This is a snapshot of some of the work beginning to emerge after a term and a half of individual research. This ‘course sketchbook‘ is the result of a series of seminars where the group as a whole reflected on the progress of each person’s output and the responses it provoked. The text reflects this assessment. Images were then selected, again collectively, to best document each research process.
Alchemy probably best describes Adenike’s practice. Her fascination with the properties colour has led her to make inks using plants foraged in the main from her local environment. The performance of these inks changes quite radically depending on the paper stock to which each is applied and the alkaline or acidic liquids she adds.
Working with the chemical qualities of her medium has required a rigorous methodology and careful cataloguing of her results. In many respects she allows the process to stand centre stage. Rather than imposing a motif, she
works with pouring, manipulating the direction of each run to allow the natural properties of the medium to works with pouring, manipulating the direction of each run to allow the natural properties of the medium
to create each work. The often net-like structures that emerge look almost like they have grown themselves, so, rather than each image seeking to be a representation, nature appears to be embodied in the process itself.
Aurelia’s work is influenced by mythology and history, particularly in relation to musical and dramatic performance. Initially large scale drawings attempted to map something of the experience getting into character, the ‘pushing through’ to occupy a different space. Creating them, their vast scale placed her in the image and made her to an extent part of the depiction. This became the catalyst for her deciding to use her own body to perform this experience.
Locked down and with limited materials she thought about ways to physically portray this feeling, ultimately deciding to work with clingfilm. Wrapping herself in it and then trying to break free or creating barriers in doorways through which to push, she has carefully catalogued these events as moving images. Reflecting on these documents she is beginning to decide how
next to proceed. One big surprise was the incredible volume of the sounds her body made against the clingfilm and she has begun work on a sound piece which may potentially stand alone.
A claustrophobic first lockdown was the impetus for Claire’s often highly charged drawings of her surroundings, in particular her bathroom. The sink, taps and furniture took on an increasingly anthropomorphic quality and it’s difficult not to respond to these works as reflected self-portraits. These arguably express more feeling and emotion than more straightforward depictions of herself might have, posing intriguing questions about the circumstances of the backstory projected onto these ‘characters’.
Out of these drawings grew a fascination with individual objects, toothbrushes in particular, which she imagined invested with life in the manner of a ventriloquist’s dummy. This led her to make a number of rough and ready animations. In one, toothbrushes interact, sometimes amorously, in ways that are both touching and witty. These moving image pieces
create the sense of imaginative escape from confinement and their deliberately low production values invite the viewer to collude in this imagining.
Delia’s work advances from the fundamental truth that we are all migrants or else descendants of migrants. She senses a strong connection between this abstract concept and the land over which these migrations occurred: the trace of life lines across time and topography.
Her knowledge of printmaking has been key to her work’s development. Taking the notion of repeated waves of migration she has overlaid loosely formed figural motifs onto carefully chosen, light-weight papers. This paper stock and the incredibly desaturated colour with which she works has given these pieces an almost ethereal quality, perhaps hinting at the
ghosts of migration stretching back millennia. And the translucency of much of her work has led her to experiment with the possibilities of backlighting. This has allowed her to change the relationship between the (printed) figure and ground creating a kind of just-visible, archetypal
human presence. To allow these experiments with lighting, these delicate, often large-scale works are made to hang freely, responsive to the slightest breeze. The sound this creates has opened up another line of enquiry as her recordings add an aural texture to the visual trace of human presence in motion articulated by her work.
Claire uses fabric to make sculptures; sometimes dressed over armatures and at other times engineered to stand unaided. Her method has involved much research into region-specific techniques (sewing and embroidery) reflecting her interest in the way that fabric can bind both history and tradition.
The material with which she works is often of personal significance: hand-me-down swatches with the capacity to trigger memories and associations for her. In this respect it is almost the embodiment of the individuals who donated it, making her constructions both relational and generational. Whilst her intricately engineered structures call to mind both architecture and
tailoring there is a self-sufficient reflexive quality to them, they have their own visual logic. Yet they are at the same time capable of implying something of this underlying emotional significance.
