For this unit my focus was on nostalgia. I struggled to pin down how I wanted to approach the topic as the official definition is extremely wide and varied. I then wrote a small piece trying to develop my thoughts on the part that appealed to me.
Nostalgia for something you’ve never had. Someone really ought to define that. I wonder if any other languages have a special term for this phenomenon that I have experienced all too many times before. Catching glimpses, however brief, into the lives of others. The fascination with other people, other places, other times; in other words, the other. These memories are easy to put into words, while others lay forever on the tip of the tongue. Why is it that I feel so strangely nostalgic for somewhere I’ve never lived, didn’t grow up? And why for places I’ve never been? Ice cold soviet Russia, dispassionate images of Damascus, true Wild West and arbitrary yearnings for amity and it goes on, I find no explanation. I vaguely recall in my youth immersed in drawings that can be described as nothing other than architectural plans of boats, cars, tree houses, albeit poorly executed ones. And yet they are yearnings and with yearning come sadness and longing. Just as I recall the excitement as a child to think that celebrities were doing something at the exact same time as me, now I am spun into endless wonder over what people all over the world are doing right now. And saddened that there are lives that I will never glimpse, not even for a second.
I created a blog to run along aside my almost purely visual sketchbook this helped me to order my ideas, reflect on my work and its progression as well as a place to site key inspiration and influence. (http://samwmarsh.tumblr.com/) my research lead me to looking at photo and hyperrealism, which is something I strived for when trying to capture the faces of my subjects especially in the final pair of images. The level of detail was paramount, as the more life like the faces could be made the better they would contrast against the simple line drawings of the wearer’s clothes.
This directed me to creating portraits of almost cliché characters, faces hard and weathered, hinting at the life they had lived through tiny details. Although the images worked well in colour and pencil, it became apparent to me through tutorials that it wasn’t personal enough. The images lacked the connection behind my work that in my learning agreement I stated I did not want to loose, as it would lead to me producing images ‘without any real substance’. Refocusing my portraiture on people I knew helped bridge that gap. It also became evident that I would need to increase the size of my illustrations so as to be able accommodate room for all the detail I wanted to include.
My final works are two portraits of my housemates worked in a style similar to photorealism. The images combined the trail observational and preparatory work from earlier on in my project. I made sure to include the very faint versions of the wrinkles that so boldly carved up the faces of the old and weathered men I had drawn in my early works, this visual link between them I hope hints towards a life yet to be fully lived ‘potential still unknown.’ To further develop these final pieces I think I should have drawn a contrast between youth and the elderly, I would have liked to had another portrait of one of the old and ‘lived’ faces that I studied earlier in my work this scaled to A3 I think would have drawn a nice parallel between the young and the old and made the link more immediate. Perhaps I could take a flat mate and an elderly relative of theirs for example father, grandparent, maybe span several generations this would allow a greater element of nostalgia to be explored as the viewer would be able to see links between the signifiers.
I would like to continue this into my final major project, I feel I have just touched on the topic of nostalgia and through hyperrealism I could expand my subject base considering other approaches in addition to portraiture. I believe my work in this project is the best I have produced so far; the longer deadline allowed me to research in greater depth and develop the ideas behind my final illustrations. Several problems were highlighted, firstly because of the larger scale of the work I had to source my references carefully to make sure there was sufficient detail to convey the hyperrealism I wanted, also the scale meant the work took much longer to execute. I realized that as a result of this it was important to consider the composition, content and plan the final illustration very carefully to negate the necessity of redrawing.
An area I feel I have not addressed sufficiently is the presentation of the work. I tried readymade frames, simple black wood, but it was too dominant for the subtleties of the drawing. I considered the idea of leaving them in their ‘natural’ state that I feel would reflect the transient, delicate nature of nostalgia but then I would have the problem of durability. I think I need to research different ways of presenting the work, visiting galleries and exhibitions to enable me evaluate what would suit my work the best.