Author: pixiedustbeth

Fine Art student at University of Sunderland.

Ballroom Installation

After weeks of planning and preparation, I displayed my installation in the Shaun Project Space this morning between the hours of 10am and 12pm. I had a little trouble with the models as out of the three students who had agreed to model in the installation, only one of them could make it. This resulted in me asking for volunteers from the students from the 3rd floor studios within the building. Luckily this problem was quickly resolved when a student happily volunteered to model the dresses.

Another problem which I encountered was that the lamps were not bright enough t0 light up the room. I resolved this problem by finding an actual stage light and using the coloured stage gels in front of the light to add a strong effectiveness t0 the installation.

After cleaning the space as much as I could yesterday, I began setting up the installation at 9:30am with my props and chandelier stickers. The subject of the installation was a masquerade ball in which the models would dance and curtsy whilst carrying and wearing masquerade masks. I do feel as though the installation could have benefit from more models and maybe a painted backdrop to give more of a theatre performance feel to the artwork. This installation included elements of theatre set design, performance art, sculpture and video as well as photography. I do feel as though the videos and photographs work well on their own as well as evidence of the installation for their composition and representation of a masquerade ball.

In a social context this installation would communicate elegance and wealth with the viewer alongside beauty. If this were to be displayed in an art exhibition, it would be displayed in a white cube environment on it’s own without any other work around it to distract from the performance or scenery.

This is a total installation and influenced by installations created by Ilya Kabakov of scenery inspired by the Soviet Union and his personal life. My ballroom installation however is inspired by fairy tales and the renaissance era and not so autobiographical as the works of Ilya Kabakov.












I have began to purchase props and experiment with lighting as well as create some sculptures for my ballroom installation. My initial intention was to make two chandelier sculptures which would be very complex and take a lot of thought of how to install them in the installation without them moving around or distracting from the performance art taking place. For these reasons I decided to buy a pair of chandelier stickers which would be applied to the wall at the back of the installation.



As well as this I went out to buy more props for the installation such as plastic wine glasses, table cloths and masquerade masks. I also plan on assembling and gluing the plastic glasses together to serve as a sculpture as well as a stage prop. I am hoping to create a very formal setting in a clean white cube setting within the Shaun Project Space, Priestman Building.

The masquerade masks will be worn by the models as well as being displayed on the table. I will take photographs for evidence of the exhibition and also allow the public to view the installation for themselves with hopes to receive feedback from people.

I have three student volunteers for the installation which will take place hopefully within the next two weeks. The models will wear ballgowns and will be viewed under colour tinted spot-lights.





I began experimenting with lamps and torches this week and used photography gels to create different lighting effects which would possibly be used in my installation. I used purples and blues as they are both very strong royal colours which represent wealth and power relating to the themes in my ballroom installation. The use of lighting is a strong feature in my installation as my aim is to create a link between installation art and theatre design and since there is a lot of stage lighting in the theatre it is a great idea to include this element in my installation.



Life Drawing

To improve my drawing skills I decided to take part in a life drawing class. Life drawing is a great way to learn to draw the human figure. I created a series of observational drawings in charcoal with different uses of line and shading. These drawings are all on A1 sized paper and show a female figure in a variation of different poses. I made both line and shaded drawings with hopes to create a comparison between the two and discover which appears to be more effective and which would be better suited to be displayed in an art gallery and has a better social context and relationship with the viewer.



Above is the first observational drawing I made of the model in a lying-down position. This was to be a simple line drawing of the figure using charcoal. As it was my first drawing, the proportions to not appear totally accurate and the lines are quite messy and rough. I struggle to draw hands and feet and find them very time consuming and as this was only a ten minute pose I chose to focus more on the figure itself, use of line and accuracy of the proportions of the drawing. This is not a drawing that I could see being displayed in an art gallery and consider to be more studio practice leading up to more successful drawings.

However as an artwork on it’s own, I feel this to be quite a lonely piece of work which communicates a sense of isolation with the viewer in a social context. The figure is faceless and the body appears to be floating without any indication of the table beneath the model. I consider it to be a minimalist drawing with little to no detail or shading.



Here is my second life drawing, another line drawing and again with the model in a lying-down position. I tried to be more precise with this drawing by using thicker more broad lines without taking the charcoal off of the paper when outlining the figure. Before creating these bold lines, I used the charcoal to lightly map out the proportions. I do feel like this is a more inaccurate proportional drawing than my first, however I do feel as though it is an improvement of the use of line and drawing as a whole. I drew more of an indication of the hands this time as opposed to hands on my first drawing. Again I could not see this being displayed in an art gallery. Maybe if it was in colour, I could consider this to be an abstract piece with the wavy inaccurate lines and cartoonist outlook.

