I like flowers, they delight me.
Growing up, they were an ever present part of family life. It wasn’t just in the garden and in vases on tables. In my grandparents’ house, floral patterns were everywhere; on walls, floors and Gran’s frocks. These illustrative motifs are metaphors, symbolic of the cultural conditioning and familial expectations of my growing up. Flowers associated with decoration and the domestic domain of women, where gender roles embraced domestic abilities.
The medium of pulp-painting partnered with the inspiration of floral pattern gives me the opportunity to revisit and reflect upon my past. My relationship to the floral patterns are personal; generating memories of my growing up. I remember, as a child, hiding behind my grandmother’s lounge: I’m “Alice in Wonderland”, after she drank the “drink me” phial. I’m three inches high, surrounded by flowers who speak to me from my imagination. I can play, explore and discover new ways of working in the studio in a child-like way.
The process of pulp-painting is itself a process of resurrection. Imbued with memory of a life of wear, recycled cotton and linen clothing are pulped to be reinvented as both paint and canvas.
The art-making process involves reworking floral motif, reminiscent of the domestic arena of my past, using handmade and digital drawings as templates for large-format pulp-paintings.
The floral subject matter for these working drawings is sourced from images that connect me with childhood memories; photographs of garden flowers, domestic fabric and vintage floral patterns on the internet. These drawings are re-invented by manipulating and cropping them in photoshop and using water to dilute the printed ink-jet image.
Emergent in nature, my arts practice is informed by flowing partnerships between conceptual and technical research, and studio work.
I read a theorist, an artist and make work. I read:
• Daniel Barber’s Somaesthetic Awareness and Artistic Practice with Tim Maguire and photographed flowers and floral fabric
• Jenny Onyx and Jennie Small’s Memory-Work with David Hockney and made working drawings
• Gaston Bachelard’s, The Poetics of Space, The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places with Jackson Pollock and pulp-painted.
My work, in its use of scale, macro floral detail and cropped composition, is informed by Michael Lin, Tim Maguire and Robert Zakanitch; contemporary artists using pattern to express their personal ideologies.
I like scale. I like photographing a small floral pattern or roses from the garden and enlarging them. Flowers have a louder voice when painted large-scale. When installed on the wall as a pulp-painting, these flattened blossoms connect me to past events. I am challenged to feel and engage in more emotional interpretations of these floral memories: to self-reflect and become more aware of my patterns of behaviour, my values and my place in the world.
It is the cellular materiality and its diverse range of meanings that inspire me to work with pulp. Discarded clothing have memories of their own. Resurrected and transformed, they can live in the context of the visual; a metaphor for memory, loss and transience.
It is the materiality of the pulping process that transforms and humanizes. The paper is drawn onto the silk-screen; disparate, it dries into a homogenous “skin”. It is this “skin” that now lives and breathes with floral imagery full of emotion, childhood memory and meaning.
The act of pulp-painting
Materials and tools
My colour palette is donated recycled clothing which is cut up and beaten with water in a Hollander beater machine to a fine soupy consistency.
My paintbrush is a plastic squirter bottle.
The bottle is filled with pulp and water. This mix is akin to an acrylic wash. Its viscosity, opacity, malleability determines subtlety and depth of colour when layering pulp and modulating tone.
The canvas is a large silk-screen support suspended horizontally. I paint with wrist, arm and body, from all directions, with spontaneity and liberation of gesture.
When the dried pulp-painting is peeled from the screen, a flattened image reveals the process of reinventing the working drawing on one side and a layered cavalcade of memories on the other.