Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Photographic Plan: Subject & Theme

A couple of years ago I created a one-off piece of work which was just called 'suck and blow' (2018) I have been thinking about this piece of work as I think the layout of the images could really work for the panels I would like to create in this new work.  

Suck & Blow (2018) Zoe Van-de-Velde

The use of the four corners could work well as I was considering the idea of using ritual magic elements of earth, air, fire, and water and so the panels would almost become a working magical altar.  

These are usually represented by symbols as below: 

So in the panels, I will create I will use this idea of an altar  - here is an altar based on the ideas of the Golden Dawn.  The Golden Dawn was a magical order; 'The original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which started in the late 1800s, borrowed from a wide variety of occult traditions of Kabalah, Tarot, Geomancy, Enochian Magic, Theosophy, Freemasonry, Paganism, Astrology, and many more o and created a unique and viable system of magic that is still being practiced today.' (Regardie 1986) 

Like Chadwick's work I want to use the flesh in the images and the idea of anonymity and universality, I would like to incorporate so each panel maybe like a Japanese poem painting will be symbolic with flesh and objects relating to the element it represents.  These panels would then become a magical altar.  I am going to research further into the placement of symbols and objects in ritual magic to consider how to create each piece faithfully.


Museum of Witchcraft & Magic (2017) 960 – SLATE ALTAR WITH HEXAGRAMS AND TRIANGLES [Online] Available From:
(Accessed 05/08/20)

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Helen Chadwick: Ego Geometria Sum/The Labours

Ego Geometria Sum The Labours I - X', Helen Chadwick, 1986 | Tate

Helen Chadwick (1953-1996) was an artist who really embraced the materiality of things.  Her work included the photographs on objects as bove but also bodily fluids (Piss Flowers (1991-1992), meat (Enfleshings I & II 1989) & (Meat Abstracts 1989), fur (Philoxenia 1994-1995) and many others.  Chadwick's kinaesthetic relationship with the physical runs through all her work and the work I am discussing here.  She began with a full-size self-portrait which 'she painted photographic emulsion onto plywood and exposed monochromatic images in washed-out hues' (Sladen M 2004).  She then began to place these images onto objects that showed different times in her life from a baby (pram) to school and later life using objects such as a piano, tent front door of a house.  She poses naked in each one to make the shape of the object.

It is interesting that as Chadwick creates these sculptures that in all she chooses not to show her face, Sladen states this 'emphasises the universal quality of the work' Sladen M, 2004) and this is always an important factor as an artist creating work that comes from yourself but the world can connect to. I am going to be using a slightly different process that Chadwick here as I will be using the decal but this idea of personal and universal has to come through so that it has a wider meaning.  The flesh and the object really connect in these images they have meaning to the artist and this embedding of the artist into the object is very interesting creating an eternal connection between them and also as she used images through her life, a life story through objects.   

I will come back to these themes as I develop my own work here as there are very important elements of connection and universality that I would like to explore further. 


The Tate (2020) Helen Chadwick, The Labours I - X [Online] Available from: (Accessed 04/08/20)

The Tate (2020) Helen Chadwick (1953-1996) [Online] Available from: (Accessed 04/08/20)

Sladen M.(2004) Helen Chadwick, Corporation of London, Hatje Cantz Verlag. London

Materiality & The Image: Project Plan

All projects need a plan - please find my project plan here Materiality & The Image Project Plan

The work above are Lead Books by Anselm Kiefer.  The Royal Academy of the Arts writes; 'Books – often with wings – have been a repeated motif since the late 1960s and represent, for Kiefer, important repositories of learning, religion, culture. Many of these book sculptures are made of lead, which Kiefer first used to mend his plumbing in the 1970s. He has subsequently described it as “the only material heavy enough to carry the weight of human history”.' (RA: Anselm Kiefer 2020) 

This weight of human history is one of the key elements to Kiefer's work which is post-second world war and shows the aftermath and devastation created by war using German myths and legends.  His work also uses a wide variety of mixed media including lead (as above) but also concrete, stone, ash, straw, shellac, paint, and photographs.  The work is often massive and in the case of the books extremely heavy.  The work is meant so that we do not forget history and that we face what we have done.  Kiefer States: '"Art really is something very difficult," he says. "It is difficult to make, and it is sometimes difficult for the viewer to understand … A part of it should always include having to scratch your head."' (Prodger 12/09/2014) 

