TEN KEY POINTS

 

CONTEXTUALISATION:

This academic year began with a trip to New York – made possible by the Helen Gregory Memorial Trust. I wanted to see the sculptural work of Doris Salcedo, whose pieces are in equal measure poetic and political. They’re so meaningful and laboriously crafted. I felt that experiencing her work would help me to discover how I can make my work more connected with current issues in the world.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/new-york-guggenheim-doris-salcedo/

These coffin-sized tables, surface to surface against each other, with aprox 6 inches of soil between them, had tiny holes drilled into the top surface, and grass allowed to grow through the tiny gaps. The man tending the gallery said to me that the sculpture had to be outside for months for the grass to be able to grow, but that he had watched the grass grow stronger throughout the time it had been inside the gallery space.
These coffin-sized tables, surface to surface against each other, with aprox 6 inches of soil between them, had tiny holes drilled into the top surface, and grass allowed to grow through the tiny gaps. The man tending the gallery said to me that the sculpture had to be outside for months for the grass to be able to grow, but that he had watched the grass grow stronger throughout the time it had been inside the gallery space.

I first discovered the shocking statistics about poverty in the UK through The Trussell Trust- an organisation which sets up food banks across the UK. The stories they had shared really moved me and hit home. The mistreatment of the disadvantaged in society and the negative portrayal of the working class that I was looking into personally angered me. 

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/below-the-poverty-line/

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This is really the point at which I began seriously questioning my purpose as an artist. Exploring how I could make a difference, however small, through my creativity but also just as a human being. I looked at artists who represent communities of people, or work with them such as Ai Wei Wei and his 200 tonnes of recovered steel rebars, and Suzanne Lacy’s ‘Culture in Action’, which enabled artists to work directly with the local community.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/what-is-my-role-as-an-artist/

100 limestone boulders with the names of women from the city. (Chicago - downtown circle) - the boulders appeared overnight.
100 limestone boulders with the names of women from the city. (Chicago – downtown circle) – the boulders appeared overnight.

Trickle Down economics is a capitalist trick, where the wealthy say that the poor benefit from the millions they earn, when in reality the opposite is true. The more money the wealthy have, the more they actually seem to save, and the less goes back into society. Whereas the money the poorest in society earn, goes straight back into the economic system through rent, bills, food etc. My marble run is a metaphor for the reality that Trickle down economics is essentially a big capitalist lie and disadvantages the already disadvantaged.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/the-facts/

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The Japanese Forest Xylophone advert for the mobile phone ‘Touch Wood’ is very serene and simplistic and having already been very inspired by Japanese architecture and minimalism (which I wrote about in my dissertation), this video really spoke to me. This is also why the little sounds in my marble run are important to me. I like all these kinds of gentle, fragile qualities in materials/sculpture.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/japanese-forest-xylophone/

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DOCUMENTATION:

The entirety of my first term was spent relentlessly trying to cast marbles in plaster. Overall I made four different molds. I made many mistakes and learned from them all, each time trying to fix what went wrong and progress. In December, I took part in the artist residency at The Abacus. For this, I used my fourth and most accurate mold to cast 500 plaster marbles.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/testing-the-fourth-mold/

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Plaster dust can be dangerous so I decided to make all of my marbles with raku clay, and abandon the plaster molds I had worked so long towards.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/raku-marbles/

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I wanted my plaster marble run pieces to be made out of plaster and have an architectural aesthetic / quality. I didn’t want to lose the geometric, (minimalist & architectural), matt, white qualities which I have developed over the past year or so. The designs I made were a similar shape to metal girders, which I see a lot around the art building. 

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/silicone-mold-3/

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I chose two staple materials in my design; plaster and wood (in a light colour). This would form the clean, geometric design of the run. I think he paleness of the bare, natural wood really compliments the nakedness of the plaster pieces. On top of this, I wanted splashes of metal with the mechanisms and a DIY feel to anything added on top of this. I wanted any cables, glue, ties and even tape left visible to give a layering effect of the DIY on top of the pristine.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/the-frame-support-3/

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The mechanisms were essential to making my Tickle Down Effect metaphor a physical, functional reality. This was a huge learning curve – by being quite ambitious, I threw myself in at the deep end. However, I was determined to make it work.

https://emilypanizzifineart.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/the-conveyor-cha…nism-the-hooks-2/

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ARTIST STATEMENT

As a sculptor I find great importance in giving strength to fragile materials – it is this vein of fragility and vulnerability which runs deep through all aspects of my current practice. My work is heavily influenced by minimalist architecture and repetitions of geometric forms, as well as the Japanese concept of ‘ma’, which explores ideas around a space delivering an experience.

This kinetic piece is fuelled by my anger at the mistreatment of and lack of support for the most vulnerable communities in our society. One in five UK residents now live below the poverty line and the income inequality we are experiencing is desperate. The wealthiest 1% in the UK have approximately 12.9% of the country’s total income, whereas the poorest 50% of us have just 8.7% (OECD).

Marbles run through this artwork like currency and over time will end up at the nightmarish outcome of our capitalist society; that one day perhaps, the wealthiest in our society will have 100% of the UK’s total income, our lives will be totally dependent on and controlled by them.

In effect, I am arguing against the fictional prosperity of ‘Trickle Down Economics’, by subtly placing the economic reality in an interactive, playful, marble run metaphor. Where marbles represent money and in a society where all individuals have a labour value, we play God with the lives presented to us in a rigged game with one inevitable outcome.

VINYL & FILLER

I had got a small vinyl sticker printed to give some direction as to how visitors could interact with the marble run. I did not want to write a long extended list of instructions like a game, instead I wanted to keep it subtle and ambiguous like the rest of the piece.

I felt that frosted vinyl would look nice and smart over the clear Perspex, and I have used a downloaded ‘Tate’ font.

By choosing this particular bit of text, I’m hoping there will be no incidents where the machine gets totally overloaded with marbles. I think it could probably handle two or three at a time but best not to risk it. There’s a risk that the weight of multiple marbles could damage the chain hooks when they try to pick them up, and this could lead to the hooks getting stuck on the plaster, and stopping the chain from moving.

Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that I have used clear poly filler around the recess in the wood tops to hold the perspex in place during the show. It was pretty snug already, but the poly filler should hopefully stop any potential wobbling. I don’t think you would notice it too unless you were looking for it – very successful!

PLANNING MY SPACE

I have been given a lovely open space by big double windows, so I am hoping that there will be a good amount of natural lighting. I wanted natural lighting (no yellow or harsh spotlights) to keep the pale, matt tones of the piece.

People can walk all the way around my piece, which is exactly what I wanted. The run can be viewed from all angles, explored, the marbles can be followed, and I am hoping that because of the design of the frame, it will not totally dominate the space. I want people to be able to ‘look through’ the space to other works and areas of the room.

My only concern with this space was that if people were viewing the prints and paintings either side of my piece, that they may accidentally back into it, which would be bad as it is very fragile. However, there should be at least a couple of meters between our work.

ems drawing