Janet Tryner Fine Artist

Fine artist and live graphics designer.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Recurring surface

I entered an artwork into Leamington Open, this: ‘A few rough hands, garden suburb’ but its back-up name is ‘recurring surface’ and I like that more now. It works better with what I was thinking about when I put it together: time/surface/ hands-to-materials and dislocation / Leamington’s scratch-the-surface regency vernacular. 

I liked it more when I first made it and less now because I put it up for ridicule. I can't help thinking that I should have daubed white on bits of it.  But I still like the brick looking as though it's holding up the wood when it's actually the other way around. 

I suppose I meant it to be sarcastic which is rather negative - but at the same time I've got the casts of the stone tool up there which I love and which are real survivors so I think that's positive. Putting them up with the brick I want to say they are all real survivors, at least, they've out-survived us by various removes. The wood plank between brick and stone tools is also a stand-in for the organic being - us. Apart from the stone tool casts the materials were found - by me by chance - as the string is time, crossing paths, bringing things together and I've left the all-important bit of grass in the fluffy end because via time objects gain stuff and that's a really thing. 

There is a bit of messing about with hierarchies - an object - organic - object sandwich and the human-related agent/object on the top, but in being replicated it's real-ness is under question. Like here the white plaster will blend into the wall at the pump-room galleries and sort of disappear and be a bit ghostly. I was wondering if I should have used more of the casts (I have loads) but I'm ok with five - there's no relevance in the number. OK. So overall, I'm alright with this work. I wonder if it will get in? It's a bit different from what they had in last year! Also, the fixings may prevent it from getting through. Ah, well, whatever they choose I'm happy enough with this.

Update. So it did get in to the open, great, and I get to see it again this Thursday and have another think. The think I'm having at the moment is around its readymade scavenged  elements, the brick, wood and string all doing the active, supportive work within the piece, and the cast of the stone tool - the nominal worker of the group - made passive, supported, diminished in duplication.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Mythic tool

13.10.18 Course work.

This is a negative space cast of the stone tool I found last summer. Transparent, coloured, and actually edible too - food-grade geletine and glycerine, which is what I happened to have readily available at home. The space of a shape not present reflects the mythic qualities this object has taken on for me. 'Mythic', because the longer I spend in its company the less I understand it. While it's been in my possession, and without realising until now, I have invented a narrative and character beyond it's orginal intent.

To begin with it was a lucky find. Then a link to an understanding of materials as a means of survival - something to contrast against our era of plenty: A tool used to line between a very different, older humanity, to the contemporary one where mobile phones are today's tools of survival.

Now I have begun to consider bending that meaning further: How do I re-present this object through my cultural lens in the hope of understanding more about what it is to be human now.

It is interesting to consider this problem as an object removed from context. I think it is safe to say that in no longer being a viable tool, in having been 'discovered' and removed from where I found it, this thing is far away from its original context.

Susan Stewart in 'Separation and Restoration' talks about the souvenir and to a lesser extent about ancient objects, both of which embody nostalgia and the exotic. She quotes Baudrillard to say that the exotic object fascinates by means of its anteriority which is linked to the posessor's lost otherness - "since contemporary mythology places the objects in a childhood remote from the abstractions of contemporary consumer society, such objects allow one to be a tourist of one's own life, or allow the tourist to appropriate, consume and thereby tame the cultural other."

Instinctively, I don't want to acknowledge a touristic attitude with it's implications of a lack of depth and imperialistic attitude on my part, but am I indeed trying to own and tame my species' heritage? The experience of survival reliant on the production and use of stone tools is unrecogniseable to contemporary experience, yet, explicit in this recognition is the understanding that our knowledge and culture must be inherited from that unknowable past, is an understanding that involves uncomfortable mind-boggling perceptions of time and chance.

In furthering the links between the souvenir and cultural imperialism Stewart mentions "the exotic object represents distance appropriated ~ thus placed within an intimate distance; space is transformed into interiority, into personal space, just as time is transformed into interiority in the case of the antique object or the souvenir - a worthless object that is transformed by a narrative attached to it by the owner. ~ Like all curiosities these souvenirs function to generate narrative."

I think I am forced to return myself to my first paragraph and admit souvenir status. However, I am unsure of its status as a piece of exotica. However, I do know that I want to lend it weirdness; retaining objectness whilst highlighting temporal displacement.

Susan Stewart 'Separation and Restoration' in Ruins: Documents of Contemporary Art. Ed. Brian Dillon. 2011 Whitechapel Gallery Ventures Ltd.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Anti-tresspass / guerilla casting

Having seen anti-tresspass panels at the railway station and admiring their unintentionally bold modernist aesthetic I thought they might make amazing supports for polythene paintings to lay over or against, but they are a bit pricey. I do like the idea of one of my paintings laid out on a bed of nails/spikes/little pyramids though. I'm also investigating 'deterrent paving'. 

Downloading all the things in my head after a studio chat with Mark Essen which, regardless of what seem to be all the usual issues with the course, was a really positive experience. Now I feel ready to get on with the casting ideas that have been in my head for a few weeks - I enjoyed scribbling but please excuse my scrawl.

