June 4th, 2023 – Glasgow School Of Art Degree Show 2023

Glasgow School Of Art Degree Show 2023 / Sculpture & Environmental Art

At the entrance to the space is a floor-standing screen. This was made as an experimental trial piece, which in the early stages of the installation plan I was intending creating larger variations of. In the end, I moved away from further investigation on the trial piece but decided on including it in my installation.

It is positioned in such a way to represent a door to the space, ajar to invite you in. An early plan was to have some kind of doorway to enter the space, a door requiring the audience to physically open to gain access to the space. Or similarly creating an enclosed area for the paintings.

When it came time to install and view the space I was allocated, creating an actual doorway wasn’t possible, but unexpectedly by moving the screen to the front line of the space I felt it now represented an open/ajar door. The position was also to drive people in a certain direction and approach the wall-mounted works from a particular position.

Made from a plywood frame, fitted with an internal sheet of clear perspex. This has been painted with Sumi Ink, burnt dry with a heat gun, with several layers of ink being added. The shapes were created by card stencil shapes. The further plan for this was to keep adding ink, the use of the heat gun created interesting reactions with the drying ink and would build up to a very interesting surface texture.

To protect the surface of the ink, which due to the heat gun had become quite unstable, I papered the front of the screen using traditional Japanese Shoji paper. My key interest in the potential of this piece was depending on the level of light the ink work is projected from the perspex onto the paper. The paper remains blank, but an image can appear. With direct sun the projection is as clear as if the ink was on the paper itself.

As you enter round the screen you pass the set of 4 paintings on the left wall and move round to the right wall where 4 papered rocks screens are hanging from the wall at 45°. The paintings and the rocks are hung at the same height on the wall.

This low setting for the work was for two main reasons. I’m quite tall so I would normally hang these at my eye level but I chose to make it more accessible and position them for the lowest eye level. This forces people of height to bend down and inspect them closer, which I feel will make for a deeper investigation of the piece. I also felt they were safer for viewers at a low level in terms of being a danger sticking out from the wall at head height. For the paintings in particular the low position is used so the viewer is looking down into the scene, an intent particular to this set of paintings.

The papered rock work.

A chain of explorative actions led to these being made. In short without going through each variation of development over the last 4yrs, I took the window shutter designs from my personal Studio, and made one that was wall mounted by hinges with a painted design on the paper using Sumi Ink.

I liked the painted paper being flat against the wall or swung out to be positioned away from the wall. The two photographs below are from that exhibition held in the Govan Project Space.

While investigating the ink on the paper I moved into having something behind the paper rather than ink on the paper. I made a trial with a suspended branch, papered on both sides. I particularly liked when the branch gently touched the paper, in that point of contact the diffusion lessened and the contained object was possibly more definable but still vague.

At this point, I decided to use the correct paper for the job. I bought two types of Japanese shoji paper to replace the tracing paper I had been using up until this point.

As a continuation of the suspended branch, I tried a rock, a very interesting shape but too large to be contained in my frame. The rock pushed against the surface of the paper. Then the question and investigation became could I stretch the paper over a rock so it would be held in place by the tension of the paper? How far could the paper be pushed?

I made four papered rocks. These were all slightly different sizes due to them being made from my workshop offcuts and scraps. Each one was an advancement on the previous construction method as I got used to the parameters of the Shoji paper. It was only once I viewed the space during Installation week that I decided to wall mount the work. The window light was too good not to utilize so I positioned the work at a set height fixed so the light would pass creating a shadow of the rock onto the paper.

The work can lift off from the wall as it rests on a wall mount. A 45° angle is cut on two pieces of wood. One is fixed to the wall, the other on the piece. They slot together and provide a simple but very effective wall mount. The wall mount fixture I painted super black the same as the sides of the four paintings.

The paintings.

In my degree show presentation, I showcased four paintings that are part of a broader collection comprising 11 works created between March and April 2023. These paintings serve as a continuation of the Golden Forest Collection from 2022, which consisted of a total of 19 paintings. Alongside the paintings, I have included artist-made tape rolls, crafted around 2019, which consist of painted strips of masking tape used in the creation of the trees. Throughout my portfolio and subsequent degree, I have been extensively exploring the artistic potential of this tape medium to create multiple collections that depict exploratory moments and arrive at composition through slow, explorative actions.

Forest 001/002/003 – 21.8 x 21.8 x 4.5 cm (8.5 x 8.5 Inch)

Forest 005/006/007/008/009/010 – 30 x 30 x 4 cm (12 x 12 Inch)

Forest 011 – 44 x 22 x 4.5 cm (17¼  x 8½ Inch)

I also have a display of work (made for this but not included in the final install) up at my Dornoch Street Studio G40 2QT. Experiments and some of the highlight pieces I made over the last 4yrs. You should visit that as I’ve made a lot of various paths in different directions resulting in quite a lot of work.

Also, see the studio itself Department A, which I started in September 2017 I have been relentlessly building and shaping it into a pretty interesting space. It’s got 20 artists in the room. 20 very interesting people making art. Creating this studio has been my most satisfying achievement. They say your vocation will find you, and that’s happened to me it just took a couple of years for me to see that.

It’s the running of a space that I find deeply fulfilling. Post art school I want to find a way that this can be a job I get a real wage from without charging artists more. Currently, my studio spaces are slightly lower than the average price, but if we’re getting into ‘market value’ and Conservative style free market rules where I only care about me making money that’s not cool. Art spaces in 2023 are in jeopardy. Places like this especially post-pandemic are vitally important. Mapping a path forward for the studio is the next phase.

Thanks to John Delvin from The Scotsman for grabbing me for a few words about my work and the show. I’d just cycled in for a day of individuating, hope I made sense. I ramble at the best of times, let alone trying to sum up complex conclusions on how the pandemic affected the course into a nice short soundbite on the spot!

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