Labour of Love Caroline Jupp!labour-of-love/cee5

Another Labour of Love that I was not aware of. A residency in London’s Queen Elizabeth Park. Escanear (1)

Artist Caroline Jupp was resident in a shed in the park for 3 months in 2014-5.!labour-of-love/cee5

Spidertag – street to gallery?


Spidertag is mainly known for his ‘spider’s webs’ which he makes in public places using nails and wool. What is special about the work is that these ‘webs’ using wool are often in abandoned buildings and have a special textural materiality to them. I respond to both the sites and the textures. I know the work mainly through videos in which an assistant videos him making the work on site. There is also a great variety of still digital images of this work online.

Last week he opened an exhibition in a local gallery so I went along to see how he would deal  with the street to more traditional space. The gallery, Swinton & Grant, has a reputation for working with street artists and I have recently been trying to make a relationship with them and @laborolove via twitter with only moderate success so far. The gallery is a very typically white but certainly no cube. It is downstairs beneath a bookshop/bar. The pieces would actually have been at home in a white cube. Although the materials suggest a connection to the artist’s history, wood from palettes and the signature wool and nails, the site responsive nature is totally lost and the objects, whilst aesthetically pleasing, have an almost art for art’s sake quality. The objects are pleasing to look but they have lost something and most barely interact with the space.

spidertag swinton and grant

There was one of Spidertag’s videos of the site specific making playing on a screen, however this was largely being ignored as it was almost hidden under the stairs. Maybe Spidertag’s site specific work responds only to the formal qualities of the site and therefore the gallery site is what it is, a shop? In the exhibition text he is very clear about the interest in abstraction, geometry and colour and makes specific reference to balance, straight lines and diagonals. This suggests that his interaction with forgotten places and abandoned villages might be aesthetic rather than interest in the abandonment. One of the main reasons I was drawn to this work was his choice of sites and the weight of their pasts. 

This exhibition raised several questions for me and my own practice, some of which are related to the points I mentioned in my post about Blu. The first is about the relationship of the work in the site and in the gallery site – to what extent can it retain the ideas and still be a commercial interest to a gallery. In the case of Spidertag I don’t think he is claiming to do this. I am questioning the ethics of the gallery space like many artists before me. Even galleries who represent artists who are critical of the artworld are part of it. They are essentially selling the work which criticises them or does their approval negate the criticism and expose the artist as compliant with the system. 


Experimenting with Photoshop for Flyers

I have started to make some experiments with imagery for flyers that act more as an intervention with existing flyers. The first flyers I made made me realise that I like the handmadeness which my work normally has. For example one thing I like about the women in the street on cloth is their textures on the wall. The transparency allows for the wall to connect in a way with the brush strokes.

Using photoshop is not a way of increasing handmadeness but as this seems tricky given that my plan is to bomb the neighborhood next weekend with both flyers on cars and women on walls all at the same time to provoke a stronger reaction and write to activist groups at the same time (to more meaningfully test those boundaries). I think they have to be digitalised in some way as I cannot handmake enough.

Another issue is that Les suggested that the project in the end might be online and so I need to be ready at the weekend to put the work up and then upload the documentation of it pretty quickly (before it disappears from the streets in theory). As all the fabric women have now gone I was considering painting directly on the walls but this would be much easier in the week as the streets are pretty busy at all hours at the weekend. Sunday was the best night for me as I do not need to get up at 6am on a Monday, however it is way too late for the presentation on Monday. I should probably do Thursday 5am.

Here are the first rough ideas – I need to work out how to add a logo – I will try physical collage and drawing too. flyers

flyer 3idea

Prostitution in Art History

There is currently an exhibition in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris about this which looks specifically at the 19th Century in that city. However, I was interested to look farther back at how courtesans and young boys or bardassas said to have been used by Carravagio have been used as models for artwork since the renaissance and probably before.

Some examples:



Vecchio’s Blonde Woman is a courtesan and we know this because she holds flowers – this symbolism dates back to roman times. Titian’s models were also supposed to have been courtesans.

Carravagio’s barrdassa’s show shoulders and offer fruit and flowers. As in the renaissance times (Michelangelo came out as gay but claimed celebacy) gay sex was illegal so Carravagio denied he was in these relationships, we will never know for certain.

The relationship between artist and model had been central to this debate, whether the model was a prostitute or not. Why then was Manet’s Olympia so shocking? Supposedly it is the gaze of Olympia (a name which identifies her as a prostitute) along with the orchid, oriental shawl and other accessories. She is unashamedly a prostitute and this resonates with what is happening now. There are a number of women who have blogs and are proud of their work.  blog example

manet O

I need to consider whether and how I could use art history other than a simple appropriation which I am not sure would add anything to the debate.


the red shoes

Red Shoes you tube subtitles in English

I have been looking at this project which I found when I was researching site for the presentations. It interests me because it involves a lot of elements which I would like to work with. The collaborations of the community, reusing existing materials, making the work in the site where it will be displayed and the participation of the public and their involvement.


