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live in Saudi Arabia, and am very lucky to live within 10 minutes from the incredible King Abdulaziz World Culture Arts Centre (ITHRA) that has finally been completed in 2017.  The building itself is a fascinating structure of contemporary architecture and stands prominent in a place just outside the Aramco compound in Dhahran, Eastern Provence in Saudi Arabia. Ithra - King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture

Photo courtesy of Snohetta website

An initial foundation stone was laid by King Abdullah on May 20, 2008 and officially opened by the present King, the Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz on December 1, 2017.  I was extremely excited to visit the centre and it certainly has the wow factor as you approach the unique, contemporary structure.

The building, houses a cinema, theatre, museum, library and exhibition hall.  I feel at the moment it is still in its opening stages but cannot wait to see what events and artworks will be held at this magnificent building.

Place: Two landscape features Lush Gardens and a Monosurface – situated in Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia providing diverse cultural facilities for both local and worldwide audience.

Landscape of Ithra


Time:  In a drawing found on the Architectures website: Snohetta it shows the top part of the structure means the future, the middle part on the ground level is the present and below the surface is the past.


Title:  ITHRA – King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture

Artist:  Snohetta (Architect firm in Norway)

Origin:  Norway

Completion: 2017 (first stone laid 2008)

Art Movement:  Site-specific – Cultural landmark for both regional and national visitors

Typology:  Cultural Centre

Cost: $400 million – approximately

On reflection I enjoyed visiting the centre and finding out further information about it, there were several sources I used to obtain additional information ie the approximate cost and the Artist which were not displayed on the ITHRA website.  Once I knew who the Architect firm were that designed it I searched for their website and was able to gain further information.  There was also a newspaper called The Art Newspaper  that had writen an article back in January this year about pending opening of the centre.  This will be an amazing culture centre, at the moment I feel its in its early stages and needs new marketing to spread the word.

MDT - Umbrellas

(1) Photo courtesy of Arch Daily (2016) Textile Architecture in Saudi Arabia

The King Abdulaziz Center for Culture (Ithra) is a state of the art building has outside areas needing protection from the severe heat and sun conditions.  MDT provided umbrella like structures that were designed to protect people from the severe weather conditions of Saudi Arabia, particularly the sun, strong winds, dust and rain storms.  A material called PTFE was used and had been TEFLON coated in order to provide the best protection.

ART or DESIGNThe structures have been designed with weatherproof material to protect against the strong Saudi Arabian weather conditions

TEMPORARY or PERMANENT – Structures were permanent, interlinking buildings and protecting the public from weather conditions

LARGE SCALE or SMALL SCALE – Individual umbrella shaped structures, not a large scale building

TRANSFORMING and/or DEFINNIG and/or FORMING – The umbrellas transform the area to protect the public from the severe weather conditions, they define the area they are in by providing a safe link between the buildings and are made out of specific material forming upside umbrella shapes.

IMMERSIVE and/or DISTANT – The structures are of a practical use and can be viewed from building windows or from underneath as the public walk through the walkways they are covering

PATTERN and/or COLOUR and/or REPETITION and/or SHAPE – The shape, colour and patterns are all important as they are of shades to protect against the weather elements, along with the shape to protect against wind and rain, the pattern of the umbrellas are repeated throughout the installation of the structures that link buildings together with the protected walkways


King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture




Among others one of MDT’s core competences is form-finding according to the design layout provided by the customer. Therefore MDT is using their own manufactured fabric “MDT-PTFE”, weighing 700 g/m². This fabric is characterized by a long lifespan as well as UV-resistance. Furthermore, additionally to the TEFLON-coating, there is a “self-cleaning effect”, which prevents the fabric from aging and polluting. All membranes which are made of MDT-PTFE fabric are 100% waterproof, cross-breaking resistant, color-fast, tearproof as well as weatherproof. Besides that the MDT-PTFE fabric is easy to clean, UV-resistant as well as resistant against environmental influence. Due to its high functionality and durability the MDT-PTFE is suitable especially for public places and special constructions for permanent shading and rain protection.


