Restoration Visual Diary 'Hanging by a String'
Semester 1 Body Work:
Using the concept of Restoration a stimulus, development and explore your own personal interpretation (focus), through conventional and unconventional media, styles and techniques.
What is restoration?:
Restoration is the action of returning something to its former condition, place or owner. Something that has been restored is reconstructed in one form or another to its original form.
Why do we restore?:
A popular view is to demolish and restart, but this should not always be the case. Old items keep history and special meaning whole restoring keeps the former glory while adding and improving foundations that may have been broken/damaged. Instead of starting new, improve and grow upon what has already been created.
What are the benefits of restoration?:
Restoration is essentially a second chance, a way of redeeming a mistake without completely restarting. The act of restoring mends the broken object by piecing together already existing parts to form a whole entity once again. Because of this, restoration is a beneficial process of repairing something that is thought of as old, broken or unwanted.
In order to generate ideas centered around the concept of restoration, inspirational artists, artwork and words have to be gathered to spark ideas and creativity.
From the words above, rejuvenation and revive resonated with me and my art style the most. They both mean to restore the former condition of 'life' to the subject and salvage the already existing fibers present.
This prompts me to brainstorm ideas relating to living bodies and respectively associated components such as the environment, human body, plants, animals or even organs. Expanding upon the latter idea, restoration of organs, and more specifically the heart could be extremely intricate and beautiful or over used and repetitive. To ensure this doesn't occur, I must have a teacher consultation and undertake extensive research to further refine my focus concept.
What are Chordae Tendineae?:
Also known as heart strings, chordae tendineae are tendons inside the heart that connect the papillary muscles to the tricuspid valve which resemble small strings connecting the valves of the heart. The tendons are predominantly made from collagen, with 20% remainder created from elastin and endothelial cells. When the atrioventicular valves are open, the tendons are relaxed but when the ventricles contract however, the tendons become tight, pulling the heart together.
What happens when your heart breaks?:
The chordae tendineae, when put under immense pressure, can snap and brake, resulting in what is known as ‘broken heart syndrome’ that affects the mind and body individually. This drastically impacts the individual, putting them under immense pressure and stress, on top of their already swollen heart.
What makes heartbreak so painful?:
Researchers have concluded through extensive testing using MRI results, that the areas of the human brain that register physical pain are directly linked to emotional and social pain; the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula. It is believed that the brain cannot differentiate physical and emotional pain from one another, resulting in varying levels of pain felt from the subject experiencing heartache. When someone experiences a broken heart, blood pressure increases as well as your heart rate which in extreme cases can lead to cardiovascular complications such as a heart attack or stroke. Heart break causes stress hormones to rise and an overabundance of cortisol results in too much blood being pumped to the muscles, causing tension (swollen muscles – headaches, stiff neck and pressure in the chest).
“It is easy to put aside touchy-feely stuff as less important, but it can literally kill people because human beings depend on social connection for survival”. - Geoff MacDonald, professor of psychology
Images that, to me, represent the tendons inside the heart as well as photographs from National Geographic of the inside of the human heart.
Exploring my focus:
I have decided to pursue the focus of the heart, specifically concentrating on the chordae tendieae (heart strings) and the pressure they are put through on a daily basis.
Focus statement: 'Hanging by a string', focuses on the way in which the human body, more specifically Chrodae Tendineae (heart strings) interact and cope with stresses of heartache. The fragile nature of the tendons are replicated and interpreted in a way that constructs the innards of human anatomy in macro form. The abstract approach to the focus
Context statement: The personal and slightly biological context of 'hanging by a string' forms the analysis and interpretation of the focus, Chordae Tendineae and how the tendons perform under immense pressure/stress. Through the process of embroidery, lino printing, felting and photography, the personal context, steamed from individual experiences, investigates the focus of the body of work.
