This years DR project for our first year students has been design by our props lecturer Pat Shammon and was based around Vincent van Gogh and the time he spent in a house in Arles, France which, for a short time, he shared with fellow artist Paul Gaugin.
Pat had designed the project as a 2 part installation, the first section was designed as a curved wall exhibiting a collection of literature and images about Van Gogh’s life and works in and around the time that he lived in the yellow house with the backdrop blending into a painting of the ‘Café Terrace at Night.’
The curved wall was made in three sections by our first years Spike and Lucy. Canvass was then glued over the plywood cladding ready for painting.
The flats were painted a deep blue which would then be blended into the painting of Van Gogh’s ‘Café terrace at Night.’
Once the painting was completed fairy lights were inserted into the canvass in the centre of the painted stars.
The display tables were made and mounted to the curved wall and Marcus painted the introduction text onto the flat by hand…(patience of a saint!)
The second section depicted an immersive, abstract imagining of what one of the rooms inside the house may have looked like. Here Pat took inspiration from Van Gogh’s paintings to inform the appearance and decoration of the props and the dressing of the room.
In the set we can see influences from ‘The bedroom,’ and ‘Paul Gauguin’s Chair,’ amongst others. These paintings were used as references for the creation of the distorted furniture pieces and the colours and textures used to paint them and their surroundings.
The walls of the room were made as TV flats which were then clad and textured with artex. Once dried, a mix of two washes were applied to give the appearance of old plastered walls. Once installed they received a thin, black spray across the tops and down the corner to give the appearance of soot.
The window itself was made by our very own workshop elf (otherwise known as construction lecturer Edd Smith) Which was a beautiful piece and really helped to pull the two sections of the installation together! Shhh don’t tell anyone!
The floor of the room was made up of 9″x 1″ rough sawn timber which we nailed to a steel deck platform.
Most excitingly we produced our first piece of work from our new CNC router. Andy was able to use it to cut out the exhibition title.
Spike had the challenge of creating a chair to represent Van Gogh’s painting of Gauguin’s chair and successfully imitated the distorted nature of the chair in the painting. The seat itself was made from caved polystyrene and the paint work replicated that of the original painting.
Jess made Van Gogh’s own chair, again taking inspiration from the painting. You can see how the paint and distortion of the prop imitate the style and shapes within the artwork.
Beth created the side table from ‘The Bedroom’ Painting which again had a great distorted element to it and the paint effect perfectly replicated that of the original painting.
Alongside their prop making our first years also created some amazing still life drawings that would represent the sketches of Van Gogh and Gauguin on the floor of the studio. We set up a still life display in our props workshops from which the students worked from. Pat tried to incorporate items similar to those that Gauguin and Van Gogh were drawing from.
After a workshop with Vanessa (scenic art lecturer and head of DR), on painting with a palette knife, our first years created some artist copies of Van Gogh works which would be hung on the walls and placed around the set.
These artworks were very effective in displaying the range of work Van Gogh completed in this period as well as creating the look and feel of a working art studio.
To enhance the immersive feel of the installation, artificial candles were placed in the set and soup was set in the pan on top of the stove to make it feel as if the room had been very recently occupied and that we (the viewer) had stumbled into the world of the artist.
It has been a great project and the result was impressive and very well received. Our first year work hard to pull this project together and it paid off. Well done to all the first year students and a BIG THANK YOU to Elliot Smith (our 2nd year TT student for his brilliant lighting of the set)!
Time for a Christmas party methinks!!!!!