Furthermore the customer demanded a storm safe construction, which resists both the weather conditions as well as strong winds. For that reason MDT designed specially shaped, inverted umbrellas. Altogether there will be six pieces of ø10m round inverted umbrellas as well as 13pcs in an asymmetrical version, measuring approximately 5x6m.

About us

Short Facts



Its commitment to quality and design makes MDT a qualified partner for textile printing and textile architecture since 25 years. Our product range reaches from serial production to individual production in cooperation with international architectural and design offices.

Our name , MDT _Membrane -Design and Technique, also illustrates our agenda: we use our considerable technical expertise to realize high quality and sophisticated design. Therefore , MDT has become a welcome address for visionary, and creative customers from all over the world.

As a medium sized company based in Germany , Switzerland and Latvia, we help create attractive outdoor living spaces with our high quality sun protection systems.

Our in house development and production has provided the foundation of our operations around the world. Continuous Investments in „State of the Art“- manufacturing technologies as well as 30.000 m² of production and storage space at different locations enable MDT to realize customer desires flexible and contemporary.

People enjoy the free spaces that we open up far beyond our umbrellas: textile outdoor architecture.

720 PTFE – The Champion

PTFE – also known as Teflon – is raised as a coating on fiberglass or polyester. Thanks to an own developed coating we are able to offer waterproofed fabric. PTFE is resistant to high environmental- and industrial influence and has a very low frictional resistance. Nearly no materials exist which stick to it. By its extreme resistance to tearing and non-combustibility, PTFE is the High-End material for complicated demands. For an optimal rain protection in the undeveloped outskirt area we have developed a special coating which makes the weaved material waterproof.

Agriculture/raw fibre production – not using child labor or exploiting local employment, using environmentally friendly pesticides, using machines that use energy efficiently and not dangerous to the community

Ginning – Use machines that are energy efficient, avoid wastage

Spinning/weaving/stitching – Use machines that are energy efficient, avoid wastage, don’t exploit local employment market

Distribution/retail – Use transportation that is energy efficient, electric vehicles or low carbon fuel.

Use/consumption and end of life – recycle clothes by giving to charities, friends, family.  Reuse materials by breaking down and remaking a different item using the materials.

TED Have formalized a set of ten criteria for designers and makers to follow, known as TED’s TEN:

  1. Design to Minimise Waste
  2. Design for Recycling/upcycling
  3. Design to Reduce Chemical Impacts
  4. Design to Reduce Energy and Water Use
  5. Design that Explores Clean/Better Technologies
  6. Design that looks at Models from nature and history
  7. Design for Ethical Production
  8. Design to Replace the Need to Consume
  9. Design to Dematerialise and Develop Systems and Services
  10. Design Activism


Currie, Damien – Head, UK Facilities Management – Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Report 2018-2019 on Sustainability can be found at

(accessed April 4, 2019)

TED Research – Set of Ten criteria points for designers and makers to follow ‘TED’s TEN’ can be found at (accessed May 1, 2019)

A textile is made up of individual fibres combined into yarn that can then be woven, braided, knitted, embroidered or felted.
The Handbook of Textile Culture, edited by Janis Jefferies, et al., Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from ucreative-ebooks on 2019-08-04 23:24:24.



Click to access mdt_Factsheet_King_Abdulaziz_Center.pdf


Snøhetta’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture nears completion

Click to access mdt_Factsheet_King_Abdulaziz_Center.pdf





Figure 1                                                   Figure 2

(Mona Lisa c 1503-6 oil on panel         (L.H.O.O.Q. Portrait of Mona Lisa

Vinci, Leonarda da (1452-1519) –        with beard and moustache – Painting

Bridgeman images, 2019)                     by Duchamp, Marcel – 1887-1968)

Bridgeman images, 2019

Figure 1 – Denotation – Portrait of a seated, smiling woman, with medium length, brown hair that has a black veil covering it.  She is wearing a long sleeve dress, one hand laid loose over the other.  Background setting is of a mountainous landscape, with a winding road and bridge.  Connotation – Imaginary background, rather than a real one indicates a dream like situation of a woman who is calm and beautiful, serene like, perhaps giving the viewer what an ideal vision of a woman was at that time.

