Inspired by . . . Exhibition

Yay, just had an email from the Morley Gallery to say that the paper dress I made during my Fine Art rotation, right at the beginning of the course, has been selected for their exhibition Inspired by . . . Inspired by . . . is a national arts competition open to anyone in part time education, it was launched by and is normally held at the V&A, but this year it’s been entrusted to the Morley Gallery. You were asked to submit work inspired by pieces in the collections of the V&A and the V&A Museum of Childhood. So I chose to submit my paper dress, which I created after looking into the parallels between paper and fabric. It was inspired by an Organza Origami dress in the V&A collection, which was created by Lie Sang-Bong for his Spring/Summer 2009 collection.

Paper Dress

Paper Dress, 2013

Organza Origami Dress, Lie Sang-Bong, 2009

Organza Origami Dress, Lie Sang-Bong, 2009

Having managed to find a lovely local picture framer, who was prepared to frame it for me at very short notice, and over a bank holiday weekend too, am now looking forward to taking it up to London for the exhibition, and having a chance to look at everybody else’s work too. Not a bad way to celebrate finishing the end of my course, should be fun.

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UCA End of Year Show

The Gobstopper

Inspired by Fritz Kahn’s Man as Industrial Palace poster, The Gobstopper has been designed as a concept for a children’s interactive science exhibit, to illustrate the process of digestion in the human body.

To engage the intended audience, analogies have been made with children’s toys and games, primarily pinball, but also catapult, windmills, marble runs and Mouse Trap.

This conceptual piece has been realised using paper, with the intention that if it were to be produced, a more suitable material be used, such as plastic or wood. The components, the various organs, would be modular in form, allowing children to construct the digestive system for themselves.

The accompanying film,  may be viewed by clicking on the following link - The Gobstopper.

The Gobstopper - UCA End of Year Show

The Gobstopper – UCA End of Year Show

Pinball Model.

Pinball Model.

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The Gobstopper installed at last!

Phew . . . at last The Gobstopper is finally in position for the forthcoming end of year show.

The Gobstopper - UCA End of Year Show

The Gobstopper – UCA End of Year Show

The pinball model and the IMac running the film, are set into a housing I created, which is designed to be a halfway house between a pinball machine and a display cabinet. Originally I created a housing from papier-mâche, and designed it to look a lot like a real pinball machine, with buttons at the side and on the front. However I felt it detracted from the actual pinball model itself, so I created a new version, much simpler in appearance and using materials similar to the model itself. I also cut away the top section of the housing around the pinball model, so that it looked more like it was sitting in a display cabinet and so that it could be viewed more easily.

A sturdy wooden base is hidden underneath to support the IMac, the model and the housing. Originally I was planning on painting the legs of this wooden frame white or at least covering them with paper, but in the end I painted them grey. I think they give the pinball machine a feeling of solidity left grey, and the colour works well with the grey of the floor.

The headphones, were a bit of a pain. My tutor, quite rightly, thought that ideally they should be white. So I bought a pair, even checked the length of the cable before I bought them to make sure they’d be suitable. A  2m long cable, easily long enough I thought, actually no, not nearly long enough. So I ended up having to make holes in the housing to ensure they were much more accessible, which wasn’t really something I wanted to do, at such late stage, but luckily worked out fine in the end.

As a finishing touch, the hook to hang up the headphones, references the two blue gobstoppers in the film.

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The Gobstopper

For the purposes of presenting my pinball model at the end of year show, I realised that it was fairly essential to have a video of some kind, showing it working.

I wanted the film to show the story of a piece of food, moving around the body. I thought a gobstopper would work quite well, representing the food element. Gobstoppers, not only are round like a marble but come in a great array of colours, which would work well against the pure white of the model, and are associated with being a treat, fun, and even theatrical in the way they change colour the more they are sucked. So I thought a Gobstopper would work well.

Slide2 Slide3

I used stamps to create a title sequence, to give the film a handmade quality, thereby linking to the hand made nature of the model. I also started off the film by having a shot of a child taking a gobstopper from a dispenser made of Lego, thereby referencing a link again to children’s toys.

