Tag Archives: EI-P1-Review

Assignment 1 Cultural Fusion – Addendum

Further analysis of assignment work.

In the last couple of weeks I have received three official communications from OCA regarding my course work. Two of them relate to my formal submission for assessment for the course A Creative Approach – one from my tutor who was present during assessment with the other being assessor comments. The third communication, also from my tutor, relates to the assignment I’ve just completed for Exploring Ideas. I will not be posting these comments in my on-line learning log, as some students do, as I believe that tutor/student communications should be kept to the people involved. The guidance I have been given is for me to follow not for the whole world to analyse.

Having said that, there are one or two things that I can address in generalised terms but I am not looking back to the course I have completed so will only be concentrating on Assignment 1 of this current course.


It’s become clear to me that whilst I have done a lot of research and produced a body of work from that start point I haven’t documented the progression from one to the other very well. My totem research covered 4 main areas:

  • Tiwi people of Bathurst & Melville Islands, NT, Australia. Pukumani/Tutini Burial Posts. Whilst I found these very interesting and spent some time exploring the concept I did not take this further into my own design work as I didn’t feel I could develop the abstract form of the patterning into a meaningful personal project. I felt no connection to the finished posts and was unable to relate to the cultural significance of this work as it is very personal to their tribal beliefs. I moved on to other areas.
  • Other Australian Aboriginal Totems, North Australia. The focus here is on personal totem images of creatures of significance to individuals for whatever reason – information on this subject is extensive within Australian Aboriginal historical and contemporary writing. The word totem does not indicate a pole of any sort, rather the depiction of a creature. As stated in my post of 2/1/13 I was very influenced by this museum visit and the idea of depicting a personal benevolent animal in a contemporary setting (functional design) appealed to me as something I could develop into an interesting and engaging project. The reason I picked the lizard as my own totem is detailed here. My entire lizard samples evolved from this start point.

Gecko modernThe samples above are based on a contemporary, simplified idea of the lizard (drawn by myself) which I feel is easily recognisable worldwide as depicting any generalised member of the species. I picked a fluid and lifelike shape and I drew several prototypes (some in the previous course) before deciding which one was the clearest most uncluttered design to evolve into the different visuals.

Stylised lizardsThis piece, above left, was based on an even more simplified and stylised rendition coming from Australian Aboriginal art, which is mostly minimalist, simple, outline work. Creatures are distorted and sometimes shown in unnatural positions. I tried to achieve a similar effect with my own interpretation whilst still staying within this genre. I looked at many, many Aboriginal resources, none of which I’m prepared to reproduce due to copyright issues. The reader can easily google Aboriginal lizard art and find thousands of interpretations.

Abroiginal style lizardsIn my piece above left the fluidity of the subject was discarded in favour of a more rigid approach. Whilst some of the sample pictures don’t show a lot of rigidity it is extremely common in Australian Aboriginal rock art and, having visited numerous ancient sites in the Kimberley region, I have seen much of this. Shapes become distended, limbs are shown at odd angles and creatures quite often seem to morph into mythical incarnations. Below are two authentic rock art pieces from http://www.britannica.com.

Aboriginal rock art lizardsLeft: Painting on bark of a monitor lizard in X-ray style by Baboa, from Arnhem Land, Australia; in the State Museum of Folklore, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Credit: Courtesy of the Städtisches Museum für Völkerkunde, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Right: Rock painting of a lizardlike creature, Hawker, South Australia. Credit: Holle Bildarchiv, Baden-Baden, Germany.

So my Australian Aboriginal research influenced the 5 samples and the final piece I produced in a profound and positive manner. However, I completely understand that my recording of this may have been lacking meaning that the process was difficult to follow.

  • North American Totems. Haida Gwaii, Canada and Alaska. These are a very different concept to those listed above. They are based on a pole usually with multiple carvings of several animals. These animals, whilst unrelated, still have significance to the tribe. Some poles tell stories whilst others are only visual images of creatures (meaningful to the tribe) in different poses or sizes. I took from these the idea of using poles to showcase more than one image or theme, using messages personal to myself. Most poles are huge and much more imposing and dynamic than the Tiwi posts I previously examined and to my mind they exhibit a powerful presence. I saw many a totem pole whilst living in the UK and all are massive, intricately carved and colourful, effectively drawing the eye to the imposing nature of the structure. I wanted to try to do something similar – tall configurations with my own form of visual messages.
  • Contemporary Totems. I looked at many modern-day artists and have stated several times how I was influenced by John Dahlsen. I found the grouping of his installations to be visually stimulating and powerful. One sculpture alone doesn’t send such an aggressive or forceful message but by putting multiple pieces together he has created something much more shocking and confronting. He is concentrating on his own messages of waste and discard, I chose my own. Jenny Orchard also piqued my interest with her quirky ceramic totems and the grouping of the exhibits, along with the diverse subject matter, is what creates the atmosphere and interest. I looked at her work as a multitude of different components which when put together created the whole. I hoped my road sign messages would do the same. I was delighted to see the work of Rosalie Gascoigne whilst at the MCA and I wrote quite a bit about her work, my final comment being ‘A sort of fragmented, scattered visual poetry. Yes, I can see that.‘ I enjoyed her work but it wasn’t a route that suited my project ideas at this stage of my development.

There were, unquestionably, some issues with my road sign project but whilst working on them I couldn’t see that. It’s only as I came to the end of the project that I reflected on the direction I had taken and what improvements could have been made (see review). Visually the messages I want to portray cannot really be understood without a text interpretation but, in my defence, I have to read most artist statements before I can start to interpret the message of their work.

I enjoyed the experience. Both on my own and with the aid of my tutor I have learned a lot and have a clearer idea of where my strengths and weaknesses are and I am making every effort to take on board her comments and encouragement.

http://www.freepik.com – lizard clip art
http://www.equilter.com – lizard fabrics
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/8050/Painting-on-bark-of-a-monitor-lizard-in-X-ray Continue reading

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Exploring Ideas: Assignment 1 Cultural Fusion – Review

Do your finished samples fulfil your expectations?  To what extent do they reflect the initial research that you undertook for this assignment?  Can you see a clear line of progression from source material to preliminary ideas and finished samples or … Continue reading

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