The painting is believed to be a portrait of the wife of Francedsco del Giocondo – Isabella d’Este La Joconde and is often call La Gioconda after her.  It is owned by the Government of France and is located on a wall in its own room in the Louvre , Paris, France.  It was painted by Italian artist, Leonardo da Vinci, apparently it was painted in Florence, Italy around 1503 -1504. The painting was one of the first portraits to depict the sitter in front of an imaginary landscape, and Leonardo was one of the first painters to use aerial perspective.[69] The enigmatic woman is portrayed seated in what appears to be an open loggia with dark pillar bases on either side. Behind her, a vast landscape recedes to icy mountains. Winding paths and a distant bridge give only the slightest indications of human presence. Leonardo has chosen to place the horizon line not at the neck, as he did with Ginevra de’ Benci, but on a level with the eyes, thus linking the figure with the landscape and emphasizing the mysterious nature of the painting.  (Wikipedia 2019).  The painting is considered priceless.  It is thought to have been painted when she was in mourning, hence the black veil, after her child had died.  accessed January 20, 2019  accessed January 20, 2019

The Louvre  accessed January 20, 2019

Figure 2

Denotation -A copy of an original Portrait of a seated, smiling, young woman with medium length, brown hair that has a black veil covering it.  She has a black moustache drawn on her face along with a small goate beard.  She is wearing a long sleeve dress, one hand laid loose over the other.  Background setting is of a mountainous landscape, with a winding road and bridge.  There is writing underneath with capital letters spelling out L.H.O.O.Q.  Connotation – It seems the original picture has been made fun of and turned into a man by a new artist, giving it a new meaning, possibly a bisexual element, a role reversal.

L.H.O.O.Q. (LHOOQ). Portrait of Mona Lisa (Monna Lisa) with beard and mustache. Detournement of the Mona Lisa painted by Leonard de Vinci. Painting by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)  Courtesy Mudima (Milan Collection Schwarz – Courtesy Mudima) – Bridgeman Images

Marcel or Michael Duchamp was famous for being part of the start to the Dada movement around 1915 – ‘by challenging accepted definitions of art usually through collage and abstract and rejecting  the logic, reason and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense and irrationality’ Wikipedia (2019)

In typical Duchamp humerous style had made a postcard copy of the Mona Lisa and drew a moustache and goatee beard, making a role reversal of the attractive woman in the portrait to look more like a man, possibly with sexual implications ‘popular with Duchamp who adopted his own female pseudonym, Rrose Selavy.  The writing L.H.O.O.Q. was a play on words by Duchamp, sounding like the French words “Elle a chaud au cul” (There is fire down below or she is hot in the arse) Wikipedia (2019) and manhattanarts (2019).

The original image was copied and made into a postcard with the changes made to make fun of the traditional female role of sitting pretty and serene accessed January 20, 2019 accessed January 20, 2019  accessed January 20, 2019


accessed January 20, 2019

Dada movement – Tate Gallery

accessed January 20, 2019

Marcel Duchamp

accessed January 21, 2019

Guardian Article on Jan van Eyck painting – Arnolfini

National Gallery UK – Arnolfini

Click to access 1018442-one_hundred_great_paintings.pdf




Exercise 2

John Heartfield – John Paul Getty Museum – (accessed November 2018) Visual Artist – used art as a political weapon.  Anti Nazi & anti-fascist – Dada movement – pioneer of modern photomontage.  Photomontage allowed Heartfield to create loaded and politically contentious images. To compose his works, he chose recognizable press photographs of politicians or events from the mainstream illustrated press. He then disassembled and rearranged these images to radically alter their meaning.