Domino’s project grew out of a fascination with airspace and how these ginormous three dimensional spaces exist theoretically above us. She took the space in her bedroom as a starting point for her investigations, dividing it up using cassette tape (exceptionally strong and lightweight) to create flat planes and 3D spaces floating in the air. After making a host of diagrammatic drawings in
situ she gave form to these sections of space, making cardboard moulds and then casting them in plaster of Paris. The casts were satisfying, but it was the paper engineering required to make the moulds that really excited her imagination.
She took this method and applied it to the different sections of airspace initially looking to recreate real life airspace shapes in proportion. She made ‘flat-packed’ versions of these spaces, cutting them from cardboard and paper sheets with a scalpel and then folding and fastening them into what became small models of space. The void left by each cutout immediately felt significant too, directing the viewer to try to figure out how it fits together. Inspired by these shapes and by earlier drawings, she made a whole range of different repeating and systematically created forms from paper and wood.
This way of working has become the mainstay of her practice as she explores increasingly pure, geometric but also irregular forms and explores moving from 2D to 3D and back again.
Surveying Ellen’s output is a bit like trying to crack a cypher with an incomplete code. Elements are recognisable but presented in ways that suggests a different frame of reference. Fragments of the everyday are re-presented so that they hint at something quite individual and diaristic. Drawings drift from delicate articulations of quite understated images into mark-making that reads potentially as
written language, so that whilst much of what we see is discernible, the content of this work feels private. There seems to be a constant play between the interior and exterior world. In one piece, an outside space is made inside a box using what looks like a projection from a camera obscura. Yet this index of what is seen through the
window is daubed in one small section with what looks like a symbol. It’s a small intervention but its effect is quietly unsettling: is it graffiti on the pane, something added to the screen, and is it significant or not? Even when the questions each piece poses have been addressed, there remains at heart something quietly enigmatic about Ellen’s work.
Fatima decided that rather than alluding to the pandemic, its constraints to life and creativity, she would tackle it directly. She began by making very graphic accounts of the virus, working to understand her thinking about her subject. After many iterations her images have gradually become less recognisable as research into virus diagrams has increasingly influenced her working methods. Specific, graphic accounts of covid have become more abstract, as surface pattern,
repetition and chance are used to create iterations of the theme, indirectly describing the replication and mutation of the virus. Cognitive and emotional understanding of the pandemic has gradually been translated into symbolic colour, line and pattern, to an extent mirroring the very necessary scientific and medical abstractions required in tackling it.
Iliana’s work reflects on the everyday labour that goes into making a home in the context of migration. She takes the marigold glove to be emblematic of this often arduous physical, emotional, hidden work. Marigolds also bring to mind low paid cleaning work, a sector where immigrants are massively over represented. Her work alludes to the challenge of trying to establish a safe and secure home in the midst of current xenophobic discourses and policies and/or whilst precarious external economic factors are a constant threat.
In her spare drawings, gloved hands appear in pairs, delicate but graphic, bold, active, anonymous. These line drawings she has reworked as embroidery on domestic fabrics like tea towels, jay cloths and even paper towels. They seem both precious and mundane, her choice of technique ensuring an
acknowledgement of the gendered nature of this work. She has also drawn this motif with rice in a frying pan. The image, painstakingly created, feels delicate, tenuous and, through its cookery associations, vaguely nurturing. Yet whereas her embroidered pieces
bear testament to the time invested, here one shake and the evidence of this work disappears.
Jackie is interested in processes of growth and decay and the relationship between the surface appearance of things and what lies beneath. Initially she tried to find ways to preserve items of fruit, wrapping them in a variety of materials, from tissue paper to porcelain. Rotting from within, some forms became deformed by this process whilst others remained remarkably unscathed. When she finally cut them open this decay was often incredibly beautiful and a tension between
attraction and repulsion is at the heart of her work. She’s also worked with latex mould-making as another means of preserving. The unstable quality of this material led to a struggle when casting to ‘hold together’ the emerging forms and a real
anxiety about ruining what had taken so long to make.
It’s interesting that she doesn’t think consciously about the aesthetics of her work and has no desire to please an audience. Viewers are invited to share in her fascination with cause
and effect, the play between ugliness and beauty and the relationship between an outward calm and what lies within.
Initially Jane began made paintings based on her prints, a formal activity requiring a degree of pre-planning. Increasingly though a less consciously goal-driven form of making emerged as she began fashioning small constructions using ephemera from her immediate environment, perhaps as a corrective, or involuntary response to, thoughts of recent bereavements within the family.
