Down trodden, switched off, stitched up

To better understand this post, head to The Art Assignment. Also see the first two instalments, here and here.

The Brief: paint a piece of board or cardboard a colour that you like. Choose a pair of fabulous shoes. Walk on the board/cardboard. 

The thing that initially stopped me doing this assignment was space. Painting the cardboard would have to be done outside. A place would need to be found where I could leave it to dry, probably outside. I don’t have a lot of outside to my name right now. It all seemed too hard. Eventually, I realised that the point of these assignments is not to follow the rules, but to break them. So I found a piece of cardboard (from the new set of flannelette sheets we bought this week) and I decided on a paint alternative. Colouring in my cardboard with pencils turned out to be incredibly enjoyable. It was relaxing and meditative and beautiful. It was a rare chance to use all twelve pencils in my set (why is white one of the twelve basic colours anyway) and I created something I kind of loved. This made the idea of literally walking all over it a little more challenging.

I chose my “clippy cloppy shoes” because they’re the most onomatopoeic footwear I own. My mum bought me these shoes, as a present and I’ve only worn them on happy occasions. Creating this surprisingly energetic piece of art was hard – driving my heels into the cardboard, focusing all my weight into my toes, pivoting and rocking and stamping.

It’s hard to capture the difference in the before and the after of this work. Not only are the swirls of colour pock marked with horseshoe like footprints but the card itself is completely different. It feelsdifferent, more malleable, almost rubbery. Of all the assignments so far this was, somewhat surprisingly, the one that felt the most like making art. The finished piece is imbued with the process which went into making it. It made me think about what makes someone an artist (am I an artist for doing these projects?) and what constitutes art (coloured cardboard propped against my living room wall?).

The Brief: turn off a screen. Take a picture of the screen, thinking about colour, pattern and form in what’s reflected.

If TV screens could stare back, they’d be starting into a remarkably intimate space. The TV usually reflects domesticity, quietness, intimacy. In our one bedroom apartment, the TV reflects a fairly large portion of our living space. Since I conceived the idea for this assignment (while staring at the blank TV after I first watched the episode) I have rearranged the furniture. The result of this is that the TV is now significantly higher than it was before and this assignment was rather trickier to execute. There was a lot of climbing on the lounge involved and I managed to pull a hook out of the wall in the process. Basically we trashed our apartment for art.  

One thing I found really interesting about this process was how much the camera was able to capture. It was harder than I expected to disguise the items we were putting in shot. Even though everything was fuzzy and blurred when I looked at the TV, the images we took were sharper, more refined. Given cameras usually struggle to capture what our eyes can see, it was interesting to see the camera display morethan I was seeing.

I think the real effect of this assignment is more long term. It made me think about off screens, to sometimes value what they display without turning them on. It’s about embracing technology while simultaneously questioning its purpose. It’s not about saying “throw away your phone!”, it’s about saying “notice the way your phone reflects the sky”.

The Brief: pretty much what it says on the tin.

One of the many things that happens when you move a significant distance is that you tend to throw out a lot of stuff. So vast was the quantity of clothes that I took to the op shop before we left Newcastle that when I went back to visit six monthslater, my stuff was still in the window. What I’m trying to say is that I basically don’t have any old clothes at the moment. Which makes creating a rug out of surplus material a bit tricky.
I cycled through a bunch of alternatives: I could buy old scarves from op shops (nope, Melbourne op shops do not sell scarves for 20c apparently) or I could ask people to donate clothes to me (maybe but that would take time). Eventually, while lying in bed staring at the ceiling, I had a brain wave – stockings.

At any given time I have between three and ten pairs of stockings that are unwearable; I own a lot of stockings and I hate throwing stockings away. It seems like such a waste to throw them out just because they have an enormous run down one leg (or a massive hole in the crotch). Making them into a rug seems like the perfect use for them. Obviously this is a work in progress but I kind of like that about it. As each pair of stockings begins to unravel, I can stitch it into the rug instead of being sad that I can’t wear them any more.

If you’re thinking of trying this assignment but are 100% sure that you can’t crochet a rug for shit – take heart! Neither can I! I’m 100% sure that I definitely stuffed this up a bunch of times, especially in the black part (top tip – it’s much easier to see what you’re doing with coloured fabric) but it still looks like a rug! And by the end I felt like I was getting the hang of it! This is a fun assignment and surprisingly achievable. Persist! 

If you also hate throwing away your stockings (or tights) and would like to instead donate your old pairs to my rug – get in touch

Special mention to Alex for his help in doing these assignments and taking pictures. 

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year