In a social context, again I feel this to be a very lonely drawing for the same reasons as my last life drawing, being faceless and a floating figure.  I felt after this piece that maybe my next life drawing should include a little more detail and I should spend some more time mapping out the proportions before applying the thick lines to the drawing. I also feel that drawing a face on the model would create a stronger emotional social context between the viewer and the drawing.



Here is my third life drawing which I feel to be a lot stronger than the other two. This drawing consists of a lot more variations of line using a combination of heavy and light lines depending on the body feature. I had a little longer to create this life drawing and therefore after spending a lot longer time on the proportions, I decided to include detailed feet, a face and also a background. This is possibly the most difficult pose of all my life drawings and took a lot of thinking out before applying the more prominent lines to the paper. I do feel however that it is the most proportionally accurate and most detailed line drawing I have made in this life drawing session. The background consists of lighter faded lines to create a sense of depth and distance between the model and her background. This is actually a drawing I could see being displayed in an art gallery. I could see it in a white cube environment in a gold frame exhibited alongside a collection of other drawings/paintings of the human figure.

I feel that this drawing would have a very strong emotional connection with the viewer and in a social context would show the female’s vulnerability in this pose but also a sense of playfulness in the model’s positioning. With the added detain of a background and face, this drawing to me feels a lot stronger. Although my previous drawings leave a lot more to the imagination, this drawing allows the viewer to focus on what is displayed within the image rather than think about what is not there.



I went on from simple life drawing to making a more complex abstract drawing of the figure. I messed up the paper with charcoal before drawing the model which made me feel more free to make mistakes and not worry about the drawing getting a little messy. The model was in a lying-down position but this time curled up into a ball, again showing a more vulnerable image. The lines in this drawing all overlap to trick the eye and confuse the viewer. I personally believe that this is my strongest life drawing overall for it’s originality and complexity. This is a drawing I could see in a white cube art gallery displayed alongside other abstract drawings and paintings.

The social context of this drawing is again vulnerability. This does appear to be a very vulnerable pose and could also communicate loneliness, isolation and sadness with the female covering her face.  To me this is a very emotional piece of artwork and I am very proud of the outcome.




My last life drawing of the session is a lot more detailed than the rest but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a stronger artwork. I used shading to define the figure and concentrated a lot on the proportions as well as the smaller features. I excluded a detailed background and chose to spend as much time as I could on the figure itself. I feel as though the top half of the body is very proportionally accurate where as I struggled a little with the legs and feet. This is a less vulnerable pose and shows the female as a strong character in the way that she poses.

I could not see this drawing displayed as a solo artwork in a gallery, nor a drawing in a collection of work unlike my last two drawings. I feel that the other two life drawings possess qualities that this drawing does not. Their proportional accuracy is a lot stronger and simplistic lines leave more to the imagination. This, to me, feels like “just another line drawing” and is not very original.


Moving on from my last installation, it’s about time to start planning another. My last Autumn scene project was a huge success, mainly thanks to the total installation aspect of it . However, I received a few comments stating that there was something missing, an actor. Many viewers said that my installation reminded them of a theatre set and the only thing missing was an actor. My original intention was just to create an effective installation that the audience could feel a part of. From that, my work and intentions have evolved into a more theatrical subject matter.

I now intend to create a crossover between installation art and theatre art, combining the two in a new art genre. This is pushing the boundaries of modern art. I have learnt this year that the line between installation and theatre is a lot thinner than some might think. I have discovered this through my own art work and through comments during my Shaun Project Space critiques.

I have started to plan a new installation which will be my final installation of Fine Art- Stage 2. As opposed to painting, I have decided to play around with lights and coloured torches to light the room and test the effectiveness in comparison to my last painted installation. My subject matter in my last two installations has been mainly focused around the outdoors. To differ from this I have decided to create an indoor setting featuring a ballroom with chandeliers and fancy gowns. My first installation, Sleeping Curse, featured a live actor and was quite popular with the viewers. I have decided to bring this aspect into my new ballroom installation and feature numerous female live actresses within the theatre/installation.


I have decided that the models will be wearing ballgowns and masquerade masks to symbolize a masquerade ball. This ties in a little with my previous fairy tale narrative which is good but I do not intend to focus so much on hidden meanings and look more at the overall outcome as opposed to a narrative. I have started to make some drawings and sketches of what I would like the actresses to wear. I have created the pictures above using water-colour pencil in my sketchbook. Two prominent colours I would like my theatre/installation to feature are purple and blue.  Purple symbolizes royalty, power, luxury, and magic which are all relevant to this artwork. Blue symbolizes tranquility, wisdom, calmness and heaven. Together, these colours are strong which is exactly the kind of work I intend to create.