I went to the RA exhibition in 2014 and the massive work in the space was truly overwhelming, to see Kiefer's work in a book does not make you really understand it.  Being in front of the work you almost become part of it, it consumes you, takes you in and you feel something profound.  I have cried in front of these works.  In relation to my own work here I am also (in a much much smaller way) attempting to use photographs on wood.  The reason for choosing wood is that wood had a history, through the grain, you can feel the years it has a beauty and by embedding the image into the wood It feels as if the image becomes part of a new history.  I will write more about this as I go along but I am very interested in using ritual magic and the Kabbalah as Kiefer has done in his images and I will be exploring the subject matter of the photography in more detail in later posts.


Prodger M. (12/09/2014) The Guardian, Inside Anselm Kiefer's astonishing 200-acre art studio [Online] Available from: (Accessed 04/08/20)

Royal Academy (2020) Anselm Kiefer: A Beginner's Guide [Online] Available from: (Accessed 04/08/20)

Rosenthal M. (1987) Anselm Kiefer, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Chicago & Philadelphia

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Project Sign Off: Materiality & The Image


I have now experimented and really thought about what I would like to explore for my project this term.  My project sign off can be found here: Project Sign Off

Thinking more about the physical aspect of the image it used to be quite powerful to tear up or destroy physical photographs obviously now much more difficult! Natasha Curuana in her Fairytales for Sale, removed the faces from the images of women selling their wedding dresses.  She used these in her project to create a new narrative on the nature of women as a bride and beyond  'The image, however, undergoes a transformation from wedding photograph to sales image - and as this change takes place. the bride loses her identity.  She loses face' (Rogers & Houghton: 2017. P55)


Although not directly related to the work I am carrying out I thought the concept of the change in the use of the images was interesting and how this affected the viewers' perception of the images.  Context is everything and perhaps exploring out of context images could be a further area to explore!


Natasha Caruana (2020) Fairytale for Sale [Online] Available from: (Accessed 30/07/20)

Rogers F. & Houghton R. (2017) Firecrackers: Female Photography Now, Thames & Hudson. London. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Experiments with Materiality: Equipment & Techniques II

In the last post I worked on adding a photograph to the fabric in this post I will be adding a photograph to wood.  To do this I will be using Decal.  'Decal is a shortened form of decalcomania, from the original French d├ęcalcomanie, a technique for transferring prints onto pottery.'  ( 2020)It is a form of transfer paper that again I can put through my printer.  Being that we are in lockdown I have again scoured my house to find a suitable wood object that I would lie to transfer images onto. So here is the box that I have chosen:

16cm width x 7cm height

16cm width

16cm width

10cm x 10cm

I will now measure the dimensions of the box so that I can ensure the images can be resized to fit exactly as I would like them too - I will add the dimensions under each image.

Now for the images - a little while ago I made an army of dolls and these are the images I intend to place on the box 

So I began by printing the images onto the Decal paper - I did this at high quality plain paper as instructed.  I made these the right sizes for the box dimensions and printed at 300dpi

I then cut these out very carefully and placed them in a bowl of water - this releases the backing and makes them sticky for the box.

I then very carefully removed from the water the image - this is very thin translucent and delicate, I placed this on the wooden box in position and the with a clean paintbrush brushed turpentine onto the image so that it would adhere to the box and also become part of the wood 

Once I had completed all sides I needed to leave these to dry for at least 24 hours to ensure I do not disturb the work.

Here are some images of the completed box...

I am actually very pleased about how these images came out on the box  - they really embed into the wood and I am glad I chose to use coloured images here as the colour of the head works very well on the box.  With this in mind I think this will be the process I will use in my final project for this term.  

References (2020) Definition: Decal [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/20) 

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Experiments with Materiality: Equipment & Techniques

As I have been discussing in my previous posts I wanted to explore materiality and the image so to do this I searched my drawers at home and I discovered that I had some T-Shirt transfer paper and some Decal for inkjet paper.  In this post, I will go through the T-Shirt Transfer process.

The T-Shirt transfer paper is a fairly simple way of adding an image to material, as this is light T-Shirt transfer paper (just cheap stuff from Wilkinsons) the cloth/material needs to be white or pale/pastel coloured for this to work.  