The people donate, paint and display the shoes together.


The shoes have now been displayed around the world.


The shoe was chosen for a variety of reasons, obviously they represent the absence of the women but also many victims have been identified by their shoes.

Rob Smith Lecture 9th November

This lecture was very interesting as it looked at two elements of contemporary art practice in particular which interest me a lot from a very fresh perspective.

First Smith introduced his interest in the not human world and our human connections to it. He is interested how the human/not human is blurred that we are made up of elements that are non human.

The two elements that really interested me were the importance of collaboration in contemporary practice and the use of multiple sites in his work. Looking back at Rosalind Krauss’s ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field’ Rob started by explaining the need of understanding these process in modernism to relate to where we are now. With Kraus sculpture was freed from location. He feels that ‘Now site is the point of reception’ and that site location has expanded itself. We looked at various examples of how this has happened.

Looking at Robert Smithson, Smith used the example of the Chalk Mirror Displacement 1969. This was originally made site specifically in Oxted York, according to the 1981 book about Smithson’s sculpture. However, this was also shown in galleries such as the John Hansard Gallery 2013, using the original material. Later on Smith in collaboration with Charles Danby and using mirrors to recreate the multiple images, went in search of the original site and made a piece of work entitled ‘The Quarry’2014 documenting their journey for the original site which turned out to be in Surrey not Yorkshire. They used split screen video and also made an installation in galleries.

Another example is ‘Field Broadcast’ which is a group project of a type known as ‘screen interruptions’. This is a web based project in which the computer screen in the site as point of reception has been a collaboration since 2010 with Rebecca Birch. The interruptions are based on live streaming as opposed to a screened video. For example ‘Scene on a navigable river’ 2014 is based on the sites of Constable paintings made en plein air in the Essex/suffolk area. This land now owned by the National Trust England is preserved to imitate the paintings. Smith records the artist Florence Peake painting in real time this is broadcast via the web.

Smith is insistent on the relationship we humans have with non humans. He quotes Timothy Morton and his writings on interconnectedness with non humans and sees this as flat ontology again how we normally divide up material objects and the human. Individual practice always involves non live elements and he cites Katie Paterson sending moonrock around the world anticlockwise (using our human delivery networks) to mimic the orbit of the moon.

In relation to collaboration this was really interesting as it seemed very random. Smith did point to the way in which contemporary art making now always involves a range of roles: artist/curator/technician/ fundraiser etc…He therefore believes we have to be collaborators and I am keen to do this but in a meaningful way and especially collaborating with artists or other disciplines in projects where you have an overlap of concerns in your work. We did an exercise where we were given an image of a fruit bowl at random and we had to do something electronic so we quickly photographed our own fruit bowl complete with nonfruits and Rob put it together for us. This was light relief and as Smith says it could lead to much more. However, I would feel more motivated to work on specific project rather than names out of a hat. I don’t share that excitement of who will I get to work with unfortunately, I see the possibility of collaboration through the work. Nevertheless Smith’s project, which Caroline Wright was also part of worked well between 2 artist studios in the UK where they made work in response to each other’s practice. I can see how curatorially this might make open studios link more, however I feel that the variety of open studios is also part of its value.

To wrap up Smith left us with a project which meshed science and art, The Hyperdrone which was produced through the Office of Experiments. Interested in the Geopolitical nature of geological substances in the earth such as those from the industrial revolution and the atomic bombs of Hiroshima, this impressive piece of equipment captures the earths’ sound waves and the accompanying video is really quite disturbing.The HyperDrone is ‘an instrument that generates acoustic waves taken from the data generated by seismic sensors across the surface of the entire globe’.

video Hyperdrone

Making Day 14th November

Background: I have been reading a lot about the irregular adoptions in Spain in the 20th Century and a significant current topic is that many people are looking for their birth families. There are many people taking DNA samples and trying to track their relatives. This raises many questions of identity, not to mention why some people were seen as unfit for parenting. I have not investigated this topic in the studio at all yet. In our tutorial Michele Whiting suggested that maybe I should explore these issues independently now rather than waiting to see if this project is approved and funded.

