During this Field project with James I have really enjoyed learning about the different magical objects which different cultures have.
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about this field project is learning all about masks in different cultures and how they are used and what they’re importance is. If found it very useful learning this as I feel like I have a better knowledge on cultures that use masks as part of their worship. When visiting art galleries and museums and seeing these masks you can only approximate how they look and how they’re made. Learning about what they are actually used for has given me a better understand of the masks and also has made me look at them in a different light.
Another aspect I’ve enjoyed looking at was the god Ekeko. I’ve found it quite interesting growing up in a Catholic school how poeple in cultures in Bolivia and other places offer things to a god in the hope that they come true. Where as where I have grown up we go to church and we pray.
So far I am pleased with what I have made for this field project. I have not 100% completed everything I have worked on but I have a clear plan of how things will look when I have completed this. I am also excited to take the skills I have learnt into my subject project and use these for my project this year.
After completing this field project I am very much looking forward to continueing to research into masks. I want to start to build up a small collect of masks and soon show link this to my chosen artist pieces by Makiko Kudo. I’m currently looking at nature and could create different kinds of masks using clay and plants and see what kind of textures they leave behind. I could also look at covering leaves and plants with slip and pressing them into the clay and see what kind of textures and shaped they leave behind.
Above is my magic soap piece. My magic soap is made to mend a broken heart. The packaging is not yet complete as i am writing a how to use and a warning label for the back. Inside of the box is half a piece of a broken heart. There’s only one half in the box as someone else has the other half and the idea behind this is that when the soap runs out your heart has healed. This kind of soap I designed to be for helping with grief of the loss of a loved one or animal, a bad break up or even something as simple as someone you care about moving far away.
So far I quite like the illustration on the box and I also really like that the heart isn’t short and pretty looking. I like that is looks rugged and cut into as I feel it represents a broken heart well.
Ekeko is the God o Prosperity
In one of the Magical Objects lectures with James I learnt a little about a God called Ekeko. Ekeko is the god of prosperity and is a very popular god mainly in Bolivia but also in Peru, Northern Chile and Northern Argentina. He is usually visualised as a man with a moustache wearing traditional clothing from the culture in these areas.
What you do with these Ekeko dolls is strap small offerings which you hope to receive or achieve to have in life and then give the doll away to someone you want to succeed.
Growing up as a Catholic my god is not something that can be recognised by looking at something. I wanted to make my own version of this Ekeko doll so I have chosen a Barber to strap offerings to as this was my childhoods self most love toy. I’ve strapped a lot of things to my doll and below is a list of things and a photo.
Monopoly Money – Always have money in the bank
Ibuprofen/Plasters – Have good health
Mcdonalds Box – Always have food
Face Oil/Make up brush – Be fortunate to have luxuary’s
Sea Shell – Always live by the sea
Souvanier Bag – Always be able to travel
(Masks that hat have inspired my cardboard mask above.)
Stage 1 – Creating a design
Above is a rough drawing of an expressive mask idea. I want to make the face of the mask expressive as I really like how these kinds of masks look. For this mask I am wanting to layer pieces of cardboard so that I will be able to use PVA and tissue to go over the top and make the mask more durable before painting it with bright colours.
Stage 2 – Creating a template
The first photo above was a rough template just to plan put the size and how I would build the layers of the face. The last two photos are the template used for the mask which I did make a little bit bigger so there was enough room for layering and then the last photo are the layered pieces of cardboard that will be stuck to the mask.
Stage 3 – Glueing the mask together
Now that I’ve glued the layered pieces of cardboard together I am able to start using tissue and news paper to build up areas of the mask.
Stage 4 – Starting to PVA the pieces together
Using tissue will hopefully let me build up a thicker layer which will harden to a more durable material.
Stage 5 – Using bright colours to paint
During the Magical Object’s field project I have found a few boooks from the library that have helped me with designing and creating my own masks. Each book gave me an idea for creating my own work whether it was inspired by the shape of the masks, the texture or the bright colours. Below is a list of the books that I have looked at throughout the weeks and what I enjoyed and learnt from looking at them.
Mask Art of Mexico
In this book what I really enjoyed was the variety of masks that resembled humans as well as animals. In a lot of the mask books I had looked at there were quite a few that resembled human form but in a much more abstract way. In this book there was a more clear view of the human face in a lot of the masks which I found to look quite expressive. A lot of the traditional dance masks of Mexico can look to be quite expressive as in some masks may have slits where the wearers eyes can be seen as the eyes of the mask. I think this can be quite effective since the mask is obviously made of hard materials and doesn’t move so the only thing seeen to be moving are the eyes. Looking through this book as well a lot of the masks resemble male features. Another aspect of the masks that I enjoyed from this book were looking at the different textures and colours.
Masks of Black Africa
In this book I found the masks to be a lot less human like and a lot more scary to look at. These kinds of masks look to be made with a much heavier material then other masks I had looked at and also a lot less appealing to the eye in some cases. Looking through this book reminded me of the David Attenborough documentary we watched during one of the Magical Objects lectures where he’d gone to visit tribes that created masks from tree branches. Watching the documentary really opened my eyes to the cultural aspect behind making masks like this. One of the pieces made was a wooden statue of a woman who had recently passed from old age. The statue one of the men had made was to resemble her but had young breast so that they would remember her from a time where she was in her prime almost. I thought this was a very interesting concept and the man then spent three days carving the piece until it was finished. What I took from this was that they were creating a wooden piece in honour of the woman and celebrating the life she had. This is very different from how we deal with deaths around us as it’s less of a celebration of life but more pointed toward grieving over the loss.
In this book I found the masks to be very different from the other masks I had looked at. Like the masks from the ‘Masks of Black Africa’ book they are not the prettiest and have very angry expressive faces. What really caught my attention about these mask through were that in some of them parts of the mask were able to move. In on of the photos above, it shows how they use string to make the jaw of the mask lose and free to move. I think this is a very different concept of mask making as I have never seen this been done before.
Bethe, M. and Nishikawa, K. (1978). Bugaku masks. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd. and Shibundo.
Lechuga, R., Sayer, C. and Lavender, D. (1995). Mask arts of Mexico. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, pp.18-19, 22-23, 50-51, 58-59.
Segy, L. (1976). Masks of Black Africa. New York: Dover Publications.
Above is a photo of two passport masks I did using clay. I couldn’t get my hands on any air drying clay so I just used clay that I had at home. Using the clay I created two small animal looking masks that I took inspiration from a book in the library called ‘Mask The Art of Expression’ which include photos of masks from around the world. I really liked the look of a few of the animal masks so I wanted to create masks that resembled a basic animal and then use colour. When creating my own passport mask I wanted to explore lots of colour because I think colour is another way of being expressive. I tried to use colours that would stand out from each other and I think this has worked well.
To develop from these pieces I really want to start making a small collection of these passport masks but incorporate nature in some way. I was thinking of using flowers and leaves to imprint into the clay or even covering them in slip and seeing what effects they leave on the clay after firing. I think that this would be a very good path to go down as the smaller masks will let me be able to focus a lot more on detail on the masks. I could also look into texture and using different kinds of media to create masks instead of just using clay. In a lot of the books I read about, tribes tend to use a lot more wood and carve into it with tools to create masks.