I expect that everybody’s creative process is different.
Mine takes a scientific approach – not particularly surprising given that I am as much a scientist as I am an artist! Let’s face it, that’s nothing new, Leonardo Da Vinci was as much a scientist and engineer as he was an artist and whilst I’m no Da Vinci, I’m in great company.
When I did a graphic design piece, I was lucky enough to have a live project with a real client, My Tai Chi Instructor. We talked about what she wanted from a poster and off I went and started to do some research. I looked at a little graphic design work around Tai Chi and some old Chinese ink paintings of bamboo but the majority of the research was about Tai Chi itself and that was the main driver behind the final product. This is the painting before the text was added:
When I designed the sets for this year’s pantomime, I had some great visual ideas but very early in rehearsals, I discovered that the backstage crew was somewhat limited and then I was told that props had to be fireproof so I revised my design ideas and worked within those limitations and we put on a great show.
I’ve worked in laboratories where designers are remote entities that have no concept of the reality of production and product limitations, I have no patience for that type of thing. The scientist/engineer in me looks for realistic solutions, the business woman looks to be within budget limitations, the mother only cares about the welfare of anyone involved, whilst the artist focuses on aesthetics.
In my final Diploma project, I had decided to go with sculpture and gave it the working title of: “The Human Condition” and when I started my research I looked at the two paintings of that name by Rene Magritte:
To me, these paintings really capture the inevitability of isolation and the loneliness of death that philosophers talk of; but then, when you look into Magritte’s young life, you realize why. When you have experienced such pain and sorrow, it is easy to find yourself taking this route with your art – whether that be music, sculpture, poetry writing… whatever. Despite that, I didn’t want to follow that path because for me, the human condition is: What separates us from the animals? Again, for me, science is possibly the number one answer and in all fairness, I did not do an art history course.
That said, I found myself particularly drawn to the work of many Polish artists – again, no great surprise considering that I am of Polish heritage. The old Polish artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz:
and Zladislaw Beksinski
evoked the same feelings as singing hymns at Polish Mass, they are strong and powerful and yet full of the years of being downtrodden, of the shifting borders and the sorrow and pain that brought. Even my Irish husband grasped that in Polish Church.
In contrast, the hope, vitality, vivacity and rebirth of Poland that I feel growing every time I visit her can be seen in the works of young, contemporary Polish artists like Olga Ziemska,
and Malgosia Stepnik.
I also found Marti Moreno:
Who makes the most amazing sculptures like this one made from nuts (the sort that you use with bolts, not the edible kind!). I find his use of unconventional and really quite ugly but very strong materials to make such delicate and beautiful sculpture fascinating and hoped to somehow capture a little of that in my work.
In addition to the artistic context, I also looked at philosophy, the media and science and as the project began to develop into cloning, popular culture – such as: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin and Orphan Black – touching on the ethical element and it was these studies that most strongly influenced my creative process.
The two main things that came out of the artistic studies for me were that I didn’t want to illustrate the sorrow and, most importantly, that I wanted my work to emulate that of those Polish artists. I wanted my work to be strong and powerful like the old Polish artists whilst capturing the vivacity and life of the new.
Perhaps my scientifically based method of getting there is a little unconventional for an artist but get there I did. I achieved everything that I had intended to in my work and I’m jolly proud of that – even if I am a little amazed at the quality and quantity of it!