Fifty Three More Things to do in Zero Gravity – Lancaster University Fine Art Degree Show 2017

My aim for the degree show was to create an immersive, hand drawn experience for the viewer, which re-connected and re-placed them within their place in nature. Examining micro-biological processes which are essential for human life, in particular the role of mycorrhizal fungi within the ecosystem.  I wanted to bring the structure and idea of the fungus up in scale to engage with the idea of symbiosis and mutually beneficial relationships, commenting on how humans need to observe their impact on the environment more carefully, and not overlook processes which may seem insignificant, but can have a large impact and aid in slowing down issues such as climate change and starvation.

The scale of the drawing is intended to immerse the viewer, possibly making them feel insignificant to amplify the meaning.

Vellum

My Peter Scott Gallery piece is a drawing of mycorrhizae on a transparent vellum skin, observation and research into the food industry and its impact on the environment, lead to the creation of this work.

Vellum is a parchment which is created from the waste-product of the meat industry, skins which would be discarded are turned into parchment, commonly used for documentation. The affect of disposal of these skins would cause a major problem for waste disposal, as well as possible hazardous affects due to the way in which they would need to be disposed of.

Mycorrhizae is the symbiotic relationship between plant roots and fungal networks. The fungus attaches itself to plant roots, increasing the range and spread of the roots, allowing for better absorption of nutrients, which results in higher quality crops and a higher yield of produce, this process could therefore be utilised to help in the fight against starvation, caused by an ever-growing population.

The combination of the two concepts results in a feeling of representation of beginning and end products, the mycorrhizae aids growth of vegetation, which feeds both humans and livestock, the cows are turned into produce and their skins used to create vellum. Whilst the cattle farming process is known to have a negative impact on the environment, and not all people agree with the use of animal products, items such as vellum and leather are a way to ensure parts do not go to waste and have further detrimental affects.

I wished to keep the vellum shape as natural as possible, so therefore presented it in the simplest way I could, by using two nails in the top two corners to allow it to hang freely.

Degree Show Plans

Furthering my exploration of mycorrhizal fungi in the previous term I wish to expand this idea for my degree show work, by creating a cross-over between drawing and installation, increasing the size of the drawings again so that they grow and spread around the walls, surrounding the viewer. Originally my plan was to draw directly on to the walls however using transparent sheets allows me more impact with mark-making techniques.

The style I wish to use for these drawings can be seen in the middle image below, incorporating ideas from all previous drawings, combining the more dramatic, organic drawing with finer detail to resemble the fungus more accurately.

I plan to hang these sheets from the walls, overlapping slightly to create a further impression of growth and embodying a sprawling mass.IMG_6419IMG_6428IMG_6429

Mycorrhizal Symbiosis

Mycorrhiza is a fungal association between plant roots and beneficial fungi. Through research into the various types of mycorrhiza fungi I have created drawings which aim to bring attention to this micro-biological association, due to its importance for human, animal and plant life and its vital role in processes such as nitrogen fixation and soil carbon storage, without which life on earth would not be possible.

Inspiration is drawn from the shapes and structures formed by the fungi, using the growth habit which causes it to sprawl through the soil. In this work amorphic shapes sprawl across numerous sheets of paper to fill the walls and emulate this growth.

Symbiotic relationships are essential in both the growth of this fungi and between humans and nature, whereby mutualism must occur in order for the environment to be preserved. With this relationship in mind, I wish to take-over the walls with my drawings, so that the viewer is surrounded by the drawings, and therefore connects with their meaning, by creating drawings of large scale and/or an installation type work, immersing the viewer in the work

Organic drawing

 

Continuing experimentation with drawing I decided to try these ‘organic drawings’. Observing the leaves as usual as I drew, however allowing the natural grooves of the paper and holding my pencil loosely I allowed it to naturally create shape and line on the page. I thought these were quite successful as quick studies as they quickly captured the nature of the leaves.

Charcoal

 

Exploring the difference between natural decomposition and interfered decomposition I looked at how a leaf could be adapted and almost dissected through the art of drawing, taking a standard decayed leaf I followed the patterns of the veins however chopped parts out to create a more abstract image, I wanted to see if it was possible to disrupt the way the viewer may see such a easily recognisable natural object. However it seemed that the leaf retained is ‘leafiness’ despite being adapted.

The technique I discovered whilst experimenting with this drawing was the use of crushed charcoal, applied with a brush to the paper, it gives a soft background ready for more detail to be added. This technique reminded me of the piece ‘Abstract’ by Caroline Richardson (above) which I found in the book ‘Techniques of Drawing’ by Fred Gettings, a drawing created using smoke, however the charcoal powder has a similar look and feel. It has a slight life of its own in the way it spreads and moves around, an interesting tension with the controlled shape I used it within. It is also interesting how the drawing materials have their own nature.

White Space

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Inspired by Rory Mcewen (1932-1982) I was inspired to experiment with white space, something he was known for, as seen in the painting below:

This use of space allows focus on the subject, however also puts you at a distance from it, as the image is out of your initial eye line when you look at the canvas. A theme I am exploring is how you can create ‘coldness’ in a drawing, through the techniques used by the artist, as artists have control over the way in which they depict and manipulate their subjects, and also the way in which a viewer perceives their work.

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This leaf drawing, along with others, I created using soft b grade pencils on acrylic paper, he heavy texture of the paper allows for a high level of texture within the drawings. The paper has a circular pattern to it, when the side of he pencil is brushed against it this texture is picked up and is not dissimilar to the textural patterns within the leaf itself.

During a tutorial we discussed that this adds an element of coldness to the work, at first it was thought to be a print rather than a drawing, and we thought that this was an interesting tension with the subject of the work being so natural yet the technique and outcome looking technological and manufactured – an idea I wish to explore further.