Samantha Humphreys

Art, Photography & Inspiration

Category: Reality

A Big Fat Metaphor

 


 

Inspired by a recent mini task on the course I teach on where the students had to bring along a photograph and an object that holds meaning and has impact on their art practice.

The first image is a print I made a few years back, it is my Nans block of flats. At the time of making this piece, my Nan still lived there, and I was starting to think that one day, I would never visit there again. Over lockdown, my nan has become unable to live there alone and has moved into a care home.

As this is all happening over 200 miles away, she has turned 90 over lockdown with only socially distanced visits from family living nearby (thankfully most of the family live nearby) and filmed efforts and cards from the rest of us. It is now very unlikely that I will visit the flat again, however-as long as I can visit her eventually, what does that matter? I look forward to that day.

The second image is my object, it is a paperweight.

When my Grandad was alive, he was the caretaker of these flats and he had a workshop downstairs which was filled with things he was repairing and other paraphernalia. I loved visiting him down in this workshop and I can still remember the smell of it. I have had this paperweight for as long as I can remember, initially it was just special as my grandad gave it to me, for a long time I didn’t even know it was a paperweight it was just a fascinating colourful object-it had been thrown away by someone and he rescued it.

Later on, when I was older, I learned that the pattern I was so fascinated with had been created using a technique called Millefiori, which I taught myself with clay when I used to create dolls house food. The way it works is that you work carefully with a short fat cylinder, making it a long thin cylinder which you finally slice and somewhere inside, there is the perfect slice of orange, kiwi or hot cross bun. Thats how it works with clay anyway, I have less of an idea of how it is created with glass as in my paperweight.

I keep this paperweight on my desk, I see it every day while I’m working from home. I think of this technique as a metaphor for how art practice develops and therefore it helps me both in my art practice and my teaching practice.

As an artist, when you are developing ideas, you have all your thoughts, sketches and ideas rolled up within your fat cylinder of clay, then you carefully and thoughtfully work your way through all these ideas and sketches, teasing out the ideas but carefully preserving the whole idea which will eventually narrow down to one you will use. When you have your long thin piece, you slice away at it with care, then eventually, after much thought, somewhere inside that cylinder, you find your perfect slice of final piece which makes all the hard work worth it.

The point is, there is going to be lots of what could be considered waste at either end of the cylinder, but the final outcome would not be possible without the discarded bits that help you get there.

But also, it’s important to remember that no art is a waste and should not be discarded!

 

Playtime@London Art Fair

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Smartphone Social Media Performance series (2020)

Thank you to all those who contributed to this project, some were on the wall, some were part of the performance.

Harry Humphreys
Louise Wells
Tamsin Bartlett
Josephine McGuinness
Rebecca McGuinness
Pryle Behrman
Michael Spakowski
Bradley Tearle
Bethany H 
Alex McGuinness
Sonya Bones
Cristian Frias
Gabriele Höhne
Stanislava Andreeva
Sophie Clark
Ana Bruque

Eternal Musings (working title)

Mandalas

Last week I took part in a drawing session at the university I teach at. The session is student led and this particular workshop involved choosing a print out from a list of well known, course relevant and extremely well chosen texts that we had to annotate in any way we pleased in a creative way.

I chose The Time Machine by H.G. Wells Pg 48-49, not a book I have red interestingly enough but the text spoke of hope for the future, new growth and a hint that humanity has not yet destroyed the earth. This, coupled with my interests in mental health, wellbeing and my desire to, indeed, save the planet. I found that I started developing Mandalas on the page.

This piece here is not my first attempt in the drawing session, the idea of the session is that you think as you draw, there is a time limit and I soon realised that I did not have the right tools with me to properly develop so I saw this as a preparation for a more developed piece.

The Mandala has many meanings culturally and in a variety of religions. My interests lay in the circular design of the Mandala, symbolising the concept that everything is connected. I am drawn to the idea of a personal design that holds meaning to the creator and can be instrumental to wellbeing. The use of the Mandala in the time machine piece speaks of both healing our environment and our mental wellbeing which has become increasingly fragile.

Once you get past the mathematical accuracy needed to create a successful Mandala (which I have not yet mastered) the process focuses the mind completely, there is no need for checking emails, social media or any other contemporary distractions that cause our brains to fill to capacity and inevitably, break down.

What if? is a question that has come up in my work before, but what if we could gather all the experts in the fields of : Sustainability, Climate crisis, Mental health and wellbeing to name a few….and using knowledge and science, go back to where we made our biggest mistakes and change it? Un-invent single use plastics and disposeable nappies and anything else clogging up the earth in landfill? Change the laws allowing young people to use social media? Not have social media at all? These are just my initial thoughts, but can you imagine? The time travel thing is just a bit of fun, what I find strange though is that despite watching a lifetime of Doctor Who and having watched time travel stories over the years-it was only when I placed the Mandalas over the text of a book I haven’t read, that I saw a connection between the mental state of humanity and the fragile state of the planet. A friend looked at the piece and she described it as eternal musings, which I think is a good description of what the piece represents.

