Contextual Study Point 12: Annette Robinson and Sue Gilmore

Annette Robinson

Annette Robison is an artist who combines installation, sculpture, video and drawing. She  has focused on discovering new objects (toys in particular) to make her work, which demonstrates her new intrigue into motherhood.

‘Transformer’ is a work that needed audience participation to actually create the work. The artist supplied stamps which when printed, left an image of the stickle bricks (a child’s toy). The stamps are to be seen as both sculptural objects and drawing tools. Robinson sees the object, stickle bricks, as cellular and architectural as well as them creating a continuous drift between imagination when playing with them and using them as a construction tool. (Robinson, A, 2015)

I wasn’t completely sure what stickle bricks were and I felt a pushing question of ‘why’ when looking at Robinson’s work. What did she find so fascinating about them? About children’s toys in general? She had a subtitle name ‘sticklebricks’ on her website so I decided to see if that could enlighten me. Once I saw the drawings I realised what they were.

She explains;

‘With the onset of motherhood a whole new array of source imagery and objects came my way. Most of these were discarded but one object in particular held my interest. The ‘Sticklebrick’ is a child’s toy that can appear both cellular and architectural and as a form intrigued me enough to explore as an object that could take multiple and repetitive forms.’ (Robinson, A, 2015)

I went on to look at some more of her work on her website. She creates further drawings and paper sculptures from a series of kinder toys. She says;

‘They are objects made in multiple, manufactured & repetitive in form yet are easily manipulated and transformed. Working with fragments of these toys has opened up many other ideas of working with ‘lost‘ objects, the misplacement of which gives rise to a vast potential of new meanings and associations.’ (Robinson, A, 2015)

She also mentions something which I find a valid and interesting point;

‘Kinder Toy… has the duality of being a desired yet throw away object.’ (Robinson, A, 2015)

I like this idea of its short lived value to the consumer. The excitement of receiving a toy but the reality that it will soon be thrown away.

Robinson mentions that with the installations stamp pieces, the work is developed and altered as the installation goes on.

To me, the kinder stamp pieces look quite similar to a photogram. Similar principle, using objects to make a visual.

With her animations, along with her motherhood influence in her work, I wonder if her work links a little to story telling – in the wood animation.

Making my own observations:

  • Very much influenced by what surrounds her immediate environment
  • Counts on audience participation to almost make the art work – obviously for her stamps but even the sounds installations (in particular I’m looking at ‘going nowhere just for show’ installation) you are invited to walk around the space, trying to work out what is going on. I feel like that is almost the purpose of the piece more than the actual objects that she has made.
  • To me, even the title of the work suggests an almost nonsense understanding to the piece?

(Robinson, A, 2015) Drawing on stamps refer to Motor neurone, nerves of communication.  Drawings built up and added to by visitors who wanted to interact with the piece during the length of installation. And neurone image

In the wood animation (Robinson, A, 2015)

Going nowhere just for show

‘The animations see a wrought iron spindle work its way free and travel around the room through a series of other animations, 4 of which further reference the space whilst the 5th ‘Two Pins’ is a distinct piece that is also visited by the spindle on its journey around the room. Only three of these films had sound, and as you walked around the space trying to find where the spindle would appear next, the sounds would merge and either fade or be very present depending on where you were standing or the stage of the animation.’ (Robinson, A, 2015)

So her work is very much dependant on public participation, particularly to make marks within there gallery. Personally, i’m not particularly drawn to her subject matter or her processes within the drawing aspect.I enjoy the idea of public participation, to me that seems almost an imperative within art as you want a reaction from the public. I wonder if there is a deeper connection to her using children’s toys as an point to focus her work and i’m missing it.

I was just about to put this research onto my blog and was closing down my website tabs and I decided to have one last look at Robinson’s site. I really wanted to find something that I could connect to. I came across some of her ‘archived’ work on her website called ‘Photo Drawings’.

