So you can all become more cultured

Below is my essay for Visual Arts. Read it, and be more cultured.

Artworks often comment on the ideas and values of the time in which they are created. They can provide insights into the culture and society. These insights help to reflect the spirit of a time and place. Rosalie Gascoigne’s artworks use objects she finds to evoke a modernist image of her landscape. Colin McCahon’s work reflects his personal spiritual journey in New Zealand.

Rosalie Gascoigne uses old materials such as wooden packing crates and rusted pieces of corrugated iron to create her works. Using older materials in her works gives them a new life and helps to create a certain mood and ideas about her works. Her works make us see the old useless objects in a new light.

Tiepolo Parrots was created using old apiary (bee keeping) boxes. She then attached the labels from Arnott’s biscuit boxes. The labels show the famous Arnott’s biscuit parrot as a social comment. The parrot is a symbol of the bush and the logo is an icon of domestic Australian culture. The use of old materials helps to give the work its character and to create a sense of history.

Gascoigne’s work, Steel Magnolias, uses different sized pieces of corrugated iron nailed to a backing board. The iron is old, rusted, and is arranged on the board according to size and colour. She uses rusted iron instead of brand new corrugated iron as it helps the feel of her work. The title Steel Magnolias gives reference to a small white and pink flower. The title is saying that this work does have a sense of beauty about it, even though it is made of rusted steel. The work gives reference to the Australian outback, as tin sheds, which are associated with the outback, are often made of corrugated iron.

This idea of the Australian outback is also used in her work Inland Sea where she uses a series of warped and rusted corrugated iron squares arranged on a floor. This work is an installation and the pieces of iron are arranged in accordance to colour and how warped they are. The title, Inland Sea, helps us to understand what this work is about. It suggests a sea, but the corrugated iron pieces suggest the rooftops of houses all next to each other, creating an “inland sea”. This work could also suggest rolling hills, the colour of the iron reflecting sunburnt hills in the outback.
Colin McCahon’s works are often symbolic and reflect his New Zealand heritage and his spirituality.

His work Victory Over Death II is a large scale work which is largely text based. The first thing that is seen when observing the work are the words “I AM” written in capital letters. The letters are written in white on a black background which helps them to stand out. The contrast of colours could also be symbolic for good versus evil or even Mauri culture. The writing in the background is written in McCahon’s own handwriting which gives the work a sense of humanity.

McCahon’s Six Days In Nelson and Canterbury shows six frames with six different views of New Zealand landscapes. The six frames, as well as the title of the work, suggest reference to ‘the six days of creation’ from the Bible. The paintings don’t depict actual places, but depict typical New Zealand landscapes. This, along with the different tones of sky in each picture suggests a spiritual journey. The red line in the middle of the work contrasts the green of the landscapes. This helps the work, and could also suggest blood.

Will He Save Him? is a work that uses symbols and text to get its message across. It uses text from a particular passage from the Bible that McCahon was interested in during the time of his artworks creation. This work reflects his spirituality, and through the use of hand written text suggests human doubt. Some of the text is bolder and stands out more than the rest, this helps to emphasise the importance of those particular words. He uses symbols like crossed over rectangles to perhaps suggest a crucifix.

Through looking at the works of both Rosalie Gascoigne and Colin McCahon it is evident that artworks can help to reflect the spirit of a time and place by using symbols and text to create a message.
Posted on August 9th, 2007 at 06:11am

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