So, having got my hands on a frame and enough plaster-of-Paris I'm planning a bit of guerilla casting if the wather stays dry. Watch this space.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Some of the folds research

"A geological fold occurs when one or a stack of originally flat and planar surfaces, such as sedimentary strata, are bent or curved as a result of permanent deformation. Synsedimentary folds are those due to slumping of sedimentary material before it is lithified."


  • It strikes me that if I deform polythene by hand (pressing, pushing) it could take the same form of a geological fold.

My thinking is probably due to have visited Lulworth Cove this year which is famous for the very visible folds in the rock strata, particularly in the Lulworth Crumple. I've just realised that since then I've been painting loops on polythene, so this could be an idea of a shape that has filtered through without me realising. I like shapes and repeating patterns that are common-place within human experience and the loop, along with the cross, circle, square is one of those shapes.

 Lulworth Crumple

I mean, it's a bit far-fetched now I look at the photos together. There is a similar line but none of the pressure or force, or time. How could such a weightless, massless material be considered under the same terms? It lacks that sense of unreal squishyness within such a hard material. I think this could be because I'm expecting something I created as surface also stand as something that is mass. To do that I think, as I've said before, that it needs to touch the ground. And do more than touch, it needs to take over the ground. I do think everything I've done over the last few days has been to highlight painted polythene's masslessness. The paint's separation from the surface is wafer-thin, it has no form and is totally reliant on a support that is foreign to its own body as support. This isn't a ying-yang relationship as the polythene holds no element of support within its own body, it requires that to come from another body - to whom in return it will provide decoration/meaning - although there is always the option for it to take up residence directly on the floor, it is very vulnerable there.

So here are some relationships between painted surface and support I have created over the last few days.

The closest I've come to a crumple so far.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Review: Ctrl/Shift

New Directions in Textile Art: A project by the 62 Group of Textile Artists

On until Sunday 9 September 2018 at MAC (Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, UK)

Ctrl/Shift refers to step changes either in subject matter, technical innovation or personal direction for this international group of leading textile artists who obviously drawing great strength from each other. 62 refers to the group's foundation year.

On entering the upstairs gallery at MAC, Daisy Collingridge's padded costume Clive is relaxing without a care in the world, his stuffed fabric flesh hanging off him in a nonchalant fashion. Clive is a puppet who smirks at his own lifelessness: all the joys of being alive can be experienced via him without him suffering any accountability. So it seems there are advantages to lifelessness. A true hedonist, Clive pauses time and is a counterpoint to that subject that textiles enable artists to so readily explore: the embodied human experience of material layered with the experience of time.

Ctrl/Shift is on for a couple more weeks, so go soon if you can.

Amongst many other you will be able to see...

Sumi Perera: Unbuilding Blocks: Variations on a theme

Two pieces of series-based work. Both inspired by David Macauley's 'Unbuilding' installation in which four zinc sheets are controlled along lines that represent the fabric of a building. The work riffs on an imagined set of permutations in the navigation and renavigation of a structure. Perera's use of thermochromic inks means that body heat will change the appearance of her work, similarly to human presence in a building. You can see this on her Instagram feed here.

Sian Martin: Rolling Out a Carpet of Hope

Actually, I approached Martin's work the wrong way: walking alongside it backwards in time, admiring her taming of curly reed squiggles into square drawings that diminished into fainter wire marks embedded in acrylic sheets.

However, some works are generous enough to allow multiple points of understanding. The actual point of change here is rejuvenation. Her inspiration comes from a real-life project to rehydrate the African desert where newly planted forests will draw water to the surface and provide shade enacting a controlled shift towards fertile land. Viewed end-on this forest does grow before your eyes.

Sian Martin: Rolling Out a Carpet of Hope (Detail)

Jane McKeating: Nine Days a Week
A series of paired embroidered handkerchiefs tell the story of a relationship within a relationship; of age, loss, death and dementia.

There is a sense of time passing very slowly, staining the thin fabric with intimate memories that strain to emerge and be acknowledged. Perhaps the title nine days refers to how time can creep in older age, or perhaps how memories unfurling lead to a day-stretching insomnia.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Review: John Piper at The Mead

John Piper, A Tate Liverpool Exhibition, at the Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick University, until 21stJune 2018.

A version of Tate Liverpool’s Spring 2018 survey of John Egerton Christmas Piper’s career, excluding only his sculpture, a good choice considering what was left only just fitted into the Mead’s space as a linear story. We saw paintings and collages of landscapes and buildings, sketchbooks, documentation of his editorship of Axis magazine and work for theatre, photography for the Shell Guides, as well as his collaborative work with Patrick Reynteins to create stained glass for the great lantern window in Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral and stunning baptistery window in Coventry’s St Michael’s Cathedral. These form his lasting legacy so there was also a child-friendly DIY stained glass projection activity.  

