From the beginning of the year I can honestly say that I was very worried about my dissertation. Although it was months away when I’d have to write the proposal and months still before I would start writing the actual piece, it still weighed heavily on my mind. However, after the initial shock of realizing I was no longer a first year and now things were getting serious, I started focusing on my own practice and trying to develop my style as an illustrator. Cath Davies’ sessions on Gargoyles and Goddesses really helped me understand the relationship between the grotesque and the gorgeous. We looked in depth at ideals of femininity, and how these have been constructed over time, observing aesthetics and certain philosopher’s views on femininity and maternity. These subjects, however helpful they were in regards to understanding mankind’s constructions of beauty and the lack thereof, were not directly influential in the decisions made about the dissertation proposal. In saying that, as much as I enjoyed the sessions, I feel that others would’ve benefited more from them were they in my position. However, I wanted to see these sessions through to see if there was anything That I could use to further develop my practice, and there was. What I gleaned from these sessions were the certain aspects of what humankind found to be grotesque, and from these standards I was able to explore the nature of Monsters as an independent study, which would serve as research towards a Subject related brief to do with Ghost stories. The mystery and illusion behind monsters truly fascinates me. How malformations of the extremities and the combination of human and animal characteristics can a monster make.
Keeping these new ideas in mind but not always bringing them into my work, I kept on developing my craft. At first it was very frustrating as I felt that everything that I came up with wasn’t good enough in my mind. It felt incomplete and lacking in certain aspects, whether it wasn’t as visually captivating or that it didn’t have any purpose behind it other than to look good. I decided to work on things that I was familiar with, and wherever I could, I’d relate these things back to my field of interest, that interest being in the Ocean. I love the Ocean, it’s where I grew up and where I learned some of the most valuable lessons about the environment and how we should respect it. I learned how to dive as soon as It was made available to me, and since then I’ve only been growing in my knowledge and understanding of the complex systems that govern our planet. It was then that I began to realize that we might be in trouble if we don’t do something to help the current state of things. Fish stocks are rapidly declining due to overfishing and bad fishing practices such as gill-netting and drag-netting, dynamite, cyanide and long-line fishing.
I wanted to involve these themes in my work but not in such a way as to put off my audience. This idea came from something that Chris Glynn said awhile ago, about how people have become desensitized by the gruesome images of the results of being a heavy smoker, that are printed onto the side of tobacco packets and cigarette boxes. Instead what I decided to do was start familiarizing myself with artistic values I could see within the ocean. Images of sea creatures and landscapes followed, studies of movement and shape/form of different animals, and looking into the sciences behind the oceans. I also looked at some info-graphics, informative posters that show scientific data and statistics, with clear and accurate statements about our oceans. I experimented with some of these myself and created two, one as a painted representation of an already digital info-graphic, depicting the various zones of the Ocean. The other was of my own design, a wind-awareness chart, with the titles of the wind direction, points of sail and boat maneuvers all written in maritime signaling flags. Whilst producing these I started to look into the problems that our Oceans are facing, looking in depth at harmful fishing practices and how these can be dealt with. With help from the Charities Brief in subject, where I explored my own style in relation to the themes I was interested in, I formulated my title for my dissertation proposal and decided to look more in depth to “Visual Culture in relation to Maritime Conservation, Exploration and Technology”. Technological advancements allowing us to Explore deeper for longer, Exploration leading us to undiscovered secrets, and Conservation efforts being put forth to ensure that we do not loose what we may discover in the future, and to ensure that we also preserve what we have.