Trophy Heads: Courtney

Trophy Heads: Courtney
Trophy Heads: Courtney

Courtney Love wrote her description: “I’ve always presented as very tough and been fine with that. I’ve had to be tough. But in terms of my own psychic space, I’m not. I’m so dainty, I think. That’s why I got sick. And why I’m getting well. I’m owning my frail.” Me ⁣

[Edited]

First shoot and interview I’ve done in 7 or more years , where it is actually me speaking . ( vs others pretending to be me ) . I love Laura’s work , Grace , long admired Leith / Violet Book & Stephanie didn’t get side tracked into cliches. ⁣

Such luxury to have allies tell my story with me . Not a dated projection . This will be the last time I do this for a long time . ⁣”

I watched her documentary “Courtney Love: Behind the Music” and laughed with her about her Trent Reznor story. What was clear was the threads and lines of trauma running through the generations of women.

Courtney has a lot to say and many have a lot to say and sing about her. I mapped her paused, in thought. The image mixes up a 90s promotional shot where she is in the pose of Theda Bara and a shot from 1993 MTV Awards when Courtney and Kurt reclaimed their daughter.

Ars

‘Trophy Heads’ is a series of processed drawings set in wax. The drawings are based on an image significant to the Head and then worked up in graphite and charcoal on Chinese rice paper. Drawings were soaked in wax to create a skin. These drawings were layered on top of each other and then photocopied and soaked in wax. This process was repeated several times with a final dip into wax. The monoprints were framed in black and displayed on the wall.

Wax is a component of lipsticks and charcoal used as eye liner by the Egyptians. Layer up graphite and rice paper links to ancient practices of art.

The images could be something they said to a loaded image that piqued my interest.

The lines of Trophy Heads map to Marilyn Diptych (1962) by Andy Warhol and his preoccupation with celebrity beauty and consumption and mapping them to religious icons. Another boundary crossed was appropriation and copyright where Warhol was sued not by Marilyn or her estate but by the owner of “Niagara” film stills.

I realise my work is complicit in trapping these people in a moment.

Trophy Heads

We place people on pedestals and on spikes.

“Trophy Heads” is a series of works that takes its leave from the human preoccupation with taking and displaying others to serve a purpose: the Shuar blocking a vengeful spirit by severing their enemies’ heads and shrinking them, Khaled al-Asaad’s murder by ISIS to many a head put on a spike.

I dug into my preoccupations to explore the nature of celebrity and how we need to make them Trophy Heads or to put a line around it.

Vermillion Borders

Flesh, rock, lip, sea.

Vermillion Borders maps our emotional cartography. A vermillion border is the line around your lips separating skin and lip. What is outside of the line? What is contained inside the border?

Linda explores our relationship with the land through surreal landscapes, where my arts practice is based on ways of communication and complexity in life. Their practices use ink, watercolour and graphite on paper (both), digital and encaustic (Fiona), and oils and text (Linda). Vermillion Borders is a series of mixed media works unified by a limited colour palette of red, black and white and careful curation. The works were generated by one artist producing a starting point and sending it to the other to complete: creating a true integration of both artist’s practice. The stages were completed in isolation so that each cannot influence the other’s response to the original.

The works were mapped to gallery space at Alternating Current Art Space to fit into the walls, ceiling beams and the energy flow to and from other shows.

“A map tells you where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going — in a sense it’s three tenses in one.”

Peter Greenaway

Trophy Heads: Trinny

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Trophy-Head-trinny-website.png
Trophy Head: Trinny

“What the fuck are we doing?”

Trinny Woodall

Partly why I love her.

Trinny Woodall is a founder and CEO of Trinny London who moved from style advice shows to broadening her practice to incorporate makeup and skincare products. Her head ended up on a pyke. Her sin? She still owns coats her ex husband bought her and what she wore on her wedding. This needed to be a Daily Mail article. Reviewing the video for this post I noticed her Dries Van Noten coat was edited out of the video.

