To patch, erode, or accrete a collage…

The next two attempts at object abused collages:

Unfortunately, TO PATCH failed abysmally — depressingly — resulting in something than looks like a poor high-school project!  It’s made of random small tears and I fear it generates something that is too busy, too distracting, and too unconsolidated with its base.

TO ERODE also proved frustrating. My initial approach was to build up to tear down, to scrunch, to worry until paper feels as soft as fabric — torn edges, finger-nail or blade eroded surfaces. This approach sounds fine on paper and I’ve managed to get it to work on one small maquette. However, the larger-scale test failed, perhaps because it became too overworked, and too detached from a process of making instinctively.

I use a tactic I’ve tried with success before – I walk away from the obsession to resolve the problem of making the piece work and spend a day with friends and new acquaintances looking at and talking about art.

The next attempt starts with preparing layers of paper, tearing them vertically into sections and overlaying them onto each other. As I do this, I realise something unexpectedly interesting is happening. Not an eroded image, but an accretion somewhat akin to the contour marks on a map, reminiscent of built up layers in Alison Lambert’s work. Once again, the simple, unfussy approach comes through! I make two small versions of TO ACCRETE, the first mounted on fabric and the other on a fixed surface. It’s difficult to decide which to make full-scale and it’s hard to portray the differences in a picture, but photographing them and seeing them from a different angle draws me to the informality and soft tactility of the fabric-mounted version.

To accrete: growth by accumulation or coalescence. I like the thought that the new ‘other’ image coalesces into being, emerging from the action of imagination and the process of the gaze.

CLOSING THOUGHTS – I realise the risk with the larger object abuse collages is their heart — the direction the materials should evolve in – is difficult to discover in larger scale, trapping me to repeat gestures and actions that have worked in the past but which fail in the now instant of making. I suppose the lesson here is that the purpose of the larger canvas is to allow something different to take place but, for this to happen, I have to remain open, instinctive and playful within the making process.

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