MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects. Research.
A while ago I popped ‘artists that work in concrete’ into my search engine and began to uncover a series of intriguing but not wholly useful pages.
The serendipity of conversations that include the phrase “I am now working in concrete” has solicited responses from Jesse Alexander, Paul Clements and Argentea Gallery. The age old technique of talking has reaped some super leads to three artists for three reasons;
figures 1, 2, 3
Fairley teaches and experiments at the Open College of the Arts with fabric and its interface and infusion with concrete in its wet form which cures into beautiful and intriguing results. See figures 1, 2, 3. She writes “What I love about concrete is its form-finding behaviour. The mould materials and the concrete work together to create something exciting. I am never quite sure what the results will be and I find this exhilarating. I learnt that this hardwearing material is actually very sensitive, it picks up the smallest details of a fabrics surface, giving me the opportunity to create fine concrete textures” and approaches it from a gendered view “It struck me then that the concrete was no longer a masculine cold unforgiving material; in my hands it had become tactile, intriguing and feminine. This has led me to believe that there is a language of materials and a dialogue that occurs in the hands of the maker”.
She also cites a group that cast repetitive elements of work at the Tactility Factory in Belfast – their output looks quite exquisite; figure 4.
Both these processes and organisations I will be exploring and possibly meeting as my concrete work evolves. I photographed a linen drawing in the summer and the possibility of reproducing that and moulding it with a concrete substrate has taken a step closer.
Figures 5, 6
I was fortunate to see a solo exhibition by Ahmadzadeh in the Summer 2017 at Argentea Gallery, Birmingham. She creates interwoven images bonded onto plywood (see figures 5, 6) and, I have discovered, via an email conversation with her, this week, that she coats them with acrylic varnish. Her work is appropriate to my experimentation as she bonds (in her case) to a substrate (thus bears some similarity to my work) and most importantly protects the vulnerability of unique woven prints from damage and UV light by the use of this varnish. My initial experimentation with concrete has led to a severe washing out of the imagery which was printed only on thin, standard paper, but nevertheless has drawn out the need for a solution.
figures 7, 8
Having written about Henning’s Tate presentation in my journal, I have been signposted to I have discovered that she has a width of skills in the image world. Not only is she a long term collaborator with PJ Harvey (see figure 6 for an example of her art work), thus providing an other ‘photographer/wider artist’ example, but she has written a book being published in 2018 “Photography – the Unfettered Image” which “argues that this mobility of the image was merely accelerated by digital media and telecommunications. Photographs, from the moment of their invention, set images loose by making them portable, reproducible, projectable, reduced in size and multiplied”. But also as a photographic image maker she has created these ‘through the glass’ images which my work has echoed.
figures 9, 10
And she has explored construction sites, figures 10, 11
figures 11, 12
So, for me, another one to watch.
References (all sites visited 10.12.2017)
All images from : https://www.textileartist.org/rebecca-fairley-oca-textiles-tutor/
All images from : http://www.samin-ahmadzadeh.com/
All images from : http://www.michellehenning.co.uk/
figure 7 Birdshit, Bristol to London (2009)
figure 8 Dirty Sunset, Bristol (2012)
figure 9 Ealing Shop Window from The White Album
figure 10 Closed Shop, Weston-Super-Mare | from The White Album
figures 11, 12 “Construction Work is an ongoing project of photographs of half-completed or abandoned construction sites. It is based around an implied analogy between the work of artistic construction and of building. Appropriating aesthetic devices from late modernism it takes accidental arrangements and reinvents them as staged spaces for action”.
Henning and PJ Harvey work: