Exquisite Corpse Open Day

Phew, it has taken a while to catch our breath after the event! We all had a brilliant day, with over 70 visitors we didn’t get much of a chance to take photos.  We spent most of our time talking people around the work which seemed to help people engage with it and also gave us another chance for reflection.  We had some great feedback and some thought provoking questions and suggestions which is what we have been taken up with  in the few weeks since. Some of those questions were asked by Annie Harrison who wrote a kind and thoughtful review of the show on her blog after she had been to visit us -Thank you Annie!

More photos to come, but for now here are some of the questions that have arisen -where is the line between our individual and group work? How do we go on from here? Do we continue to show the work with more ‘ one day- all hands on deck’ shows  or longer exhibitions where our personal tours are replaced by audio guides? Answers to follow….

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An Invitation

You are invited to a one day Exhibition that will take place on

Saturday 3rd September between 10.00am – 5.30pm

Showcasing the project ‘Exquisite Corpse’ by the Artists

Gemma Lacey, Helen Mather, Mandy Tolley and Kiran Williams

The exhibition will be held at Chorlton Community Centre

11 Corkland Road, Chorlton, M21 8UP

Tram: Chorlton Station

If you get lost call:07775636361

Refreshments will be served throughout the day to a musical accompaniment, we hope to see you there!

From Gemma, Helen, Mandy and Kiran.

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Discussion 4

Helen commented on the nature of response and how it changes with each piece from an immediate instinctive response born of  similar ways of working/subject matter to that of a ‘slow burn’ that comes from seeing a different approach to looking at something as an outsider. Gemma has found that reflecting on responses has helped to inform each collaborator of the boundaries of their own practice. Helen wondered where ones own practice emerges when working with other peoples ideas.  More so than at any other stage each collaborators’ practice informed their final pieces on the fourth exchange.

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Boxes 4

printed fabric boxes

Kiran interpreted the original boxes piece by developing the scale of the fabric boxes and using the idea of form that they presented to explore her own prints in 3D. She experimented with stiffening the boxes, enlarged about 8 times, with starch and bonderweb. Different treatments make the boxes behave in different ways. Kiran also experimented with the opaque prints, which is one of her signature techniques, on tracing paper to build up a collection of boxes. She tried heat pressing the paper to flatten it but decided she preferred the texture of the print rather than the wrinkles that came out the heat press.

There were some technical issues with the development of the larger boxes and the function of the boxes in being a display for her fabrics. To begin with Kiran tried an all-over print copying the box construction initiated by Gemma. This involved too many layers of fabric as Kiran wanted to boxes to be as translucent as possible. This random distribution of the pattern was also not entirely satisfying.

Kiran re planned the next box to use half the fabric and designated certain panels to display the print. The nature of fine fabric also contributed to the design as the boxes rely on a structure of squares and the fabric was too flimsy to retain any linear structure. Kiran used Gemma’s idea of the method of construction being the decoration and designed a print of grid lines representing the folds and containing the panels of decorative print. This ‘decorative print’ is one of Kiran’s prints that are silk screen interpretations of shibori dye patterns. She uses these in her own work creating textiles for interiors.

Kiran used a combination of bonderweb and starch to hold the print as a more rigid sheet and to make the folds more permanent.  She feels that this is a starting point for making an entire body of work exploring form and presentation, a step towards a ‘product’ or way of defining an object interpretation of the prints. Kiran also feels that she could incorporate other characteristics of her work blending print and dye, by dunking the boxes in dye.

This exchange gave Kiran the opportunity to use her signature style of working, utilising someone else’s idea with techniques which she uses in her own practice. It was a relief to find a way of tackling form and structure, starting with something flat and creating a structure from it. Kiran found it an ‘acceptable’ way to incorporate the ideas of others as she always feels obtusely reluctant to take advice “ oh you should try this or that” Having the suggestion in a physical form rather than helpful advice was much easier to swallow and actually use.