Peter Kennard 

Peter Kennard website – (accessed November 15, 2018)

A photomontage artist – strong political views –

Peter Kennard

Say no to missiles 190 Kennard, Peter – Bridgeman Education

The Guardian – Review on Peter Kennard (accessed November 15, 2018)

“A gas-masked globe, a skeleton with a mushroom-cloud head … this new exhibition of Kennard’s violent political cut-ups is brave, brazen – and shows the truth behind the bright shining lies of war” Jonathan Jones (2015) – The Guardian

The Guardian – Review on Peter Kennard

“Unofficial War Artist Review – the King of Political Montage” – Laura Cumming (2015) – the Guardian

Hanah Hoch

A German Dada Artist – Weimar period – one of the originators of photomontage  – review by Mark Hudson (Jan 14, 2014) – The Telegraph

“A pioneer of photomontage, whose images of women presaged the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir and Second Wave Feminism half a century later, Hoch was a pivotal figure in Dada, the anti-art movement that outraged conventional opinion in the final years of World War One, working alongside iconic male artists such as George Grosz, John Heartfield and Raoul Hausmann. Or was she?”

The Art Story – A showcase of Hoch’s work – – accessed on November 18, 2018

Martha Rosler

Martha Rosler explores issues of everyday life, architecture, built environment and the media especially if they affect women, she does this through video, photography, text, installation and performance.  Her personal website tells you more about her (accessed November 18, 2018)

Balloons, from Bringing the War home: House Beautiful 1967-72 - Rosler, Martha

Balloons from Bringing the War Home, House Beautiful 1967-72 – Rosler, Martha – Bridgeman Education


Photomontage – Tate Gallery – A photomontage is a collage constructed from photographs – is often used as a means of expressing political dissent

Collage – Tate Gallery – work of art in which pieces of paper, photographs, fabric & other ephemera are arranged and stuck down on a supporting surface.

Montage – Tate Gallery – an assembly of images that relate to each other in some way to create a single work.

Having researched the artists, I found myself getting excited at what storyline to take, there are so many at the moment that people are talking about, I live in Saudi Arabia and news is restricted and you do need to be aware of what you write about.   A story that has hit the headlines that I have got angry over is the Rape Trial of a teenage girl, whereby the defence barrister held up a thong indicating that she was raped due to the underwear she was wearing. It has caused outrage and I’m not surprised.  I often get angry when I see cases where young girls are scorned upon because they wore shirt skirts, or had too much to drink and now because of the underwear they wore.  it’s outrageous.  If your murdered there is never a case of ‘oh they wouldn’t have got murdered if only they had worn something different, or hadn’t drank’.  The worse thing of all, is I feel the British Justice system is letting Rapists off, this stops women (and men) coming forward as they think what’s the point.  I also know for a fact certain men have been acquitted due to their wealth, affording a lawyer that is able to manipulate the British system.  It’s not right and it’s not fair.  So my collage is about the recent case and to point out that when someone says No they mean No, if someone is asleep or passed out, it means no, if someone is drunk do not take advantage of them, if a person changes their mind and they can it means no.  I could go on.


NO MEANS NO by Jean Taylor 2018

I tried to get the message across by using words to highlight the meaning of No means No.  There has been a lot of press lately regarding rape trials and also the amount of rape of young children in India, it’s something that needs to be front page news.  It needs to be shown that young women can come forward and know they will be protected by the justice system.  My collage was based a little bit on Hannah Hoch’s work, by putting photos together as a collage to make a point, but also Martha Rosler  used photography and text and would explore everyday issues  especially on those that effected women.  I think my first attempt has created meaning through Juxtaposition and contrast of photos and words.  I would like to think it would help bring attention to these cases that are so wrong where the defence try to degrade women into thinking that what they wear is a reason for them to be raped.  Thankfully in this case the man was convicted of raping the woman when she was 13 years old.  On this occasion justice was served.

Links accessed today November 22, 2018 – photos used in the collage were taken from these websites.





In Exercise 2 we are asked to think of more examples of character archetypes having read an article on ‘Subverting Aristotle: Pulp Fiction’  whereby Jean-Luc Godard said ‘A film should have a beginning, middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order”.  Quentin Tarantino, Screenwriter and Director, did just that with his film ‘Pulp Fiction’.  Considered to be a postmodern work of Art as it fractures convention and plays arround with universal truths like religion, law, history and ideology.  First of all though we look at what a ‘Main Character’ is, this person would be ‘the Protagonist and a person who is directly opposed to the protagonist is an Antagonist.  They are both character archetypes, a recognisable character type that serves a function in a story.