‘A series of pieces were made as a result of a research funded project ‘An investigation into the drawing process through photography & print; exploring the imaging of the unseen’ Using a microscope and camera as drawing tools and allowing for multi exposures, chance and repetition to construct images. These are a few samples of the work made.’ (Robinson, A, 2015)

Again, maybe I have made the mistake of underestimating what falls under ‘drawing’. She speaks about using microscope and a camera as a way of drawing. The abstract energy and the unclear definition of the outcomes of her work caught my eye. I find that the photos are full of ephemerality and intrigue. I can relate to methods I could use to create a similar effect such as; photo transfer, photogram, black and white photography, looking at the negatives of a photograph. I like her experimentation within this series. In some it looks like she has used bleach onto a photograph (something I enjoy doing). What I think is great in this work, is that she mentions she has allowed for ‘chance’. To me, sometimes I might read my work as mistakes but perhaps if I play with a process and take the ‘see what happens’ approach I might produce something that I actually like! I like how she ‘constructs’ an image with the camera. She is really experimenting with the tools she has, just like when making a drawing. To me, I read these as experiments without a purpose and then once they are made, you would have the opportunity to sit and reflect on the making and start selecting the ones that have worked well and start forming an idea. For example, I would collect all these images together and then perhaps see what I can see within them. For me they really link to organisms, or cells. I’m so pleased I had another look at this artist, before dismissing her work. I really enjoy using my polaroid and I have included a few of my photographs in my journal and work already so i’m really excited at taking this prospect further, focusing on the process and letting an idea form from the work, working with materials and tools that I have.

Referencing:

Annette Robinson. (2015) Transformer. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/interactive-stamp-drawings/transformer/index.php?gro=work&sub=interactive&id=transformer  (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Annette Robinson. (2015) Stickle. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/stickle/index.php?gro=work&id=stickle (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Annette Robinson. (2015) Kinder Stamp. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/kinder/kinder_stamp/index.php?gro=work&sub=kinder&id=kinders (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Annette Robinson. (2015) Interactive Stamp Drawings. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/interactive-stamp-drawings/ganglion/index.php?gro=work&sub=interactive&id=ganglion (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

In the wood. (2013) Vimeo. At: https://vimeo.com/61206147 (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Annette Robinson. (2015) Going nowhere just for show. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/going-nowhere-just-for-show/index.php?gro=work&id=gnw_show (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Annette Robinson. (2015) Photo Drawings. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/archive/photo_drawings/index.php?gro=work&sub=archive&id=photodr (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Images:

Figure 1. Robinson, A. (s.d) Installation view. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/interactive-stamp-drawings/transformer/index.php?gro=work&sub=interactive&id=transformer  (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 2. Robinson, A. (s.d) Installation view. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/interactive-stamp-drawings/transformer/index.php?gro=work&sub=interactive&id=transformer  (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 3. Robinson, A. (s.d) Installation view. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/interactive-stamp-drawings/transformer/index.php?gro=work&sub=interactive&id=transformer  (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 4. Robinson, A. (s.d) Drawing of stickle brick. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/stickle/index.php?gro=work&id=stickle (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 5. Robinson, A. (s.d) Drawing of stickle brick. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/stickle/index.php?gro=work&id=stickle (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 6. Robinson, A. (s.d) Kinder Stamp Piece. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/kinder/kinder_stamp/index.php?gro=work&sub=kinder&id=kinders (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 7. Robinson, A. (s.d) Kinder Stamp Piece. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/kinder/kinder_stamp/index.php?gro=work&sub=kinder&id=kinders (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 8. Robinson, A. (s.d) Ganglion. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/interactive-stamp-drawings/ganglion/index.php?gro=work&sub=interactive&id=ganglion (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 9. Robinson, A. (s.d) Going nowhere just for show. [print] At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/going-nowhere-just-for-show/index.php?gro=work&id=gnw_show (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 10. Robinson, A. (s.d) Photo Drawings. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/archive/photo_drawings/index.php?gro=work&sub=archive&id=photodr (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 11. Robinson, A. (s.d) Photo Drawings. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/archive/photo_drawings/index.php?gro=work&sub=archive&id=photodr (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 12. Robinson, A. (s.d) Photo Drawings. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/archive/photo_drawings/index.php?gro=work&sub=archive&id=photodr (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 13. Robinson, A. (s.d) Photo Drawings. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/archive/photo_drawings/index.php?gro=work&sub=archive&id=photodr (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Figure 14. Robinson, A. (s.d) Photo Drawings. At: http://www.annetterobinson.co.uk/work/archive/photo_drawings/index.php?gro=work&sub=archive&id=photodr (Accessed on 27 November 2018)

Sue Gilmore

First thoughts without reading about the work, just immediate notes:

  • Ghostly
  • hands/arms
  • Slow motion camera
  • Striking
  • Alien
  • Unknown

So the ‘process’ of making the work is actually in making the materials for the drawing.