There was some discussion about trying too hard to come up with a ‘product’, not letting things emerge naturally, the conflict of creating and selling work professionally. Kiran has been doing some ‘craft fairs’ but found them un interesting in that it was adapting ideas for items that did not have enough integrity. She has resolved to explore more artistic avenues than commercial formats of fairs and markets. There is a conflict between being a visitor at such events, enjoying them and appreciating the work and thinking ‘I can do that’. It might not be the best thing to do creatively or perhaps at this time.

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Pony 4

Pony antimacassar in situ

Helen says the Pony piece of work confused her for ages, she liked it and had looked forward to working with it. Perhaps at the beginning it was the piece she would have chosen if the participants had selected the first piece to work on. However she was unsure what to make of the work that had been done to the pony piece and how to respond to it.

Helen liked the fact that it had been taken from a kneeler in a church and the character of the kneeler as an object. She started doing stitching and distressing the photograph further but felt unrewarded and frustrated as if that was what was expected of her rather than something she considered that she wanted to do. She continued with this enjoying it less and less but unsure what else to do.

This in a physical and intellectual sense was not fun, a property Helen had felt that the piece did posses. She really wanted to embrace this fun characteristic again so she cut out the horses head! This was revealed with exclamations of surprise from the rest of the group. The piece now appeared as if a giant fuzzy felt of a horses head had been added as the hessian showed through the distinctive silhouette. It did seem something had been added rather than taken away.

Helen had enjoyed peeling the photo away from the hessian and the back of the picture layered with glue and fragments of hessian had looked like an interesting surface. She felt liberated. The horses head was liberated and the photo piece had also developed, becoming more fabric again.

Helen wanted the horse’s head to be incorporated in something interiors and home furnishings based, though originally a kneeler the object was seemingly more domestic than religious artefact in character. The horses head was revealed to be superimposed on an antimacassar, stitched down and looking very much ‘at home’.

detail of Pony antimacassar

There was brief discussion about antimacassars being an historical domestic accessory to protect chair backs from hair products, and the fact that this was also the idea behind the traditional large white sailor’s collar, it was designed to be removable and washable to protect the rest of the uniform.

Back to Pony, Helen felt that she was initially burdened by taking the piece too seriously, where as that was not her instinctive response to the piece, she felt she had been rewarded when she loosened up and took seemingly drastic action; trusting the instinct to play about with the piece.

Helen felt the entire process had been revealing and highlighted certain aspects of her practice. The nature of having a brief is quite rewarding sometimes the control or choice of subject matter is a burden. She felt it was benificial to have the peer group to talk things through with and most rewarding was the recognition that her own artistic voice was in fact unique, her contribution would be her own, not what anyone else would do, in that way it gave a kind of definition to her voice.

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Bridges 4

leafing through the book made for the Bridges piece

Gemma had inherited a sizable body of work with the bridges piece. The original lino print had provoked Mandy and Helen to break up the image and interpret the mark making and positive negative relationships of marks and collectively seemed to inspire an examination of colour charts and documentation. Gemma felt it was quite a treasure hunt sifting through all the sheets of paper and accumulated ideas.

Gemma also spent some time planning the piece and thinking things over, ideas took shape over the Christmas period when the landscape, disguised by snow, seemed to reflect the layered nature of the collective piece.

The idea of isolating and emerging marks repeats through the archive of material and Gemma took this up as a theme. She took snippets from each aspect of the project, compiling and finishing, coming full circle back to printmaking, a characterising aspect of Gemma’s own practice.

A series of landscape prints are compiled in a book covered in black felt. The first image is clean white embossed marks resembling snow drifts, this progressively breaks up print by print as sticks and stones, hollow spaces and time break up the snow. The prints are accompanied by a series of colour codes documenting the colour choices of the other participants through each stage of the project.

pages of the Bridges book

Gemma loves colour but does not use a great deal of it in her own work. She enjoyed collating the colours involved in the project, naming the colours in response to their nature in the respective pieces. Each person is allocated two pages of the landscape series, one documenting their own colour pallete, the other reflecting the collective colour selections. The book is reminiscent of a fabric swatch book in principal and has the character of an archival document.

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