According to the artist Ralph Ziman, guns have an ‘almost mythical ‘ status in South Africa. Good or bad, the AK47 has become a massive part of the culture in cities and rural area’s of Sub-Saharan Africa. As I have mentioned before, I am interested in the contrasts of Africa and in the image of the young girl from the Mursi tribe holding a gun so casually, we see an evocative example of this which is what I am hoping to express through my work. When I visited the British Museum recently, they had an example of a fake assault rifle which was made by poor road workers as an attempt to warn off potential ambushes. The fake gun was made from wood and covered in tar. This has inspired me to make my own version of a fake gun using tar amongst other materials. I have been working on gun designs to be used as a motif throughout the collection
Contrasting textures and tones are something I have been interested in over the last few projects. The research I have done on modern Africa has led me back on that path once more. In the above images (taken from the amazing photography book of Leni Riefenstahl’s photography by Taschen) we see the beautiful painted bodies of two tribes people, I really love the contrasting skin tones and how the finishes accentuate their form. Contrasts, however, have not only been skin deep throughout my research, they have been integral to many parts of it, from tribes people against city people, traditional against modern and poverty against great wealth. Africa really is a land of contrasts and so I thought it was really important to show this through my work. I have been playing around with different surface textures on recycled rubber inner tubes. Recycling has become a big part of my practice, it is also something which is prevalent in African culture. Tribe’s people are very resourceful and will use what is available to them to create beautiful adornment.
I really love the amazingly over the top gold that the Asanti tribe from Ghana wear. For centuries they have been making jewellery using the lost wax casting technique, where wax models are covered in thin layers of clay, which is then fired so that the clay hardens and the wax melts out, the clay is then used to cast the gold. I thought it would be interesting to recreate the texture and look of the cast gold jewellery using a non precious material, something which could be done by anyone. I have cut rubber inner tubes and sprayed them with gold paint which I actually really like!
Since the term began I have been hard at work for an exhibition we are organising as part of my course. The exhibition is entitled ‘Ubiquitous Assimilation’ and the work is in response to the brief ‘Miniature Collections’. I decided to carry on looking into lovers padlocks, which led me naturally to think about lockets. I liked the idea of creating jewellery with the aesthetic of a padlock but the meaning and function of a locket. I’m really excited about the exhibition as I have some ideas to make it interactive with the viewer.
So I have had a great first real day of development. My pigments arrived and I wanted to try them out straight away so I headed for the resin room and tried putting them in to polyester resin. I couldn’t resist trying a blacklight on it once it had cured slightly and it looked amazing. I’m going to keep playing around with the pigments, in various resins and with different pigments, in order to get the best out of them. Whilst I was in there, I also made up some silicone rubber and put black pigment in, which didn’t mix with the silicone, creating beautiful patterns. It will be interesting to see what this dries like and how I could incorporate it into my work somehow.