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Model Student

mending the Nets Emma Drye 2013I would like to draw students’ attention to the many and various ways artists use models in their practice, with a view to perhaps encouraging students to develop some model ideas of their own. I have a several level three students at present who are working using models or maquettes. One is setting up small conceptually fuelled models to use as still lives. Another is creating bizarre machines with a high level of idiosyncratic symbolism and narrative. A third is devising rituals and performances with purpose built props.
In my own work I often translate imagery through a model or maquette as a way of kind of filtering out some of the less relevant information and allowing some previously invisible qualities more of the limelight. This then enables me to make quite straightforward paintings of what I see.
I’ve seen quite a few contemporary artists and students develop this theme recently. The artist John Brown made these little toys about personal failure and displayed them in a vitrine in an Edinburgh show recently. The packaging is just the right side of unconvincing and the kind of ‘Hawkins Bazaar’ of human frailty aesthetic was quite moving. John is a painter and these little bags and packages are something just next to a painting, nudging themselves into objecthood.
John Brown Craporama Detail 2013
John Brown Craporama 2013 detail
This ‘Horse Drawn Chrysler’ is by Gemma Coyle, a student of Grays in Aberdeen and is made from bic biro casings. I suppose this is proper ‘sculpture’ but I feel it has something of the theatrical stage set model or architects model and I like the way the horses have that ‘just good enough’ feel about them.
Horse Drawn Chrysler Gemma Coyle 2013
IMG_0770
In the same show, a tutor from Grays, Andrew Cranston, made the most sensitive and thorough investigation of the use of models as art and archive. He curated a mini exhibition within an exhibition which set up several versions of a now vanished building next to each other. One was a scale model, one was a painting from memory by an amateur painter (who is also the artist’s father) who saw the building before demolition, another was a more theatrical model of a section complete with faux aging, like a wee gothic dolls house, there were photographs of the original building and finally two ambiguous and personal little oil paintings by the artist which hovered among the ruins and brought the artist’s own response into the mix.
IMG_0782Andrew Cranston, Wilton Lodge 2013
IMG_0784This lovely work seemed to me to be an exploration of meaning, evidence, memory, emotional investment, time and Cranston’s own relationship with his father.  By juxtaposing 2 and 3 dimensions,  images taken for documentation with those create for art, the viewer is able to freely move around within that fact/fiction, private/public space which has been so thoroughly mashed up in our times.


Posted by author: Emma Drye
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2 thoughts on “Model Student

  • I also saw this show and loved the way it sat within the Sculpture Court with its own models in the form of Elgin marble casts. I have worked with models several times and enjoy the interplay between two and three dimensions. There was a lovely exhibition last summer inSummerhall inEdinburgh of mini theatre sets designed by various artists and designers, including Lady Gaga and Anthony Gormley! They were mostly quite small and I found the play with scale intriguing. An artist who uses theatrical set s in her work is Paula Rego. She constructs the sets, lights them and paints from them, like a glorified still life I suppose.

  • Hi I’m Gemma Coyle, thank you for the lovely comment.
    One small thing, I am an ex student of Edinburgh College of Art, I have an undergraduate in drawing and painting and a Postgraduate. I graduated in 2005. The piece you talk about was a piece that I received the accolade UK young Artist for and represented the UK in a biennale in Greece. Thank you!

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