Piper belonged to that number of British mid-century artists, such as Nash, Hepworth & Nicolson, who wrestled with abstraction, and who faced both lack of understanding from traditional academic artistic circles and accusations of mediocrity in art history in comparison to the creative leaps made by European artists such as Picasso and Matisse. 

We are shown how deeply Piper was influenced by European abstraction; at one point evangelically launching and editing Axis magazine, the London-based quarterly review of Abstract Painting and Sculpture with his wife Myfanwy Piper (neĆ© Evans), then rejecting it for a figurative approach just as his new style broke through. However, his work retained techniques of collage and layering he admired in cubism, as well as its strong motifs - a sort of poetic shorthand he used to depict recognisably British landscapes that yet remained individual to the locations he constantly explored. 

It was for calling out this landscape’s ordinary details that he became held in fond regard by the 1940s generation – patterns in seaweed on the beach, village churches, a line of shop fronts, the shape of gables; altogether an interest in the commonplace. Although he remained quietly influential – I remember his drawings in a primary school leaving gift in 1983; a learn-to-draw-book – his work was not sufficiently daring enough to maintain his reputation through successive waves of artistic development in the latter half of the 20thcentury.

Although this survey intends to demonstrate his experimental mentality in terms of both technique and collaboration, looking at the works here I realised his main palette of navy, browns, russets, creamy whites and a describing black top layer, all derived from the atmospheric blue that predominates Britain, and remained constantly identifiable. This palette is apparent in my two favourite paintings, both made within the war artist programme: the just ruined Coventry Cathedral (image) and Christ Church, Newgate Street, London: shards of scarred stonework exposed in stark floodlit primary colours, silhouetted against the blackout sky. 

Piper’s is the last exhibition for The Mead’s large exhibition space before it is demolished as part of Warwick Arts Centre 20:20 redevelopment. Its next, a collaborative exhibition with the Herbert Art Gallery is Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’, is part of its programme of Outside the Boxevents intended to sustain its reputation as an established contemporary art space throughout redevelopment, until reopening in Coventry City of Culture year 2020.

Image: Interior of Coventry Cathedral, 15 November 1940 - John Piper - 1940. Made from sketches made on 15 November 1940, the day after its destruction in an air raid.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Notes from group critique on show presentation

Some of the folds & Anthropocene Polyethylene

Crit response:

At the beginning of July we had an end of show group crit with visiting artists Joanne Masding and Leah Carless, and our tutor Mark Essen. I was the first up. All in all I found it a very useful exercise and I hope we can do more of them next year.

Much of this post was written shortly after the crit and I've just tidied it up for a blog post and added some later realisations - always the duh moments!

Anthropocene Polyethyline.
Since the work was about hand to material relatability - investigating timeless human experience in holding things between finger and thumb, I needed to make the tool more touchable - a sign to pick it up and no method of holding it in place.
People really wanted to touch this work.
If my work  is going to be about the change in how humans relate to touch and material I need to enable touching, or explain the thumb / hand / mark making relationship better / in another way.
I should get the tool dated & report it as a find.
Note: a report has been filed with Scottish Treasure Trove.

Some of the Folds.
The found aspect of this work is interesting to people, although many were stumped or didn't want to engage to start with - I'm wondering if this was due to their unfamiliarity with crits (mine was the first we've had in months and months) and being afraid to express opinions.
My choice of materials and the inclusion of made pages with found pages was found confusing. This sounds negative but inducing a state of questioning confusion is actually good I think - the difficulty is getting people to look and think, and if you struggle to get fellow students to do this then there is a problem I think, but Leah and Joanne did manage to extract some opinions.
Note: 'Pages' is my term rather than one that came up, and I need to look into what I mean and how I could incorporate it. Maybe in a bound edge, or joining the pieces.
The triangular shape made it have more upwards momentum than I realised - it has changed shape since I installed it - which I need to be more aware of. The heat rising from the radiator maybe helps to give it this upwards momentum.

Note: There are formal considerations and material meanings and I oscillated between these as I made it and neither has primary importance. I am wondering now how to, and whether to, make this oscillation more obvious or just accept that it is part of my working process.

'Observation Stations'

Observation Stations' diagramatic reading worked and that it looked finely balanced, as though it would fall over was 'tension' in the work. It would be better to explain that it was made to be reworked and rearrnaged and wasn't fixed. Advice was to make it bigger. This may better bring transience back into the work.

Other useful comments:
'Your art is about actions - pulling, scraping, pressing, folding' Yes - these are the ubiquitously recogniseable human actions. Note: I hadn't thought of my work as embodied but now I see this is entirely important.
'You can follow just one thing' - and I thought I'd edited pretty robustly already! This was probably the hardest thing to hear but at the same time most useful.
Note: I think this is where the majority of harder work will lie. Ideas of what to do next are already flourishing and there is no way I can do them all and allow them to materially intuitively develop as I work on them. It will be a case of editing and simplifying ruthlessly.
The works read from left to right as Future, Present & Past.
Lots of questions about whether they can be read together or are different works - to which I answered both. This shows that I need to press for my work being shown in different places unless reverberation is something that enhances its meaning.