I capped her saying “have a great Monday, ladies and boys.”

Ars

‘Trophy Heads’ is a series of processed drawings set in wax. The drawings are based on an image significant to the Head and then worked up in graphite and charcoal on Chinese rice paper. Drawings were soaked in wax to create a skin. These drawings were layered on top of each other and then photocopied and soaked in wax. This process was repeated several times with a final dip into wax. The monoprints were framed in black and displayed on the wall.

Wax is a component of lipsticks and charcoal used as eye liner by the Egyptians. Layer up graphite and rice paper links to ancient practices of art.

The images could be something they said to a loaded image that piqued my interest.

The lines of Trophy Heads map to Marilyn Diptych (1962) by Andy Warhol and his preoccupation with celebrity beauty and consumption and mapping them to religious icons. Another boundary crossed was appropriation and copyright where Warhol was sued not by Marilyn or her estate but by the owner of “Niagara” film stills.

I realise my work is complicit in trapping these people in a moment.

Trophy Heads

We place people on pedestals and on spikes.

“Trophy Heads” is a series of works that takes its leave from the human preoccupation with taking and displaying others to serve a purpose: the Shuar blocking a vengeful spirit by severing their enemies’ heads and shrinking them, Khaled al-Asaad’s murder by ISIS to many a head put on a spike.

I dug into my preoccupations to explore the nature of celebrity and how we need to make them Trophy Heads or to put a line around it.

Vermillion Borders

Flesh, rock, lip, sea.

Vermillion Borders maps our emotional cartography. A vermillion border is the line around your lips separating skin and lip. What is outside of the line? What is contained inside the border?

Linda explores our relationship with the land through surreal landscapes, where my arts practice is based on ways of communication and complexity in life. Their practices use ink, watercolour and graphite on paper (both), digital and encaustic (Fiona), and oils and text (Linda). Vermillion Borders is a series of mixed media works unified by a limited colour palette of red, black and white and careful curation. The works were generated by one artist producing a starting point and sending it to the other to complete: creating a true integration of both artist’s practice. The stages were completed in isolation so that each cannot influence the other’s response to the original.

The works were mapped to gallery space at Alternating Current Art Space to fit into the walls, ceiling beams and the energy flow to and from other shows.

“A map tells you where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going — in a sense it’s three tenses in one.”

Peter Greenaway

Pretty flay for a white guy

Pretty flay for a white guy
Pretty flay for a white guy

Pretty flay for a white guy, 2020

Digital documentation of a waxed watercolour and graphite drawing strung up with gold thread.

Liminal, death and what remains. I explored beauty, skin and the gaze using western approaches to medicine and burial to examine the concepts of liminal or transitional space. At death, we are farewelled with a ceremony and then buried or cremated with some of us ending up in jars or on display like an écorché or in MRI slices as examples.

Even though the ancient Greeks had a crack at human dissection and saints were dismembered and stored in reliquaries, it took the eighteenth century to pop body parts in jars. And then we have Clemente Susini’s Anatomical Venus in Florence. She is a life-sized wax woman is adorned with glass eyes and human hair and can be dismembered into dozens of parts revealing a foetus curled in her womb at the end. Her purpose was to teach anatomy at a time when bodies rotted quickly and possibly had a dodgy provenance. All the while she is wearing pearls and an ecstatic look on her face. Whatever the intent, we have another way a woman can be carved and displayed.

I’m doing my best not to segue to the victims of Jack the Ripper and the traditions of écorché. Instead, I bounce to the Shroud of Turin, the alleged face of Jesus on a rag. This object gains meaning by many of us looking and hoping we are seeing the face of Jesus.
As I built the artwork, other uses for wax and Ed Gein’s preoccupations came to mind as well as the dismemberment of bodies performed by the likes of advertising.

All you can do is fix your gaze.

Development

What you see is the digital documentation and exploration of body in its liminal state. Pretty flay for a white guy is a Spanish Anatomical Venus with her breast and pregnant belly is redrawn in graphite on Chinese rice paper. The drawing is rendered liminal again when it is soaked in wax. The drawing is no longer held in opaque paper. (The wax is a nod to Madame Tussaud and the tradition of wax death masks making the wax work a relic or trophy of skin.) Two versions are drawn and soaked in wax.

First version is surrounded by flourishes. The second version was annotated with advertising slogans from vintage Cleos e.g., “Intimate odour. When your body isn’t discrete … you should be”-Femfresh. Gold watercolour surrounds the work like a halo and her lips, tits, vulva sparkle like the Pigface song “Hips, Tits, Lips, Power”. A layer of misogyny is added when gold threads are sown in to enable the artwork to be strung up like meat. Both works were photographed on white and black velvet backgrounds.

The title “Pretty flay for a white guy” is a play on the Offspring song Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).


Respect to victims of violence referenced directly or indirectly in this work and its development.

References

Barnett, R., (2014) The Sick Rose or Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration, Thames & Hudson LTD, London
Ebenstein, J., (2016) The Anatomical Venus, Thames & Hudson LTD, London
Hartnell, J., (2018) Medieval Bodies: Life. Death and Art in the Middle Ages, Wellcome Collection, London
Why these anatomical models are not disgusting By Fiona Macdonald 26th May 2016 https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20160526-why-these-anatomical-models-are-not-disgusting
The Romantic, Macabre History of the Anatomical Venus Ian Shank Jan 29, 2018 2:35pm https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-romantic-macabre-history-anatomical-venus
https://www.ladyscience.com/podcast/history-anatomical-venus-wax-anatomy

Who’s there (after Narcissus)

Who's there (after Narcissus)
Who’s there (after Narcissus)

Who’s there (after Narcissus), 2020

Encaustic wax collage on board (30.4cm by 22.5cm).

Narcissus is gazing at his reflection in the pool, and unbeknownst to him, he is close to finding out his future. Through the wax pool, you can see the yellow Narcissus flower; the bloom of youth becomes blooms.

The body silhouettes were drawn by Suzanne Buchanan.

Narcissus flowers watercolours painted by me.

Asystole

Asystole, 2020

Encaustic wax collage 20cm x 20cm board.

An asystole happens when the heart’s electrical power stops.
Muscle and blood cease and coagulate.
Leaning on the traditions of medical representation, wax becomes body.

References
Ginn, Sheryl R., and Lorenzo Lorusso. “Brain, Mind, and Body: Interactions with Art in Renaissance Italy.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 17, no. 3 (July 16, 2008): 295–313. doi:10.1080/09647040701575900.

Encaustic

Jasper Johns

A couple threads in life brought me to an encaustic wax practice. My boy, Jasper Johns, dazzled at his Royal Academy of Art retrospective, and two years later, a brilliant artist, Jane Millington, talk about the cold wax technique. This landed at a time where I was thinking about lipsticks.

Lipsticks are part wax.

Wax is so primal and ancient; my interest was piqued.

Around this time, I chanced upon a weekend workshop learning encaustic wax with Marieke Dench, who proved to be great on technique and a legend on being an artist.

Encaustic art works as fine art pieces

I use wax with damar resin which makes works sparkly and stable. I use printmaking papers and archival glues when I work off a paper base, and encaustic gesso from R&F Paints. When I use digital prints, I use digital papers and printing processes from Hound and Bone.

So yes, I take care and I don’t mess around with quality, long lasting works.

How to Store Encaustic and Pigment Stick® Artwork from R&F Paints is really useful.

Watteau.org?

Photo of my cat

The kitty and the Rococo artist, Jean Antoine Watteau.

Both are great loves and influences.

Both turned up around the same time in the first year of university.

Using watteau.org as my domain nourishes my art life by reminding me of beauty.