Friday, December 11, 2015

Pop Couture – Developing the Ceramic Idea and Concept.

This is the first blog entry, in a series, outlining the developing of a new idea / concept in the design and manufacture of a range of ceramic products titled Pop Couture. The ceramic work will take the form and shape of popcorn. 

Presented here are preparatory ballpoint pen renderings and one or two finished drawings, showcasing the development of the form and shape for the manufacture of the ceramic products. The ceramics will be slip cast in porcelain and or bone china and individually decorated to create one-of-a-kind expressive ceramic statement.

As the title suggests the ceramic work will incorporate and make reference to Pop Art and Haute couture.  Two quotes below provide a glimpse into the thinking behind the work and possible creative outcomes. Various books have and will influence my thinking, they include; Art and Authenticity, Thomas Heatherwick MAKING, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Manufractured, Fragiles and Digital Handmade (recently acquired). The specifics of which will be explained in future blog posts.

Pop Art exploded onto the art scene on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 1960s. Suddenly a few artists turned against the long-standing art world aversion to bourgeois culture and liberated the use of popular materials and methods. They recognised that their material image banks and those of their audience, as well, came not from the Bible or Classical myth, or novels and plays, or even history but from films, adverts, television and comics. The works of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein played with references from every day life and fashion to make bold, vibrant art that initiated and artistic revolution during the post-war flowering of a consumer culture , spearheaded by developments in the US. (Bradford R, 2012: end cover).

Haute couture; French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking" or "high fashion") refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is high-end fashion that is constructed by hand from start to finish, made from high quality, expensive, often unusual fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable sewers, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture translates literally from French as "dressmaking" but may also refer to fashion, sewing, or needlework and is also used as a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit. (Wikipedia as cited on 11 December 2015)

The rendered ideas on paper require further investigation, refining of the form and shape from a surface development perspective.  The surface is what will receive major attention in the individually crafted bespoke products. The overall form and shape of the popcorn will remain the same. It is vital that a simplified form and shape be designed (stylised), conducive to a variety of surface development options – either hand painted, digital crafted decals and specially formulated glazes. Various sizes will be created to explore one-of-a-kind ceramic statements and installations (small, medium and large). This will be achieved by modelling the desired form and shape in Y2 modelling Clay. The prototype will then be photographed and scanned, using the latest technology (3D printing), to produce a variety of sizes, end products for moulding and slip casting.

My prime aim and objective will be to create ceramics that celebrates the handmade in a digital age in the context of globalisation. Various surfaces development techniques and methods will be embraced to express myself. In some works I will exploit my own ballpoint pen drawings skills to create one-of-a-kind digitally printed decals on a variety of themes. Hopefully I can capitalise on the latest technology to create authentic ceramic surface techniques in keeping with the title of the works.

Emphasis will be placed on the bespoke, celebrating the handmade. Another idea will be to celebrate the skills of the unknown craftspeople, paying homage to the artisan, in the creation of contemporary ceramic “couture” statements. The details of which will be explored further in future blog posts.

The work will be a return to the design and manufacture of ceramic sculptures, my first love as a student and emerging artist. The envisaged end product falls within the scope of the focus of my creative output in the past few years. I am very happy that the end product will be a ceramic work, in form and shape as well as in the development of appropriate ceramic surfaces.

Friday, August 7, 2015

read peep reap: Hon's latest Artists Book.

The Book Arts: Artist’s Books Exhibition”, held at Art on Paper at 44 Stanley in November 2014, provided a perfect opportunity for displaying my most recent work, read peep reap (Figs. 1-13). Consisting of three separate components, read peep reap could be understood as an artist’s book installation that includes a drawing of an iris, a sculptural book and a ‘visual label’.
Fig.1. Eugene Hön, “Iris Troiana”,
detail of read peep reap. 2014. Ballpoint pen drawing
Its first component, a drawing (Fig1), is an interpretation of Albrecht Dürer’s Iris Troiana (1508), which is rendered in blue, red and pink ballpoint pen ink and depicts a bruised flower. The iris also makes reference to the 1970s feminism movement as it features in Judy Chicago’s work and is associated with her endeavours to elevate “craft” to the status of “art”.

My ballpoint drawing is set behind glass in a customized frame to accommodate an operational set of blinds, and fades with exposure to direct light: drawing the blinds and exposing the ballpoint rendering thus causes it to fade away, an act suggestive of the death of the handmade and crafts in a digital age. The viewer has the choice to peep though the blinds at the drawing or operate the mechanism to expose the entire work.

The second object, the “Visual Label”, consists of a series of digital prints on acid free paper, folded concertina style as a sequential explication. It includes mind maps and reference material, including photocopies of the watercolour and ink drawing by Dürer.

Towards its end is printed a series of elaborate complex digitally enhanced floral patterns exploring reflection symmetry which Graphic Design staff member, Christa Van Zyl, produced from the drawing.

The final component takes the form and shape of a sculptural book set between two transparent extruded plastic bookends. The spine is handcrafted and bound in dark brown leather. The title “read peep reap” (a Dewey decimal classification number) and my name as the artist/author are embossed and gilded in gold leaf. 

The individual pages are dye-cut into shapes of hundreds of blinds which are strung together with thin cotton ropes, simulating the mechanism of a set of blinds while also emulating the thread used to stich the individual pages together in the craft of bookbinding. The digitally printed and dye-cut pages allude to the codex of a book, a title page, preliminaries, a colophon, frontispiece, dedication and epigraph.

In her introduction to Navigating the BookScape: Artists’ books and the Digital Interface, Robyn Sassen (2006) asks: “is the Artist’s book about reading, about looking, about thinking, or about all three?” The title of the installation, read peep reap, prompts the viewer to consider the death of crafts and the handmade in a digital age. 

Celebrating the art of drawing and fine craftsmanship in bookbinding, it pays homage to the ultimate ‘artisan’, Dürer, who was not only a painter, printmaker and engraver but also a mathematician and theorist. 
And, to use the words of Sassen (2006) in regard to artists’ books, it is about my “sense of wonder and exploration in creating an interactive thing that brings the audience as a collaborative participant in the experience of the work”.
Sassen, Robyn. 2006. Introduction. In Navigating the Bookscape: Artists’ Books and the Digital Interface, edited by David Paton. Online publication.