Reasonings for using suspension:
- Wanted work to be unavoidable
- Able to completely immerse the viewer in the subject
- Gives an ethereal sense to the ceramics
- Creates a tense atmosphere
- Falls at any instant and be gone forever
- Deliberate use of see through fishing wire
- Flowing, not hanging
- Mirroring the lives of the food animals, terminated without a second thought
- Introduction of hooks
- To link back to the slaughterhouse.
- Clean but a subtle reminder of the brutality of butchery.
For me, the last two weeks have been one of complete stress and tiredness. It has been really lovely to see the majority of my year pull together and work hard to ensure the best show we could possible produce and yet I have a slightly bitter feel in my stomach. I feel it is a shame that so much hard work was put in by so few considering the size of our year. For two weeks a group of us were solely dedicated to ensure all spaces were perfect, and yet others just walked in at the end of the week, spaces all clean and perfectly painted, just to put up their work.This wouldn’t be such a concern of mine however now in hindsight I realise how much of my own work has been survived for them and how my Viva presentation may suffer as a consequence. Before the final week I was on track to get everything finished but due to lack of people and commitment I was working 9-7 each day, helping other’s out, when I had been promise half days.
However through all the stress and the tears it is a relief to be able to say that I am happy with the outcome of my field module and the installation I am presenting for the show. It was impossible to imagine how my work would translate into such a space, having only seen it above my studio space and crowded within Paperarts, Bristol. I think my work looks clean and yet abnormal and out of place which were main aims to me. I hope that the surreal qualities of the minimalistic noses and ears will be successful in promoting a discussion which is usually avoided. It is amazing to see how much my work has changed in the space of a year and looking back on my experience of university as a whole and realise all the new skills I have developed and will retain.
In comparison to the installation I displayed in Bristol, I decided to display the ceramic ears in pairs, rather than divided. I wanted to give a sense of a whole being being presence within the space rather that fragments of that being. I also wanted to play off the idea of an absence of face and spirit that I had experimented with previously through watercolours. Due to the extra space as opposed to what was offered to me in Bristol, I dedicated to take this opportunity to place with depth and space. Rather than presenting one line of hangings, I added in two more, giving a total of three focus points at various heights. I want to give the impression that the viewer is welcome to submerge themselves within the world to reflect on the fact that they are indeed part of the subject matter itself. They are both the cause, the problem and the solution if they allow themselves to be.
I am also really delighted by the space I have been given for the show. The other artists I am sharing the top glass box with are extremely talented and I think as a group our work makes as a curious collective. It has been noted often throughout the show build that our room is the ‘Conceptual Box’. I think our work is juxtaposing enough to compliment one another while also having a sense of contemplation and calm as a whole. Although it was infuriating that we were unable to enter the boxes until the second week, under the pressure of a deadline, in times when I doubted my whole project and talent it was reassuring to assume that I wouldn’t have been put in view of the whole art school if my work was completely rubbish.
To conclude, I would like to praise both Maelle and Lou. Without their help and dedication I do not believe the show would have come together in time. They both worked long hours and put other’s work before their own, ensure that everyone had exactly what they needed and were content.
I am really looking forward to the opening of our show later this month. It will be really heartwarming to see all the hard work of CSAD solidified in one place. I think everyone should be really proud of the work they have produce. Equally it will be really sad to say goodbye to the amazing friends I have made this year and watch progress so wonderfully. It seems such a shame that I only got to spend a single year on such a fantastic course with such wonderful people.
For this year’s subject work I decided to pick a topic that I hold a lot of passion for. Having been a vegetarian for ten years my artwork has always been revolved around the aesthetic of animals, I thought it would be appropriate to combined these two aspects and focus on the welfare of animals. I have a strong distaste for the treatment of animals with the meat industry and I want to take this opportunity to confront this and expose the mistreatment of animals to an audience through my artwork.
Within my dissertation entitled ‘An Exploration Into How Artists Provoke Empathy To Relate Humanity Back to Animality?’ I had already established that using shocking imagery did not always have the desired effect and often repelled many away from the artwork and from the important subject matter. Instead I needed to consider how I could subtly plant the seed of contemplation of reform within the mind of the viewer without scaring them away.
I feel that this year has been more of a progression to understand how I can concentrate all my views to make them relatable to my audience. The mistreatment of animals is well known to all however any choose to ignore the suffering of other for peace of mind. I need to figure out how to provoke empathy towards animals in order for my artwork to be successful.
I started depicting the obvious and painting meat hangings as I needed to suss out my audiences initial reaction to meat, not just my assumptions. I used watercolours in the hope to add a delicacy to the brutal subject matter. It was commented on by my peers that the textures and patterns I created within the meat depictions made them less horrifying and more intriguing. I hoped that this meant the work was interesting enough that the audience wanted to view and become immersed in it, rather than turn their heads away from it.
