Not Random Art - Page 48

‘assemblages’ of poetry, photography, imagery, words, that I had in my head.

More recently, I have become very interested in the work by the artist, Richard Tuttle and how his work straddles the barriers between genres. He combines elements of drawing, painting and sculpture but his work manages to defy characterization as one or the other. What intrigues me is that in a culture that sets great store by monumental and glamorous art, his work is so unobtrusive and self-effacing. He too has been described as a collector and you are made aware of this as his work transcends into much more than a multi-disciplinary approach.

What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

I don’t really have ‘techniques’ as such in my practice but I do tend to have a multi-layered approach to my work, both conceptually and formally. I don’t like the immediate or obvious so I will make many ‘multidisciplinary’ visual recordings and eventually translate them into two or three dimensional forms. My work is informed by place, tradition, language, culture and I try to base myself in the West of Ireland as much as I can where, in my opinion, these elements are more apparent and profound. I think, like any artist, the thought of an end result can be quite overwhelming so the visual ‘recordings’, ‘half memories’ or ‘mappings’ can end up being so limitless and uncontrolled.

The fun is the journey…I never know what is going to happen until I am so fully immersed I can see the end product forming in my head.

How do you see the relationship between emotional and intellectual perception of your work? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

That’s a good question!

I don’t purposely set out to have a relationship between the two and so now you have made me think!

My automatic response would always veer towards the viewer having an emotional insight or attachment towards the work. My practice however does rely on historical/geographical/linguistic research and even if it doesn’t obviously manifest itself in the work, it becomes apparent if I make the viewer aware by talking or writing about a piece or give an insight into the concepts of the work.

I feel that the viewer and the viewing experience is a vital part of my work. The paintings are devoid of visual narrative and are abstract in nature. Found and organic materials are used in conjunction with conventional media such as oil paint, ink, coloured pencils and graphite and therefore I purposely don’t frame painted pieces as I want the viewer to be made aware of the tactile attributes of the work. The installation pieces are still evolving but as they are s0 organic in nature it is paramount that the viewer can have a sensory experience- engage many or all of the senses rather than just the visual or optical sense. The viewer has to feel that they are part of ‘an experience’; that they are immersed and enveloped in all aspects of what I perceive cultural and national identity to be.

Multidisciplinary seems to be a crucial aspect of your approach and it`s remarkable the way you are capable of creating such effective symbiosis between elements from different techniques, manipulating language and recontextualizing images and concepts. While crossing the borders of different disciplines, is it the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Why thank you- I really appreciate your kind words. I am truly flattered at your appreciation of my work!

I don’t purposely set out or plan to cross the borders of different disciplines but came upon it purely by chance or rather it came upon me. I realized that while I was away on residencies for a month/six weeks at a time I was never going to achieve a body of two dimensional works in oils (paintings) or accomplish what I wanted to say. By using elements from different techniques, incorporating onsite organic materials, pinhole photography etc. it created a whole new dynamic -the work still expresses the same concepts but the formal elements are more diverse and the results excitingly unpredictable. Sometimes, this symbiosis will be strong enough to stand alone and sometimes it will only be a transitional element.

While I was on a five week residency in Gort A’ Choirce, Donegal I was surrounded by acres and acres of turf bog. I was immediately drawn to these isolated bogs and knew that I wanted to incorporate the physicality of the substance and place into a three dimensional piece of work. Making handmade turf paper was my own individual reaction and response to the immediate environment whilst also utilizing organic materials from the locale. For five weeks, after a quick introduction to papermaking, by local artist Rebecca Strain I set about painstakingly making individual panels of handmade paper out of turf. The result, An Portach is a sculptural installation incorporating up to 130 pieces of handmade paper panels made from turf from the bogs of Donegal and Louth. I was always extremely fascinated and interested in exploring the realms of installation and how multidisciplinary modes of expression require the active engagement of the viewer with the artwork and I knew that I wanted to involve the viewer by entering the space and to encounter the artwork from multiple points of view rather than a single perspective, more typically associated with looking at a painting for example.

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