Taking stock

What I wanted from this this phase of research was to find out how the work could be made more three-dimensional. I’ve discussed what I’ve made with several people and feel I can now draw conclusions from the results.

Aesthetically, a number of the maquettes interest me, but I’m concerned I’m still tending to overcomplicate things. My strengths are in the images and crops I chose and how I juxtapose paired pictures together. But the box template maquette in particular indicates how small, isolated moments are perhaps more powerful than reconstructing the entire face. An ambiguous image crop can give the impression of tangible bodily lushness and a sexuality that belies what’s truly depicted, and the piercing nature of an isolated eye has the capacity for more drama and power than when included as part of a facial whole.

I must confess I frequently find the margins of artist’s work more interesting than the main image itself. The moments taking place at the fringe. The curls, tears, and rips indicating struggle, and the notes and working out hinting at the creative journey. They have a delicacy, fragility and vulnerability that’s touching and they add another layer of clues as to the artist’s intentions. All works of art are puzzle to decode but once I’ve done this and think I understand intention, I lose interest, whereas the ambiguous offering that cannot be resolved has a fascination that tends to grip. I think this offers important clues I should incorporate in the work.

In my experiments, the materiality of the original raw materials – the look and feel of photographic and magazine paper – has largely been lost and should perhaps be reclaimed. In a similar vein, I also suspect the neutrality of virtual collaging should be replaced with physical, real cutting and layering. I’ve tested making my work in various sizes and feel I should return to the smaller, more intimate human scaling of previous work, perhaps punctured by the occasional foray into huge billboard scale! In terms of their three-dimensionality, the successes of the work are perhaps more accurately described as reliefs rather than sculptures as they insist on maintaining a firm relationship with the wall.

The implications of my findings are scary but exciting. I’ve recently always shown images that include the whole face, and shifting to a more detailed crop weakens the obvious link with my research. It is right I should continue to use a framework of rules as the starting point to initiate a piece, but I now feel once this stage has been observed the object should be permitted to escape the structure in order to become itself – to find its true nature and form.

Claire Manning, 2013
Claire Manning, 2013

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