The second final piece was inspired by Maxwell Rushton’s piece, Left Out. He created a sculpture to see publics reactions, if people would try to help the sculpture or just walk past like people do to the homeless.
I decided I was going to make a sculpture based on a homeless person using cardboard. The cardboard is reference to the homeless using cardboard to sit/ lie on. The ‘person’ is made from plastic bags which are filled with newspaper. I draped cardboard on top to blend the sculpture into the cardboard the sculpture is lying on. This is implying that the homeless person is part of the cardboard, like they are invisible. The studio floors are a light brown colour so I’m hoping the cardboard blends into the floor even more.
Maxwell Rushton was recommended to me by a friend. His piece, Left Out, inspired my second final piece and encouraged me to create a sculpture.
‘Left Out’ is an artwork that looks like someone is sitting in a black bin bag. It was created as part of a social experiment. The artist placed his sculpture across London, each time observing the public’s reactions. Rushton talks about the ‘public’s reactions of non reactions’ and said it was ‘unimaginable’ to watch. Some people would try to help the ‘person’ in the bin bag whilst others would walk past.
This piece of work shows that homeless people are normally just walked past, this is kind of like the message I want to get through to people when they view my work. By creating a man like sculpture out of cardboard, I hope people will pick up that the message is about homeless people being almost ‘invisible’ to passers-by and that we should take more attention of them and try to understand the reason of why they are homeless before prejudging them.
Ed Ruscha is an American artist well known in the air movements, Pop Art, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Conceptual Art. The work that has inspired my final piece is the series, ‘Metro Mattresses’, 2015, which was on show in Sprueth Magers from 2015 to 2016.
Ruscha noticed abandoned mattresses on the streets of L.A. and started photographing them. He described the mattresses as, “not just litter in the landscape but more like scary animals.”
The artwork shows only an old mattress, but it is very captivating. The worn mattresses have rips and stains, each stain showing the intimacy and experiences the mattress has been through. The style of painting shows the creases and stains clearly. The neutral background also exposes the mattresses so the viewer is focusing only on the painting.
This artist is important to my development and final pieces because although my work has a different meaning, Ruscha’s mattresses are very similar to my paintings and how he looked out for the abandoned mattresses to make artwork. Ruscha was intrigued by the fact the mattresses were abandoned and just left on the side of the road. This is like my artwork as I am trying to show furniture that has been dumped on the side of the road, symbolising being unwanted like the homeless.
At the beginning of the year, I participated in the material project, You and Me. In this project, I created portraits of myself that best showed me. I learnt that not every portrait has to show a face and that you an object could represent you better than what a photograph would.
I photographed my coat. This is my favourite item of clothing and I feel it best shows me. The creases represent that the coat has been lived in. My jumper that I wear on a typical cold day is underneath as I have worn this outfit endlessly.
I was inspired by this and decided to use the same idea of a portrait using objects to convey the message in my final piece. The paintings of the unwanted household furniture represent how a typical homeless person feels. They don’t show a facial portrait but the meaning behind the paintings is portraying the same. I used cardboard to paint the furniture on as cardboard represents the homeless as they sleep on it, sit on it, eat on it, etc, it’s like their home.
From my conversation with the homeless girl, ‘unwanted’ was one of the words she said she felt. I thought about how to convey this in artwork. I was on a walk near my village and was shocked by the amount of junk that was thrown on the side of the road. The junk is unwanted, and so was that homeless girl. I decided to look for more household furniture, there were loads of household furniture that had been dumped on the side of the road.
Here are a few examples.
I am going to paint the furniture onto cardboard. Cardboard is something a lot of homeless people use to live on. The paintings of the unwanted household furniture will reference to homeless people and how homeless people live outside. It is important that I use household furniture to show homeless people are unwanted in their home. The furniture is in the snow which shows the types of conditions homeless people have to live in.
Below, are photographs to show the progress of some of the paintings I have created from these images.
I have taken the technique of using underpainting, something I learn in the material projects at the start of the year.
I am going to create more paintings and find new images in different weather types.
Previously, I created this painting inspired by Frida Kahlo which shows myself with a part of brain showing with thoughts/ feelings linked to a colour of string which indicates the colour I thought resembles the feeling, e.g. blue for sad, yellow for happy.
I wanted to use this idea of colours representing a feeling again, but in a slightly different way.
I created these pieces of folded cardboard that look rather distressed and worn to resemble a homeless persons bed. I used coloured thread to indicate different things homeless people feel and different factors in their life, I especially looked at the conversation with the homeless girl I had and what she told me to help with these pieces. I looked at the painting with the different coloured thread to the different feeling for reference when choosing the colours.
Black represents depression, purple represents anxiety, blue represents sadness. The brown colour represents fear, the green/ brown colour is meant to be drugs. I researched what colour the new street drug, Spice was and it was this kind of colour, this is to show the over use of the drug and the impact it has on their life. The red symbolises family. Notice how the string is cut off and fraying, this was done purposely to show that the family life is broken. This is a main factor of why people are homeless.
I think this piece of work shows what I wanted to portray. The texture is rough and symbolises how the homeless people sleep rough. The colours are a subtle way of showing how homeless people feel and factors that make their life. The way the thread is wrapped around the cardboard shows that the problems thoughts/ problems are always in their life.
The message could be clearer but I am trying to work on not being so literal with my project outcomes. I also think the thread could look much more distressed to further show that it symbolises a homeless persons life. I could use more material to indicate that this is about homelessness.
I was previously going to look at the brain and how we store feelings and thoughts inside. I felt that I did not have enough information or experience with mental health issues to talk about and was not connecting much with the idea of showing my brain and thoughts. While researching the brain and how we store thoughts etc, I went to the Huggard Centre in Cardiff to donate food. Whilst there, I was taken by the amount of homeless people who relied on the centre for basic things like breakfast that has made me want to explore Homelessness in Cardiff. I want to show how a homeless person does not have an inside, their outside is their inside.
Mental illness issues is a huge problem on the streets, the misuse of drugs, such as heroin and a new street drug called Spice, also leads to mental illness. I think this project can link to the brain and how I was going to look at thoughts/ feelings. I am also going to explore how homeless people live outside.
I am going to focus on homelessness in Cardiff and am using the BBC documentary, ‘Cardiff: Living On The Streets’ as a source of information.