I guess you’re going to think that I’m stating the obvious?
Really I shouldn’t have been surprised either, but the first major project at the Art Academy was all about the emotions and it did bring out pretty strong feelings in all of us in one way or another.
The initial brief was for us each to record emotions that we either saw in others or felt within ourselves whilst going about our daily lives. We were to draw retrospective sketches of these events. At our weekly crit we would go through our sketches and over the weeks develop those which most resonated with us into more meaningful works.
Doesn’t sound so tough but the idea was to consider more than 10 events initially, adding to these over the next couple of weeks and then to develop maybe 4 or 5 to later stages and ultimately to settle upon one. The chosen emotion would then be further worked upon and subject to weekly group crit until we were in a position to produce a final piece – this would be all the more meaningful for all the consideration which had gone into the development…..
I’ll be honest – I struggled to get going on this initially. Turns out I don’t really get all that emotional on a day-to-day basis (or maybe that’s just me?). My initial themes were pretty obvious and mainly to do with the family (yup, pretty much the full range there alone!).
In the end it was a really moving event which hit me between the eyes and one which stirred a fairly strong emotional reaction in me. I met a man who had lost his only son some time before and yet still quite clearly carried a huge emotional burden – this was very apparent from his body language. It looked quite literally as if he wanted to be swallowed into the ground….
The development of my sketch maquettes and the group crits helped me to produce the final sculpture – this I moulded (another story there!) and cast in white resin for production at the Final Crit Show – a most daunting experience (presentation to tutors plus all first and second year students).
So far this has been the most influential task on my development as an artist – I learnt loads, ultimately how powerful sculptures do not happen by accident or off the back of a single idea, but as the result of a very thorough process. Every single element of the piece is considered in the context of the statement you as the artist are looking to make.