Chandeliers are to be a prominent feature in my artwork representing wealth. Whenever I hear the word ballroom I instantly think of chandeliers, ballgowns, and music. I would like my theatre/installation to include all of these qualities. I have started to draw some chandeliers in my sketchbook as one possibility of the inclusion of chandeliers in my installation would be to draw them and include them in the installation that way. Other possibilities involve buying wall stickers or making sculptures. I would like for my theatre/installation to take up a whole room such as the Shaun Project Space and have music playing and for people to walk in and out of the room and view the installation with hopes to receive some feedback.

A simple layout plan for my ballroom installation.

A simple layout plan for my ballroom installation.

Using text in a drawing…

Tree pencil

After looking at some of William Kentridge’s drawings and etchings, I found myself inspired to create work of my own in a similar style to his using text as a background to my drawings. I noticed that Kentridge uses trees a lot as a subject and thought that this would be a useful subject for me to use also as trees are a common factor in both my paintings and installations. My intention is to explore different drawing techniques that will influence my work and help me along the path to success.

My first drawing was created using torn pieces of newspaper and glued them on to an A4 sheet of paper in a collage technique. I then drew a tree using a 4B pencil and shaded with crosshatching. By looking at this drawing, I can not help but notice that it has an unfinished quality to it with the jagged edges of the newspaper and squiggly rough lines used to form the tree branches. This unfinished look is not what I usually aim to achieve when producing artwork, if anything it is the opposite of what my artwork usually looks like, however I personally think that on this occasion an unfinished look works well. There is no meaning behind the text used in the drawing which is also different to my usual work as I often work around a narrative. This drawing was created for appearance purposes and not for the viewer to search for any form of hidden meaning or narrative.

Tree marker pen

I created a second Kentridge inspired tree drawing using the same technique involving torn newspaper but a different media for the tree drawing itself. For the tree drawing I chose to use a thick pointed black marker pen to create bold lines. As opposed to shading the tree, I decided to create a line drawing. Of the two drawings I personally think that the second is the most effective with the variation of line and boldness of the drawing itself. These drawings have helped me to appreciate the relationship between the use of line in a drawing and it’s background and how they compliment each other. It has also made me appreciate the use of text in an artwork.

Shaun Project Space Critique

This week I was given the chance to display and exhibit my work in the Shaun Project Space and see my artwork out of my studio and in an art gallery environment where my work would be critiqued by the rest of my class. I chose to display my painting installations which I have been working on over the past few weeks, with hopes that they would be viewed in comparison to my last installation displayed in the Shaun Project Space during my last art critique.










I installed my painted forest installation inspired by Disneyland Paris scenery into the project space and it immediately changed from being a confined painting in a small studio space closed off from much visual contact, to a open painting that stood out from surroundings, almost like a window to another world from an isolated space. The transformation of the artwork itself is astonishing. It’s amazing to think that changing the artwork’s environment could almost change the whole subject of the piece itself.

I also learnt that the painting itself worked well on it’s own as well as with the sculpture. The man-made mechanical objects combined with the natural outdoor painting compliment each other. A collaboration of natural elements combined with synthetic materials are the makings for an interesting piece of art.

Looking at the painting on it’s own without the sculpture draws more attention to the process of the painting and the marks in the image itself. There is also more natural light in the Shaun Project Space than in my personal studio which helps me to appreciate the painting more out of my space and in an exhibition space.



Overall, I personally think that this artwork works well as both a painting and an installation piece, however in my opinion I favor it as an installation and both the painting and sculpture as one piece as opposed to two separate artworks. My reason for this is that the artificial objects of the sculpture compliment the painting and work well together with the painting as a backdrop.














I also chose to display my second installation in the art critique which is my most recent piece. It is a corner installation painting of an Autumn forest scene containing a lot of browns and oranges to set the scene and create a mood for the viewer. Rather than a sculpture made of synthetic materials, I chose to display straw, leaves and dead plants in front of the painting which are natural elements you would find in a forest or outdoor environment. I installed this piece with hopes that it could be compared to my other painting installation and most importantly the last installation I exhibited in this space featuring real life by having a live actor in the installation sleeping during the critique.

My last non-painted installation focused a lot on the narrative and hidden meanings where as my painted installations focus on the scenery and marks on the painting itself, thinking less about the narrative and leaving the story down to the viewer’s own interpretation.

The feedback I received from my audience was very positive. A few mentioned that it reminded them of a theatrical back-drop which is partially my aim, as theater design is a career path I have considered going down. Others said that both of my installations reminded them of portals; windows to another dimension that they could almost walk into. I was very pleased after hearing these comments as the message I was trying to send came across very well and the viewers focused more on the artwork itself rather than the meanings behind the work.

I looked at the painting without the leaves and plants in front of it but do not feel as though the piece was as effective without them. The Autumn paintings are designed for an installation piece with the leaves in front where as the other painting was accidentally made into an installation which explains why it works well as both.



Overall, after receiving feedback and seeing this artwork in the exhibition space, I believe the painting could benefit from more attention to detail with my paintbrushes and more colours too. Even though it was designed simply for the installation, it would be interesting to see it transformed into a painting.







Alongside my Autumn painting installation, I chose to show an apple centered in a small amount of leaves and straw. My reason for this is that I chose to display another apple in the Autumn installation in with the leaves on the ground to show how much of an impact the environment surrounding an object has on the artwork itself. No one commented on this as not many people noticed the apple in the installation and the people who did assumed it was a fallen apple from the tree. Maybe If I had used a different object I would have received a different response.

My point was that unlike my last installation showing the live actor, I hoped for the scenery to receive more attention than object featured which it did. I did however feel that the apple alone on the plinth was a less important piece of art than the two installations as it did not receive much attention in comparison and the audience related more to the installations.


Since both types of installation, one featuring ready-mades and a live actor and the other featuring ready-mades and paintings, were successful and received a positive response from my audience; my next step will be to combine the two installation types together and feature a live actor in front of my painting. My only worry for this is that my audience will view the painting as only a backdrop and nothing else to the live action taking place in front of it. However, art is all about taking risks and testing the boundaries which is what I intend to do.


Below is a group of edited and unedited photographs from the exhibition which I consider to be artwork by themselves. I have edited them using Adobe Photoshop and adjusted the light levels and in one case, removed all colour and converted the image into sepia-tone. I have chose these photographs to stand alone as art themselves due to their composition, depth and uniqueness. I have always had a passion for photography and feel as though these are very successful photographs. :


An unedited photograph taken by myself featuring a red apple with straw and small crisp leaves.

An unedited photograph taken by myself featuring a red apple with straw and small crisp leaves.



An edited photograph taken by Danielle Murphy featuring myself in my Autumn installation holding an apple.

An edited photograph taken by Danielle Murphy featuring myself in my Autumn installation holding an apple.


An edited photograph taken by me showing me holding and apple in my Autumn installation.

An edited photograph taken by me showing me holding and apple in my Autumn installation.


An edited photograph taken by Danielle Murphy showing me holding an apple in my installation.

An edited photograph taken by Danielle Murphy showing me holding an apple in my installation.


An edited photograph taken by me featuring an apple in my Autumn installation.

An edited photograph taken by me featuring an apple in my Autumn installation.



After the success of my last painting installation, I decided to create another but this time bigger. Rather than just have the one painted canvas sheet, I decided to paint two that would join together in the corner of a room. Once again I chose to paint an outdoor forest scene but this time use oranges and browns to create an autumn scene as opposed to a spring/summer scene.

I stretched and stapled two 9.5oz canvas sheets to my studio wall approximately 7.8ft x 6ft and 7.8ft x 5ft. However I did have some problems with one of the canvases as the wall it was stapled to was concreted and the staples came out of one side whilst I was priming the canvas and the canvas creased along one side. I resolved this problem by only painting on the stretched part of the canvas and cutting the creased canvas off.



I used similar painting techniques on this painting as I did on my last forest scene painting, horizontal brushstrokes on the ground, vertical on the tree trunks and stippling on the plants and leaves.

The paintings themselves have a warm feeling to them influenced by the warm colours used but also feel quite lonely and isolated as there are no people present in the image. The purpose of this installation has many purposes. One is to open a window to the audience making them feel as though they can walk through the installation and into the painting itself almost like a portal to another dimension. Another is the painting serves as a back drop to the objects/people in front. Another thing worth mentioning is that the story behind the installation is completely down the the viewer’s interpretation. I am now focusing less on the narrative behind the work and more on the art itself.






The composition of the image came purely from my imagination. I like to compare this installation with my previous forest installation. I like to compare the composition, the colours, and the painting marks. I feel that the composition and colours are stronger in this piece as the warmth of the colours used are incredibly effective and the composition of the trees is more creative. However I feel the painting marks in my first painting installation were stronger as I used a greater range of brush techniques where as this is more minimalist.

Overall I personally believe that this painting has worked well and is not only a successful painting but a successful installation also. The painting as a whole is simple but effective and serves it’s purpose as an installation, a visual portal, and a theatrical back-drop. From here I intend to go on to create indoor scenery installations and compare them to the two installations I have already created.