We all have solitary experiences that affect our physical bodies capability to function. Whether we endure or confront our stress, the innards of the human heart are delicate chordae tendineae, in which the restoration process fixes ones' heart strings and mends our thoughts. Through personal experiences of my own, 'Hanging by a String' attempts to salvage the broken heart through biological remedies that have been explored through the delicacy of my artwork and the mediums carried throughout. The isolation and emptiness felt by myself after immense stress can be depicted throughout my body of work.
Mentoring session #1:
After my meeting with Ms Hampson, we both agree that focusing on the broader topic of the heart would be generic and boring so following the more specific research I conducted would be the more favourable approach.
What is the focus for my body of work?
The focus for my body of work is Chordae Tendineae - the strings inside the heart that open and close depending on the level of stress the individual is coping with. In my body of work I will focus on how the tendons cope under heart break and why they are such a delicate part of the organ.
How am I going to achieve this?
By focusing on the fragile nature of the heart strings, this can be reproduced by using materials and methods that take a delicate hand and a careful technique to execute the results that are envisioned.
Why have I chosen this focus?
Although my parents are still together, many of my friends parents and people that I know have gone through immense heart break that has taken both an emotional and physical toll on their body. By choosing heart tendons to restore, the personal context of my body of work can be salvaged and metaphorically transformed into my personal life - restoring the hearts of my loved ones.
What is the mood of my body of work?
In my body of work, I am aiming for a more abstract approach to the tendons. Though my art will be more conceptual than physical images of the human heart anatomy, I am wanting to use close up shots of materials to represent the strings in obscure ways in which the audience is left wondering before a moment of realisation washes over them. The mood will be quite light and peaceful in comparison to the focus topic of the body of work. The juxtaposition will be carried throughout each piece and be the main mood of the body of work.
What mediums am I thinking of using?
I want my body of work very dainty and fragile so to implement this thought, I am thinking of using the medium of my work as the main way to represent this notion. I could use materials such as tulle, string, porcelain, paper or even thin layers of wax/glue etc.
Influential Artist #1:
Benjamin Shine is an infamous artist who creates beautiful tulle installations by ironing the fabric in extrinsic patterns to form magnificent 'paintings'. He usually uses around 50 metres of tulle to create his textured artwork that is displayed across the world. Though I don't think I will be following his technique of ironing fabric, I admire his idea of using the delicate fabric as an installation - allowing light and other natural elements to seep through the netting. The delicate nature of the tulle can be translated in my body of work, helping me to finally decide on the medium I wish to focus on throughout my pieces. Shine's meanings behind his work are more often than not undefined, but by applying my focus to his creative principle I can create a tulle installations inspired by his work.
"It wasn’t until I saw a crumpled ball of tulle on my studio floor that I noticed its potential" - Benjamin Shine
Influential Artist #2:
Andrea Graham, felt-maker and fiber artist uses wool to magically transform the fibers into installations that express the environmental paradox of the living organisms that inhabit the earth. The majority of her pieces are abstract and free forming with holes abundantly present throughout to represent the wounds the consumer driven world creates on the planet. She chooses to use wool in her work as it is a sustainable material that bridges her focus and context through both metaphorical and physical connections. Though Graham and I have different focuses, her method of using such a delicate medium (wool fibers), can be translated into my body of work. The way in which she manipulates the fragile material into organic installations is something I want to replicate in my body of work. Though her art is more representational of the destruction of the environment, her abstract approach to the focus is something that inspires me in my own work.
"It was felting, in particular that captured me. The multi-sensory experience and the versatility of the medium kept me tossing and turning at night." - Andrea Graham
Because I want my body of work to be very delicate and detailed, I began to research fibre arts and materials that are fragile and harder to work with. One example of this kind of material is tulle. Tulle is a lightweight fabric that has a fine netting makeup, usually created by silk, nylon and/or rayon. Keeping the first stage within my focal topic, to me, the tulle is fine and delicate enough to represent the chordae tendineae inside the heart. The intricate netting of the tulle perfectly represents the tendons in an abstract yet apparent way when explained.
