Distracted by Paolozzi


To explore the work of an artist who used moulding and casting in their creative output.

Why did I select this material/process/approach?

Paolozzi was one of the suggested artists in the course-notes.

Degree of success: What worked/What didn’t? Why?

I wasn’t expecting to find much to like about Paolozzi’s work. On first viewing it struck me as very masculine, with a definite Science Fiction aesthetic.


As I researched, I fell in LOVE! I felt so inspired by the collages and prints, I began making connections to other artist and relating the work to my own interest. I was extremely surprised at how poignant the themes of fear and threat of war still are today. I jumped straight in, designing a Paolozzi style relief tile with an assortment of junk from the shed. I really thought I was onto a winner here- I even managed to incorporate my love of circles:

As I began to build the relief using clay to support the junk, intending to use latex to capture the whole thing, then cast it in plaster, I started to feel uneasy:

  • What was the point in spending hours and hours covering the tile in layers of latex?(Particularly when I have not even trialled using the material)
  • This is a big piece, 10×10″
  • I can already see the outcome

How does my learning relate to tutor feedback/personal development?

Luckily, my tutor feedback from Part 2 arrived. It couldn’t have come at a better time:

“In terms of context, you’ve looked at quite a lot of practitioners, Scott and Gomes particularly relevant to the focus of this part of the MMT course. Some others may have prompted you to stray away from that focus, e.g. Delauney and Mann took you towards pattern, shape and colour. They seemed to inspire ideas somewhat tangential to the exercises.

Critically consider how your research informs the work in a relevant way. Focus on artists who use appropriate materials and processes to help inform your investigation.” 
I realised that I was making exactly the same mistake again, right down to the Delaunay sketch on the bottom right!! Instead of researching Paolozzi’s use of moulding and casting, I had allowed myself to become distracted by his use of symbolism, pattern, colour and socio-political comment. I take comfort from the fact that I had an inkling things weren’t right, which shows that I am learning, even if it was almost too late!

How does this relate to my contextual research?

Further discussion with tutor made me realise that in future I need to ensure that I use contextual research appropriately in relation to the focus of the coursework.

How could I use this sample/technique/material/research in the future?

I know that I should have been focussing my research on Paolozzi’s sculptural works, yet I don’t think the research I did was time wasted. I found so much to inspire me, that it can’t be a bad thing. I can save this knowledge for a later date.

I have come to the conclusion that there must be a fine line between a personal response with a lateral solution and a tangential investigation.

How could I have approached this differently/What could I do differently next time?

I realise my response to my research was inappropriate, rather than plan the outcome, I should have allowed the materials to guide my experimentation. Cari advised:

“Try not let control your direction or the outcome of the investigation- if you know where it is going, where is the fun and surprise for you?”

What do I want/need to do next?

Before I made the decision to STOP, RE-EVALUATE and CHANGE my approach, I sampled the use of latex and silicone. I intend to review these using my new Pro Forma and allow the discoveries I made to inform my next steps rather than continue to pursue the Paolozzi ‘final product’. Although this feels a bit defeatist, like a failure that I should pursue until I can produce it perfectly, I have come to appreciate PERFECTION is not the goal. Learning is the goal and I need to get back to that.


3 thoughts on “Distracted by Paolozzi”

  1. I love your ‘distractions’ as you call it – I think research can never be wrong. Because at some point it will influence you – maybe not now, but in years. So to identify something that makes you passionate is a goal in itself (I feel). Collect these like gems – to get back to later. There is always the spectrum of too little and too much.. but your samples are lovely, so I would not worry too much. I like what I see here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree about collecting anything that maybe useful- I am beginning to understand the concept of not having to follow every idea to its conclusion. My frustration stemmed from being so far off task in the first few days. It took a while to get to grips with what this part is actually asking us to do!


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