Reflective Journal Week 40, 28 June – 4 July 2020

I expressed my interest in making three pieces of work about three natural elements: earth, water and fire. Two designs came up last week to picture the earth element, and in Week 40 we are going to look into a conceptual design for the water.

A perfectly even reflective salt surface was created over these two weeks, as I mentioned it last week as well. Basically, all developments were expanded around this craft. 

The first idea was inspired by the sundial. I enjoy how shadow relocates itself as the sun angle changes over the day. And most of my trips to west Penwith were troubled by the typical English weather. But never to worry —— the rain seldom keeps falling for days. When rainfall comes to its end, outdoor passengers are always amazed by a commonly occurred Dingle effect. Another similar scene happens at night. When the unsettling sea wind ceaselessly brings humid air to this Nordic South, clouds run fast in a void firmament because the silvering moonlight hides stars. The moon pours out a ribbon on the horizon of the sea, cast a glamour over this nocturne, and inspired those who drenched in this scenario awe to nature.

I wrote under the first design:

The Water Form was inspired by the principle of the sundial. The artists were fascinated by how light sines through a break of clouds and brighten a portion of distant waves. It reminds of a fall of glistering illumination in a grey, depressing afternoon; but the form also recalls the moonlit shore when my mind voyage with Julius Olsson. 

The Water Form is designed to depict a brinish element with mineral. The lack of utilisation or visualisation of liquid materials does not obstruct the artistic language, as the symbol of Triskelion shows how three natural elements accrete with each other. 

A model was built to prove this idea. 

The other design is inspired by James Whistler’s painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1874). The flying fire-ball-like objects split the night, lighten a glistening ocean. They look like firework or meteors, but their shapes are similar to fishing sinkers. These notches fly above the surface of a moonlit sea, picturing the hard labour of night fishing in a poetic language. It celebrates the maritime culture of the region, also discusses the relationship between human and their survival in the might of nature. 

A box of saltwater was finally dried after months of waiting. It is now carefully peeled off, and waiting for a canvas to be processed with saltwater and watercolour. 

I have organised notes regarding feedbacks received from the One Day Show. I submitted all sculptures so far at its online display. 

  1. I was advised that as the maker, speaking to the sea without identifying Cornish culture is feasible. Also, it is not necessary for the viewer to know about the background. I should think through whether I want to insert a significant amount of introduction of my research in a very limited number of works —— and the limited exhibition condition too.
  2. While focusing on the context, I should try to bring audiences in the engagement instead of rubbing things up. Developing a belief in what I say is also crucial in order to present my ideas clearly and effectively.

I was recommended to research John Virtue’s monochrome landscape paintings, especially during his national gallery residency. His interests in Ruisdael, Turner, Constable and Rubens completely matches my preference for landscape painting. 

I saw my transformation from a realistic style —— not a general, classic realistic picture, but an attempt with very narrowed expectation —— to an expressionist manner of painting. His process with natural forms inspired me a lot regarding how should I lose all self-determined restrictions to capture the motion of a particular natural object. 

Japanese artist Yamamoto Motoi who plays with salt, was also suggested. His work popularised in the field of art in the past few years (I do recall I saw his work on the internet when I was still in middle school). Motoi spills salt on the gallery floor and paints patterns with his finger. Audiences are often shocked by the massive scale of his work, growing awe to the concept of “an enormous amount” and “an overwhelming complexity”. These elegantly curved patterns remind me of vortex, hive and microscopic vegetal structures.


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