When it comes to Protagonist v Antagonist in films, I think the following are examples:

Batman v Joker

James Bond v Russian spy

Maverick v Iceman

Superman v Lex Luthor

Snow  white v wicked stepmother

Character archetypes – Carl Jung defined 12 types of character archetypes, the following three websites give clear and extensive descriptions of the types of characters there are, Innocent, Orphan, Hero, Caregiver, Explorer, Rebel, Lover, Creator, Jester, Stage, Magician and Ruler.  However, ‘Writers Write’ website has changed the name of some of the characters that are not the same as the other two websites.  Changing Orphan to Regular Guy and Rebel to Outlaw.

Now Novel

Writers Write

Learning Mind

When it comes to Protagonist v Antagonist in films, I think the following are examples:

Batman v Joker (The Hero v The Jester)

James Bond v Russian spy (The Hero v The Rebel)

Maverick v Iceman (The Hero v The caregiver)

Superman v Lex Luthor (The Hero v The Rebel)

Snow white v wicked stepmother (The Innocent v Ruler)

Twelve Archetypes

THE INNOCENT:  Snow white is a young woman who fits the description of ‘Innocent’ as she is always happy, singing and dancing and tries to please others including her step mother and then the dwarfs, she is even trusting of the wicked witch when she takes the poisonous apple.

THE ORPHAN:  Mowgli in the Jungle Book is typical character of an ‘orphan’, always needing to belong whether as an animal or human, doesn’t like to be left out of jungle activities.

THE HERO:   There are plenty of these, Batman, James Bond, Superman and Maverick to name but a few, they thrive on being strong and are courageous individuals whose quest is to normally bring about justice and  protect innocent people.  Their fear is always to be perceived as weak or frightened.

THE CAREGIVER:  The caregiver is similar to The Innocent, wanting to help others, like Snow white, although I think Cinderella falls under the Caregiver very well, she is full of compassion and desperate to please her sisters and wicked stepmother, her good nature is exploited by her step sisters but her goal is always to help others.

THE EXPLORER: I do believe Liz Gilbert in the book and film called Eat Pray and Love, fits into the Explorer archetype.  Once she sets of on her journey she isn’t happy unless she is exploring new places and new things, she travels to fulfill a quest to eat in Italy Pray in India and find love in Bali.

THE REBEL:  Lex Luthor in the Superman series is a Rebel, he wants to change the world and won’t let anything stand in his way, his greatest fear is to be powerless against the mighty Superman and becomes obsessed with destroying him.

THE LOVER: Bridget Jone’s Diary is a wonderful book and film about a girl who wants to fall in love, she has no confidence in herself but is humerous and kind.  She finds it hard to stand up for herself when it comes to men, but she does have passion as a reporter and writer.

THE CREATOR: In the film ‘Begin Again’ Kiera Knightly plays a singer/song writer who gets discovered and gets to play her music at different locations, it’s a wonderful film and Kiera plays the part extremely well.  The character I would say was most definitely a Creator.

THE JESTER: The first Jester that comes to mind is The Joker in Batman, who hides behind a mask playing tricks and causing havoc for his enemies.  Although not particularly humerous, he’s quite evil in the films.

THE SAGE: Robin Williams plays the part of a teacher with unorthodox teaching practices in ‘Dead Poets Society’, he wants his students (boys) to ‘make their lives extraordinary’.  He is typical of the character for the Sage. Intelligent and wise.

THE MAGICIAN: Gordon Gheko is a legendary wall street player (Michael Douglas), who is a charismatic man who is different to all the other players and is idolized by Bud Fox (Michael Sheen).  He does come across as manipulative and egotistical, typical traites of the Magician, however is qualities as a leader have made him a wealthy man and someone others look up to

THE RULER:  ‘The Queen’ (2006) played by Helen Mirram has everything there is to be regarding the character of the The Ruler, Leadership and responsibility, with clear vision of what she wants for her country and believes she knows best.  Sometimes her ideas are not agreeable with her party leaders, however she always has her Peoples interests at heart.


