Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Something You've Probably Never Seen

There was a time when my main art form was sculpture. I was doing an art degree and was told by a tutor that 'painting wasn't my strength' and to concentrate on 3D. The work above is made from a fur lined board with cast papier mache baby heads, each one slightly different from the other.

If you've only ever seen my recent 'whimsical' paintings this post might surprise you. I was at art college at the time, in my final year and as part of that course, I organised a workshop at Colston's Girls' School in Bristol. I'd just about forgotten all about it until Middle Daughter asked me what had happened to my pea pods. They must have had an effect on her at the time, poor little thing! At college I found myself making art that I didn't particularly like, I threw a lot of it on a skip at the end of the course. (It was pretty scary stuff mind you!) You wouldn't want that looking at you in your home now would you? ;)

Well after Middle Daughter had asked about the pods, I looked all over the attic and couldn't find them, although I thought I'd taken photos but I couldn't find those either. So when I was searching for some old sketchbooks a few days ago, there was the photo album! It's a record of the workshop I held with a class of year 9 girls and the pea pod sculptures I'd made. They'll all be about 29 years old now and if you happen to see yourself here or recognise someone, do let me know! :)
At the end of the workshop I gave a talk about the work I'd made during my time there. I couldn't tell them what it was about because quite honestly I didn't know, so I garbled some nonsense to them about the babies being like peas in a pod, all uniform like the girls in the school. I don't think it went down as very popular idea and I hope they've forgotten what I said!

However, after all this time and distance I can now see what I was thinking. (more later)

Here are some pictures of the girls at work.

The girls' work was exceptionally good and I felt very humbled at their talent and enthusiasm. Here below shows some of my own work at the time.

 I used a doll as a mold to make papier mache heads.

I had an idea of peas in a pod, with baby heads as peas. (as you do.) ;)

 These were nestled on a bed of wire wool and were surrounded by sharp drawing pins.

What was I thinking you might ask?
 Let me show you the other pod.

These 'peas' had a much more comfortable time. Snuggled within a fur lined pod with a purple velvet coating no less.  Only one of the babies in the comfortable pod is awake.

So what was on my mind? My own school years were horrible. I hated school, life was tough and we had no money. I became very aware how different the environment in this school was to my own childhood experience but most of all it brought back memories of when I was their age.
I find it difficult to express in words and there's much more to this than I can explain, maybe you can see something in it I'm still unaware of? Your thoughts on this would be interesting. :)

So there we have it, my darker past.
Now on a much lighter note, I'm working on a couple of new paintings that will be varnished today and ready to put in my Etsy shop later. 

And my message to the art tutor who told me that 'painting wasn't my strength?'

Don't be so darned negative!

˙·٠•● Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ●•٠·˙


Yvonne Stewart said...

Jess those little peas are very unusual, I've never seen anything quite like it! You are very talented, I've enjoyed having a peek into your darker side. I love the photos of the girls creating too, Yvonne x

Kyra Wilson said...

You know, that's interesting because in college I spent a lot of time creating art I didn't like too! Makes me wonder even more if that particular degree was even worth it.

I like the peas though :)

lynne h said...

i *love* the peas, jess! and i'm glad you ignored that negative art tutor; your new paintings are so happy and uplifting!


martinealison said...

Bonjour ma chère amie,

Une publication très intéressante... Comment finalement on peut évoluer...
Je ne sais pas comment votre professeur pouvait penser de telles choses ! Moi j'aime beaucoup vos peintures avec ces petites femmes si délicates et sensuelles à la fois.
Gros bisous

Paper rainbow said...

I missed this post Jess as I was away for a few days, This is so interesting. I would have never put you down as a sculptor. I think as your work is so bright and painterly you were certainly meant to paint. I too did some awful things at college. I remember making lots of earth art, Andy goldsworthy-esque.I filled lots of bags with sand on the beach and built things with them on Crammond beach overlooking the forth rail bridge, goodness knows why! Your baby peas are very day of the triffids, and strangely beautiful with their gleaming eyes
- I have just finished a collage workshop week in a primary school and am exhausted, although sharing inspiration is so rewarding. I am sure the girls were hugely impressed by your magical work.

Veronique said...

Thanks for sharing your story Jess. You are very talented.