“Utagawa Diptych” installed at Oxford Brookes by the very helpful Ryan Quarterman.
This is the result of all my work. I feel the piece is pretty jumbled and has a lot of flaws but there are things I like too.
On the right panel I have arranged all the night photographs in a montage. When I was taking them I was thinking about the idea of balanced compositions, interesting vanishing points and the new versions of Hiroshige’s floating world; takeaway stands, buses at night, the light coming out of a newsagents. The montage arrangement is for me a link to the use of series of in the work of Hiroshige; I would like later to link this further by making a collage that simply shows all of the pictures in a series like The Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido simultaneously in a montage grid.
On the right I have placed a big old square of blue. I did this because I wanted to get that sense of balance that is always around in the old ukiyo-e pictures, particularly something like this;
In the corner there is a rail ticket which is a visual reference to the red boxes with calligraphy that feature in the prints, then I wrote a little bit of automatic writing as another reference to the use of writing in Japanese art, relating to the stuff I had photographed.
Anyway I think this piece has some interesting stuff about it. I like the photographs and I was trying for a kind of interested constructed semi-painting of the kind that was prevalent in the 1960s, something like this;
According to What by Jasper Johns
Obviously I’m pretty far from this. Visually I’m quite happy with the work. My main problems are conceptual and especially in terms of construction. I feel like my ideas were too muddled although I think this was exacerbated by having to write about the work. I am finding that I really dislike the idea of masses of writing in the gallery scenario. Why is it so hard for contemporary artists to communicate ideas visually?
Installed in the Richard Hamilton Building- I put the sketchbooks out on a plinth.
Anyway my main problem is with the construction. The piece was thrown together very quickly as a result of the impending UCAS deadlines and it’s pretty rickety. I very stupidly mounted all the card and photographs on paper, then mounted that to foamboard, which meant there was a lot of crumpling, and the board didn’t quite match the frames. Small problems, but for me disastrous.
These were only heightened by the massive dampness of the OVADA gallery, where the work was finally installed.
I can’t say the work fit in brilliantly although obviously it was a huge privilege having anything put into any gallery. You can see the crumpling. Anyway in conclusion I think this project was a good learning experience because I found some interesting new techniques and came up with some good ideas, but more importantly I think I found a lot of flaws in my work that need to be improved, namely poor quality construction and confusion of ideas.