Janet Tryner Fine Artist

Fine artist and live graphics designer.

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.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Observation Station - Stevenson Screens

Given that I've been naming a series of artworks 'Observation Stations' I think it's worthwhile considering what I actually mean by this and try and straighten out my thoughts a little as I'm quite far from where I want to be with it (wherever that is).

Originally the idea came from my sketchbook: a sketch over randomly scraped paint. This is something I do to give my drawings colour and supply myself a ready starting point because sometimes it's easier to draw over something old. The paint then becomes a palimpsest and structural rather than descriptive, leaving me to create spatial relationships with lines.

I really enjoy working like this because the drawing only reveals itself as I make it, so I have little idea, initially, how the final drawing will turn out or even what it is I am going to draw. My process flip-flops between recognising a new possibility of a shape or trying to get to a relatively understandable representation of a thing and attempting a good, balanced, formal composition. Usually, the result treads a line between abstract and representational, and there are always lots of interesting tangents I didn't follow at the earlier stages which later on need to be incorporated into the final piece. A puzzle, or challenge that I really like performing which throws up a new set of revelations that add a layer of interesting awkwardness. While I draw like this my mind wanders and I find I often am able to make pictorial sense of concerns that I otherwise struggle to put into words.

'Observation Station' 2017

I wanted the style of drawing to reflect a diagram of a structure that was doomed to failure so it's a rough drawing. As if it were a struggle to complete or that its demise was inevitable. 
I forgot until now that I'd drawn a teapot, so maybe I felt that the builders were always on a tea break and cared little about their job of work.

So I was thinking of two different structures while I was drawing. One was The Clearing, a collaborative artwork by Alex Hartley and Tom James installed at a country house art museum near where I live called Compton Verney. 

Billed as 'part school, part shelter, part folly' it is part artwork, part tourist attraction, part experiment and part reference to the dialogue around human relations with the environment and survivalist ideologies behind artist's communes of the twentieth century. Situated at Compton Verney it struck me as a Queen Marie-Antoinette's farm, where the doomed queen played at being working class whilst the real working class starved outside the palace gates. It seemed to me to be a homage to an unreal, unworkable apocalyptic vision, but I deeply admired the structure as well as the intended homage to grassroots environmental visionaries.

The second structure I was dwelling on was this: the Stevenson Screen. A sort of secure but highly visible cupboard which protects measuring instruments from the environment being recorded.

According to Wikipedia the Stevenson Screen was designed in 1864 by Thomas Stevenson (1818–1887), a Scottish civil engineer who designed many lighthouses, and whose son was the author Robert Louis Stevenson.

Indeed, there is a line of thought linking the Stevenson Screen with lighthouse design. An enduring requirement for protection against the environment entwined with the need to extend perception. To see, or to be seen. To be a single point of information and accessible part of a larger network when required. 

Having recently been to visit the incredible collection of Charles Wade at Snowshill Manor, an open Stevenson Screen now brings to mind Wunderkammer. But whereas current scientific objects are labelled, bright, white, clean, made of glass, metal and plastic, rather than dark mahogany, and full of mixed up, unnamed, dislocated curios imprisoned together in dark glass-faced memory-morgues. However, to the uninitiated, they could be equally mysterious.

Normally presented on stilts or hung from a single point so that they are level, Stevenson Screens can also look like this: 
CC Famartin 

I like the visual repetition of deeply shadowed louvre walls. The first one is 3D printed, whereas the one on a stand could be humanised quite easily.

I don't know at this point how this will affect my Observation Station works. So far I've allowed my stands of observation stations to teeter on unfixed legs as if there is no security for them and that may be something that either has to change, or become more clear.

There are some physical similarities to the traditional artistic framing devices of the vitrine and the frame. They share the ability to be read linearly. Perception could be lead via pictorial methods of composition. They encapsulate and have the potential to be a room inside a room, a box to peer into, a means of portraying another person's vision. But they are meant to exist in the wild and will be out of place in a gallery space.

I guess my drawings of Observation Stations are already pretty unsteady, deliberately slapdash, existing within the virtual as a plan of an idea; an impossible depiction - in two-dimensional space lines don't actually have to meet to give an impression of a space that in reality could not exist. Giving my Observation Stations even a simple and teetering apparatus to stand on seems hopelessly optimistic. The depiction, or plan, walking about on half-formed legs like a wobbling infant trying to make its way in the world. Like trying to make a copy of a painting before the original is finished. An impossible task which doomed to failure, but which I rather like as an idea.