Exploratory project – Evaluation
What did I discover?
There are many possible paths to follow when exploring something as small in size as the almond. It has been a very interesting process because while exploring one area at the same time I was thinking of several other ideas to explore: the almond as a source of food, as poison, as the basis for beauty products, as an oil product. Trying to limit my exploration in one area I focused on the fact that the almond is a commodity since ancient times and that it has been part of our world and of various cultures internationally for thousands years. The almond is used in my current research as a metaphor of the circle of life but at the same time as a reference to certain constants, that remain unaltered through the years, with specific reference to the timeless bond between human and land.
In terms of actual work I have applied the following techniques in order to explore the possibilities of using the almond as a medium and pigment:
- Using pieces of crushed shells and hulls to create fossil look alike
- Using the almond shells to create patterns on clay – negative time and space
- Making ink pens out of almond shells
- Soaking the almonds’ shells and hulls / coloured water
- Crushing the almonds’ shells and hulls – collecting the powder
- Using almond oil on paper
What went well and why?
Some of the exploration areas mentioned above worked better than others, some need to be further resolved.
- Creating patterns on clay has worked quite well, both the fossils look alike and the almond shell marks – I think of the marks left on clay as a reference to the timeless aspect of the almonds.
- Also, soaking the almonds in sea water was an interesting process – first time working with liquid. I did not reach an end result with this part of the exploration because I have not decided the type of container(s) that I will use. What I think went well with this exploration is that there is a direct link with the almonds and their historical value.
What did not go so well and why?
The following exploration areas need to be resolved further:
- The most time consuming process of this exploration was trying to work out how to use the ink pens. I did many experiments to find a way as to how they could work as ink pens – I still need to make some more experiments, I wish to create a more loose effect as the end result.
- Collecting the powder out of the crushed almonds’ shells and hulls is also quite time consuming. I will need to repeat this process many times in order to obtain the quantity that I will need to create a piece of work.
- The almond oil on paper s the area I researched the least – there are practical/technical/mechanical matters that need to be resolved for this work because I wish the end result to work as a light box
What have I learnt about:
- The making and thinking process
This making/thinking process is on-going. For this particular exploration I started with the “thinking” part first, trying to set a broad frame for my research. And then I started experimenting with the medium. Once I got more into it both seem to be happening simultaneously, especially during the days that I was concentrated on the making – during the making process I was thinking of other paths that this project may take, and also theoretical links that can possibly be made.
- The use of resources
I have managed to obtain a sufficient quantity of almonds a few months ago so I did not face any difficulties in terms of resources, so this was not something that worried me on this project.
- Capacity to take risks
At the begging I was, and may be still am, a bit conservative thinking of a work that will form part of a gallery space. My concern is that I am dealing with a medium that is not a familiar art material, so will I be able to create something that is worth making it to a gallery space? Does it have to be saleable? After a point I have set this worry aside and I started experimenting more freely with the almonds.
- Coped with problems and challenges?
Is there an option not to? Can you get any sort of outcome if you do not overcome the problems and face the challenges? Having to deal with an “unknown” medium was challenging at times. Most significant challenge was the medium itself: how to create a work based on the almonds, to actually use the almonds, for the work to have a direct link with the medium. Apart from this challenge I had to face the difficulty of creating 3-d construction work: the mechanics of creating a construction are always challenging. Also, some of the techniques that I have used were time consuming so I had to spend more time than I anticipated in getting a pigment.
How will I use what I have learnt in the future.
In the past I have been straggling as to the link between the theoretical/research background of the work and the actual work. I was a bit confused on this area in the sense that I was giving much emphasis in writing a text about the work, whereas I should had concentrated more on the actual work. As a result I wrote some texts that were not easy to read and maybe the reader could not make a link with the work. During this process I concentrated more on the possibility of creating work that the viewer will be in a position to create a link with, without first having to read a text about the work. Second thing that I will use in future is to do as much exploration possible and let myself free to do this exploration without thinking that I have to create something that will make it to a gallery space. Exploration can be a fun and relaxed process and it does not have to lead to the creation of a “saleable” work or a final work. In the studio the artist is allowed to explore and should spend some time exploring a research area without worrying about the exhibition space.