AFTER SANS TERRE – COMPLETED

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365drawings / Show Your Wound

show your wound

I am delighted to announce that my 365drawings project along with at least two of the larger sixteen panel drawings will be exhibited in November at the Vallum Gallery on the campus of the University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts.

The details of the show are as follows:

25th November – 8th December, but will hopefully be on for a little longer than that

The gallery is on Brampton Road (CA3 9AY) and entrance is free. The gallery is open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm.

There will be an opening event on the evening of 24th November from 5pm. I will be doing a short talk about the work and will also be selling copies of the 365drawings book. Please do come along.

At least two suites of works will be exhibited:

365drawings This will be the second outing for this collection of drawings (the first being in January 2014 at Bank Street Arts) but as I have replaced sold drawings with drawings of them in their new homes, the collection will look different. At the time of writing, I am not sure how they will be displayed as it depends somewhat on the configuration of the gallery.

The Show Your Wound portion of the show will consist of the second iteration of After Joseph Beuys’ Wirtschaftswerte (the first being on tour with the Jerwood Prize show) and After Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of St Thomas displayed as a diptych. The title – Show Your Wound – is borrowed from a work made by Beuys in Munich in the mid-1970s and will, I hope, reinforce the juxtaposition of two drawings of disparate works. Both works are presented as site of encounter and penetration, with the wound of Christ being displayed to assuage Thomas’ doubt and the shelving being a porous reconstruction of the Berlin Wall.

An Old Project: Gone

In the eighteen month gap between completing my Masters and beginning my PhD research I completed a residency at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield. I’m currently editing a draft of my PhD submission and have been revisiting old work in order to think about the project and to discern what different works contributed to me project. Gone is one such work. What follows is a descriptive passage from the current draft of my thesis, slightly edited for clarity as the original text makes reference to other passages:

In July 2010 I stumbled across a grainy black and white photograph of an old-fashioned gallery wall online. There was no text, just an image tucked into the top left-hand corner of an otherwise white browser window. Edges of large paintings with thick ornate frames surrounded the top and sides of a central void, below which was a wooden panel. In the centre of the image were what looked like four scars. After some searching I discovered that the centre of the image, while largely empty was actually the most interesting part of the picture: it shows the space where the Mona Lisa had hung prior to its theft by Italian patriot Vincenzo Perrugia in 1911.

Paris, France: MONA LISA THEFT, 1911. The gap on the wall of the Carre Gallery of the Louvre Museum, Paris, where the Mona Lisa was exhibited before it was stolen 1911. ©Mary Evans Picture Library / The Image Works
Paris, France: MONA LISA THEFT, 1911. The gap on the wall of the Carre Gallery of the Louvre Museum, Paris, where the Mona Lisa was exhibited before it was stolen 1911. ©Mary Evans Picture Library / The Image Works

Gone was a large reiteration of this photograph, painted in oils directly onto a gallery wall. It was made over a two-week period during which the gallery was open to the public, providing visitors with an opportunity to see and discuss the work with me while it was being made.

04 - Gone

While I worked, the room contained a large table with paints, turps, rags, and other oil painting paraphernalia. The method of making was awkward and required a degree of improvisation on my part: the photograph was cast onto the wall by an overhead projector which meant that my shadow, too, was cast onto the wall. This forced me to work from the periphery of the image as well as deliberately blocking the light and on occasion turning the projector off to check my progress. Visitors entering the space would have been aware of the projector’s bright light, the noise of its fan, and the smell of turps, as well as the image being made.

Any documentation of Gone is flawed, as it conveys only a partial impression of the work and would also lack the conversations I had with visitors. These touched on the work’s putative subject matter (the theft of the Mona Lisa), as well as including stories about trips to Paris and the Louvre and more specific discussions about the difficulties with which I was wrestling and what would happen to the piece when it was completed. After two weeks I finished working and the supporting paraphernalia was removed from the gallery, leaving only the painted wall.

Gone was displayed for a month before being hidden behind a plywood stud wall, where it remains. A short film was made of the ‘cloaking’ and can be seen here:

This screening of the image from sight chimed with the subject matter in that the image would remain present, but missing after completion. A few weeks after the image was hidden a small plaque was added to the wall to mark the absence (and presence) of the work.

05 - Gone Plaque

I had been told, when proposing to make Gone, that the wall was due to be covered. Knowing Gone would be covered up soon after its completion heightened my awareness of the temporality of the piece which led me to consider what might be meant by the definitive form for a work.

