Formative Assessment

I let the blogging slide before Christmas, and I made quite a lot of work that I want to show here. Only problem is there’s quite a lot to show. I think the best way for me to cover that time span is to do a long post of pictures with captions in making order as much as possible, and then more detailed posts for things I want to go into detail more on. I generally take quite a lot of photos so I selected the best and as few as possible to present or document the process. I will throw in the odd paragraph where I think its needed, most of that content will be from notes I have kept at the time of making etc.

At the time of my pitch for my ideas for my degree show body of work (October) I wrote that my pitch had gone ok-ish. Ingrid said to me at the time that the context, concept was there but the nub and the physical starting point was not. In my pitch meeting it was suggested that I take something whether visual, concept, data, a subject and use it to make some form. I was not to worry about the subject or connotations of the start point , as it was just a device to get started making the types of forms I wished to create. The starting point does not become what the work is about but rather just a part of the works process. In my pitch I described being inspired by Olarfur Eliasson’s library of forms, a goal we set for me was to begin my own library of forms using ‘fast’ materials and just prototype and develop form ideas that interested me.   The main points to then come out of my pitch presentation were:

  • An exploration of form.
  • I should investigate formalism, minimalism, the post digital aesthetic, microscopic forms, post modern and contemporary architecture.
  • Explore a combination of scanned and modeled form…approach the same form from two different aspects.. the digital and the hand crafted.
  • Am I specifically interested in working with a digital aesthetic or a non digital one?

As my formative was approaching I was to get decided to make some ‘fractal’ triangle forms that I had been experimenting with in card and laser cutting. After discussions with Pip and Zoe I decided to make this form as large as I could from a sheet of 8″ x 4″ mild steel. Soon I was well into making a steel ‘triangles’ sculpture and semed to forget all else (hence why I am writing this now).

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On the 10th of December straight after my formative assessment I wrote that it had gone well. I wrote that I needed to continue my library of forms (currently doing) and to start scanning them as well as my triangle sculptures to create the ‘skins’ of these objects. This could be done by collecting object point clouds and then using the point clouds to make objects. The objects can then be produced as rapid prototypes. Another more immediate and physical way to do this is to stretch thick stretchy cotton over my forms.

My verbal feedback for my formative assessment happened on the 11/01/2016. Here Ingrid suggested I should be thinking about how my viewer will see my work. Are my works phenomenological forms? a collection of modernist sculptures? what are the contrasts, relationships between the collection of forms, how do the pieces inhabit space? Am i trying to prove anything?

I have a lot to do, a lot of ideas to make, a context to cement and a show to make…


Prepping 3D model for laser cutting.

For a quick experiment and to work out a work flow for making strange forms that I create in Rhino quickly in reality so that I have a physical model to consider and experiment with. The first I create something in Rhino, with this example I was inspired by Tara Donovan’s (See my post) ‘Untitled Molecule sculpture. So I quickly boolean unioned together load of randomly placed spheres of random sizes. This is just a test.

Once created I then ran the model through a couple different programs to get it to where I can go about laser cutting a quick, low resolution version of the model I designed on Rhino.

Below the steps are illustrated via a series of screenshots of the process.

rhino boo

Rhino was used to really quickly produce a form.

Make Slicer

The Rhino model is saved as an stl. file and imported into 123D Make. Here I played with the settings such as card thickness, dowel placement, slice orientation and scale. 

illustrator boo

From 123D Make with the file saved as dfx. format the sliced model was opened in Illustrator and fitted to art boards. The lines are a mixture of vector and raster (cutting and engraving). The file will be sent to the laser cutter from Illustrator. 

cura boolean

As a side thought I thought i would try a small 3D print, so the original Rhino stl. file was opened in Cura where I set up a quick print. This is an experiment to see how the Ultimaker copes with weird geometries. I am interested to see how the intersections between spheres turns out (probably badly). I also need to get used to support structures and how to use them.

Tara Donovan

Untitled, 2008. Styrofoam cups and glue.


