whole_ButtonLoris1985_thesis.pdf (12.02 MB)
[Documentation for Master of Fine Arts course]
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 00:58 authored by Button, Loris
The central part of my proposal is essentially an assessment of my past work - a necessary approach as I usually work without a very clear-cut plan in mind. Each piece is generated by, and developed from the ones that have gone before, and is therefore part of a natural progression. However, before I begin that assessment there are a number of points which need clarification at this stage. The question of whether my work is a deliberate feminist/ political statement has been put to me on various occasions. My viewpoint must be obvious because my work is about documenting my life, however, there is no intention to be political involved. There is also my obsession with heads Which I have concentrated on almost exclusively. I rely heavily on family and friends for my subjects, finding it impossible to produce paintings of any tangible truth when working with strangers. I find heads endlessly fascinating and ever-changing - my subjects are my victims - used as raw material to make statements about myself. Making art is a self-indulgent enterprise and therefore my fairly ruthless approach is necessary for me to convey any truth or sincerity. In the past four years I've produced what I now regard as four major pieces of work. I must define the word major, in using this I mean that they have triggered new thoughts/methods etc., and are the basis from which my present work originates. The first one 'Self Portrait 1978-80' was, as indicated in the title, painted over a period of two years by adding images at irregular times. My idea was to paint a face often enough so that it became thoroughly familiar to me and therefore to the viewer, i.e. to produce a work exposing some of the many sides of one personality. I was, and still am convinced that my work needs to be personally relevant to have any validity and the result remains one of the most powerful and confronting images I have ever produced. Every head I have painted since that time has owed an enormous amount to the insight gained making that work. Although painting directly from the model has become a less obsessive part of my work, I still regard it as a necessary path back to reality and will certainly produce a number of these paintings over the next three years. The second major work was painted in 1980 over approximately a twelve month period. 'Family Snapshots 1943-80' was the first of my historical paintings and precisely as the name suggests, is a number of small paintings of black and white snaps from my family photograph box. It has directly generated two other historical works - 'Studio Portrait' also 1980, and an as yet untitled piece, painted last year dealing with my marriage. I find the device of using photographs to re-create a past era fascinating and will use similar methods to produce what has become an established form of memorial for me. I intend to produce a piece dealing with the birth of my daughter, but, as always with these historical works, need a bit more distance from the event to enable me to deal with it. The third work, which I consider to be a major piece, is the series of ten 'Self-masks' which were produced in my preliminary year by using moulded paper in a cast of my own face. They are painted and sewn, I've used glitter, glass eyes, ribbons and sequins - some are obviously aspects of me, and some, (more covertly so), are very theatrical. An exaggeration of my theory of people putting on disguises as protection; they stemmed from the necessity to use myself as a model once more - however, having already produced a number of straight selfportraits I found myself fairly reluctant to embark on another large series, although an occasional one is still essential for documentation. This series provides me with a basis for futher extension of this theme. I have also produced a number of mask paintings - in the past I have always worked at stripping away the layers of protection through painting multiple portraits of my models. I began to think that it would be a more revealing exercise to start putting these layers back onto the exposed head, therefore creating an unmasking by stating the masks. This obsession also provides me with a topic for my seminar. I plan to research the usage and history of the mask in ritual and theatre with a view to discovering at least a little about why it is, and always has been, such a powerful and evocative device. The fourth major piece is the first of a number of diaries which I've kept for the past few years. Each one has consisted of making a notation in colour of my moods and feelings for each day of the year. I now feel that it is time for the format to change and plan to make larger single pieces which will deal with a longer period of time - they will probably incorporate all sorts of scraps from my day to day existence - photos, letters, lists etc., and be sewn, painted, collaged and waxed. Some will become collections of memorabilia which could be separately handled by the onlooker. My year in Tasmania has changed my work dramatically - the pieces I produced are very much a reflection of my general feeling of isolation - they have a closed-in, claustrophobic air and the colour has become quite heavy and oppressive. The factors which contributed to this will continue to exert a very strong influence on me, as will the new experience of motherhood. Time and events always impose unforeseen changes in my work and attitudes, so therefore this resume of my intended work programme is not meant to be proscriptive, however, it gives as clear an indication as possible of my current objectives.
Rights statementCopyright 1984 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1985. Includes bibliographical references