Reflective Journal Week 38, 14 June – 20 June 2020

“A perspective of an outside visitor”

“A celebration of its natural heritage”

“A resonance of its historical context with a briefed perception of the true essence of Cornish landscape, Lanyon’s mineshaft and all sorts.”

These three sculpture took months to finish. Especially the last one, Catch of the Day, was initiated in April. I put objects into remade seawater and left them under sunshine for months therefore salt would crystallised naturally instead of becoming exaggerating shapes formed by boiling. I wanted to uttermostly simulate the condition of shipwrecks. 

Passive Decoration

I interpreted pinecone as a strong religious symbol, and with it depicted my concern over losing identity and culture in imperceptible process of different forms of colonisation. The pinecone would stretch open when the humidity drops to a certain point, but crystallised salt prevented this characteristic while creating a shiny decoration surface. Its fixation on the fruit created a paused physical status of a vegetal specimen. I was greatly inspired by shipwreck, moorings, floating woods and all sort of objects that to do with the maritime culture of Cornwall. I was thinking of building up a monument of shipwrecks, aims for reflecting the harsh environmental conditions that Cornish people managed to survive.

Feast on

Feast on interrogates an interesting phrase I used many times for landscape paintings of Cornish natural heritage. A tall glass completely covered in crystallised Cornish salt, and filled with large fragments of the mineral was used to challenge “a celebration of Cornish landscape”. I tried to explore the true essence of the landscape that had been briefly celebrated so many times, pointing out a lost maritime history that constantly being covered by touristic attractions in the vacation season. I really would like to put a little umbrella on the pile of salt, but I realised this cup is actually for red wine. 

Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day should be considered as a constant reminder of the image beneath the pictorial depiction of Cornish landscapes. Sea has been a significant resource to feed the Cornish people. I created this work to inform that there is a very squeezed fishing industry that still existed in this “one of the poorest region of west Europe”. It was also inspired by the word “wrecking” as well as the dark side of this desperate way of survive. I read about that scavengers would shake lanterns on cliffs as if they were beacons marking deep and calm water. Ships would be lured to these little light spots then smashed themselves or stranded on shores, spill out cargos to feed coastal villages. 

Experimenting went on this week. I worked out how to produce an even reflective surface with saltwater, and trying to figure out if it could lead to something useful, combining with salted strings. 

I tried to solidified a piece of watercolour paper to see if I can form it more naturally compared to the Sail Form series. Gabo’s inspiring shapes considerably shocked me in Feb’s exhibition at Tate St Ives. However, maintaining a strange shape for paper with significant thickness may require pulling of strings at its vertexes. I reckon this part of the experiment can be extremely valuable in future practices. 

At the meantime, I studied some figures from Newlyn School painters’ work. I am particularly interested in peasants’ labouring for it is relatively suitable for depicting “the true image of the county instead of its leisurely charm”. I selected the Zandvoort Fishergirl, 1884, by Elizabeth Forbes and her Across Mounts Bay, 1889; Her Favourite Doll, 1887 by Caroline Gotch; Meditation (date not found) by Walter Longley; Homeward, 1913 by Frederick Hall.

I produced two sketches and quickly lost interest. Realistic methodology did not seem to fit this particular task. I thought about Lanyon’s loose brushes of his pre-history stones on Cornish field and made some other sketches.

Soon this idea was converted into experimental practice with copper wire. The figure was tied with cotton strings; therefore, a foundation is provided for salt to grow. It was soaked in saltwater; however, the result will not be ready in weeks.

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About cechenpaints

An artist, painter, illustrator based in London.