A link to the finished film can be found here The Gobstopper

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Pinball

Having finished making versions of all the necessary organs, I have finished the model off by adding elements that one would associate with pinball. So I have added a pillar hiding the hole where the ball will disappear down, using a star motif often used within pinball graphics. I’ve also added two flippers, for the purposes of illustrating digestion they don’t really need to work, but I thought it would be more fun if they did. So I created a simple mechanism, that could be hidden under the base.

flipper mechanism

flipper mechanism

I’ve only added the mechanism on one side, as unfortunately there wasn’t enough room on the right hand side to fit it in, it would have meant a complete redesign of the oesophagus slope. So the finished working pinball machine is as shown below:

Pinball model showing process of digestion.

Pinball model showing process of digestion.

The model works pretty well, obviously it’s a little delicate as its just made out of paper, but the marble moves around the whole layout pretty well, once its been launched. You don’t even need to use the flipper, the ball will roll out of sight without any further human intervention.

I was unsure whether I would cover it when finished with a sheet of acrylic, to prevent the marble flying out as its launched, but in practice because the initial slope is quite steep, the marble rarely shoots out of the box. I looked at various transparent coverings anyway, but they all seemed to distort the view of the model through it. So I decided not to bother covering it with anything, as it wasn’t essential to the design and looked aesthetically better without.

If I was making the model again, I’d like to make it a lot more detailed, and show a higher level of skill in the paper cutting. However I ‘m fairly pleased with the end result, I like the fact its mainly white, I think it shows off the shadows cast, and emphasises the precise nature of the paper cutting.  Originally I was intending to create a piece which had a much darker feel, echoing the ‘elegant macabre’ medical illustrations of Gaultier D’Agoty. However I think it might have ended up a bit confused if  had pursued this route, instead I like the limited use of black drawing attention to the mouth and the heart. The mouth works well being black representing the food disappearing down into the dark depths of the oesophagus. Whilst the black drawing on the heart makes it stand out from the other organs, which is important as the ball doesn’t actually pass through it.

However now that I know the model will actually work, but will be too delicate to be left out for anyone at the end of year show play with, annoyingly I think its now essential that I produce some kind of video that shows it working.

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Cut Fold Construct Paper Sculpture Workshop

One of the first paper artists I started researching at the beginning of my final major project was Richard Sweeney, renowned for his expertise in folding paper and creating complex sculptural forms. It was with fantastic good timing that I then discovered he was about to run a paper sculpture workshop, at the Victor Felix Gallery in London, and immediately booked my place.

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Cut, Fold, Construct Paper Workshop with Richard Sweeney and Andy Singleton

Cut, Fold, Construct Paper Workshop with Richard Sweeney and Andy Singleton

 

The day was fantastic, really interesting and very well structured, and a lovely opportunity to meet other people interested in a similar area.  The morning primarily focused on paper cutting techniques and was led by Andy Singleton. Andy, a paper artist and illustrator, specialises in working in response to the natural and man-made world.

Andy Singleton's work in progress for the Victoria Revealed Exhibition, Kensington Palace

Andy Singleton’s work in progress for the Victoria Revealed Exhibition, Kensington Palace

We were shown various techniques, during the course of the morning, including an insight in to translating continuous line drawings into paper cuts, how one could build up modular forms  and manipulate 2d paper cuts into 3d sculptures. A couple of my pieces produced during the workshop as below:

Continuous line drawing turned into a paper cut

Continuous line drawing turned into a paper cut.

Andy Singleton template cut to show how one can create a 3d sculpture and build modular forms.

Andy Singleton template cut to show how one can create a 3d sculpture and build modular forms.

Richard then ran the afternoon session, which focused upon paper folding techniques, using a variety of crease patterns, to form geometric sculptures.

Icosahedron, Richard Sweeney, 2006

Icosahedron, Richard Sweeney, 2006

Richard obviously made it all look extremely easy, in practice it was a little more challenging, as the more you tried to manipulate the paper into the desired direction, the more handled and creased the paper looked.

However I had another go, after I left, whilst experimenting with designs for my large intestine, and the results were a lot better.

X Span folded tubes

X Span folded tubes

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Large Intestine No. 2

Originally I had planned on having the intestines sit on some kind of tray that allowed the user to move the ball around, backwards and forwards and from side to side. This way the ball could move through the small intestine and then back up the large intestine.

It was quite difficult to design a way of doing this though, that would be hidden from view, not interfere with the initial ramp the ball has to travel up, or with the chute that returns the ball from where it disappears out of view back to the start.