These constructions are both strange and familiar, and seem to function a bit like corn dollies: figures of sorts, where the materials of their making are always visible. The process of their construction is described as being like a ‘nervous tick’, intimately related to the practiced movement of her hands. This determines both how they are constructed and also their scale. This
relationship to the body’s is very present in each piece, which is possibly why they tend to become imbued with human characteristics. Oddly, their unsteady balance seems quietly heroic.
James’ work appears delicate and fragile but at the same time can seem oddly disquieting. Its surface quality is central to this. The paper on which he works is treated as a medium in its own right, intrinsic to the development of each image. It can be distressed, stained, scratched, pierced or waxed, and often calls to mind skin. His sketchbooks signal how his broader practice functions, with individual leaves often reworked over many months. His
method is slow, meditative and often employs insistent, repetitive actions (whether this is scratching, rubbing, tearing his physical works or in the development of his stop motion animation). Rarely is a motif imposed. Only occasionally do seemingly random number sequences appear, and
these tend to be subsumed by his work process. They read as traces of something specific destined to be lost or damaged. The result in the main is a patient series of quiet, still works whose calm exterior belies an ability to evoke strong feelings.
Centred around the corruptibility of memory, Jane’s project explores the inheritance of a family photo archive: the convergence of collective and individual narratives. Her painting, collage and film works deal with specific moments within this raw footage of her childhood and we are asked to make sense of the illusionary nature of captured moments that are not our own. In each piece the family structure is discernible but the
ambiguous detail leaves nearly all else open to interpretation; obscured and blurred facial features making her subjects unknowable, pointing to the irretrievability of much of the past.
The chromacity of Jane’s palette alludes to the often ‘rose tinted ‘ framing of family
histories, but an undertow of melancholy appears to undermine this. It’s like a cherished memory has become suffused with forgotten pain. With her reappraisal historical photographic evidence her work creates an unsettling prompt for the viewer to likewise reassess their own nostalgic memories of childhood.
Working from small site drawings of the contemporary architecture that forms a major part of her everyday visual experience, Laura has fundamentally reimagined her source material into images that defy easy categorisation. Whilst there’s always a sense that they has evolved from an observed source, they are difficult to pin down. An early part of the process informing her work’s progression
was a series of large-scale reinterpretations of the original sketches in ink made over the course of a single day. These encouraged an immersion in the surface rhythms of the image, a construction and deconstruction of it, and a repeated overlaying of the most arresting motifs. This she has explored more fully with stencilling, where the repetitive possibilities of the technique has created the feeling of something slightly automated,
almost kinetic motifs. This she has explored more fully with stencilling, where the repetitive possibilities of the technique has created the feeling of something slightly automated, almost kinetic. But perhaps the most striking transformation relates to the spacial dynamics of these works, the tension between surface and depth. The evolving visual logic generated by her working processes takes us away from the idea of
an urban landscape that is predominantly grey, flat and about surface to one with hidden depths and surprising stabs of colour. This defamiliarization invites us to perceive the familiar in very unfamiliar ways.
Mark’s work is a meditation of sorts on how the natural and urban environment intersect. It began when the purpose of walking shifted during the first lockdown: no longer directed towards a destination, but becoming an experience in itself. He started mapping his routes, photographing the vistas he encountered (often trees against the sky) and exploring these back in the studio in a variety of materials. But as he became more present in this daily act of walking, his gaze gradually settled on the ground beneath his feet.
Here, on pavements, he encountered the faded ethereal prints left behind by fallen leaves. These fragile, impermanent silhouettes became an impetus for the evolution of a working method where he used found
natural objects (flora, mosses, branches) collected on his walks to mask out sections of paper over which he worked with a variety of materials (including ink and spray paint) before removing them to create a 1:1 index of each form used. This play between
absence and presence creates an echo, perhaps suggesting something of how we carry within us these small interactions with nature, how noticing can inoculate us against the anxiety of feeling hemmed in by an unrelenting, often austere urban environment.
