Officially selected into the 2012 Bishop's Art Prize, was my photographic entry "A Man, As He Is". The exhibition will take place 18th - 29th June, 2012 at the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral. The evening of the 18th, the prize winners will be announced.
Reading through Cathy A. Malchiodi's "The Art Therapy Sourcebook" has presented a wealth of information to further research. What is interesting to me is the mention of Sigmund Freud's and Carl Jung's techniques, which I explored during my 2 Years at NUCA.
Malchiodi has also introduced Hans Prinzhorn's spontaneous artworks with the Mentally Ill.
So far I have understood, there are two approaches to art therapy, the directive approach and the non-directive approach. They are fairly straightforward, in that a directive approach is directed with a theme, such as directing the client to "draw your family". Whilst the non-directive approach provides more freedom to the client to produce whatever they're feeling or desire to produce. The chosen approach differs with the clients needs and the outcomes of the therapy. When partaking in art therapy techniques with Sean, I chose to be non-directive as I felt Sean would respond more to the freedom of expression. However, as the therapy progresses, the therapy can take on a directive approach. Determining the amount of time to allocate to a certain approach requires more research but I feel I will have to take on the non-directive approach once more with Sean and then when deemed suitable, provide some form of direction, such as "paint Hurricane Ivan, paint our family, draw what you remember from Jamaica...etc".
Margaret Naumberg used the technique of scribble drawing to encourage spontaneous imagery and therefore draw on the clients unconscious. Her sister, Florence Cane used similar scribble techniques as she felt spontaneous expression encouraged free association and revealed unconscious fantasies and thoughts.
Interestingly, Donald Winnicott devised the "squiggle game" where by working collaboratively, both therapist and child/client would attempt to complete each others squiggle lines into an image. This technique is most involving and interactive for both therapist and client. However, the client would most likely have to be an open participant and most likely by a child.
"Narcissist daffodils… In Greek mythology Narcissus was a womaniser, and a vein one at that, so the Gods punished him with his own reflection in a lake. He fell in love with himself, and died of frustration. Taking pity, the Gods immortalised him as a daffodil. Dali’s hallucinatory painting shows the boy kneeling in a pool, mirrored by the hand holding the egg and flower."
The egg is symbolic, being regarded as the "perfect form" by many artists. This obsession with perfection and idealism is approached in this piece by Dali. The title "Metamorphosis of Narcissus", made me consider the concept of transforming perfection. I then associated this concept with Christo and Jeanne-Claude's series of wrapping objects and landscapes, as well as Judith Scotts transformations of wrapping objects in yarn and fabric. Christo and Jeanne-Claude have claimed to use the method for strictly aesthetic reasons and Scotts reasons relied on the personal desire for artistic expression. This simple technique, allows the onlooker to carefully reflect on the object being shaded. This concept of shading in order to uncover and reflect on what lies beneath is a complimentary duality, which interests me as the duality of normality and difference is something I wish to equalise.
Additionally, the concept of normality is an illusion. How can anyone be normal if people are individually unique also? Therefore, no-one is truly normal but really what is common has been deemed normal. Those that exist outside that common article are deemed the opposite of normal, different. This duality, causes those deemed different to be categorised into a small box, meant to feel negative for being outside the normal spectrum of humanity. This relationship, along with the concept of wrapping materials, made me consider the art works I created involving the wooden box and wrapped objects.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Wrapped Snoopy House, 1978.
Judith Scott. Untitled, 2000-2; 30 by 32 by 16 inches. All works are made from fiber, wood, cardboard, and fabric. Photos courtesy of the Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland, California. Image: Fiberarts Summer 2001
Angus McBean (1904-90) was one of the most extraordinary British photographers of the twentieth century. In a career that spanned the start of the Second World War through the birth of the 'Swinging Sixties' to the 1980s, he became the most prominent theatre photographer of his generation and, along with Cecil Beaton, the last of the British avant-garde studio photographers.
During the 1930s and 1940s, McBean developed Surrealist techniques, including the depiction of the actress Dorothy Dickson as a water lily. Yet his style kept pace with the times and by the 1950s and 1960s he was taking photographs of celebrities from Cliff Richard to Shirley Bassey. Arguably his most famous image is of the Beatles, leaning over the balcony at their recording studios, which was used on the album cover Please Please Me. His celebrated series of self-portraits, which he sent out as Christmas cards, capture his witty and eccentric personality, while his numerous photographic commissions in the 1980s - including his work with the pop singer David Sylvian - demonstrate his inventiveness and creativity.
For the first time since his death in 1990, McBean's photographs of stars such as Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Audrey Hepburn, and his colour prints from the 1960s of the Beatles, Maria Callas and Spike Milligan are to be brought together in a major retrospective exhibition, accompanied by this fascinating book. Terence Pepper's intriguing account of McBean's life and work includes extracts from the photographer's unpublished autobiography and is illustrated throughout with full-page colour and duotone reproductions.
Part of the National Portrait Gallery's Exhibition Archive: Angus McBean's Portraits: July 5th - October 22nd, 2006
Angus McBean: Portraits is the first museum retrospective devoted to Angus McBean (1904-90), one of the most significant British photographers of the twentieth century. It brings together over 100 photographs in black and white and colour, including a large number of vintage prints from museum collections and important loans from private collections. The exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to see the astonishing range of McBean's work. From the striking surrealist portraits of the 1930s to his period as indisputably the most important photographer of theatre and dance personalities of the 1940s and 1950s. The exhibition also showcases his cult re-emergence as a chronicler of pop music and includes his famous Beatles covers.
Highlights of the exhibition include the iconic 1951 photograph of the then unknown Audrey Hepburn, her head and shoulders emerging from sand - and posed amidst classical pillars. The forty-year spread of the exhibition includes more recent photographs of Derek Jarman and Tilda Swinton, while other significant portraits include Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Katharine Hepburn. The exhibition also features several defining portraits of Vivien Leigh, whom McBean photographed many times over the course of their thirty-year association.
On show for the first time is the complete series of his self-portrait Christmas cards which McBean produced between 1934 and 1985. These inventive and innovative portraits are displayed alongside theatrical props used in their composition, including a Mae West puppet, a marble 'Greek God' bust, bisque 'bathing beauties' and two 1930s papier mâché masks of Greta Garbo and Ivor Novello.
Born near Newport in South Wales in 1904, Angus McBean bought his first camera at the age of fifteen. He used his friends and family as models, and also began to make masks and theatrical props for local amateur dramatic productions. After the death of his father in 1924, McBean moved to London and found work in the antiques department of Liberty's on Regent Street, spending his spare time photographing his friends and making masks. After leaving Liberty's in 1931 he decided to try and live by his art, growing a distinctive beard that he claimed was symbolic of the fact that he no longer wished to be a wage earner. McBean was briefly apprenticed to society photographer Hugh Cecil, who taught him photographic techniques, and after a year he set up his own studio in Victoria.
McBean's big break came in 1936 when Ivor Novello asked him to create masks for Clemence Dane's adaptation of a Max Beerbohm short story,The Happy Hypocrite. Novello was delighted with the masks and immediately commissioned McBean to take portrait photographs for the production. In 1937 The Sketch commissioned him to photograph the actress Beatrix Lehmann playing Lavinia in Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra. The dramatic composition of this photograph was inspired by the surrealist art of the era, and working with the artist Roy Hobdell, McBean went on to produce a number of 'surrealist' portraits of leading actresses in a weekly series, which ran until the early months of the war. Among those on display are portraits of Flora Robson, René Ray and Peggy Ashcroft asPortia.
After the war, McBean set up a new studio in Endell Street, London and was commissioned to photograph the American actress Clare Luce in a new production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. He then produced a series of portraits that incorporated significant objects from the lives of his sitters into their photographs: Cecil Beaton is shown surrounded by pages from his scrapbooks, while Ivor Novello leans over bound editions of his musicals. Other portraits show 'Play Personalities' such as Noel Coward, Ralph Richardson and Hugh 'Binkie' Beaumont (Binkie Pulls the Strings). Also on display are portraits of ballet dancers Margot Fonteyn and Robert Helpmann.
In the 1950s and '60s McBean's career took a new direction as he began taking colour photographs for LP covers. The exhibition shows his photographs of Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Shirley Bassey and The Beverley Sisters and Spike Milligan's head encased in a glass jar for his album Milligan Preserved. McBean was responsible for the front cover of The Beatles album Please, Please Me, taking a spontaneous shot of the group leaning over the balcony at the EMI Offices in London. Six years later he was asked to recreate the 1963 photograph for the proposed Get Back album. It later appeared on the retrospective LP The Beatles 1967-1970, and these will be displayed alongside one another. Angus McBean retired in 1966 to focus on decorating and restoring his house, Flemings Hall in Suffolk, but he returned to photography in 1982 and the exhibition includes late work such as his portraits of Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Angus McBean. Pamela Stanley as Queen Victoria, 1938.
Other Examples of Photographic Surrealist Techniques
Winifred Casson. Accident (double exposure), c. 1935
Sir Edmund Blunt. Photo-montage, 1873
Personal Reaction: There are distinct comparisons and contrasts in fine art photography techniques historically and in contemporary approaches. I find the comparisons rely greatly on the picture and aesthetic quality of the piece and the contrasts are present within the context and subject matter. It only makes chronological sense that the subject matter would differ but considering the improvements in technology, its remarkable that artists have continuously established an excellent quality of imagery with camera and film technology. DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras have allowed the photographer to achieve that aesthetic quality of analogues but with the control of a digital machine. In addition, the editing techniques needed to either be established within the camera or edited in post in the film, is achieved easily (through some form of training) in digital software, giving more freedom of expression and easier access to manipulation. Artists can now decide on their idea after the photograph is already taken, allowing reflection and experimentation to be infinite.
This exhibition with photographers such as Richard Bailey, Fiona Bailey and Fiona Yaron-Field held a body of work concerning varied aspects of Down's Syndrome. Shifting Perspectives concreted the importance of my own practice.
Examples of past 'Shifting Perspectives' Exhibitions
-Arne Svenson's 'About Face'
This particular collection of works showed me the invaluable medium of photography, particularly in portraiture, the inventive way of teaching an audience about Autism, without being preachy or too bold.
Arne Svenson's 'About Face'
MAIN POINTS OF PRACTICE PROGRESSION
-The studio arrangement of original black and white photographs allowed me to discover the interaction 2D images can have with one another and with the onlooker.
In order to create a Bust, photos taken of Sean were pinned on the wall in my studio. It would become evident the photographs were more powerful than other mediums.
-The Art Of Norwich 21 personal exhibition, “Reflection of Self and Societal Image” curated at the Church of Art allowed me to see how the installation of work was vital and could very easily affect the artists original intentions. The use of frames was detracted from the Degree Show planning and I would now look at more minimalist methods.
"Reflection of Self and Societal Image" personal exhibition used for tests and experimentation for the Degree Show.
-Rather than simply allowing the installation of works to promote reflection, I decided to merge images into one so that each work held a unique point of view, such as the social position Sean Gray has held and currently holds. As a result, my skills in digital photograph editing has grown immensely. Online Training sources were essential to my development, namely "IceflowStudios", Online Design Training, which I was able to resource free of charge. http://www.iceflowstudios.com/
Dan Mountford was fundamental in my decision to return to the idea of double exposure techniques. I did a few tests during BA7 and thought it was quite an attractive mergence of visuals (see below). Returning to the method near the end of BA8 took a journey using other processes such as sculpture, sketches, paintings, installation pieces but it was great experimentation to establish the most appropriate method for presenting ideas of disability equality and the merging of images.
"Having Down syndrome is like being born normal. I am just like you and you are just like me. We are all born in different ways, that is the way I can describe it. I have a normal life." - Chris Burke
I enjoy this quote, as Burke quite easily acknowledges human equality, an issue I desire all persons to acknowledge. It is perhaps much easier for those considered the outsiders to see their social worth and sense of equality than it is for those who call others the outsiders.
In response to disability awareness and equality, Sean Gray is presented in various communal situations, proving his social worth as a youngster which has greatly influenced his extensive presence as a man.
Current Layout/Installation Concept for Degree Show.
Thinking about what images to merge took time. I began looking back at exhibitions my work was involved in and narrowed in on NUCA's "Position". Thinking about why my work was selected over other submissions and how else my work could be perceived in a social and personal position, as it did in the "Position" exhibition, took place. How could I show Sean as completely as possible through imagery? Reflecting on all images I possessed of Sean, examining his childhood photos, I recognised that he had strong communal positions, as a brother, a peer, a friend, a member of a community. These personal relationships Sean has had with others has helped develop the social and extensive person he is today, I then realised merging these particular photos would allow such a message to come across to any audience member and perhaps, through reflection of the work, would be able to find the comparisons between themselves and Sean, therefore creating a sense of equality between them.
Previous (April's) Layout/Installation Concept for Degree Show.
Here, I wanted to exhibit various aspects of Sean's personality through use of my photographs and his artwork. However, I felt too many pieces could have the potential to overcrowd the space and the mind of the reflecting onlooker. I began thinking about limiting the number of pieces exhibited but it was hard as I still wanted more imagery to express my points of view on social and human equality. Soon, Double Exposure techniques and other digital/photographic manipulations were considered, in order to integrate multiple images. I first thought of merging my own photos of Sean painting and Sean in his living area but I wasn't feeling a deep connection to these images, nor were they working visually/aesthetically.
Previous (March's) Layout/Installation Concept for Degree Show.
In March this concept was created to visualise ideas about the Degree Show. It became evident to me that although I felt this was a strong piece or had the potential to be, the audience reaction would not be what I intended nor desired for my art practice. I felt the piece may hold the power to further more objectify the subject, exaggerating the already segregated society of those who are "normal" and those who are "different".
Judging on the visual progression in ideas, I have sought through multiple concepts and avenues to take. These three major concepts, were the main concepts that lead to my final decision in the exhibition. I feel, I have been constructively critical over all that I have created and considered to create for the Degree Show. It is my opinion that my finished result has been well thought out in terms of subject, context and its suitability for an exhibition and its appropriate nature for a varied audience.
The Below Tests and Concepts were derived from inspiration of Arne Svenson's About Face Photographic work/series.
A list of adjectives are posted on the mirror wall. A photo of Sean is pasted to the side of the mirror and positioned in such a way to be reviewing the words listed. Some are positive and some are negative words which Sean has heard either in reference to himself or others.
A Photo of Sean, with stereotypical words written on his face is posted to the mirror wall, whilst another pasted image of Sean looks at himself, producing a reenactment of his psyche.
A note on the wall reveals a memory from Sean's and my past. The note reads, "I remember Mum telling Sean he had been misbehaving so his punishment was not being able to go to Church. He wept so furiously from hearing this that Mum still took him to Church."
A sculpture of a man faces a mirror, reflecting on himself. The mirror, allows the onlooker to see themselves, involving themselves in this private experience. The onlooker must look into the mirror, if they wish to see the face of the subject in its reflection; this mode of curiosity is linked to people's initial social connections. What effect does this have on the subject? Here, the mergence of self-reflection and societal interjection intertwine, a collaboration between art and audience.