So I decided that to avoid such issues, it would be easier to have the large intestine enjoying a more decorative role as opposed to a functional one.

I wanted the large intestine to look fairly simple and not too fussy, but be easily recognisable as a large intestine. A few weeks earlier I attended a paper folding and cutting workshop at the Victor Felix Gallery in London, and one of the artists there, had shown us a simple paper cut of a wolf he had done, expertly capturing it with relatively few cuts.

Andy Singleton

Andy Singleton

So I decided to follow the same route, for illustrating the large intestine, using just a few strategically placed cuts, and wrapping the resulting shape around the smaller intestine to give it a more 3 dimensional feel.

Large Intestine

Large Intestine

It’s very simple, but I think it works pretty well. In hindsight I would have moved all the organs over slightly to the right, so that the large intestine sits more centrally within the overall layout. However potentially later on maybe I could include a pancreas or spleen to give the model a more balanced feel.

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Small Intestine No. 2

I’ve decided to rethink the making of the intestines from scratch, so I’ve gone back and looked at the images and research I’ve done into children’s toys and games that have moving parts. Mousetrap is about the journey of a ball through a variety of obstacles, and so is well suited as an analogy to the model I’m making. In particular I think the component, below, from the game has something intestine like about it.

Component from the game Mousetrap

Component from the game Mousetrap

The ball will travel from the mouth, through the stomach and then through the intestine in one continuous journey, so I thought it would look better if the path was created out of a single sheet of paper. No overlapping edges to hamper the ball’s path.

intestine 66

 

I created the intestines in a fairly simple manner in the end, but glued the overlapping edges carefully, so that each slope, as seen below, is positioned at exactly the right angle to ensure the marble keeps moving and doesn’t get stuck.

Intestines version 2

Intestines version 2

To ensure the clean, precise lines of each component stand out, I’ve tried to avoid adding any supporting columns or such like. Luckily the intestines seem fairly stable, floating in position, as they lead off from the stomach, and so I have purposefully left the area underneath empty.

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The Large Intestine

To create a large intestine, I brainstormed a variety of ideas including one inspired by Sarah Illenberger.

Sarah Illenberger, an art director and illustrator creates clever, humorous images, often using a mix of paper and everyday items. In her “Strange Fruits” project, she visualises word puns to great effect, for example a slice of watermelon appears to be raining seeds, a pomegranate turns into an actual grenade, and chilli peppers become the flame of a lighter. But it was her piece entitled Sweet Tunes, that made me consider the possibility of using other kinds of paper in my model. Filter paper for the liver for example to recognise its role of filtering the blood from the digestive tract.

Sweet Tunes, Sarah Illenberger

Sweet Tunes, Sarah Illenberger

Or cake cases to represent the frilled edges of the large intestine.

Large Intestine version 1

Large Intestine version 1

I didn’t really like the effect of adding the cake cases , the result looked messy, so I changed tack and experimented with paper folding techniques instead.

Paul Jackson, a professional paper folder and paper artist since 1982 , is the author of over 30 books on paper arts. One of them being a book called Folding Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to Form, it’s explains how one can make many 3 dimensional forms from a sheet of paper. One of the crease patterns is for an x span tube, which I thought might have potential to become a large intestine, with the triangular grid lending itself to being easily  manipulated.

X Span folded tube

X Span folded tube

Large intestine version 2

Large intestine version 2

The resulting form worked pretty well, fitting snugly round the small intestine previously created, and with openings for the ball to easily feed from the small intestine down into it, around its length and out the other end.

Unfortunately though, to get the ball to move through it, it needed to be tilted at quite a steep angle, making it unworkable in the pinball machine. So back to the drawing board.

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The Small Intestine

To represent the intestines, I initially decided to draw a comparison with a child’s marble maze game. The winding in and out layout seemed to fit well with the long, undulating nature of the intestines.

Marble Maze Game

Marble Maze Game

My initial mock ups involved a tray, which rested upon a simple tilting mechanism that I had designed, allowing for movement up and down, and side to side, using paddles on either side.

Small intestine version 1

Small intestine version 1

I covered the base and sides with an image of intestines, so that it would be clear which organ it was meant to be. The intention was for the ball to drop out of the stomach into the top left hand corner, work around the maze, eventually exiting through the hole in the bottom left hand corner and on to the large intestine.

However creating something to represent the large intestine proved more tricky.

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