Sources & further reading
Barbara Cotterell studied at East Berkshire College in Windsor completing the Diploma in stitched textiles and completed a degree with Thames Valley University. I remember hearing about and seeing her work when I was at Windsor as we were all actively encouraged to use as many recycled materials as possible in our work.
I like her, rarely buy anything new to use preferring instead to use found items and materials already around the home. This was strongly encouraged at East Berks as unlike many art colleges the vast majority of us had families and were on a strict budget. We were constantly reminded that we could use anything we liked in our work, things were constantly being borrowed and swapped as well as recycled hence my often using melted plastics and applied techniques.
She often exhibits with ‘Material Space’ with Pippa Andrews, Jane Neal and Debbie White. I would love to catch one of their exhibitions.
On the Material Space website there is a great description of Barbara’s work: ‘Barbara’s interests on many levels combine in wasted stream, a body of work she has been exploring for six years. Recycling, tactile quality, pattern and even engineering, coupled with an inability to throw things away and a fascination for the repeating image characterise her work. The mechanical production of individual pieces has a repetitive attraction and frustration in equal measure when difference in scale creates unexpected results. Physical interaction with materials and the way in which they behave often defines the way a piece develops. Finally photographing the results brings additional pleasure in revealing contrasts, shadows and the quality wrought from rubbish materials.’(http://www.materialspace.com/page2.htm)
I enjoy looking at this piece a lot. The coloured rectangle inside each flour sack creates an unexpected colourful pattern when seen from above. The gentle curve and shapes created by folding the tops of the flour bags over, become more apparent when the piece is seen ‘in the round’ is also unexpected and pleasing and just goes to show what can be achieved with recycled materials.
Beads made from plastic in this piece are similar to the simple beads used by Pippa Andrews in her pieces but made this time from recycled plastic packaging and hung in ‘chains’. I would like to see a larger picture of this and will try to hunt one down.
Teabag bowl, I love it! As a huge fan of tea and obsessive drinker I often think that it is such a waste to throw the bags out. I also like the colour of tea stains. I have seen other pieces of her work where she has used the teabags with colour to create folded patterns. These are equally intriguing. I think I will have a play with some old teabags – washed of course though this part of the course.
Looking at these two artists work again and knowing that they both started their training in the same place as me, with the same tutors reminds me what is possible if I work hard and keep going. I really wish that I had been able to stay on at East Berks to do the ‘big diploma’ as we called it but sadly I found myself as a single mum with a young daughter to look after so had to give up my place as I had to get a job etc. hence me doing this course now.
Sources & further reading
The first time I heard of Andy Goldsworthy was when I was studying stitched textiles at Windsor. One of the other students in my class was fascinated by landscape and environmental artists and researched him amongst others for a large piece at the end of C&G 1. I was very interested at the time but my work was concentrating on machinery and fairgrounds then so I didn’t pursue the subject much more than a cursory glance and a mental note. Over the last couple of years however I have had a renewed interest in using found objects and particularly those found in our natural environment. I like the transient nature of this kind of work. The fact that it stays only for a short time before disappearing makes it all the more special and magical to me. Andy Goldsworthy’s photographs that record the short lived pieces are stunning and as much part of the artwork as the original sculpture or piece itself.
In his own words: “I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and “found” tools–a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn.” (http://www.morning-earth.org/ARTISTNATURALISTS/AN_Goldsworthy.html)
Iris leaves with rowan berries floating, Snow Circles & Russet Circle (above) are all great examples of Andy Goldsworthy’s work. All made from found objects and arranged, cut or carved by hand the photographed to preserve the fleeting memory of the piece and place.
‘Although the physical survival of his sculptures is rarely ensured, Goldsworthy photographs his sites before, during, and after he has created his structures within the landscape, allowing these photographs to serve as permanent records of each piece.'(http://www.artnet.com/artists/andy-goldsworthy/biography).
I really want to start experimenting with this kind of ‘natural art’. I am a big fan of Alice Fox who also experiments with using natural found objects to make art pieces and I feel it would be a natural progression for me following on from my regular use of recycled materials. The idea of photographing them for the future is also an idea I would like to try.
Further reading & sources
Andy Goldsworthy: Ephemeral Works: 2004-2014
by Andy Goldsworthy, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (13 Oct. 2015)
Wood: Andy Goldsworthy Hardcover – 18 Jan 2010
by Andy Goldsworthy (Author), Terry Friedman (Author), Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd
Rivers And Tides – Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time [DVD] 
I think the story of Judith Scott is one of the most moving I have ever heard. Not because she had Downs Syndrome or that she was separated from a twin sister who loved and missed her but because she rose above all this to be a great and highly innovative artist. Her pieces are beautiful and mysterious, only she knew the true reasons why she wrapped the objects in the way she did, why she chose the colours and the scale that she chose to make them or indeed in some cases what lay at the centre of the cocoons.
Her early sculptures were made from wrapped pieces of wood, like these totems. I love the subtle use of colour on these hanging sculptures and the way the ends of the ‘twigs’ have been left free of the bindings.
This piece, a wrapped chair and bicycle wheel is intriguing. I like the different widths of fabric used to create the piece and the layers of blue and green right down to the blue paint on the chair itself.
