It seems, when I need something to come along and push me to the next project, something finds me. With this project, it was slate. From doing some smaller illustrative work and graphic based pieces on paper, the time to get back into the swing of bigger expression and experimentation was due. A neighbor re-slating their roof, had beautiful contrasting shapes of gray gold lying in their skip. Scooping them out, there was no insight into what they would become and how the project to come would effect me.
Being a graduate and being back at home brought so many challenges and mental obstacles. Cohabiting with someone who has no understanding of art, why I make art, or even knowing who I am, produced an environment which the only way I could express was through art. Being restricted and confined presented an element of greater understanding of topics I briefly skimmed past previously. Such as gender, feminism and how being a female artist will effect my work.
In my life I have overcome so many challenges with how I look at myself, regard myself and how I fit into society. The only person I am now out to please and will allow to judge me, is my younger self. An extremely self-conscience, depressed, repressed and frustrated young girl, who was waiting for something to happen, when instead I was waiting for me. If little me saw the current version of myself she would be so incredibly jealous, and wonder how that person was so confidant and content with who they are. When really all they want is to have the ability to allow themselves to not give a shit. Realizing the only person who was giving me grief on how I looked, the interests I had and my personal quirks, was myself, no one else. At that realization, I stopped caring and started gaining an insight into how society had conditioned me into hating myself and trying to fix the things I thought were wrong. 'More than a pretty face' looks at this through my instinctual need to create and giving myself the time and space to explore femininity, and what that means to me.
The pieces in themselves are rather contradictory, in the sense that the process of making them, involves me objectifying women's bodies and using them as a tool to project a specific emotion. Through various steps of collating, re-using, transferring and photocopying a range of collages made with 1960's Parade magazine and my own photography, these can then be built up and layered. Using printing methods such as mono-printing and lino- cutting slice through the photographic elements, adding textural input and exploring different senses. These different elements also contrast with the strong, hard, cold nature of slate.
Through the creation of the pieces, there became an element of self care, through creation there was healing and a feeling of satisfaction from exploring emotions that were bubbling over, again another contradictory thought; feeling fixed from creating on something that is broken. From this, the process of Kintsugi came to mind. A Japanese art of repairing pottery with 'Golden joinery' 'it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise'. Adding gold leaf to particular edges of my artworks gave a sculptural quality to them, and created a finalized wholeness to the set.
Presenting them as a set there is a roughness and imperfect nature echoing back to the pure essence of being female. From learning a new Japanese phrase of Wasbi-sabi this perfectly sums up the project as a finished set of artworks. Wasbi-sabi is a world view 'centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection' which characteristics are 'roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes' - which is a perfect way to end the project.
In total the series consists of 14 various shapes and sizes of slate pieces, which at some point I would love to present as a full set, however 5 are currently being exhibited in Newcastle's Vane gallery ( http://vane.org.uk/past-exhibitions/wo) as part of a larger presentation of artwork from 19 other female artists who are also exploring what the female experience is.