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Material Matters: Pigment Symposium

The recent turn within arts and culture ttowards a reinvestment in materials and the handmade has seen artists engaging in the production of pigments for themselves. Artists today are not only reviving ancient recipes, but inventing pigments from f raw materials that range from the everyday to the outright abject. Advancements in technology are enabling new levels of forensic analysis of pigments’ sometimes surprising origins. And as we move ever-closer towards irreversible environmental change, pigment manufacturers are having to re-evaluate the true cost of pigment production. Far more than simply inert colour-making matter, pigments are active agents with complex histories that intersect and shape our cultures, histories, politics, languages, bodies, identities and ways of thinking. This one-day symposium brings together leading artists, conservators, curators and researchers to explore and interrogate inte pigments today within the broader context of their production and rich and varied pasts.


Material Matters: Pigment Symposium 9.30-10 10-10.10

REGISTRATION WELCOME / TOM GROVES

11 May 2019

10.10-10.55 KEYNOTE / TURNING LANDSCAPE INTO COLOUR / ONYA MCCAUSLAND Ochre pigment is generated as waste during the process of mine water treatment in ex-coal mining landscapes around the UK. By turning these waste iron oxide materials into usable colour pigment for paint, the material and the sites they come from take on a new agency: matter transformed becomes a potent vehicle for articulating the changes occurring in the contemporary landscape. Materials that form as waste effluent or slag from redundant coal mines and other industrial processes have an antagonistic relationship with our idea/l of ‘Landscape’. This contentious heritage he has meant these materials and their place of formation are usually barricaded from view. Artist and Leverhulme Early Career Researcher at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, Onya McCausland discusses how the processes of developing paintings – through finding and following the formation of pigment materials found in the earth – inadvertently exposes different and unexpected views of the landscape. Conceptual and land artist John Latham’s seminal work Derelict Land Art: Five Sisters (1976) brought a renewed significance to the way the ‘waste heap’ was perceived Fi by naming Scotland’s oil shale waste ‘bings’ as ‘monuments’ or artworks. Onya considers the significance of naming as a means of marking out, by repurposing waste from Cuthill mine water treatment site (located just two fields away from the Derelict Land Art: Five Sisters bing), as a means of articulating and exposing a new landscape heritage.


10.55-11.20 A CASE STUDY OF TWO PAINTINGS AFFECTED BY MOULD AND THEIR TECHNICAL ANALYSIS / ALISON SEED + DR TRACEY CHAPLIN Two large early twentieth-century paintings at The Palace of Westminster, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon before Papal Legates at Blackfriars by Frank Salisbury and Latimer Preaching before Edward VI at Paul’s Cross by Ernest Board, were severely affected by a number of water leaks while on display, causing flaking of the paint and extensive mould growth. Technical analysis was carried out in order to inform conservation work, including UV light, cross-section analysis and microchemical testing, Raman spectroscopy, polarised light microscopy and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Easel paintings conservator Alison mic Seed, and conservation scientist Dr Tracey Chaplin discuss their work on the paintings including paint analysis, and the information it revealed about the artists' use of pigments and painting techniques.

11.20-11.45 MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES OF THE GROTESQUE PANEL PAINTINGS IN THE CARTOON GALLERY AT KNOLE HOUSE / CERYS FRY Due to the large-scale building restoration project that the National Trust is undertaking at Knole House, conservators have had a unique opportunity to view and examine the Cartoon Gallery cleared of furniture. Paintings conservator Cerys Fry has been working on a project to investigate the materials and techniques used in the decorative scheme in the Cartoon Gallery, primarily looking at the materials used in the grotesque scheme to determine a series of order between the grotesques painted on panel on the south wall and those painted on canvas. The panels were we sampled and the cross sections examined using scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-rays (SEM-EDX). Smalt was found in the panel paintings on the South wall, suggesting that they belong to a seventeenth century scheme. However, in comparison to the other panel paintings and the Great Canvases (thought to be part of the early seventeenth century scheme), they are very different. This might suggest that the panel paintings were not part of Thomas Sackville’s refurbishment but part of a slightly later intervention that might have been due to damage on the south wall. A scrap of canvas found on the South Wall would support the argument that the South Wall might have originally had canvases hanging on it.