Loss and ways to pay homage have been the impetus for Mina’s output. In the midst of an emotionally challenging situation, the sorting and rescue of a number of artefacts (predominantly animal figurines) perhaps marked the unconscious start of her visual
research. Subsequently she has explored a number of different ways to respond to this collection, allowing sometimes quite impulsive making to shape her thinking. Large scale paintings are ‘jumping off without knowing’, indicative of her creative journey. Her work never tries to explain itself and is never explicit about its subject matter. Lately she has been making ink drawings of this collection of animal
toys and ornaments, working with an old dip pen, its broken nib making a beautiful though scratchy line. It’s hard not to see a metaphor of sorts here. In these works there is a tenderness, as well as something less human centric, and a real sense of her communing with her subject.
Natalie’s project began with a desire to work with the human figure coupled with an uncertainty about how explicit its depiction ought to be. It led her to experiment with different ways of masking and obscuring this central motif, often employing aspects of print technique with everyday ephemera: the inked texture of netting from fruit packaging for example has been used regularly as a foil, as a means of camouflage. It’s given rise to a working process
involving multiple layerings, where traces of this activity have come to direct not just the formal arrangement of each image, but also its mood, atmosphere and palette, creating what might be termed the ‘colour of memory’. It’s given rise to ‘dreamy’ non-spaces, causing her to ask questions about how the figure sits within its context and about the
fundamental boundary of the body itself.
Having experimented with a variety of figures, she has migrated towards the female form, culling her collection of images to find poses that ‘tell me something’ so that, whilst each figure is an archetype of sorts, there is a tangible link back to herself. Developing her work, what has emerged
is a fascinating contradiction: the greater the number of layers she adds, the more she seems to uncover something essential, almost psychological in her figural traces.
Rosie’s paintings and drawings deal with the possibility and uncertainty of growth of natural forms. A recurring motif is the rose hip bud, often represented as a singular form. It is observed with an almost alarming intensity, often with the aid of
a magnifying glass, yet her work couldn’t be more distantly related to botanical illustration. Her depictions are visceral and bodily; the red of the bud, and the way
the sticky physicality of each work’s surface often subsumes its image. Sustained visual research depicting the stages of transition after bloom has given her an innate feel for her subject matter and she increasingly focuses on the material qualities
of her medium to capture an almost painful sense of renewal. Projecting, rescaling and overlaying her initial drawings, she has created an open-ended and ongoing exploration in paint of the promise and fragility in the repeating forms.
Sabrina’s project revolves around the physical properties of a growing collection of throwaway or low-key materials, often involved in packaging. Testing their innate qualities, she cuts, separates, re-orders and transforms them. She has retooled the use of tape and glue-gun from hidden enablers into identifiable elements of her constructions. Her approach alternates between being very methodical and chaotic, typified by the careful cataloguing and analysing
of her results. This has even extended to making sound recordings of materials under deconstruction. Yet out of this order and disorder there is an obvious pleasure in the stuff of her making. She identifies touch as key, and this has
caused her to reinvent her materials in quite unexpected ways, often resulting in hybrid forms somewhere between 2 and 3-D. The materials of their making are sometimes recognisable and sometimes not. Everything she produces comes
almost entirely from detritus and her work’s delicate and complex structures ask questions about the volume of material normally discarded and by association, the impact of this on the wider environment.
Sara’s project emerged from thoughts about restriction and freedom whilst living on a small sailing boat during the first lockdown. From this immersive, meditative experience part of her focus became the centrality of the wind to her existence. She set about finding ways to capture this, ultimately deciding to use the power of the wind itself to make drawings. Taping a piece of paper on deck and placing the tip of a pencil
on its surface (attached to the boom by a piece of string) changes in the direction of the wind created a series of line drawings.
Whereas sailing harnesses the wind to shape a direction of travel, with these drawing she limited her agency
allowing chance a significant role. These images describe visually an element that is invisible. And each has a temporal dimension, with some drawings made over many hours. The challenge she has set herself is how to find meaningful ways to relate her site work to studio making: does it document, plan or mirror in some way her fieldwork?
Sally is interested in how different approaches change the way a familiar object is experienced. Her project is rooted a rigorous research programme examining the effect of iterative working in a variety of media including drawing, casting, collage, printmaking, painting and photography.
