Monday, 14 December 2015

The Making of Light: an Installation in Process

Taylor’s next project is an ambitious large scale installation that is currently in production. Constructed using over 4000 lenses, gleaned from over 15 optometrists around Johannesburg, this piece has already taken 10 people 8 weeks to construct, and is an eagerly anticipated shift into the space of installation and conceptual art for the artist.

The installation ‘Unified Field’ is a play of lights and viewpoints literally presenting the world as a series of visual perspectives that reminds us that no two vantage points offer the same experience. It exposes our differences, while at the same time reminding us we are all part of a greater whole.

The solid conceptual underpinnings of this piece aside, it is a visceral experience that provides a momentary breath from the pace of life on the streets outside. Through play with glass, light, air and reflection, Taylor aims to give us a physical experience of this weightless, fearless, state of unified belonging.The artwork is made by first creating little pods of 8 lenses each, then joining those pods together to make larger units and finally those units are joined together and suspended. Taylor carefully positions the 8 lenses in an arrangement and traces the outline to retain the positioning each lens. The points that need to be drilled are established and marked with ink. The holes are drilled with a 0.8mm jewelry drill and then each point is intricately connected with wire as thin as cotton thread. Each lens has 4-5 points of connection, emphasising that the experience of subjective separateness and is very real but it is an illusion.

As writer Andre' Croucamp said while exploring Taylor's work, " the viewers subjective experience, the pain associated with it, makes you believe you have an edge and a separate existence, but you are actually physically, thermodynaically, chemically, genetically, ecologically, historically, linguistically and culturally connected to everything around you and to everything that has come before you. If you cease to believe in the illusion of separate existence, even for a moment, your fear will reduce and you will become more vulnerable to the wealth of information and experience around you. "

Plans are underway for the display of this large scale installation in 2016, signalling a new chapter in the artist's mode of practice.

"Unified Field" will be constructed from over 4000 glasses lenses.
The artwork is made by first creating little pods of 8 lenses each, then those pods are joined together to make larger units.

"My work displays our world as a beautifully constructed illusion on which we build our lives," says Taylor

Reflections on Nirox Residency

The artist shares thoughts from her residency at Nirox that Taylor believes was key to her artistic development- pushing her towards new artmaking modes. 

How did this residency shift your thinking as an artist?

Nirox is in the cradle of humankind. This couldn't be more central to my work. The natural world is a perfect matrix of interconnected harmonious laws that don't need to be enforced. Everything belongs; everything is part of a greater whole.

Evolution has resulted in an emergence out of this system. Homo sapiens. One step away from instinct takes us into perceptions of duality. We continually forget our inherent knowledge of connectedness. We are not held by a grid of instinct, we have free will and choice of action.

I am looking at how this 'departure' effects our psyche. Much of my work is an appreciation of the world as an outside observer with a distant sense of belonging. The wonder and beauty of the system that we came from -a longing, as it were, for the peace and coherence of the natural laws that govern the natural world.

There are fossils of stromatolites all over the veld at Nirox. A stromatolite is one of the first muliticellular organisms ever to evolve. They are circular, small dots and big dots, some as large as 1m in diameter. These made me look into the idea of the fundamental building blocks. A moderated aesthetic that would infiltrate all my work. Energy particles. 
Nirox is in the cradle of humankind and runs residencies for artists. It also hosts the annual Winter Sculpture Fair.
What in your opinion is the role of a residency for an artist?

I had uninterrupted time that allowed all my thinking over the last few years to come together. Processing that would have taken years otherwise. I sat in front of the fire every night and sketched and wrote, and looked back through all my sketchbooks and journals and made these connections.

It's this time for development that the busy day to day life doesn’t allow. Art is about thinking before and during the making- and it moves in cycles. Being removed from your everyday circumstances and being afford the time and space is critical to pushing your practice.
"I had uninterrupted time that allowed all my thinking over the last few years to come together." says Taylor.
Glass has made an emergence into your work as a key element- both as material and concept. What were the origins of the glass works and the coming installation- how did you come to this method of working?