11.45-12.15 THE MATERIAL BODY / BEA HAINES + MARK CANN Fascinated by the innate meaning and symbolism behind everyday matter, visual artist Bea Haines uses a broad spectrum of materials in the production of her artwork. Limescale, blood, snail slime, saliva and even human ash have all been repurposed and redirected into the artist’s toolbox. Manipulating such materials creates artwork grounded in our everyday lives, but with an extraordinary twist. Haines believes that art can be made from every material; that anything is up for grabs. Mark Cann is an expert expe chemist working in surface coatings for over forty years, the last twenty of which have been dedicated to developing and testing high quality art materials at ColArt (the umbrella company responsible for materials produced by the historic Winsor & Newton brand). As well as continuing his work in materials testing, he is currently Technical Excellence Manager, disseminating his expert knowledge to new generations of budding artists. Both scientist and artist discuss their experience in producing paint from human ash during Bea’s residency at ColArt’s Innovation and Development Lab. 12.15 – 1.15 LUNCH

1.15-1.20 1.20 – 1.45

WELCOME BACK / TOM GROVES

REPRESENTATION / AMIKAM TOREN “This artist is not going to contribute to the profits of the paint industry as he creates his pigments himself: the powder from the teapot, the sawdust from the chairs, the pulverised newsprint of The Times, all mixed with colourless PVA binder; and so everything finds itself back in its picture again.” (Christoph Blase. ‘The picture is not the picture’. In: Amikam Toren. Ikon Gallery/Arnolfini Gallery, 1990.) Amikam Toren's seminal work Neither a Teapot nor a Painting was the first of his works to address the idea of representation within the discipline of painting. He grinds the titular teapot into a powder to create a pigment of sorts, which is used to paint a life-size image of the erstwhile teapot, then displayed beside a sample of the teapot pigment. “My intention was to link form with content. To that extent the process I performed was more important than the image I painted.” Amikam discusses his propositional paintings, exploring the idea of representation.


1.45-2.10

WATER SENSITIVE MODERN OIL PAINTS: A MOLECULAR STUDY OF REPRESENTATIVE OIL PAINTS / DONATELLA BANTI Developments in 20th century artists’ oil paint manufacture and composition, such as the use of additives and extenders, has led to new conservation challenges for the treatment of modern oil paintings. Many of these works are unvarnished and have accrued a layer of disfiguring surface dirt that cannot be removed using traditional methods using aqueous solvents. The surfaces of these works of art have become polar due to changes in the chemistry of the oil paints from which they were made. Paintings conservator Donatella Banti presents an examination of the chemistry of oil paints exhibiting water sensitivity in order to define the molecular causes and mechanisms for the condition of these paints. In order to study a possible correlation between water sensitivity and the molecular characterisation of the paints, seven different pigments of modified and unmodified paints from three different manufacturers (Winsor & Newton, Old Holland and Talens) were tested for water sensitivity. Selected paints were subsequently chemically and optically characterised using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) as well as normal light and Hirox microscopy.

2.10-2.35

‘KASANE’: THE LANGUAGE OF JAPANESE COLOUR COMBINATIONS / SIMON WRIGHT Director of Programming at Japan House London, Simon Wright discusses ‘kasane’, the Japanese concept and practice of layering colours, in conjunction with a new exhibition currently on display at JHL. The exhibition highlights the work of the Yoshioka Dyeing Workshop in Kyoto, who work exclusively with natural dyeing techniques to create dyed textiles and washi (Japanese paper), much ex of which is used in traditional Buddhist ceremonies. The natural dyes and colour combinations are reflective of nature and the changing seasons; ceremonial objects and dress echo the colours of cherry blossoms and peonies, willow and pine, ice and snow according to the time of year and occasion. Simon will discuss the work of the Yoshioka Workshop, and the significance of ‘kasane’ colour schemes in Heian period Japan (794-1185). Living Colours: Kasane – the Language of Japanese Colour Combinations is on display at Japan House London from 5 April – 19 May 2019. 2.35-3.05

REFRESHMENTS


KEITH EDWARDS / IN CONVERSATION WITH ONYA MCCAUSLAND 3.05-3.30 Expert pigment maker and collector Keith Edwards discusses his career in pigment. A significant figure in the field, Keith describes pigment as his obsession. Working primarily on the authentic recreation of unique historic pigments no longer commercially available, and with an enviable reference collection, his knowledge and advice is sought-after by artists and conservators alike.

