Friday, 6 September 2013

Exploratory Practice part 2

This summer has proved to be one of excellent inspirational visits, to places that have sparked thoughts and ideas of how to progress this project.


Looking at ideas for an exhibition space may seem a little premature, but I think it's necessary to do this early as it gives me more direction to the size and structure of the final piece.

I was lucky enough to catch an exhibition held in the crypt at Mottisfont Abby

Photo courtesy of Mike Young

The setting was chosen for an audio experience, but it was the lighting that fired my imagination and suggested that the piece should be based on lighting and transparency, this will also fit with the previous pieces that I have been constructing with a view to having a solo exhibition.

The lighting was supplied by lengths of muslin that were lit from behind and were also moving as if in a slight breeze, (as can be seen at the back of the shot)

As regard to the possible shape of the installation, I have become very interested in the idea of sails, having been inspired by the extensive research supplied by Sheila's friend.

I have looked at sail making and found a very interesting tutorial here

I was also very inspired by the sail like structures on the outside of the Techniquest building in Cardiff.

These sails look amazing en mass all overlaying each other, and I really like the juxtaposion of the fabric and the industrial scaffolding style structure. 

Working on a couple of sketches has helped to understand the structure and possibilities  for my own project.

I also like the layering of the sails and the small accent of colour.


Inspiration comes from looking at how other artists handle similar challenges to the ones that we encounter in our own work.

I have been inspired by 2 artists, firstly by Carole Waller for her treatment of transparent imagery and also her use of bold colour and form.

My second artist is Claire Combelles who's exhibition at the Chateau de Vallencay last year was a wonderful inspiration. Her treatment of the subject "......feminine memories of the women involved with the Prince of Talleyrand" gave me a great insight in how to use such research to produce work that is often an abstraction of the subject, and sometimes an obvious connection, as in this over life size piece.

There is a very interesting video of Combelles setting up the exhibition here

I'm hoping her work will inspire me in my efforts to construct a piece that pays homage to the characters I have been researching, in a spontaneous non literal form.


I now have an extensive research base for the characters I want to concentrate on in the project, and feel that this knowledge will help work the piece with a depth that has not been present in my work before.

I am still sketching the main characters as a way of getting to know them.

And am looking for ways of integrating the environment, in the form of patterns, textures, light play, colours etc.

This sketch has been worked up from the photo I took inside the shed, looking out.


My investigations into the form that the embroidery on this project might take have begun with this fish skeleton that I found on Dungeness beach.

While sketching this I noticed the shadows that the light was making as I held the bone, so I traced the shapes and solid areas, and at the same time noted down any thoughts that occurred.

I did several more fine lined sketches to try and get a feel of the patterns and shapes.

I then took a series of images playing with the shadows

Colour, fabrics, and thread

I have started to think about colour in a very loose sense, for initial sampling, and have taken ideas from the lighthouse sketch worked at an earlier stage.

My fabrics have been chosen with the aim of layers of varying transparencies, and I will also be experiment with paper.


  1. your investigations.......they make me much to look at here. I would give you a first if this was up for marking. The light with the muslin in the chapel is fantastic....ghostly...I said ghostly before didn't I. I'm quite scared by that space but it is perfect for this work

  2. I'm with Karen. Such depth of research, you are really getting into this. I wouldn't give you a First, though.
    I would give you an MA!!!!!

    And sails! Yes, what a brilliant idea. Very simple in comparison with what you've been looking at I know, but I have two more Portsmouth based sail pieces for you to Google. One is the Sails of the South at the point where the M27 ends at Portsmouth. The other is the Spinnaker Tower, which is based on a billowing spinnaker sail. You can take photos of it from below when we meet in Gunwharf! :)