Throughout she has used a primary source artefact, a classic Bialetti espresso
maker. By limiting one of the variables in this way she has created a valuable constraint, one that has challenged her to continually reinvent her processes to keep herself engaged. She acknowledges an impatience to resolve things and so this steadfast engagement with a domestic object, is both interesting and tactically astute. It acts as
a kind of catalyst for a restless experimentation and a rapid turnover of material whilst maintaining a common thread. The works she creates spark unexpected moods and associations leading to new areas of research which are pursued in a cycle of exploration and learning.
Samia’swork mediates on the nature of her history of lute playing and its broader cultural significance. She wondered why she had ceased and she began her project by making drawings of herself performing in her youth. These felt perhaps a little tentative and a desire for a more concrete connection with her subject led her to take custody of the family instrument from her brother. What followed
was a series of increasingly animated drawings and paintings made from direct observation, often at speed, where the rhythm of her mark-making began to convey something of the joy of performance.
Her work often oscillates between traditional, schematic forms of representation and something less formal, as when she listens to the
music and draws the notes. And flipping between oil, watercolour and charcoal there is a sense of an accumulation of experience where these different practices have cross pollinated into a visual language with quite descendible aesthetic qualities. Her drive to work things out through doing has accented the performative aspects of her drawing and painting, allowing her to communicate more fully the intrinsic qualities of her music making.
Sally’s work investigates the potential of systematic and repetitive methods of working. A painting series explores the processes of revealing and concealing, construction and destruction. Multiple layers of paint and paper are applied and then partially removed, the final painting emerging slowly and meditatively, the result of many small decisions and the process itself. The desire to
explore a similar repetitive technique while harnessing more elements of accident and chance, led to a series of multi-layered monotypes.
Interested in the chance element introduced by ‘found’ objects, Sally began printing using pieces of discarded chocolate wrappers and wax paper. Working with understated colour she
initially made prints that were quite identifiable indexes of each fragment of paper. Not content with the limited ‘history’ of these papers, she began to create falsely aged papers, manipulating them by folding and burning – both by flame and with chemicals. These papers eventually disintegrate, materially
effecting the performance and shape of each printed piece. Gradually Sally increased the number of printed layers, trusting more in the process; she also migrated towards black. The resulting works are a potent manifestation of her intensely repetitive process. There is something elemental and mineral-like about their rich blackness, the visible image turning into textured surface. The sense of time embedded in these prints is striking
Much of Sandra’s diverse output is linked by the preponderance of one colour: deep red. Here she identifies an autobiographical link, connecting it at a visceral level to the colour of the earth in many of the places she has lived, especially Kenya.
Her work says something about place and (un)rootedness. It’s born of restless experimentation with a plethora of methods and materials, appearing to oscillate between the
implication of something the size of a continent (or even planetary) and that of a tiny specimen of earth. At times it can look like ore and at others becomes more personal and internal, its physicality hinting at a connection with the body, where history and life experience are carried within its physical form.
Sue’s project revolves around a hidden wooded space discovered on her daily walk and her attempts to capture its very particular atmosphere. She has paid close attention in situ, made drawings from memory and generated monotypes from an array of images gathered on site.
What typifies her practice is a careful, immersive approach and close attention to detail. It’s given rise to a number of slow discoveries about her relationship to this
place. Drawing comes to act as a form of meditation, an opportunity to be transported and ultimately have a different perception of the woods. The dreamlike images she creates imply a sense of mystery, inviting the viewer to reflect on a different kind of relationship with nature. And more recent works have involved more selective depictions, accenting the uniqueness of each encounter with this space.
Tatiana feels a strong affinity for drawing. She allows herself to be led by its familiarity and expressive potential. At times she works solely with the abstract tensions created by the medium, and at others she allows these applications to help an image to suggest itself. Her recent drawings have an autobiographical quality (lived, imagined and remembered) and in this context individual images can be quite
deceptive. What might initially read as a fairly straightforward depiction of a domestic scene can come to feel quite loaded.
These are principally images of confinement, about being caught in someone else’s space. They can feel claustrophobic and
overwhelming, with odd perspectives or chaotic distribution of visual elements. Yet increasingly there’s the sense of drawing carried out as a small meditative act, as a way of finding beauty in everyday things. Some images are quite complex,
others more cursory (or simply the record of her hands feeling the paper’s surface), but they all give the impression of drawing as a place to hold her thoughts, an activity offering solace in an impossibly difficult situation.