The american sculptor Tara Donovan (1969) makes large scale sculptures and installations that posses a quality that excites and inspires me. The forms and structures that her large sculptures are composed of suggest biomorphic connotations. In the same instance her works appear to be both synthetic and organic all with their own strong characteristics. Some are undulating and bulbous like clouds, sea weed and fleshy entrails in clean, soothing, clinical whiteness. Others are sharper, static and aggressive with long thin protrusions clumped together in a spiky, almost hairy looking mass. They very much remind me of crystal structures, cell growths, geological processes like erosion, deposition, eruption. Some have a sense of growth and appear to want to keep growing, to take over the whole space they inhabit and climb the walls of the room, burst through doorways and windows to engulf the buildings exterior and the surrounding streets! Perhaps if I should see her works in person my opinion would differ…

Untitled, Plastic Cups. This piece in particular reminded me of Ai WeiWei’s work called ‘Straight’ which  was composed in a similar format only produced using straightened rusty Re-bar collected from collapsed buildings.

“Untitled molecule”, 2010.

She uses common manufactured material resources to produce her large, biomorphic type sculptures. The materials used include things like paper plates, scotch tape and polystyrene cups.”Known for her commitment to process, she has earned acclaim for her ability to discover the inherent physical characteristics of an object and transform it into art.” – Pace

I feel like Donovan’s sculptures and installations hold a quality that I want my work to possess, I am not yet sure whether this is due to the materials, the scale or indeed the vibrancy of the forms she creates, but I hope I can install a sense of the feeling that I get, when I look at her work, to my audience when they look at mine.

Sand in balloons 

Bronze Pour With Irene

Today I spent my morning working on some models, investigating some 555 timer circuits and some ideas for some light circuits. Tomorrow I want to sit down and really work through some of the models quickly, and try and make some decisions on material. I know I’m going to start with laser cutting perspex construction systems. But I am also playing with some modular structures and components, with more atomic structure connotations but blown up.

The afternoon saw me in the foundry much of the time between 2 and 5, hot work as usual. The pour attracted quite a crowd for some reason. We were prepping to pour and loads of onlookers piled in to see it. The pour went well, we filled 7 small trees. Irene is a mine of knowledge, and a really good teacher, she taught at the Royal Collage at Battersea, London. She described various things such as testing the bronze for the  right consistency and when was good to pour. How to place and support work in the sand pit was demonstrated, we even talked about why ingots are used rather than metal pellets (my question). Before we poured we did a walk through, almost like a performance as paced out the steps and got the hang of the way the crucible grabber worked. Whilst waiting for the second load of metal to melt we went into the office where we watched a film of Irene directing a really large, long pour. The it was to make a huge sculpture that finally weighed in at around a ton, made from 60 or so bronze panels welded together. She knew of Martin Bellwood and so I chatted to her of some of my experience of working at his foundry.


Professional Practice 4

This week professional practice lecture concerned self employment, getting started, tax, insurance, small print of residencies and terms and conditions of working for certain people and in certain ways.

The morning the class received a talk from practicing ceramics artist Anne Gibbs who also works for the council to do with a creative community department. Her work is mostly landscape based, her physical outcomes are influence by her everyday collections of objects, her drawings and photographs from her travels. She has participated in a lot of residencies taking her as far as Philadelphia, USA, and to Tokyo in Japan. Closer to home, one residency she undertook was at PDR research center on the Cardiff Metropolitan Campus specifically aimed at getting artists interested in digital technologies for creative means and outcomes.She produced several small outcomes using a variety of machines such as very high end 3-D printing, CNC milling and sophisticated scanning techniques.I am really interested in doing residencies like this, as well as wanting to practice and develop more traditional ways of making but I feel right now my focus may shift to more digital means of expression and production of ideas.


Small delicate work by Anne Gibbs for one of her more recent exhibitions. (Crossing Boundaries, installation, 2015)


Her handmade ceramics work is mostly delicate and fragile, taking the form of small compositions of colored and textured objects. She also has made plenty of display stands and cases. The work is intriguing and draws you in for a closer more intimate look.

The professional practice lecture took the form of a discussion between Anne Gibbs, Ingrid and Pip concerning work after university, setting oneself up as a creative practitioner and things to look out for, common pitfalls to avoid and general advice about living and working – trying to balance the two well.