This piece entitled ‘Twins’ certainly reminds me of two almost identical figures embracing, bound together by forces unknown. I found this to be one of the most powerful pieces of hers that I have seen. This is more than likely due to knowing the story of her and her twin and how they were separated yet still connected by their family bond.
Like many others I wonder if the entombing of the objects was her way of expressing her own feelings of isolation being trapped by her undiagnosed deafness and misunderstood by the outside world, kept hidden in institutions and not allowed to express herself outwardly.
Further reading & sources
Judith Scott: Bound and Unbound
by Catherine Morris (Author, Editor), Matthew Higgs (Editor) Publisher: Prestel (24 Oct. 2014)
Metamorphosis – The Fiber Art of Judith Scott: The Outsider Artist and the Experience of Down’s Syndrome
by John M. MacGregor (Author), Irene W. Brydon (Foreword), Leon Borensztein (Photographer) Publisher: Creative Growth Art Center (Sept. 1999)
Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Our course notes introduce Christo & Jeanne-Claude as ‘ An American husband and wife team. From the early 1960’s onwards they’ve explored the wrapping of objects large and small, from bottles to cars, floors, buildings and parts of the landscape. This wrapping encourages the viewer to take a fresh look at both the objects and the materials used to wrap.’
The first piece of work I found was a very early set of wrappings from the 1960’s of ‘dockside packages’. It consisted of various dockside equipment & articles wrapped in sheets. It reminded me very strongly of things sheeted up for the winter.
Our Steam Engine and Living van for example are carefully wrapped to protect them through the winter. The engine has in fact spent around 10 years cocooned like this awaiting renovation. Hopefully soon it will emerge from this protective chrysalis but for the moment it remains hidden from view only it’s basic shape being hinted at below it’s shroud.
Looking at covered objects such as these, covered so only their basic shape is clear does make you look at them differently. Sometimes it is hard to guess what is beneath. This is an idea I would like to explore further. I am going to take my camera out with me and find some more examples as I travel around this year.
I took some time to visit our friend’s yard to see if I could get some photographs of machinery wrapped up in their winter sheets, including our steam engine ‘Jasper’. I have always been fascinated by things sheeted over for the winter or in storage, never being able to resist taking a peek beneath a sheet to see what is there. I also like the way that some details are hidden whilst some become more noticable. I was inspired by the wrapped quayside objects by Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Jasper’s wheels are really the only detail showing through and beneath the sheet. As the chimney has also been removed no one at first gance would realise that there was a traction engine beneath the sheet at all.
There is actually a rather large lorry cab hiding beneath this sheet. However, all details have been lost by wrapping it in the heavy sheet.
Another large object is wrapped up tightly against the elements. This time it is our 1900’s living van. I am suprised that this sheet held securely as we really were not sure that it would when we sheeted it up before Christmas. Just the vague outline is visable now but note how the sheet was neatly pleated to fit then tied around with a rope.
My Dad’s 1930’s Austin 7 cheekily peeping out from beneath it’s sheet. You can just about make out the roof line, the bonnet badge and the headlights as well
Beautifully fitted sheets not only protect this steam engine but follow the contours as well. The front wheels and the chimney are the most noticable parts of the wrapped up engine ‘Tortington’.
‘Edna’ has no canopy so like ‘Jasper’ is wrapped up in large semi fitted sheet. Again the wheels are evident as is the chimney but the outline of fly wheel can also be made out at the top of the engine.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s later work was on such a huge scale it is almost unbelievable. Wrapping whole coastlines is a fascinating and enormous idea:
This piece where they used fabric to surround small islands is described on the artists’ website as: ‘Surrounded Islands was a work of art underlining the various elements and ways in which the people of Miami live, between land and water.’ I feel it could also be seen as a comment on Man’s wish to cover, surround and control the environment.
Sources & further reading
Christo and Jeanne-Claude
by Jacob Baal-Teshuva (Author), Christo & Jeanne-Claude (Illustrator), & Wolfgang Volz (Photographer) Publisher: Taschen GmbH (25 Feb. 2016)
Christo and Jeanne-Claude – 40 Years, 12 Exhibitions
by Christo Publisher: Annely Juda Fine Art (1 Sept. 2011)
Christo & Jeanne Claude in Out Studio Feb 2015
by Christo and Jeanne-Claude
One ‘movement’ that I have taken a particular interest in over the last few years is ‘Yarn bombing’ or ‘Yarn storming’ described by Wikipedia as:
I love this tree wrapped in crochet & knitting the coloured stripes really add a magical dimension. There is however a lot of debate surrounding the covering of trees as to whether it causes damage or harm. I prefer to see it used on manmade structures to enhance our modern built up environment, but it is really effective.
I think this is a clever use of knitting to enhance a cobbled pavement. Reminiscent of modern art. It adds warmth and colour to a hard cold surface.
Extreme yarn bombing! A whole building front covered in bold knitting designs. I like the way that pattern and colour has been used to create the panels that fit the style of architecture so well rather than covering the building to mask it. The design works with the original design of the brickwork rather than against it
The thing I really enjoy about this kind of work is the sense of humour behind it, taking everyday items whether it be lamp posts or community art and playing with it. It does not take itself seriously but is all about the enjoyment of art and crafts.
I think maybe Myrtle (my Morris Minor) would prefer this kind of wrapping for the winter!
http://www.unlockthelaw.co.uk (paving slabs)