However I felt that the animal was lost from the imagery and so started depicting dead animal hangings instead. Here is where I began solely focusing on the imagery of the pig without realising it. I think I found the animal relatable and made the assumption that the audience would do the same. It wasn’t until a few weeks later and after some research that I found out all the similarities between pigs and humans, and the fact that pigs are capable of empathy. This raise the question to me, how come animals who are ‘beneath humans’ are able empathy and us, with our superior intelligence, are not.
To get further feedback on my work, I exhibited a 1.5m long watercolour of a hanging pig. The feedback was varied, some saying they found the work very hard hitting, other says it didn’t affect them at all. The main points of interest that came back from the display were that many misinterpreted the form to be a human figure, people felt it would be harder hitting if it were 3d rather than flat. To be in the presence of a physical form rather than a flat, dismissive image.
I decided I was going to pursue taking up ceramics as well as experimenting with casting subject. The focus was off cuts, to comment on how dismissive the animal is, and I started with the ears of pigs, due to them being considered to have no uses in the western world and often being passed off to feed domestic animals.
My casting attempt of a pair of ears was far from a success, but honestly this came as a relief. I was uncomfortable with having to purchase meat for the process and I did not like how the finished product would lack individuality and just been deemed as any other pig. My project need to convey these creatures as one of a kind and show respect to their unique beings and characters. So the use of ceramics came to be the chosen medium for my work.
Working with clay was new for me so a good proportion of the year was dedicated to learning new techniques and skills. However I was eager to learn and thoroughly enjoyed the processes involved. I feel that the quality of my representation of the ears improve drastically over the six months I was working with clay.
In order to place humanity in the position of the food animals I also began creating human ears. 10 of each species to represent the 10 million pigs killed in the UK annually for human consumption. I also felt that the pieces were too far removed from the brutality in the slaughterhouse, even though I was aiming to be subtle, so after researching into Rocky Lewycky I introduced the idea red splatters of dark red across the work. Time was consumed experimenting with different glazes that could be used to achieve this effect, until I concluded that glazing would not produce the vibrancy I wanted and opted for the use of an ink, applied after firing instead.
Presentation wise, I wanted the work to be unavoidable and something that the viewer was able to completely immerse themselves in. Having experimented with installations before, I decided to suspend the pieces. To me, this gave the ethereal sense of the ceramics, as if they could fall at any instant and be gone forever, quite like the life of the food animals, terminated without a second thought. However as a juxtaposition to the delicacy of the pale ceramic pieces and the height I had given them, I introduced a hook to connect the ear to the fishing wire. The juxtaposition is a reminder of how something so wondrous as life and consciousness can so instantly be taken away and spoilt in the name of wealth and greed. This bases does not just cover animals but humanity too. The hooks are equally a direct link back to whole of the meat industry and the slaughterhouse.
I used the 20 pieces in an exhibition I took part in with fellow 3rd Year Illustrators in Bristol, Within/Without. The exhibition was a great opportunity to get experience showing my work in the outside world and understanding what has to be done to exhibit outside of university. The show was a great success and I was really honored to be about to show work alongside such talented artists.
I found it really interesting to view people’s initial reaction to my installation. I had previously feared that some of my ceramic pieces were not distinguishable as pig’s ear however many commented that the work had an immediate high impact and a very definite, obvious subject matter. I also gathered feedback through the form of a notebook, which I left to allow people to anonymously submit comments. The majority of it was very complimentary, stating that they found the piece very hard hitting and that they appreciated that it was a hanging installation; ‘The floating display is clever and encourages immersion into your work!’
Extending on from Bristol, I felt I need to find a new approach to the subject matter. Although many had felt a connection to pigs through the use of mirror humanity in their position, I did fully feel that full empathy was being provoked. Instead I needed to target the human race itself and raise awareness as to how factory farming had been affecting them.
Having already heard jokes a countless number of times that I was ‘making a pig’s ear’ out of my project, I took the course of focusing on idioms. The expression ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ perfectly embodied the idea that our actions were in turn harming not only animals but also ourselves and that we need to cut off our noses to see past them and see the damage. From here I began casting noses as I was not convinced I was talented enough to recreate realistic representation of human noses out of clay. In total I gathered 11 however only decided to exhibit 10 in the final show. I wanted to represent the 9.6 billion that our population is estimated to grow to by 2050 and that a more sustainable approach to farming is needed for us if food demands will raise by 70% with this increase in society.