Artist statement:

  • grows her willow sculptures which has become the process for her work
  • Collaboration with nature
  • Working directly from nature, using living materials
  • Gilmore has a physical connection to nature and its natural concepts like time, change and uncertainty (I really like this link. I wonder if any of my thoughts about the world I could relate to my work. Currently reading and interested in concepts of space and time. My tutor recommended I read Mion Kion book about nature and time).
  • Different phases to her work:
  • A time of presence – willow comes to life in spring
  • A time of absence – willow leaves falls in autumn – the natural occurrence of nature.

Her current process in making her charcoal willow link drawings is called ‘pyrolysis’ – transforming  willow to charcoal requires in heat in the absence of oxygen. This idea of ‘absence’ she has decided to take forward and she has made the charcoal her chosen media in which to explore a time of absence.

I never considered the ‘process’ of a drawing to be the making of the materials. It is a really interesting concept that has made me re-consider my understanding of process in a drawing context.

I think I still pose the question ‘what is drawing of?’ I beat myself up about asking this question as my understanding of drawing at a young age that a drawing had to be of something that you could recognise. People always ask but was it, whats it meant to be and I feel so many people always judge my work if it doesn’t look like something. Completing my previous unit (drawing 1) and continuing my studies within this unit, I have learnt so much more about what drawing can be but I still feel that I need to show my technical skills. My assignment 3 piece was far from observational so am I cheating? Can I really draw? Particularly in this work it is about the process the artist has gone through and this is something I thoroughly enjoy when making my work. I really love the developmental, experimental stage in my work but I feel torn between showing that I can draw and showing a more conceptual related piece. Do I combine the two without realising? Am I always demonstrating that I can draw, as I am still considering composition, layout, line, tone etc.

On closer inspection I came to the concussion that I actually really like Gilmore’s work. It has left me wondering how far to take a tool to represent drawing and on the other hand a chance to experiment.

I carried on researching Gilmore’s work following various links on her blogs.

I watched a video from her final major project of her willow charcoal tools. I love seeing how work is created and this was a great insight into her process. I got excited watching and waiting to see what was going to be the outcome. I LOVE IT!

Such a simple process but the work is great.

I need to work on simplifying my processes I think. Narrowing down my ideas – I guess this will come with time and experience? Also committing and sticking with an idea. She has thought carefully about the composition. The placement of the charcoal on the paper. The charcoal left on the page (when the camera zooms onto the willow burnt objects) make me think of a deserted landscape or cityscape. It is a desolate scene with no-one around and no life, quite ironic considering she is using natural, living materials to make the work. I just think the juxtaposition is quite interesting in itself.

In her paintings/charcoal drawings on canvas that I came across, she uses a variety of techniques including sanding down her surfaces. She noted that in her process the charcoal was liable to fracture leaving splinters and dust on the surface. She mentions that this part of the process is illustrating the ‘uncertainty’ and that she is investigating this in her artist statement. She then uses spray to ‘fix’ the charcoal which spreads the dust which is then left to dry for 24 hours.

Her works then move onto the process of ‘absence’ where she uses sand paper to rub back the surface. At the end of this blog post she concludes with a summary that relates back to humans, which I really connected with and thought actually yes, I agree:

‘When I had 12 pieces (not all completed, I have to add) I laid them out as best I could to give an impression of how the grid might appear. I asked my 18yr old son to look at them- his comment was ‘is it a puzzle, do you have to match them up?’ I found this quite interesting in the light of my idea to make a work that has a sense of ‘wrongness’ about it, the fact that his immediate response was to sense that there was something that wasn’t quite right, but surly there must be some way to make things right. ( Do we all have an intrinsic need to create order?) My response was, ‘no, that’s just how it is’. I asked him what he thought of it- he said ‘I have no strong opinion, its art, it is what it is’.