It was quite interesting to learn of the main characters found in a typical book or film, there are twelve apparently characteristics that people play, these can be reverted to real life situations of people’s character that work in a business environment, the classroom of a school or crew members of a ship, everyone seemingly belongs to one of these characters.  I was able to locate different characters of films to the archetype and it has made me think of characters I have made up in my own stories without this help and wonder if they do in fact fall in to any of the said characters.  Looking at my own personality I would say I am an ‘Innocent’ character, someone who believes in the power of positive thinking and whose goal is to make people happy, I believe in the good in others and have a total open mind when it comes to achieving the impossible.  I don’t like failing and hate confrontations.

I am finding Part 2 Contemporary Reading, very different to Contemporary Art, which has surprised me.  As someone who enjoys creative writing and had thought this part of the course would be the one that bowled me over, however I’m finding without the same visual effects as Contemporary Art, its less exciting.  However, I am still enjoying it and completing the exercises as asked, but it is making me doubt the route that I will eventually take.  It’s early days, but still, I’m waiting for ‘Time’ and ‘Place’ to be more involved in the literary world of Part 2.


I have lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for eight years and I have to admit have not done much in the way of exploring the country or even the region of this fascinating country, I did a little in the beginning but I hope that is all about to change with my new interest in art.  Starting this course has been the best thing I’ve done in a long time, it has given me back my energy to learn and be enthralled at what goes on in the mind of other like-minded people.  I am sure there is an artist in everybody, same as a writer or photographer it’s just whether or not your willing to explore your capabilities, imagination or talent you have.  I hope to now look out for more trips available to pursue my love of photography and writing.  However, there has been a new revelation, my love of Art and the question ‘What is Art’ is constantly on my mind, I’m asking friends and family ‘What is Art’ and it is amazing the replies I am receiving, I just love it.  I am really surprised at how interesting I am finding the whole aspect of art and what it means.  I am eager to find out more about the artists I’ve heard of but never really paid too much interest too.  I love that I’m choosing different art over another, meaning I like a certain style or at least I thought I did.  I have always tried to take photos that are a bit quirky or show a different angle to the country or place I’m visiting, so I believe I have a certain style when it comes to photography, but now I’m wondering what kind of painter I would be, it really has opened up my eyes.  I’ve also learned that the title can be just as important as the art piece, Hirst’s The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living is testament to that, from my first impression of just a picture of a shark that was laughing to actually what it was in the gallery and the possible meaning behind the art piece has just blown my mind.  Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ has also made me query ‘What is Art’ how can a man’s urinal be art? Then of course who decide’s what is Art, David Hensel’s laughing head-piece was taken apart, the head returned to him and the plinth it was on was kept and displayed.  Who decided the plinth was art?  It really is all quite fascinating and I am enjoying every aspect of it.

Back to my starting point, about living in Saudi Arabia, I went a bit off track but I just wanted to add I now have the privilege of working for a company that has built one of the biggest art centres in the Middle East, and is literally ten minutes away.  I visited it for the first time at the weekend and was in awe.  It is beautiful and contains, a massive theatre, museum, library, workshops, restaurant and shop.  I can’t believe what they have on offer and will now be able to visit, I am hoping to learn about the Arab influence in art and will be taking another visit next weekend and hopefully see one of the cinema showings of Van Gough’s work.  The outside of the building can be seen from afar and is very impressive and I want to learn more about the artist/architecture of the building, I have to admit I was a little surprised at the phallic like image it portrays in such a prohibited country, again, needs a further investigation.

My final reflection on part 1 is the technical and note taking side of things and what I have learned, and that was to persevere.  I had got quite frustrated with how the blog worked in trying to set up the sections for the blog posts to go into, but I knew if I could get it right in the beginning then I could concentrate on the studying, I am so glad I did.   I also realised I love my physical notebook, I always have done, I actually collect them as a hobby, and feel happiest with having one with me.  What I’m finding myself doing is keeping my notebook with me and then transferring the majority of the notes to my blog, this seems to be working for me.  Sometimes my notes do feel a bit scrambled and I need to work on that, get a bit of confidence in what I need to digest as important.  Overall though I feel really happy right now I am so glad I have started this course, I am learning a whole new aspect in art, I am doing what I love which is writing and incorporating a few of my own photos along the way to brighten my blog.   The journey has only just begun but loving every second of it so far (apart from the technical side of the blog!).fullsizeoutput_1fe4


The first part of this exercise was to find two still life pictures that relate to fish.   ‘Nature’ morte’  means ‘dead nature’ and is a term used for Still Life.  Along with finding the pictures, it was advised to make a quick sketch of them with notes.

The first one I chose from the Tate Gallery called Image of the Fish God by Alan Davie (1956)



I particularly liked this one as it felt like it was quite modern and yet I had a feeling there was something ancient being symbolised, possibly a man with a sword or shield, but actually a fish instead.  The fish to me seems dead in the way it is being held upwards,

like its been caught and on show, I hope this means it is considered to be still life as I got a little confused in thinking that perhaps still life paintings are more like fish on a plate to be eaten or the painting had to actually look like real fish but dead.  The main points I took from the notes available (Gallery label, July 2012) were:

Notes from Gallery

  • Made up of shapes and symbols
  • Central diamond symbol depicting an eye
  • Artist defines personal pictograms as ‘Primordial’ (from the beginning of time)
  • Painting has a totemic monumentality evokes ancient cultures and shamanistic beliefs – I understand this to mean that it like a totum monument (a totum pole symbol  worshiped by members of a family or tribe).  Shamanistic is a religion of Northern Asia

My Notes

  • Both modern/ancient – man with a sword/shield
  • Dead fish – upright like its been caught
  • Central weird eye symbol
  • Black figure, ghostly
  • Dripping paint, blood?

The second painting a chose was more traditional, from the Royal Academy website called Still Life: Fish by Sir Frank Brangwyn RA (early 20th century)



I thought this was a homely one, quite traditional, as if someone had been out fishing and dumped two fish on the kitchen table, the reason I think its in the kitchen is there is a drinking canister of some kind next to the fish and some pretty shoes also appear on the floor making me think this is in the home.  The Academy indicated some key words.

Notes from Academy

Studio setting, fish blood, violence, dead animal, brown

My Notes

One fish almost comforting the other, both dead, pretty shoes, kitchen table, homely, drink container, I didn’t see it as being violent or of any blood.

The second part of the exercise was to watch a video showing Hirsts ‘The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living” and to take notes whilst listening to a conversation taking place of three people observing the artwork.  I made the following notes:

HIRST – Plays on human emotion, like danger, fear, shark could kill you, seems to be making you question your level of fear.

THE PIECE – The piece is actually a full size shark in a glass cage, that has been killed and paid for.  This is the second one Hirst has created as the first one disintegrated, this one he employed the help of a taxidermist, to try to preserve this shark.

HIRST’S OTHER WORK – He cut sheep in half lengthwise and put in a glass cage

INFORMATION ON OTHER ARTISTS WHOSE WORK IS CONCERNED WITH MORTALITY – I could only grasp the conversation about mummies being preserved in order to preserve time

REFERENCES TO TIME – There was talk about the Egyptian mummies being preserved in the hope of mortality, preserving time or at least stop time

My initial thought when I saw the picture of the shark in the course book, I thought it wasn’t real and that the shark was almost laughing, I didn’t think of it in terms of death or how scary it was and never question anything about mortality.  So having now found out more about Hirst’s work it has most definitely changed my view on how I would view it.

I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise, from start to finish, it was great to investigate several different galleries for pictures on still life and to chose a couple that stood out straight away for me.  Although there were plenty more but you would just take up so much time so made a quick decision.  I am feeling that my note taking is not quite as it should be and I don’t think I’m picking up on some important aspects, or maybe I’m doing ok and maybe it really is just about my opinion and what I think about what art is, all I know is I am finding the whole experience an eye opener and can’t wait to be learning more and realising what amazing artwork there is and the historical meanings behind some of them













Damien Hurst’s – The Physical impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – Sometimes referred to as “the shark in formaldehyde”

Write down a few words giving your first reaction to the piece

In this picture it’s almost like your looking into the face of death and its laughing at you

Do you have an emotional response to it?