I have been looking at multiple layers in a painting, what is on the surface and what is underneath. Layers of perception and of reality. I achieve these layers in my painting using various techniques and the result is a sense of space. Like I have stretched the canvas open or breathed air into it to expand its surface. I was then asked to put forward a proposal for a large public sculpture and it got me thinking about how I can use layers and the brush marks, and punctuation of paint in a sculptural format. From there I tried painting on a few window panes that had been removed from our cottage door and immediately fell in love with the technique. I could create marks on a surface and combine surfaces to create one work.

Did you have to do a lot of technical experimentation to find out what works on glass?

Yes I tried glass stain, oils and acrylic. I tried engraving on the surface first. I tried thick and thin paint, painting on the surface horizontally and vertically and eventually settled on using thin enamel on a horizontal surface .

You put your last together while expecting your first child. Did this  influence the way in which your work has grown conceptually?

I chose a natural delivery with no drugs, in order to do this successfully and for your body to respond by producing the necessary hormones, emotional state of mind becomes important to trigger the hormones. I have to look at how I felt about bringing a new life into the world. My midwife said I had to have faith in the world to have a smooth birth. You had to trust and believe in the human experience. The world is a tough place, do a really believe it's good to have children? This ties directly into discovering my own place and how I fit in. The natural world undisturbed is a harmonious interconnected matrix of natural laws perfectly in sync and coherent. People are not! We have evolved out of that instinct driven system into free choice and mayhem which causes suffering and feelings of isolation.

The turning point was realizing that the leap off the cliff into duality also involves the ability to observe beauty, cognate (is that a word, if not it should be!) experiences through awareness of the senses. Create things, invest in relationships and have the capacity to choose grace over chaos as a state of mind. What an adventure. I'd love to explore this wild and wonderful world with a child.
Taylor was expecting her first child in the run up to her last exhibition.
Where do you see your work evolving to from here?

I am being drawn more and more towards installation works. I will always paint, it us such a raw flexible medium that demands only the best work. I think an artwork should dictate the medium, a piece is conceptualized and then the best medium for that piece is chosen, not the other way round. The medium shouldn't come before the artwork.

A Sell Out at Everard Read, Johnnesburg

They Fly,Charcoal and pastel on cotton paper, 230cm x  140cm
Following the success of Taylor’s most recent sell out exhibition at Everard Read, the artist is already hard at work on a new installation piece that is the culmination of a journey that began at the Cradle of Humankind during a Nirox residency. This opportunity proved to be pivotal in shifting Taylor’s art practice into a new dimension. her most recent exhibition, "Come Together, Fall Apart", Everard Read, Johannesburg, July 2015 was opened to a bustling crowd, and has been endorsed once again by collectors.

Known for subtle and seductive paintings and prints, her recent body of works displayed a significant conceptual growth on the part of the artist. While the market responded favourably to the tried and tested quality two dimensional pieces, these were offset by innovative three dimensional works that use layered glass to present new perspectives to the viewer.

A work comprising a cross-legged figure, comes together in three dimensions as the result of overlaying five layers of atoms painted on panes of glass. It provided a compelling focal point. The work uses depth, light and optical illusion to portray humanity as a series of visual perspectives that reminds us that we are nothing more than layers of the same materials that make up everything around us. 

Layers of Reality, Enamel on Glass,140cm x 100cm
Says gallery director, Mark Read, “ Both constant innovation as well as taking your collectors along with your artistic journey is a key part of sustaining longevity in the art world. Taylor's approach is a great example of this. While her conceptual and experimental side has seen significant shifts, evident in this body of work, her approach is still balanced. This show allowed the broad range of supporters of her work the comfort of beautifully executed pieces that they have come to expect from this artist, while exploring her newer more conceptual approach. We are excited by the coming installation and felt that separating it from this body of work would give it the attention it deserves as a significant marker of her artistic voice gaining new ground. “

Says Taylor: “I am making art to understand my own place. A sound and simple explanation for me is that human development, over time, resulted in a divergence out of the natural system. Our early ancestors took a few evolutionary steps away from “instinct” and looked back at the world with self-awareness and free will – duality- at once a gift and a curse. This shift away from natural order created the assumption that humans are separate.”

Star Matter VI,oil on Linen canvas,40cm x 40cm