From this little encounter I decided that the series would be called, ‘That’s just how it is’, which in many ways relates to our lives too. I still have to go through all the works, recording them individually and making my final selection for the series, but currently feeling satisfied with what I have done.’

Working on Series of Paintings.

I followed a link from her blog to her website. On her website there homepage consists of two picture collage images: one labelled being with willow (a time of presence) and the other being with willow (a time of absence). I shockingly read on her blog that she changed pathways and suffered a terrible family bereavement. I can’t help but relate the two together. Which I personally find, rather honourable.

I have also been in a flux of distress in deciding whether to change pathways. I decided that I would email Sue for some advice, since she is an ex-OCA student i hoped she would help me consider my options.

Hi Sue, 

My name is Alice and I am currently studying with OCA on the Fine Art pathway, taking the drawing units. I am on level 1 and you are one of the artists that I am to research for my unit. 

I just wanted to say how fabulous your work is. The willow charcoal drawings are just spectacular along with your processes. I have watched a few of your videos and its really opened my eyes to what drawing and the drawing process can be!

I wondered if you would be able to let me know your thoughts on the pathway I should take. I understand you completed the painting degree. I am wondering if I should change onto the drawing pathway? I wondered if you would mind letting me know your experience of doing the painting degree and if the fine art one was available would you have chosen that? I am struggling with the Understanding Visual Culture unit for Fine Art. 

I hope this is ok! 

Congratulations on getting a 1st even though it was a couple of years ago now. 

Many thanks in advance

Alice

Her reply:

Hello Alice,

Thank you for your email and your comments about my work – I glad you found it of interest. You ask about the course I took and the various pathways – I took a long time to achieve my degree. When I started I was working towards a Creative Arts degree as there wasn’t the number of pathways available as there are now. I have seen a lot of change and progress for the better in my time with the OCA, and the newer modules and various pathways are much more in touch with contemporary art culture. This is how I ended up on the Painting degree pathway for my final level – as that course seemed to fit much better with the way I was working at that time. It’s possible that had the Fine art degree been available to me I may have opted for that, but to be honest I can’t say for certain. As you’re concerned re-which pathway to take, I should point out that each has compulsory elements, so it might be worth looking at these and seeing if there is a way to keep your options open until later. To switch to the painting pathway I needed a further drawing element, but luckily I had attended a drawing summer-school (unrelated to OCA) and had sufficient evidence for approval. It might be worth talking to someone in student support – I always found them really helpful – and they will be totally up to date on all these matters.

You say you’re struggling with understanding visual culture – I had a look at your blog and you certainly come across as very enthusiastic, I’m sure if you keep looking at other artists work, and reading and ‘doing’ and asking questions you will become more confident. Have you visited the ‘forums’? – Sometimes they can be helpful. There’s such a lot to take in and it takes time, at some point things will start to click, and in many ways it’s on-going.

I find listening to artists talking about their work really helpful – have you come across ‘Brilliant Ideas’ on youtube – a whole series of videos featuring contemporary artists.

 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqq4LnWs3olUpaD8oXCF7IlLikGBY7HFg

 Anyway, hopefully some of that will be helpful. I’m sure it will become clear which way to go as you progress; the important thing is to keep ‘doing’.

Wishing you all the best on your journey,

 Sue

Referencing:

Sue Gilmore. (2016) Working on Series of Paintings. At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/ (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Sue Gilmore. (2016) Artist Statement. At: https://sue-gilmore.com/artist-statement/ (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Sue Gilmore. (2016) Trace Drawings. https://sue-gilmore.com/work/trace-drawings/ (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Sue Gilmore. (s.d) Being with willow. At: https://sue-gilmore.com (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 1. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 2. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 3. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 4. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 5. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 6. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 7. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 8. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 9. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com/page/1/  (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 10. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://sue-gilmore.com (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

Figure 11. Final Reflections on completing Painting 3- Major Project and Contextual Studies. (2016) [wordpress blog] At: https://sue-gilmore.com (Accessed on 4 December 2018)

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