2021 Art in Process: The Pinecone

Out of all the natural objects I’ve collected, I didn’t think the pinecone was going to be the pivot-point for this research. In last week’s blog I put up a photo and a drawing of a pinecone, and the two main ideas that come from brainstorming around this shape was ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’. Then I decided to reduce the pinecone into an abstract drawing, then into a more diagrammatical image. I just allowed myself to mull on these images, without rushing.

This is hard to do. Just being and thinking is hard to do.

In this mode of ‘mulling’ I come up with an approach to narrative that I don’t think I would have thought of without this reflective process. Which gives me some confidence in the work. It is difficult to push ahead, especially without knowledge of where the project is heading. I guess this comes from judging what I have done before and projecting that into the future. What I mean is that if I haven’t done something before, I can’t judge it on my past work. So the lack of knowledge or lack of known pathways can cause discomfort. But I have to push through.

So, the pinecone. Who knew?

I thought the research would be based around the spiral in the shell, or the speckles in a river stone. I wasn’t going to even use a pinecone, it was a random decision on my part. And, I wonder if because the shell and the stone already have connotations of narrative to me in their make-up they are in a way loaded in the research. But this pinecone I’d never intended to use, so my thoughts were a lot more free to roam and question how this object could inspire narrative or narrative structure.

Original sketch of the pinecone
First adaptation of the shape
Diagrammatic render with brainstorm

The words I initially used to describe the sketch of the pinecone, ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’ have not been developed. Rather the idea of an ‘event’ presented itself. How to develop that further, will be the work of this coming week. But I’m quietly confident I can work with this idea. It certainly has potential for narrative or non-narrative exploration depending on how I develop it further.

The ‘event’ could seem very similar to the ’cause and effect’ approach of conventional narrative filmmaking, however, I believe the concept of the ‘event’ can strike a deeper philosophical meaning.

So, where to from here?

First I will analyse the term ‘event’ starting with the etymology and then look at any writers or artists that have used or been inspired by the term.

I’ll leave it there for this week. Catch you next time xx.

Oh… before I forget – I wanted to say I’ve posted my very first Vlog. So if you want to see me chatting about this research click here.

Process: A mixture of creativity and chaos – Part 1

This week is something quite different. I’m going to discuss a creative project that I’m working on at the moment. I’ve been planning to share my process on the blog, but kept putting it off – however, I think this is the ideal moment.

One of the projects I’m working on is titled, ‘At the Horizon’ (ATH). It’s an installation for a gallery in Auckland. However, with the lock-down due to covid-19, I’m not sure if it will be going ahead or not. However, I’m keeping-on. For one thing, I need some creative outlets to work on during this time, and also, I’ve got a momentum going for the work, so I need to carry that energy through.

The work is about my mother, myself and my daughter.

My ideas initially formed on this topic in 2016, and I filmed my mother sharing some of her childhood memories. At that stage I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the footage, and if perhaps it was only for the family. But I kept coming back to the interview and re-watching it, thinking about my mum and how her memories had somehow become my own, not as if I had experienced them, but rather I had experienced her re-telling – it was part of my childhood. I have my own imaginary place and characters, for her stories.

This idea began to develop into a question around, how I experience others experiences of life, especially my mother, and then later on my daughter.

Nothing I tried to create at the beginning of the process was coherent, I tried a number of times to edit the footage into something, but it just wasn’t working. Then in 2018 I had a chance to travel with my daughter to China and during that time I took a lot of photos and footage.

What has happened since that time travelling is a collecting process, new footage, old footage of my mother when she was young, footage of my daughter as a child, footage of my daughter now, all intertwined with a constant unpacking of what it is to have these relationships.

I slowly formed the project towards nine short films, of different lengths, that work separately on their own, but also collectively strengthen each other, as an interconnection. Much like the relationship I have with my mother and daughter.

The work is a collage, that will work interactively on the internet. This work is still completely in process, not one of the nine films are completed, at the moment they are all in production, (at different stages). I have been lucky enough to have Claire Duncan working as sound designer, and I have also roped my partner, Grant, into doing the coding for the interaction and web-site, which the work will be housed in.

I just want to say that creatively, this process has been very messy, there has been a lot of up and downs, a lot of dead ends. And that is OK. When I thought I was onto something, it often turned on its head and I had to start the process again. Creating 9 short films that interrelate yet hold a distinct quality… is harder than I thought.

But now I’m at the end stages, most filming is complete, most image collection and montage work is done and I can start to see the creativity through the process.

Whatever you are doing, striving for, trying to create – trust yourself. Trust the process. Trust the chaos, the messy bits. It’s OK. You are exactly where you are meant to be.

I’m going to bring you more about this work later in the year, maybe even a few clips to entice you into watching the finished piece…(when it’s done). Haha.

Catch you next week xx.