It is at this point that I realised my project would have held a lot more strength if it was more statistically lead. I was so attached to working in watercolours at the beginning of the year that I feel I have wasted time that could have been used elaborating in my ceramic pieces and using them in the outside world. If I had had more time I would aim at creating packaging for the pieces and placing them in supermarkets, directly bringing the meat back to animal imagery.
For the future I wish for my work to be used by animal activist or animal charities to help raise awareness. I do have intention to continue working on how to make people turn attention to the mistreatment of animals, whether this is through ceramics or painting. I have already reached out to an animal activism based gallery in Birmingham which will hopefully bring along exciting opportunities.
For the set up of my desk for assessment I had it very clear in my mind that I wanted to keep it very minimal. Quite like my intentions with my project as a whole, I wanted it to appear mysterious and somewhat surreal on the surface to allow the viewer to delve in and seek out the truth and horrors of the meat industry itself. Sadly this plan was slightly obscured by my obnoxiously sized pig hanging however this tied the subject of the project in with the rest of the imagery.
I decided to present my ceramic pieces in little boxes to give them impression of them being specimens under examination. To separate the two ideas of ‘Making a Pig’s Ear Out of It’ and ‘To Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face’ I hang the noses up away from the table of experiments and ear samples. A friend commented to me that the shelf-like boxes reminded her of canoptic jars so i decided to group them together. I like that this connotation links back to grief and give respect to the death of the animal.
Also to conceal my 2d work I handmade a folder out of textured paper. As the origins of my work are of such a brutal nature it was necessary to hide them away so not to shock away the audience.
- For the final show, I combine all my research with my pieces
- I wanted to play off statistics to give a number to them.
- My work will be displayed with the following statement to give a further depth to my work.
Making A Pig’s Ear of It/Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face.
In an age defined by short-term profits and self-destruction, humanity needs to turn and accept more sustainable resources for the benefit of the planet. As a collective, humanity has made ‘a pig’s ear’ out of the ways it tends to the earths’ resources and shies away from the consequences caused by the likes of factory farming. Coincidently, eating meat has been estimated to be the number one cause of global warming, suggesting that society need to reconsider their relationship with meat.
The 20 ceramic ears displayed represent the 10 billion pigs that are slaughtered for human consumption annually in the UK. This act results in the release of 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide globally. With a population estimated to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050, and a projected 70% increase in food demands, the ceramic noses represent the additional strain on resources and the cause and effect of this. It is time for the individual to take it upon themselves to disassociate with harmful acts and become conscious to the world around us.
- I chose to display the noses at the height of the subject I had taken them from to make them more relatable.
- Also unlike in Bristol I decided to present the work in three lines at various hieights.
- This gives the installation depth and gives the impression that the viewer is welcome to submerge themselves within the world to reflect on the fact that they are indeed part of the subject matter itself. They are both the cause, the problem and the solution if they allow themselves to be.
- I hope the work is surreal enough to draw interest to the subject matter allowing for the information provided to be a slow burning, allowing for the audience to conclude their next points of actions themselves
- The last two weeks have been very full on. I really enjoyed the show build and it was nice to see all the year’s work coming together so beautifully
- I am really happy with the other artists I have been grouped to exhibit with. I think all our works differ so much that really the contrast is very complimentary to each of our pieces.
- We worked well together as a team and were willing to experiment with different ideas and formats to allow out work to be the best it could be.
- It is always very daunting but flattering to have a window spot in the glass box.
- I am hoping that my work will be unusual enough to draw people up the stairs from the heart space.
- I am really happy with the outcome of my work and I feel the last year has been quite a journey not just artistically but for my own morals as well.
- Having such a stubborn nature it was difficult for me to come out of my shell in understanding that there could be more acceptable ways of eating meat and actually as long as the meat is sustainable the production line of farms can be used to educate and create a better world for us all.
- I hope that my work is successful in creating a better world for us all and helping viewers realise that we need to acknowledge the footprint we leave through our actions.
Making A Pig’s Ear of It/Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face
For the catalogue:
To accompany my work:
‘In an age defined by short-term profits and self-destruction, humanity needs to turn and accept more sustainable resources for the benefit of the planet. As a collective, humanity has made ‘a pig’s ear’ out of the ways it tends to the earths’ resources and shies away from the consequences caused by the likes of factory farming. Coincidentally, eating meat has been estimated to be the number one cause of global warming, suggesting that society needs to reconsider their relationship with meat.
The 20 ceramic ears displayed represent the 10 billion pigs that are slaughtered for human consumption annually in the UK. This act results in the release of 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide globally. With a population estimated to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050, and a projected 70% increase in food demands, the ceramic noses represent the additional strain on resources and the cause and effect of this. It is time for the individual to take it upon themselves to disassociate with harmful acts and become conscious to the world around us.’