Brief, waffle and Toby Ziegler

I’ve been thinking a lot about potential ideas for next year. The problem I have with the way I come up with ideas in relation to how a University course is marked is that I often come up with strong ideas that I think will work before I’ve started my research and then often the academic stuff gets in the way and what I end up with is weaker than what I wanted to do in the first place.

For example the glass project that we had at the end of first year I had a plan to chop up lengths of pipe and drill lots of holes in them and attach the rings together to make the tentacles for my extension but we were told to behave as if we didn’t know about the extension part  so I spent 4/5th of the time working on carving out the floppy guts/tentacles out of wax and plaster and then  would have had to chop them off afterwards to make way for the metal versions which would have negated the majority of the work I’d done which seemed pretty arbitrary so I kept the tentacles and came up with two ideas, both of which were much weaker and also less adventurous (although quite time consuming anyway).

I think this time it’ll be worth drawing my ideas out that I have pre research and including them in my journal anyway and if they are stronger than post research ideas do them anyway even if it means losing marks on my degree.

This is what the brief says:

“We would like you to produce a critical journal over the summer that not only locates you in the broader historical and cultural world but also explains the journey you have taken whilst you research. This journal may take any form that you deem appropriate but must contain extensive notes and a personal dialogue as you uncover relevant and useful information. This should be a journey and an exploration into what underpins and substantiates your practice.

This is about researching in relation to the external world.   You must identify influences and the directions you are inclined to take, what subjects interest you, try to look at a variety of interests and begin to make connections, at this stage your research should be broad.  Do not restrict your research to other artists and makers; think about historical, cultural, social and political influences. You may want to consider some of the following questions:

What is the history of your subject/subjects you are interested in?

What have you learnt through this research exercise, how has it informed you?

Are there any practitioners dealing with similar context within their work, if so, how do they inform your ideas?

What have critics written about your subject?

How do you relate to all of this?”

It’s quite hard to think of artists that I can relate my work to because I don’t think that where I come from with my art is the same place as many well-known artists at all. Toby Ziegler at first glance seems to to a point. Without knowing about him I stumbled upon his work at the Saatchi and was a little bit gutted because he had done my idea I’d had for a painting for years but never actually had a go at on a larger scale than in a notebook drawing. I do love his work though. I think his was my favourite that I saw on my trip to London.


My interest was in the fields of patterns he used in his work that ran through various areas. The neat thing about patterns is that you can warp them to give the illusion of a receding plane, which is something you can’t do with blocks of colour.



I have never actually read any interviews with him about his work until today and it was very interesting. He takes sculptures and then simplifies them down in Cad before reproducing them in paper or card or aluminium and wood. His work is kind of half about taking art from periods of history and reproducing it in a modern way and half about presenting something unfinished and ambiguous which leaves the viewer to fill in the gaps. He makes a point of choosing names for his work that leave more questions than answers, saying that titles that give you all the answers are not good titles.

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