I’m still making art work based on other art works (though strictly speaking there is no ‘art’ in this image, except at its edges) and I’m still trying to work out the implications of that. This piece still bothers me as my voice is interposed between the source image and the audience. While I was making it, that voice was literally present in the room in the form of conversations, but is now resides in the marks and gestures encoded into the paint, that are of course hidden and yet present.

Some reflection on Gone from the thesis:

Although intended as an investigation into authorship and absence through reiteration, making Gone in public exposed the audience to the space of production which altered my understanding of the work. Painting Gone in oils was a complex task requiring a degree of competence that was by no means certain and as I acquired new skills my experience of making changed. I had previously considered the making process unimportant when compared with the results of that process; any techniques or processes I used to make work were the means to an end, with the resulting object being my principle concern. I had typically employed simple reiterative techniques like tracing along with the use of image-manipulation and typesetting software to make work and while always keen to do a good job, this required less subtlety than handwork, being predicated on quantitative not qualitative learning. How well the work was carried out became important. By making work that was ‘resistant’ I became aware of the importance of making in its own right and how it could allow a work to critique its own materiality as well as its authorship.

Other Stuff I Do

I wanted to write a short blog post that lists some of my other activities, partly to act as a one-stop shop for myself, but also to give visitors to this site a more rounded view of my practice and art-related activity. Rather than do lots of short posts, I’m going to write one and keep it up to date.

Bank Street Arts

I’m a trustee of Bank Street in Sheffield. It’s a vibrant space of galleries and studios that has provided me with a venue for a lot work that I’ve made since completing my MA in 2010. It’s perhaps frowned upon to be so closely associated with one space (and my CV is full of stuff I’ve done there) but Bank Street has provided an extended project space for my practice. Anyone can become a member and consequently take part in what is now an annual members’ show.

366memories

After the success of 2013’s 365drawings (see below) I have decided to start another project for 2016. It’s called 366memories and I plan to write a short piece about something I can remember. It’s likely that there’ll be a lot of childhood and within that, a lot of holiday memories as they seem most clear. I’m not sure where it will go, but you can find the blog here. I’m wrestling with how to keep stuff anonymous (I’m writing this on January 4th 2016), especially as people know my name and can therefore work out who my immediate family are. It’s called 366memories because 2016 is a leap year, of course.

365drawings

This is the blog to which I uploaded all the work made for the 365drawings project. As regular readers will know, I recently published a book documenting the work. It is still a live work as whenever a work is sold (they’re £50 each, with discounts if you buy more than one) I ask the buyer to send a photograph which I draw.

Facebook and Twitter

I have a dedicated artist page on Facebook which any FB user can sign up to. All the posts are public and related to my work, stuff I’m promoting, or stuff that catches my eye that I think needs a wider audience. I also have a Twitter account – @eccleshall1965 – which you are welcome to follow. It is often nonsense, but does have some art stuff on sometimes, especially when there’s news.

The Open College of the Arts

For the past few years I have been part of the team that tutors Drawing and Painting students at the OCA. It’s an Open Access Distance Learning College based in Barnsley but with students all around the world. I currently tutor people in the UK, Sweden, Indonesia, Cyprus, and Germany. You can study to Masters level through a series of related, but discrete modules. I often write posts for their outward-facing blog which can be found here.

Found Paintings and Sculptures

I have, for several years, taken photographs of stuff that looked like paintings or sculptures but weren’t intended to be such things. I  put a lot of these images on a blog but not many people looked at it, so I retired it. The rise of social media has meant that I can throw open the idea to all-comers, though, On Facebook you’ll find a group called, unsurprisingly, Found Paintings and Sculptures. Ask to join and you can start posting your own contributions. I wrote a short blogpost for the OCA about it here.

After Walker Evans’ and Sherrie Levine’s Annie Mae Burroughs

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The subject matter for this drawing is a photograph by Walker Evans that was made as part of the Let Us Now Praise Famous Men publication in 1941 that documented the agricultural workers of the American dustbowl.

The woman in the picture was actually photographed several times and in some of the images she’s almost smiling. When the picture was published (and different versions of her portrait exist, but people tend to think that there’s only one), her name was often changed.

Sherrie Levine ‘rephotographed’ it in 1981 and called her piece After Walker Evans. So, Annie Mae has been subject to lots of reiteration before I started work on this. I think I’ve made her look even more troubled and frowning then she is in the photograph, which is a product of the process. I tend to exaggerate tonal variation which means that frown lines deepen a little.

Technically the toughest part of the work was getting the material of here flower-patterned blouse convincing. Close-up it’s easy to see how provisional some of that work is, but in this compound image, the rhythm of the cloth as it folds and creases and turns across her shoulders is more apparent.

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