Important Points Mentioned

  • Professional Quality Photos of your work
  • First impression is everything
  • fail safe and easy, tested packaging
  • Some application processes take a long time (such as for residencies)
  • You can copy and paste bits, rewrite sections for other applications etc
  • Ensure the residency you are applying to is really suitable for you! is there a communal sense? solitary work? costs that are included? hidden costs? the location and the facilities available to you, material availability and costs? BE SURE OF ‘TERMS AND CONDITIONS’
  • If contracts are involved, what is the contract, do you understand it, can you influence the contract? If so ensure that things at least cant work against you in some situations, if not for you.
  • Consider packaging carefully, some countries have strict packaging regulations i.e. sustainable wood for wooden crate packages, weight of package.
  • It may be best to produce a package system, that is easy for people to unpack and then repack securely.
  • If self employed then remember to register as so and to then ensure your tax returns are properly sorted. Consider hiring an accountant.
  • INSURANCE! This is so vital and important, ensure your insurance is also the correct type for you and what you are doing.

This session was really good and I look forward to next Mondays Professional Practice lecture.

Fab-LAb Ambassadors Society Beginnings…

The society came together just before Christmas in 2015. The aim of the society is to carry out projects and activities that serve as example of the power of the fab-lab facilities and community to the art school, in the hopes that it would increase its membership through university students. (The Cardiff Fab-LAb is situated within Cardiff School of Art and Design).

Over the winter break the fab-lab members set themselves the task of coming up with some ideas and inspiration to use for a first project to get the society going with a practical project. The idea is to produce a large welcome sign for the fab-lab that also informs the viewer of the kinds of things that can be made using the facilities on offer to fab-lab members. To my mind this means that the project needs to be ambitious and exciting, a sense that has to come across in the outcome. People should be asking how was that made, how does that work, how do you make it do what it does? In my contribution I want to be using as many interesting processes as possible. I am particularly keen to create an interactive work that responds it its viewer, can impart and collect information.

Ideas will be discussed in our next meeting.

Professional Practice Lecture Series

Finding Your Path…

Today was the first day of second term. After our start of term briefing and verbal feedback for last terms module ‘Research and Development’ I attended a lecture presented by Ingrid Murphy (head lecturer of Maker) which is the first of the series called ‘Professional Practice’.

Beginning with general thoughts and points on leaving university and education to foray out into the world of work, Ingrid briefly recounted her own experiences of signing on the dole, eventually finding work she wanted to do and then about getting on to realizing her lifelong ambitions of becoming a teacher, an educator. Next Ingrid spent much of the rest of the lecture outlining, suggesting and positing jobs, work and ways of living and working.

One of the things she said concerning work outside of the creative industries is that people with creative degrees are attractive to public sector jobs in service industries. Should my original ideas and attempts of ‘having a stab at it’ go awry this would be useful to remember.

What she was really trying to get us to think about however was our skills. What skills do I have? How skilled am I in those areas really? I am a producer I make work. But with my skills can I both produce and also provide a service?

A comforting point she made in the lecture was that when she graduated she had no plan really, just an ambition which she worked towards. This was said to remind us that success does not come about overnight, there will be a journey towards ambition and goals.

The lecture followed Ingrid’s recent journey around New Zealand where she was judging an international ceramics exhibition. Much of her time there was spent meeting artists and makers. All these people that she met she served as examples to us of the plethora of opportunities that can be found and pursued out in the world.

There are so many things to think about! What do i want to do? Where do I want to go? Well… I want to make things most of all, perhaps one day run my own business of some description. I would work most anywhere initially. Residencies seem particularly inviting to me at the moment, a way, I think, that I could develop my practice contextually as well as my skills.  I also think that after a while I would like to work collaboratively, within a group of creatives which I will have assembled working on a variety of projects producing personal work to show for galleries and also work for commission and competition. I know that I also want to work with new technologies among other more traditional skills and ways of producing work. This is very important to me. So I think I shall begin by investigating opportunities around creative technologies, particularly those focused around the merging new technologies, art, design and sustainable living.

As the lecture series progresses and I find interesting opportunities or ideas of what I might want to do hopefully a better picture of what I could do after university should build up.