I looked forward to this project, especially after browsing the artists suggested as inspiration in our Coursenotes. I think, though, I forgot these pieces are the result of many years’ exploration, experiment and work. I discovered that pouring liquid plaster in a flexible vessel (plastic bags in my case) doesn’t automatically result in a mysterious and organic shape which can be artistically embellished with fabric and thread. So, for me, this has been an exercise in solving problems and in making the best of what I produce.
So here are some photos of my first attempts using Pebeo Resin Plaster, a good quality product and I thought I couldn’t go wrong! It was my first attempt so plaster was mixed according to the instructions and poured into an inexpensive, thin plastic bag. A small amount of unravelled silk dupion thread was added for extra interest. It was squeezed around to let all the air out (like you do with food in freezer bags), and placed in an egg carton to give it a bit of support. To my surprise it set in about 5-10 minutes, letting off some surface heat in the process. This was so different from using the Sculptamold, and quite exciting. However, removing the plastic was another matter. I spent some time digging out bits of plastic with tweezers and a needle but it was impossible to get it all out. Clearly the material nature of the vessel has to be considered beforehand.
Thoughts: This is about 6″ long. If this was large scale, at least 4′ long, it could look quite interesting, like a sleeping figure. There is an obvious forethought present in large objects – simply because they are large, I think. So small un-grouped objects are at a disadvantage, perhaps? Perhaps small objects have to be extra fascinating?
I drew a quick digital sketch to help me think about how I might use this, and maybe the idea of a head exploding with fabric thoughts could be useful in the future?
Further experiments: Perhaps allowing the material to embed with the plaster could be part of the plan if fabric is used to line the plastic bag beforehand.
Around this time I visited a visiting exhibition which took place at several sites in Bristol. Art from Elsewhere. International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries. There are two video installations from this exhibition which have been on my mind throughout the rest of my time working on this unit. Of relevance here is the video by Yael Bartana , Summer Camp, 2007. The legend accompanying the video installation is below. My sorry looking piece of plaster made me think about the story of this house and the people who rebuilt it even more. Holding this piece of plaster in my hands while re-reading the exhibition notes, looking at the website, at my photos taken during the film (I can’t reproduce them here, sorry) was helpful in trying to understand something that moves me, but which I have no personal experience of. So this is what I am taking from this project.