometimes I think I am guilty of over complicating things and looking to too many things, so I wanted to challenge myself and give myself a limit. Using just one magazine I flicked through to see what type caught my eye and then using just that one magazine, respond to it. There was an advert with a woman in a feminine, floaty dress with the words ‘You are woman?’. This made me think of the social expectations of women. How there are two contradicting views; one, should be lady like, should act in a certain way, opposite to a man when it comes to life style and sex. Yet the other is sexually objectified. It made me question why if they can be sexually objectified, then why are they frowned upon if they become the subject?
I visited London at the weekend. I got off the tube station at Aldgate East as told and decided to take the exit that directed you to Whitechapel Gallery (obviously). As I waited I went inside the Gallery to find there was an exhibition of the full works of Hannah Hoch. I couldn’t believe it! I could of spent hours there given the time. I was completely blown away by her work. It helped me seeing the pieces I have saw on the internet actually in the flesh. Sometimes I struggle with my collage with what to put in the backgrounds, how to give the pieces something else with out over complicating things. Seeing hers gave me ideas. She used a lot of simple shapes that she had painted with water colour then cut out which simply complimented her photo montage rather than complicating it and taking focus away from the area she wanted you to be directed to. Her colours were simple and comfortable to look at when the image as busy enough and on others, like her abstract work, the colours drew you in.
Another thing I will take away is the idea of a ‘finished’ piece of work. I have struggled with this, I feel like the have to be of a large size and a bit too perfect and planned. These pieces still felt raw and organic. It was the way they were presented that made them accepted as final pieces. They were of all different sizes, but mounted on the wall in frames. The space around the pieces acted like a pedestal, the board within the frame that blocked out the rest of the paper, a bit like a large viewfinder, was authoritative, showing you exactly what was important, blocking out any rough edges. It was refreshing to see that. It made me think that you can come up with a piece in a sketch book or on a random piece of paper, but it’s the extra things separate from the work itself that make the work be final and presented.
What blows me away about her work is how timeless it is. To think that some of the pieces are 80-90 years old is incredible. I am looking at contemporary illustrators that are creating similar work now! I am also drawn to her personality, the bold steps she took, the controversy, how she was brave enough to put her work out there and speak through it and have people take note to the point she had to hide herself away for fear of prosecution. It’s especially admirable for the time.
I made a lot of quick sketches while walking around and sketched over some again once I had left the gallery and pondered over what I had just saw. The notes made were rushed and will be barely legible to anyone but me, but will hall me remember things more clearly when I come to looking back at my book for my dissertation. I can’t believe I spoke about her work for my dissertation on Friday and stumbled on this on Saturday, it couldn’t of worked out any better!