3.30-3.55

AN ANALYSIS OF EARLY PAINT SCHEMES OF 19TH CENTURY ROYAL NAVAL FIGUREHEADS / KIRSTY WALSH We are used to seeing ship figureheads painted in gaudy, fairground-style colours in many collections around the world; but this may misrepresent their original and historically accurate aesthetic. Often dismissed as folk art, these important sculptures have undergone little serious analysis, and an in-depth study is well overdue. Orbis Conservation is currently carrying out a major conservation project on a group of early 19th century Royal Naval ship figureheads, due to be displayed in The Box, Plymouth in 2020. During the course of the work on the figureheads, studio manager Kirsty Walsh has taken paint samples from the figures, and gained access to figureheads in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in order to make a comparative study. These samples have been analysed using Vis and UV light microscopy, microchemical testing, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) identification of binding media, mic and Raman analysis of specific pigment particles to determine the history of the objects’ polychromy. Kirsty presents her findings and tell us more about the colourful history of these impressive objects.


3.55-4.20 ROCK PIGMENT SCISSORS / ANDREW GRASSIE + JUAN BOLIVAR Artists Juan Bolivar and Andrew Grassie, who started their careers together at St Martin’s School of Art in the late 1980’s, discuss how their painting practice has developed and reflect on the role that their use of pigments has had in their work. They will explain how their relationship to material discipline has impacted on the unfolding ideological shifts in their practice and what indeed for them has remained constant. Both artists employ strategies of appropriating – including colour from external sources – yet the specificity of their exact palette and choice of medium give their works an individuality and consistent identity. identit By various means of reduction, Bolivar has worked with acrylics to create playful puns on early European abstraction showing equal admiration for Malevich and the Australian rock band AC/DC, whilst Grassie uses egg tempera to paint near photographic images of virtual exhibitions and behind the scenes insights into the mechanics of the art world; each in their own way mischievously executing their own ‘riffs’. 4.20 - 4.50

Q+A

4.50 - 4.55

CLOSING REMARKS / TOM GROVES

SYMPOSIUM CO-ORDINATED BY Harriet Lam + David MacDiarmid CHAIRED BY Tom Groves / PROGRAMME SCREENPRINTED AT City & Guilds of London Art School Print Room DESIGNED BY David MacDiarmid EDITED BY Harriet Lam POSTER DESIGN INCLUDES Exposed / Onya O McCausland / PAINT SAMPLES KINDLY PROVIDED BY Winsor & Newton / We would like to thank the following people for their contributions and support in the process of organising this symposium: Charlie Abbott / Niamh Clancy / Onya McCausland / Stephanie Nebbia / Tamiko O’Brien


Across the Art School’s main disciplines of contemporary fine art, the conservation of historic objects, wood and stone carving and art histories, we foster an abiding focus on materiality. We think materials have an intrinsic importance in the fine art and craft skills we teach and that have been practised throughout history. In order o to interrogate the integrity of materials further, we have developed a research series called Material Matters. Material Matters sets out to explore a specific material through a range of approaches including exhibitions, interviews, essays, and symposia. City & Guilds of London Art School 124 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4DJ cityandguildsartschool.ac.uk @cglartschool #cglartschool material-matters.cityandguildsa material-matters.cityandguildsartschool.ac.uk @materialmatters_cglas

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Material Matters: Pigment Symposium programme  

Programme for City & Guilds of London Art School's Material Matters: Pigment Symposium, 11 May 2019.

Material Matters: Pigment Symposium programme  

Programme for City & Guilds of London Art School's Material Matters: Pigment Symposium, 11 May 2019.

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