Photo Paper & Printers | Jeff Scowen: The Film Photography Wholesaler Since  1982

The process for this is fairly straightforward as I just need to find a photograph I would like to use and for my project, I will take specific images - however, for this experiment, I will use this image taken recently: 

I am going to use this one as I think the textures and the black and white will work really well on white cloth.  So I have loaded the transfer paper into my printer as directed. My printer does not have a transfer paper setting so I have flipped the image manually just using the desktop photo editor and then saved this as a copy.  I then go to the image and set to print on high-quality paper.  

Once this has printed onto the paper I will leave this to dry to ensure that I do not smudge or degrade the print.  I will then put this image onto cloth/material.  This will require another search of my house to find suitable material for the purpose! This is okay as my printer is taking some time to print for high quality!

Just discovered I have some calico stashed away and this will be perfect as it has a slightly creamy colour and its texture is a little rough so I think it might really bring out the textures in the image. Calico is essentially a not fully processed cotton, unbleached material 

On Trend Fabrics Calico 100% unbleached Cotton Fabric - 150cm wide medium weight cream colour - sold by the metre

It is quite cheap - mine still has a price of £3.00 for 1.6 x 1 metre.  Although from buying this material for the college we have noticed an increase in the price recently.  I will now iron the material so that there are no creases.  I then place the printed image face down onto the material on the ironing board.  The iron is on the highest setting with no steam.  I then place a tea towel over the top of the backing paper and begin to iron in smooth circular motions as directed to ensure that the heat is distributed evenly.  I apply heat for between 90 - 120 seconds, once I am satisfied the transfer has adhered I leave this to cool and then I can remove (very carefully) the backing sheet.

The results were good please see the images below:

As you can see the image is now on the fabric - I think it looks better in real life as that is the point really to feel the fabric and the image in your hands - the texture of the material and the image worked well together and this I may use in my work.  My next post I will trying out Decal .... on wood!

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Further Research: The Turin Shroud - Materiality & The Image

'The Shroud of Turin is an ancient linen cloth about 15 feet long by 4 feet wide (4.4 by 1.1 meters) that bears the image of what appears to be a crucified man's body. On display at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, it is one of many shrouds claimed over the centuries to be the one true burial cloth of Jesus.' (Choi: 18.07.18)  Fake or not the idea of the trace of a body left on the cloth is fascinating and in terms of this being a 'photograph' it is very close as a reproduction of a live image, a moment in time recorded.  If it is medieval then this is still a very well preserved moment of, perhaps, an unknown man.  It is a thought an artist made this shroud and what an art it is!  Considering this and the work of Ana Mendieta who worked on leaving traces of her body in the landscape.  Mendieta made a series of films that explored different techniques for leaving traces and these included 
'video and Cinefluography (X-ray motion film)' (Tate 2020) 

Ana Mendieta X-ray c.1975, film still. Copyright The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, L.L.C. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. and Alison Jacques Gallery

The X-ray is an amazing invention allowing us to literally see inside ourselves and this is what we are biologically a suit with bones and blood and nerves.  I would like to explore how I can explore this further with traces of myself inside and out this could be using techniques like printing onto cloth or photographic techniques that find their way inside me....

Helen Chadwick also used her inner self and others and animals creating materiality and performance that could be horrifying and beautiful in equal measure.  This work Enfleshings below she thought resembled a male torso 

Main View

This 'image is an enlarged close-up view of raw meat. A light bulb containing an illuminated coil is embedded just below the centre of the meat in Enfleshings I. Fissures in the flesh below it evoke vulvic openings. The steak in Enfleshings II has striations resembling the delineation of pectoral muscles on a male torso.' (Tate 2020)

I am very interested in the materiality of the image and how to create that using photography. I will explore these ideas further and begin to make some samples of the work I would like to explore...


Choi C.Q. (18/07/18) Live Science: Shroud of Turin Is a Fake, Bloodstains Suggest
[Online]Available From: (accessed 09/07/20)

Tate.a (2020) Ana Mendieta: The Earth that Covers Us Speaks [Online] Available from: (accessed 09/07/20)

Tate.b(2020) Helen Chadwick: Enfleshings [Online] Available from: