As part of a Cardiff Met Fine Art project brief called ‘Do it Yourself’ we were each allocated a locker at uni measuring just 57cm x 29cm x 44cm. Inside our locker we were asked to create an art installation to fill the space. This would help us develop the skills to exhibit in restrictive and challenging spaces.
I started generating ideas for the locker exhibition, exploring ways I could fill the space with a mass of organic materials.
I was influenced by an artist called Hans Haacke, who began as an artist using the typical medium of painting and sculpture, until in early-60s mid-70s he began creating new works that explored natural and biological process. It’s refreshing to research artists who explore similar process to which you do.
I chose a locker which was close to the ground just in case I wanted the installation to eventually spill out towards the viewer.
I was torn between the concept of completely suffocating the locker space with rocks and stones and having them possibly spilling out onto the floor, or using mirrors to create the illusion that the space is larger than it physically is.
Eventually I decided to go forward with the ‘mirror illusion’ concept, which was easier to transport than a rock installation, and I also got the chance to explore the art of germination!
With my locker installation I wanted to apply my interest in germination to the brief, using the space as a host to grow living plants.
As the locker was indoors I needed to figure out a way of recreating the plant’s natural environment. To do this I wanted to incorporate a LED grow light, which acts as artificial sunlight. It also provides an intense violet hue, which was another reason why I wanted to incorporate it into my installation. As I was on the lower level of the lockers, the bright violet glow would entice viewers to look inside.
Before installing directly into the locker, I set up an experiment to test if it was going to create the right effect. This also gave me chance to warm up to the materials I planned to use before the real installation – the mirrors were so delicate and I was extremely nervous about handling them!
Using a pot plant as a temporary subject allowed me to photograph the duplicated effect I wanted, and I was very happy to see it working. With the base of the locker eventually being dominated by plant life, it would provide a continuous effect so that the grass patch doesn’t seem to have an end. The final build was a lot of work, but the result was worth it.
Time management is a skill I’ve learned to stay on top of during this project, as well as on the course and in my practice as a whole.
As an artist who collaborates with nature to create work, I look towards the land for materials. Often these materials have a life span, so I have to have a detailed plan before exploring and collecting as I’m working within a limited time frame and I want to make sure I have the plant life at its peak, ready for use.
My work later returns to the environment that it came from, and the documentation of the work becomes the work itself. The Fine Art modules at Cardiff Met have us explore and test ourselves as artists. For example, I recently began working with artificial lighting, to allow my live installation have a longer life span.
The Fine Art course has honestly allowed me to explore my artistic practice without being daunted by constraints. I’m excited to see what I produce next!
Check out more of Tyronne’s work on Instagram at @tyronne.j.owen