It doesn’t frighten me as I feel its laughing, but I feel I should be scared because it’s a shark and looking to come straight at me

What do you think it’s about?

I think it’s about life and death, and how this shark is the image of death coming at you

What do you think about the title?

Not sure I quite get it, perhaps its saying that it’s all in the mind and that this shark isn’t about death, and can’t be if your still living

Edwaert Collier – Still Life with a volume of Wither’s Emblemes

Write down a few words giving your first reaction to the piece

It would appear to be about someone who is or was musical

Do you have an emotional response to it?

It’s quite a calming feeling

What do you think it’s about?

It’s possibly about death, someone has left the scene in a mess, so may have died there and then outside of the main scene

What do you think about the title?

Not sure I get the title, The still life meaning Death, Withers meaning wide and Emblemes meaning a seal or flag of international seabed  – perhaps it is a scene on a boat and they have died whilst playing their music



In this exercise I have been asked to  make notes in respect of an excerpt from Art History: The Basics by Grant Pooke and Diana Newall (2008, Abingdon, Routledge).  To summarise the excerpt from what I understand it is widely asking the question who decides if it is art and if there is a purpose to it.  A situation arose whereby an a sculptor (David Hensel) created  a sculpture of a laughing head on a plinth, and sent it to an international and prestigious art exhibition.  The head was returned and the plinth was displayed on its own instead.  A real case of who decided that the plinth was art.

Other parts of the chapter that stood out were:

  • “I’m delighted to have made an empty plinth that isn’t empty, where the exhibit itself is merely invisible”  (David Hensel 2006)
  • “There really is no such thing as Art.  There are only artists”.  (Gombrich 1984: 4), he suggests that art is something that artists do.
  • Decorative Arts; needlework, glass textiles, jewellery
  • Fine Art – Painting, drawing and sculpture (Royal Academy)
  • Contemporary Art – ceramics and embroidery, modern
  • All definitions or art are mediated through culture, history and language – need to look at social and cultural origin
  • Classical sculpture of Zeus  (copy of a fifth century BCE original – would have been judged on technical standard
  • Important to understand that the meaning and attributions of art are particular to different context, societies and periods.  Whatever the prevalence through time of objects and practices with aesthetic purpose, ideas and definitions of art are neither timeless nor beyond history, but related to the social and cultural assumptions of the societies and environment which fashion them
  • Artists – Tracy Emin, Grayson Perry, David Hensel, Bauhaus, Braque, Derain, Kirchner, Matisse, Picasso, Maurice De Vlaminck, Cezanne

The exercise also asked to list any words that were new to me.  I have created a menu that contains a glossary on my Home page, listing new words and their meanings and will continue to add as I go along.

I enjoyed reading this article and about the idea’s of what is Art and how historically it has changed and continues to change as each new artist comes along.  I do feel I need to learn how to take notes and what parts are important, along with how to correctly reference things.

About me

Hi my name is Jean Taylor and am studying a Degree in Creative Arts, I believe this is perfect for me because of my love for Creative Writing and Photography. I have previously completed The Freelance and Travel Writing Diploma with the London School of Journalism, as well as completing The Creative Writing course with The Writers Bureau. I have also attended several Adult Eduction courses in both Photography and Creative Writing. I currently live and work in Saudi Arabia as a Personal Assistant and looking to achieve a life long ambition to obtain a degree in something that I am passionate about. My dream is to be a full time writer/travel writer/photographer when I leave Saudi Arabia and I hope the skills I learn throughout the degree will help me towards doing this as well as opening up a whole new world of creativity and knowledge. I love to be busy but my downtime is to read, swim, walk or cook vegetarian meals.  I am really looking forward to studying and meeting new people on the course.