Objectives: as a continuation of my recent work in the studio I want to focus on visibility or transparency of not being able to see clearly (possibly unless you get really close or look from a certain angle). I am unsure whether to give maybe a glimpse of identity in my subjects. I want to work on muslin again and using thin paint. I will try life size as this feels a good idea. I might also try some other supports: thin paper or furnishing fabrics (the idea of home) I would love to try on mattresses but don’t have any or much space for them right now either.

If this does not work out I will return to developing the idea of polyptychs and physically separating families (in the past i have separated couples and communities and interestingly did some quite unsuccessful drawings and paintings of mothers and children).


making day 1

It too me a long time to stretch the muslin and as it is transparent I had to move the stretcher to a plain wall  – although I liked the see through to the mind map I found it difficult to paint and photograph. When painting on the wet fabric it bleeds a lot – so it depended a lot on what I was wanting to happen – some times this worked, other times it did not. I was more worried about how this first layer would look as I had to present it to the group. In fact much of it will be obliterated by thicker paint (and time). I like the mixture of lines and stains which bleed into the fabric. My problem now is how to conclude this first layer and then work on top.

making day 3    making day 6    making day 7

details, some of which are working quite well and most of which will disappear or be radically changed in the next layer.

last one

This is how the fabric was at the time of the presentation to the group. Still unresolved but raises lots of questions.


Caroline asked me about the importance of the transparency and she also mentioned how lighting could be considered. I realised the transparency is important however I did abandon muslin in the Ciempozuelos space as it was too transparent. The invisibility of the past is important but it needs a presence. In the studio it always looked better so site and display are really important. We also talked about the wrinkles which most thought were part of the nature of the fabric so could be part of display (they are a problem for making).

Mathew suggested wrapping them around large 3d objects –  and the objects related to the subject of the image – domestic objects are the first that spring to mind – furniture or some way of representing domestic space (I am reading Bachelard again so I this seems infinite at the moment). He said I could put a light inside the 3d objects to make the most of the transparent fabric.
 I like this idea of the invisible made visible with light (I think that was Rob who also suggested I could coat it with something to make it rigid afterwards which I also really would like to experiment with – maybe the fabric could become the object like a cast.
Máire suggested using an iridescent paint so now I need to finish painting and try some experiments with chemicals. All this is about revealing the past. Making the invisible visible whilst acknowledging its subjectivity.
I had thought of pasting onto the wall but with transparent glue – unlike wheat pasting. Caroline also suggested painting on the wall through the fabric. This would need setting up in a different way but could be really interesting. I realised also that this was the first time I had used the really thin acrylic upright – the previous occasions I had worked flat on the floor. Maybe I have learnt how to control this better now and that would allow me to work through onto a wall. I also had the feedback that it was shroud like (Caroline I think). This reminded me of Michele Whiting’s comment that my works were like traces. These are really interesting ways into it. I think there are various next steps.
  • I need to conclude the painting stage
  • I will experiment with light, chemicals and 3Ddisplay
  • I need to write some research questions which is proving harder than I thought.

fabric hung in studio

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I took the muslin off the stretchers and hung it – how it looks depends on how it is lit.


so now I am going to be experimenting with thinner washes for the first layer emulating water colours but thin acryics on canvas. I am not sure how dark to go or whether to add other colours.

bl 4

Experimentation with Muslin

As I decided earlier this month I tried stretching the muslin when wet before painting on it. This worked well. I also tried smaller and less consistent mark making with gaps as we have in our memories allowing some things (at random to remain more visible). This becomes a long process which you become lost in – you need to think about it and stand at the other end of the studio every so often but much of the time it becomes quite automatic. It felt meaningless to stop after every mark and I believe that I would lose something else if I did so. However, maybe that is my instinctive way of working – and now I am asking myself if I am making authentic marks (Cox).

I also need to try other types of mark making but think I shall try initially on smaller pieces of canvas and muslin (other cloth?). However I still feel so far that the paper worked better it’s just the scale and flexibility of display. I like way cloth moves and how it becomes a light 3D presence.

The Process

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This was the starting point and I questioned how much I had made the wash layer too vague and obscured given that I was always intending to obscure the clarity of the features etc. I had worked from a painting I have in the studio which meant I had already eliminated some characters from the narrative. Maybe for this work I need to start with all there and then obscure.

I also question the overlays of wash – there need to be more or less.

blog 6     blog 5     blog 4

In some cases therefore there is nothing to peer into and see in the 3D world behind. if you are looking and searching you find nothing but a sihouette. I wonder how that works with an audience. I also wonder what they would be looking for. I also need to think more about colour, composition and display.

blog 7 This is how it was still on the stretchers in the studio.

I also realise that for the present i really wanted to look more at perspective and the working environment in the wash layer – this is too flat and lacks depth for the purpose of current aims.