Another fragile medium that could be incorporated into the tulle piece is thread. Most cotton sewing threads come intertwined with 6 smaller strands to make a thicker line when wrapped together. By carefully separating the thread, thinner and more fine piece of yarn can be used in variation with stands of a thicker weight. This medium can also be used to convey the representation of the heart strings using different core substances.
Ideas and approach:
Drawing inspiration from artist Benjamin Shine and National Geographic photographs of tendons present in the heart, the first stage was reseached (refer to statement above). Using tulle as the basis of the stage, similarly to Shine, another delicate material was incorporated into the piece via cotton threads embroidered into the netted weave of the tulle.
The long, thin strand of cotton can be woven into the tulle netting to create contrast in fabrics as well as an extremely delicate design. Using both embroidery and openwork techniques in the piece, the thread and tulle will be intertwined together in a detailed pattern of open weaves and knotted threads. The thread and tulle will bind together so that the tulle virtually disappears in natural light, foregrounding the intricate thread design embroidered into the tulle background. The presentation of the piece is undetermined as of this stage; but at the moment, the current idea is to hang the embroidery tulle (on an embroidery hoop) by a fine thread from the wall. This will insinuate the the heart is hanging by a thread.
The floating nature of the cellular shapes of the tulle embroidery pieces are representational of the emptiness felt after heartbreak overwhelms the body. It has left me with the feeling of emptiness and isolation, as seen by the floating tulle embroidery.
NEED TO ADD FINAL PHOTO OF STAGE 1 (all 3 parts)
After embroidering the three tulle decals, I researched display options but the majority of sources suggested to display them in the embroidery hoops they were originally made in. Although this could have been the easiest and most simple solution, by searching for displaying options more generally. I quickly found an idea that follows my focus yet creates difference in comparison to the fine and delicate construction of my threaded piece. That idea was translated in the form of a shadow box (the illusion of floating heart strings). Though it was slightly difficult to find the right size for the already stitched pieces, numerous boxes were found and purchased so should I create more?????
Am I moving towards resolution?
Stage one is almost resolved, with the show n tell coming up soon. Although there will probably be no time to have a mentoring session with Ms Hampson before it has to be presented, I am on the right path and resolution should occur within a few days. Though I have started experimenting on the two consecutive stages, they are far from resolution.
Am I structuring and organising the resolution of my work?
I have formulated a schedule (of self-assessed due dates), that will help me stay on task, but knowing that the visual diary and personal critique are also due, time has to be set aside for them. The resolution of stage one was slightly rushed, with quick touch-ups on rough edges and discolouration of the thread etc, the structure and organisation of my work will hopefully be of high quality.
Was the research insightful or does it need more development?
The research conducted for stage one was useful and gave further insight into the focus and concept I am trying to convey, but numerous pages of research for the following stages needs to be undertaken. Each stage should be researched specifically researched to enhance the meaning behind each separate part of the body of work, making sure it ties in together with the overall focus of Chordae Tendineae.
Does the research recognise what the focus is communicating?
The research recognises the development of the focus and the way in which the meaning is being expressed to the audience. The research was specific to the materials used within the piece and how they intertwine and work in harmony to create a delicacy that can only be replicated within the human heart. The way in which the stage is displayed was also intentionally researched to communicate the focus of the body of work.
Has restoration been integrated into the context/focus?
Though restoration can arguably be missed in the piece, through the artists statement and corresponding statements explaining the art, the topic of restoration should be obvious and foregrounded to those who look. Overall however the Chordae Tendineae have been linked to restoration through the ability in which the human body heals them to continue the necessary ability of pumping blood throughout the body - heartbreak hindering this process.
Ideas and Approach:
After Ms Warren invited the class to participate in a felting workshop, I conducted my own research on the process and inspiration images.