Library Research Task/ Ideas Factory
We chose to use Gillian Wearing as the artist for this project because no one in our group was familiar with her work, so we thought it would be interesting to research new work. After researching the artist I found out that Wearing is an English conceptual artist who uses video and photography as her medium. Wearings’ first major exhibition ‘Signs that Say What You Want Them to Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say’ consisted of over fifty photographs. Wearing collaborated with members of the public asking them to write down what’s on their mind, then photographed them holding up their statement.
Wearing deliberately chose to photograph a diverse range of people each from different backgrounds, almost as an experiment; questioning stereotypes in order to discover more about people. Many of the signs express intimate, quite personal thoughts. However, others focus on more issues such as politics for example one sign reads ‘Will Britain get through this recession?’ .This series also includes a photograph of a business man in a suit holding up a sign reading ‘I’m desperate’. This image is more shocking as people wouldn’t think a smartly dressed business would admit to something so personal. Many may think he would be too ashamed to reveal such a personal emotion into the public domain.
Trauma, by Gillian Wearing (2000)
The material we chose was hair and after researching Wearing I realised that her work and hair could be connected by themes playing with the idea of image and people's perception of identity and beauty.
Hair seemed like an interesting material to take inspiration from because of its many different qualities (wavy, spiky, knotted, tangled, delicate etc.)and how much hairstyles vary around the world due to culture and fashion trends. I also wanted to look at hair in a more abstract way instead of just relating it to human hair on the head. It's something which is constantly growing from us; 'an extension of ourselves'. It is often used to indicate people's personal beliefs, social position, gender, age and religion. Hair can be seen as a symbol of strength or protection. It can be real or fake, perhaps in the form of a wig sometimes to form a disguise.
Alice Anderson is an artist I came across whilst looking in at references for hair. Her work is heavily influenced by her childhood. For example her 2011 exhibition 'Fort Da' held London's Freud Museum included giant twisted ropes of red hair which were wrapped around the building to create an installation piece. The red dolls hair used for these sculptures were references to her childhood memories. Whilst left at home waiting for her mother Anderson would often undo the threads from the seams of her clothes as a way to calm her fears and anxieties.The red dolls hair which she uses as the material to create these pieces with symbolise the moment she started to use hair instead of thread in her childhood rituals.
Ruth Marten, Ecstasy (2012). Ink on vintage print
Anika Engelbrecht, Prototype 2008
Blonde Girl Combing Her Hair, by Pierre Auguste Renoir
Crest Mask, Collection of Toby and Barry Hecht
The process our group chose to study was embroider. When I think about embroidery I think of very intricate designs and patterns ; a form of decoration very much associated with femininity. In the past it was seen to be a sign of wealth. It is quite a controlled method of decoration which can be done either by hand or machine. It also has the ability to distort, fragment or recompose images, create motifs, symbols, text and decoration.
I went to the British Museum to collect more research and was both surprised and fascinated by information I came across. There was a lot of cultural references to embroidery. For example there were a lot of displays of embroidered pieces ranging from garments like warrior shirts and head wear to household items such as duvets and cushions. This was because in some cultures embroidered patterns are used for personal protection. It is seen as a way of safeguarding children by keeping them away from evil spirits and instead bringing them good fortune and health. I also thought that this linked to Wearing's work as she uses masks in many of her films and photography work. Masks could too be seen as a form of protection just like the tradition of embroidering in some cultures is a way of protecting people.
Ana Teresa Barboza is an artist whose work revolves around the combining the human body and embroidery. This is an example of how needlework can fragment and distort images. In her collection named 'Modos De Vestir' she uses clothing as a social link; a way of gathering people together and allowing them to be part of a community, again exploring our identity. 'Maquillage' also consists of a number of pieces focusing in beauty and ways that are socially acceptable to present ourselves. It looks at women with make up and without, 'exploring both sides of a woman'.
Maquillage by Ana Teresa Barboza
Modos De Vestir by Ana Teresa Barboza
Warrior Shirt at The British Museum
Yavorivka Pillow Designs
Ancient Chinese Silk Embroidery at The British Museum
- Gillian Wearing: Mass Observation by Domonic Molon and Barry Schwabsky
- The Strange Story of False Hair by John Woodforde
- Hair and Fashion by Caroline Cox and Lee Widdows
- Embroidery or the Craft of Needle by W.G. Paulston
- The Welcome Collection