Spes Contra Spem
A Dialectic Between the Sacred and the Profane Essence of Material Separation
I change but I cannot die
Shelley, ‘The Cloud’ 76
To unfold and merge creation myths and evolutionary ideas into layered, mythopoietic narratives addressing existential concerns in the recently defined Anthropocene:
- engendering a sense of our part in a story that lies beyond our own time;
- seen through a window onto another world that reflects tensions in the narratives as a way of asserting dynamic relationships.
To research and develop means for encoding and implementing information carrying the aims embodied in the narrative,
employing a variety of digital and non-digital strategies to create different modes of engagement,
layering respective modalities catalysing interdependent inferences by means of reciprocating with the viewer,
using sculpture based on ceramic material, sound, words, and moving and still images.
also incorporating the idea of evolutionary space formulated in the Research.
Contemporary and Modern
Artists dealing with the deep past using a variety of modalities, particularly sound, sculpture, virtual reality and words, including: Marguerite Hameau, Mohshin Allayaii, Mimmo Paladino. Andrew Lord – ceramic sculptures that have correspondence with my work.
Poetry: Ted Hughes and Rebecca Elson – cosmological and existential
Sound – Wolfgang Gil creating invisible form in which geometry is delineated with sound.
Science Fiction – Philip K. Dick – political, social and philosophical explorations in monopolistic societies; Walter M. Miller Jr. – A Canticle for Liebowitz – the cyclical nature of history and religion vs secularism.
Studio – shared with Janet Waring Rago in continual conversation and reciprocal interrogation. A chapel in rural Lincolnshire: removed from the artificiality of the city amidst a man-made countryside; a paradox reflected in my work which questions the place of humans in nature whilst being part of nature and ours effect on it.
MA Peer group
Evolutionary theories – Richard Dawkins, Stephen J Gould, Darwin, Pinker, Wilson and others.
Spes Contra Spem – the enigmatic Latin phrase from Romans 4.18, in the KJV, “who against hope believed in hope”. This phrase has many meanings and has been paraphrased in a variety of ways, variations of which can be found in the Bible.
Evolutionary Space – A term coined in the Research Statement which describes art practice as continually adapting to an ever-changing ecosystem.
Process Philosophy – everything is continually changing.
John Dewey – Art in Experience. Art and its meaning, contextually residing in how it is perceived and experienced rather than in the artwork itself.
Martin Heidegger – The Origin of the Work of Art – describing the artist’s relationship with their work, the nature of that work, and its relationship with the world.
Kraft von Maltzhan – ‘Nature as Landscape’, a brief history of knowledge and our changing relationship with nature.
Roberto Mangabeira – human agency and the dynamics between the individual, state and nature.
Gareth Jones – The Object of Sculpture, traces the history of the reciprocal relationship between sound, music, sculpture, and architecture.
Wolfgang Gil – sonic plasticity. Using sound and its physical geometry in space
On Art – Richard L. Anderson “culturally significant meaning skilfully encoded in an affective sensual medium”; David Bayles and Ted Orlando, art changes the artist and the world.
Magic and myth – Religious and secular texts: Graves, The White Goddess; Fraser, The Golden Bough, Lucretius, De Rerum Natura; Aristotle, Plato and pre-Socratics, etc.
Natural History and Art – Ernst Haeckel, Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, Rodin.
Florence – formative period of ten years immersed in the Classical, Humanist and Renaissance culture, and Romanticism, engendering a strong sense of the materiality of art both in content and experience.
Biology graduate of Manchester University. Life processes, structure, connectedness.
Linnean Society – Fellow of the oldest extant natural history society in the world.
Religious and sacred iconography
Separation – (or awakening) of the human self from nature. Influential texts include those of Martin Buber, Robert Graves, Richard Dawkins, and Kraft von Maltzhan, amongst others. The emergence of life and traversals of complexity; the emergence of the “I”, labels and language.
Metamorphosis – of substance and idea and continuity in a world of constant and cyclical change.
Language – as a vehicle for communication and miscommunication.
Struggle – Life, contingency and inevitability.
The Anthropocene – The Gardener and Eden
Creation myth and religion – explicator of mysteries? Principle sources include amongst others: Ovid’s Metamorphoses; The Bible; texts on evolution including Darwin’s, On the Evolution of Species.
My practice is driven by the feeling of flux being the natural state of things and that I am connected to the most distant time by an unbroken thread of contingent events: the indissoluble strength of the past and the vulnerability of a fragile future existence. I give this shape, expressed at the point of giving material form and meaning, synthesising rational and poetic thought. I aim to make this corporeal through ceramic material. The alchemical process it undergoes links me with the past through its brittle archaeology and beyond that as a fossil of its living, malleable self. This enables me to create a space in which layered with sound, intersecting meanings can come into existence, catalysed and unfolded as a multitude of inferences occupying the same space. A space shared with words, all three modes delivering resonances at differing rates and on various levels. Modularity of thought and making come together using strategies of engagement that offer me an adaptive flexibility for working in what I identified in the research statement as evolutionary space.
- Techniques and methods
- hermeneutics of sacred texts,
- modern and contemporary scientific evolutionary theory,
- philosophy and history of science,
- world creation myths,
- historical and contemporary art practices,
- archaeology and anthropology.
- practice based,
- text based,
- conversations with peers, staff and audience,
- analysis and reviews of works and exhibitions,
- reflective critical writing.
- painting and drawing
- projection (shadows)
- virtual reality
- embedding sound in sculpture mixed media display fabrication
- blog journal containing
- sound recordings
An installation which gives a sense of being a space containing sacred and profane associations with the following possible works:
- ceramic sculptures in a vitrine with sound filling the inner space perceptible through grill openings in the transparent walls.