I will be doing more research and developing this idea….

Playtime

 

I love my job, both of them, and actually I don’t feel like I am working a lot of the time particularly in my job as a practising artist. Because I enjoy my work, of course  do, I’m an artist and like most artists I have often been asked to undertake work for free on the basis that I shouldn’t mind or expect payment because this is basically what I do for fun and besides, it will be good for my cv (great for early career artists or an opportunity for a huge amount of great quality exposure maybe, but it should be the artists choice and never expected) but no other profession has this problem that I am aware of.

In these times of constant connection, it’s easy to blur the line between work time and ‘play’ time whether on purpose or simply because it is possible to do so. I myself am guilty of sending work emails at ridiculous times of day and night, I do this only because I would rather act on an idea or response as it pops into my head rather than risk forgetting, I do not expect a colleague to answer or respond until a reasonable time during working hours! I feel incredibly guilty though if I then receive a response at an ungodly hour or on a non working day.

These are mainly fairly conscious decisions though, but how does our free time turn into a work situation for someone else though? Well, we use our phones all the time, we switch on location and advertise where we are with each smiling hash tagged selfie.

Advertise, that’s what we do, with each post we make. Of course this isn’t a new thing, this has simply replaced advertising on plastic bags when we used to shop anywhere! We would walk away with a lovely clean crisp plastic bag with our goodies in, advertising to everyone where we had made our purchase. We only do that now if we forget our re-useable bag!

The image below is a reproduction on a wooden device of a screenshot provided by Writtle University College, Art and the Environment student Bradley Tearle.

 

 

Nine minutes Past Eight

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Nine Minutes Past Eight, (2019) Mixed media on plywood.

At nine minutes past eight just a few days ago I asked my friends a question ‘what does coffee mean to you?’ I received mainly one word answers immediately and I have presented them as miniature artworks, some inspired by the friend, others by the response given. As an artist I largely examine the boundaries between the digital and online presence and how it impacts our identity. Here I am focussing on how social media remains a useful tool for socialising and how Facebook, enables immediate social interaction bringing friends together within a digital environment, as coffee, in a physical space.

Painting

Yesterday at work, in our weekly student led drawing session the task was to apply paint to the surface without using any traditional methods of doing so. In other words, paintbrushes, palette knives etc ere not allowed. I rarely paint using a brush, my paintings tend to reflect how I’m feeling rather than have an intended visual outcome and applying with a brush doesn’t often fit in with this concept. It felt appropriate yesterday to use the discarded blister pack from my painkillers to push the paint around the surface with my fingers in the moulded bits.  I am pleased with the outcome, the drawing sessions are such an important part of our course as it forces us to keep creating and reflecting on our practice.

Untitled (2019) Oil, Water Colour and Acrylic on Water Colour Paper 105 × 148 mm

Untitled (2019) Oil, Water Colour and Acrylic on Water Colour Paper 105 × 148 mm

Untitled (2019) Oil, Water Colour and Acrylic on Water Colour Paper 105 × 148 mm

Untitled (2019) Oil, Water Colour and Acrylic on Water Colour Paper 105 × 148 mm

Untitled (2019) Oil, Water Colour and Acrylic on Water Colour Paper 105 × 148 mm

I am in a Room…

 

 

I am in a room. The room is a small part of something much bigger, it feels very comfortless. I am overwhelmed for a moment and need to sit down, there is a sense of loss. I feel the mind mutations minute by minute. I feel inspired, then those feelings are squashed by the imposed  limitations. All in the space of a minute.

Thanks Dad

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Thanks Dad for teaching me how to ride a bike, which was a Budgie bike. Thanks for making me chucky eggs and crispy bacon when mum was in hospital having my baby brother. Thanks for all the holidays and taking us on the Catamaran to wales for the day.

My favourite was the bunny…

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This is my silver charm bracelet that used to fit me as a child. I used to like looking at it more than wearing it, each charm was bought by my dad when he traveled to a different country. As a baby, I went on the QE2, I can’t remember but the ship charm on the right hand side was bought from that trip and is a tiny replica in silver. I loved it. I’m not sure why I was bought the cat and the dog as I was (and still am ) highly allergic, so not sure what the relevance of those were. I believe I added the silver cross myself when I no longer wore it round my neck (I think the bracelet still fitted me as a teen)

My favourite charm was the rabbit as it had an orange stone for a belly and this fascinated me.

Anxy Birds (with unnecessary drama )

anyxbirdsdramaA story of life as part of a bird family…