Assignment 4: Book of sleep and dreaming

Still continuing with the cyanotypes, and still using cloth.

This project is a set of images based on my mother’s condition. I started with some sketches based on looking at images of brains with dementia. Not a good thing to do. But what it brought into focus for me was a coalescence of neuroscience and spirituality, specifically Zen ideas of spaces beyond.

The images were made on transparencies, using a mixture of media- photographic negatives, masks, paintings on perspex

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and cellophane, carborundum and salt, feathers, an empty pill packet and thread, and development included the use of tea, red wine, vinegar and washing soda bleach.

The starting point was an accidental set of images, a photograph of the phases of the moon printed onto a piece of cloth from the edge of the fabric, where the cyanotype chemical had sprayed.


It created an interesting effect and set of colours, and it conjured up ideas of passing time and deterioration, as well as evoking my earlier images likening the moon and the degenerating brain. As a metaphor, the set of images also evokes a sense of the moon as a wanderer in the sky, something on a voyage, which links too with this project and its consideration on the phases and stages of life. On the other hand, the fact that we “see” the phases of the moon as a set of changes is an illusion, and a reminder of our limited perspectives, and the difficulty we have of perceiving what is beyond the evidence of our senses.

The images are meant to evoke neural networks, paths and maps- due to the colouring, they can look like water, and also the night sky, patterns and constellations. They should also evoke the physical body – veins, lungs, the brain. Masks are used to contain the images and suggest new meanings, parallel worlds ( the “two moons” reappear here)  pairs of eyes, lungs… Groups of three form a hierarchy- the third eye, the trinity of the mind, body and soul.  One image involves real objects- a feather, an empty pill packet and tangled thread- this is a composition that could be found on a seashore, washed up debris, so it metaphorically connotes remains, and endings, while its literal meanings denote surrender, confusion, medication. I had in mind my mother’s small table, on which she always keeps a comb, but of late she has less interest in it, and seems to have given up considering her appearance. I decided to use a feather instead of an actual comb, as it still has the comb-like structure, with the thread tangled around it, but has a more pleasing aesthetic and richer meanings.

This set of pieces of cloth I plan to make into a “book” but a padded one, like a pillow.  There is a sense that this is both an object and a gift for my mother, a wish that she should sleep and go beyond the present- that her loss of the here and now should become a path to a space beyond. I can’t complete the padding now, as I don’t have the materials, but this is a video of it nearly complete.





Author: chrisocaprintingblog

Studying visual arts part-time with the Open College of the Arts

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