- Horizontal, suspended, ceramic sculpture with responsive low frequency sound/vibrations.
- Wall or stand mounted sculpture collecting environmental sound emitting it after passing through its body.
- Smaller contextualising works and handling pieces
- recorded verbal narratives heard through headphones
- Handling pieces
- Possibly image printed and or on-screen
October – January 2019
Period of orientation: identify and develop the area of study and work for the MA period; Project Proposal, exploratory drawings, maquettes, develop critical and reflective writing in blog journal, build on video editing and digital sound software, explore theoretical, contextual and poetry texts. Experiment, research, develop, filter and select.
January – April 2019
Continue with the above, filter ideas, theory and techniques. Start developing an artist statement in the context of the proposal for the eventual final show. Build on Low Residency experience.
May – September
Test first prototypes; develop work further; research digital sound techniques for real-time interactions. Research Statement, develop Project Proposal, curate work for Unit 1 Assessment.
October – November
Complete Unit 1 – crystallise ideas for the final show
start Unit 2 – A period of intense developing and making in the context of previous research and experimentation to deliver project proposal. Throughout this period work on text and drawings for sound narratives.
Finished sculpture pair and half way through large horizontal sculpture. If time allows also explore an idea for puppets.
Complete large horizontal sculpture and begin wall mounted work and free-standing silent work.
Continue work on sculptures and other work; Low residency period; begin to plan and make display and curatorial elements.
Complete works and begin silent sculpture and begin to finish works and curatorial elements.
Continue with silent sculpture and complete other work.
By end of May all work should be completed and show planning well underway, also procure materials for packing and transport of work
June – July
Pack work, curate and prepare for final show, review project proposal and prepare for unit 2 assessment. Delivery of work, installation, final show and de-install.
Anderson, R.L. (1990) Calliope’s Sisters: A comparative study of philosophies of art. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, p.238.
Arber, A. (1950) The natural philosophy of plant form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Arber, A. (1954) The mind and the eye: A study of the biologist’s standpoint. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Arber, A. (1957) The manifold and the one. (1957) London: John Murray.
Bayles, D. Orlando, T. (2002). Art and fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking. UK: Image Continuum Press
Esslin, M. (1961) The theatre of the absurd. 3rd edn. London: Penguin Books.
McCormack, J. (2012). Creative ecosystems: Computers and creativity. Eds. McCormack, J. d’Inverno, M. Springer: Heidelberg. DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-31727-9_2 [accessed: 19 August 2019].
Boden, M. A. (2010). Creativity and art: Three roads to surprise. London: Oxford University Press.
Coen, E. (2012) Cells to civilizations: The principles of change that shape life. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press
Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dawkins, R. (1996). Climbing mount improbable. New York: Norton
Dennett, Daniel C. (1995). Darwin’s dangerous idea: Evolution and the meanings of life. Penguin Books, London.
Dennett, D. C. (1995) Darwin’s dangerous idea: Evolution and the meanings of life. London: Penguin.
Dewey, J. (1934) Art and experience. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Esslin, M. (1961) The theatre of the absurd. 3rd edn. London: Penguin Books.
Fry, H. (2018). Hello world. [s.l.]: Doubleday.
Genesis 1-4, Holy Bible: King James Version.
Gould, S. J. (1991) Wonderful life: The burgess shale and the nature of history. London: Penguin Books.
Graves, R. (1961) The white goddess: A historical grammar of poetic myth. London: Faber and Faber.
Heidegger, M. (). The origin of the work of art. Translated by Roger Berkowitz and Philippe Nonet. Draft, December 2006. PN revised. PDF downloaded from https://www.academia.edu/2083177/The_Origin_of_the_Work_of_Art_by_Martin_Heideg ger
Herodotus (1890) The history of herodotus volume 1. Translated by G. C. Macaulay. London:
Hughes, T. (1998) Lupercal. London: Faber and Faber.
Hughes, T. (2001) Crow: From the life and songs of the crow. London: Faber and Faber.
Jones, G. (2007) ‘The object of sculpture’ in Hulks, D. Wood, J. Potts, A. (eds) Modern sculpture reader. 1st edn. Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, pp.426-436.
Lewis-Hamilton, D. (2002) The mind in the cave. London: Thames and Hudson.
Margullis, L. (1998) The symbiotic planet: A new look at evolution. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
O’Connor, D. (2010) ‘The horror of creation: Ted Hughes’ re-writing of Genesis in Crow’, Peer English, Issue 5. pp 47-58. Available at: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/englishassociation/publications/peer–english/5/04OConnor%20.pdf (Accessed: 16 November 2018).
Ovid () Metamorphose. Trans. Kline, A. S. available at http://ovid.lib.virginia.edu/trans/Ovhome.htm
Rescher, N. (1996 ) Process Metaphysics: An Introduction to Process Philosophy, SUNY Press. p. 60.
Robertounger.com, (2016) Roberto Mangabeira Unger. [Online] Available at: http://www.robertounger.com/ [Accessed 14 Sep. 2018].
Smith, K. A. (1992) Structure of the visual book: Book 95. Fairport: The Sigma Foundation.
Tucker, W. (1977) The language of sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson.
Von Maltzahn, K. E. (1994) Nature as landscape: Dwelling and understanding. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Wengrow, D. (2014). The origins of monsters: Image and cognition in the first age of mechanical reproduction. Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford
Other Key Texts: To Be Referenced
- Purusha Sukta – Shatapatha Brahmana
- Aristotle – Poetics, Physics
- Milton – Paradise Lost
- Darwin – The Origin of the Species
- Frazer – The Golden Bough
- Freud – Totem and Taboo
- Da Vinci – Note Books
- Buber – I and Thou – Man and Man
- E.O. Wilson