This year has been a very strange one but overall I believe it has been a lot more successful than the first year. For me personally, it has been a year full of experimentation with new techniques and processes in my work as well as the beginning of exploring new themes and concepts to use within my work. The first term of subject was filled with a variety of different illustration project briefs which gave me the opportunity to really explore different ways of working and finding a process that worked for that particular brief, this also continued into the second term during our field projects. Even though I worked in a variety of ways, I think now is the time for me to really decide which way of working I like best and which way produces the best results, even if that means combining different techniques and processes together.
Constellation this year has been very successful and helpful to me. I chose Cath Davies’ constellation on Goddesses and Monsters because the subject matter really appealed to me and I believed that the themes and concepts within the lectures would translate well into the area of illustration. We explored many different themes within our lectures such as the portrayal of glamour and femininity in visual culture, surrealism and Freudian concepts on gender, monstrosity, abjection, the grotesque and the monstrous feminine. Even though these themes haven’t been applied to my subject work as of yet, the concepts that were brought up in these lectures are very useful to my dissertation research and so I plan to explore them further. As well as these concepts, we studied many academic theories relating to the subject matter and learned how to properly apply academic perspectives to our research and case studies in preparation for our dissertations.
The first week involved studying the representations of glamour and femininity within the Art Deco movement and Hollywood stars of the 1920s and 30s. We analysed images from these time periods, such as Vogue covers and publicity shots of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, and described the characteristics of the images before analysing the meanings and connotations within these characteristics. Finally we applied academic perspectives and debates to our analysis to use as theoretical underpinning, using L, Fischer’s Designing Women, Cinema, Art Deco and the Female Form, (2003). One of the main concepts of this particular lecture was the construction of women in order for them to be considered ‘glamorous’ whether in an illustrated form or a photograph.
In the next session, we began to study Freud’s psychoanalytic perspectives on gender which involved theories such as castration fear, phallocentrism in visual culture, surrealism in relation to gender and liminality. We also discussed how the ideal of the ‘Goddess’ is somewhat similar to a mannequin or doll, particularly with the construction of the female body and how the boundaries between human bodies and mannequins are blurred, using a sculpture a Salvador Dali as a case study.
Our third session brought the theories and concepts of monstrosity and abjection, particularly how it applies to horror films and literature such as Frankenstein and Dracula. This session also began our contrast with the glamour of the Goddesses, specifically within the work of Alexander McQueen, a fashion designer who broke the typical rules of fashion and combined the grotesque with glamour in his work. The contrast with our earlier sessions also continued in our fourth lecture where we studied the concept of the monstrous feminine and the femme fatale, using the studies of Barbara Creed as theoretical underpinning. Throughout theses sessions we continued to use a column system to break up our analysis of case studies, a technique which has been very helpful in my dissertation research.
The final week of our constellation sessions consisted of us coming up with ideas for our dissertation and how to start the preparation for them. For mydDissertation, I have decided to focus on the portrayal of folk lore and fairy tales in visual culture and how it has changed over time. The constellation sessions have been a great and helpful start to how I should begin my research and preparation for my dissertation and I shall be using the techniques learned in them to help me with my own work. Goddesses and Monsters has given me a lot of themes and concepts that I can take forward into my own research into fairy tales, such as femininity and masculinity, gender roles, monstrosity, monstrous females, glamour and good and evil.
My next step from here is to begin to relate my dissertation research into my own practice. I could explore these many different and interesting themes within my work, exploring the meanings within them and possibly weaving a narrative around them, bringing my theory and practice together. As I continue my research many questions are surely to be raised and I could explore and possibly answer these within my illustration work as well as my theory based study. I will be looking at illustrations of fairy tales over time for my dissertation, as well as film adaptions, and will be able to analyse how these themes and concepts have been explored by other artists giving me possible inspiration to explore them within my own work.