Yay! A new newsletter. The first one in almost two years. Incredible. I always intend to write them more regularly when I have just finished one, so maybe I shouldn’t promise too much. But if you’d like to see a very short summary of the last 2 years, plus a 30% discount inside, have a look on my newsletter page to download the latest edition.
Have I shown you all the new wax pieces yet that I have made last autumn? – I am not sure anymore. Lockdown came on hard and too fast last December. Anyway, if you want to take a look, head over to my supplies page and download the new catalogue. Or you could click through to my newly re-opened Folksy shop (or Etsy) and take a look there at even shinier photos. I realize, I have not even listed all the blocks yet.
Well, about Brexit and lockdowns and all the miserable in the world… The past year for me – as for many others – has been a little bit like living under a glass dome. But the last lockdown hit especially hard. I am not the only one experiencing this winter lockdown or rather, for me it’s the school closure that’s so very disruptive, especially hard. While I was home schooling (and I was home schooling more than many of my co-home teaching fellow parents), I had to close shops and didn’t get much done in way of my own art projects.
Now I feel like I am re-surfacing and find the world changed. I opened my shops again, albeit, only for UK customers for now. It’ll take me a few weeks to figure out how to ship internationally in this changed world now, marked by postal delays and new custom borders.
I am also trying to sort through my begun, ongoing, or maybe abandoned art projects.
I did work on a few ideas since last summer. It is still a little too “unbaked” to formulate in coherent speech, but it’ll be about premature birth (again), and I strive to use a new way of interaction. For that I started to teach myself electronics:
I don’t think I am especially good at computer stuff. I wanted to be good at it for a while, and I studied computer science for a while (without finishing it). But I wasn’t all that brilliant back then. And that was more than 20 years ago.
While back then a new computer meant to fun and joy to discover what new it could do, now I am mostly annoyed by things not working the way they did before, whenever I have to change computer. – So I am your typical, mid 40s woman for you there.
But what maybe sets me apart a little, is that I am not afraid of digging into code when I have to. I managed to learn to program before, I refuse to believe that there’s something I can’t learn if I want to. And so I just started. I bought a student kit from arduino, and just got started.
What I would like to build, ultimately, is a room (or a model) with a life-image that viewers on the internet can interact with. For example open a drawer when they click a button on a website.
In principle this should be straight forward. Arduinos are relatively small and easy control boards that are programmed in a programming language that’s essentially C or C++ which is what I used before.
Therefore it didn’t come as a surprise that I found the programming side of electronics to be the easy part. However, now there’s also mechanics, electrical circuits, and, well, all that real-world stuff involved. And that’s where it got hard for me. Especially the mechanics, gears, spokes, and putting it all together. Gears work so easily in theory, but when you put them together, even just a few wobbles can make it all fail.
I posted a series of videos on instagram, if you want to see a bit of the progress I made over a few days. Do let me know if you like these kind of images, and what else you might want to see!
But, yeah, that’s how far I got with that project: I have a model with a teeny tiny chest of drawers, and when you press a little button, a wonky robot arm pulls open a drawer. The plan at this moment is threefold: a) to make that button virtual, b) to add more interactive elements to the dollhouse (and more things), and c) work on a larger scale model to interact with; this one is too small… – I’ll keep you updated.
I posted here before about my statue that pretty much took me the last 12 months to finish. Those who follow my instagram stream have seen images of first the feet, the legs, my struggle with the hands, and images of how I finished the bird baby during lockdown at home. It’s the biggest of my paper mache projects to date. I envisioned it from the start as some kind of book – as all my paper mache scultpures I made so far. There’s the heads who I think of as scroll cases with the scroll still missing. I have an idea what I want them to say in principle, but they are still lacking their words in any concrete way.
I can see the statue clearly within my body of work that also has the “Flight” sculpture – without words, and the “eggs” – again without words. Yet for this one, words were always important to me.
And now I have found them:
Milk and blood until she bleeds.
Men and women, repeat, repeat.
Drink deeply, until she bleeds,
she will be one or two or three.
Made inside her, thing with feathers,
made with blood until she bleeds.
She heard that hope is in the heart,
love, moon, cycle, until she bleeds.
Rings of life, her body the sea.
a crumb in the gale, until she bleeds.
Hope and pact with angel birds,
she feeds the storm, until she bleeds.
Her body milk, life of another,
the soul is pregnant, until she bleeds.
Milk and blood, thing with feathers,
is what stays until she bleeds.
makes love, imagines endlessly,
pregnant bird, until she bleeds.
I am not 100% sure this is the final text. Not that I am unhappy at this moment with any part of it, but I intent to leave it for a couple of weeks, and then I am going to put it onto the statue itself. I am not quite sure yet, how. I think I would like to simply write them on, or maybe project them onto it.
Would that make it book art?
(click to enlarge)
I think it does, because the words are an integral part of it. Actually I think of the video on the top already as book art.
I know that some might react and think: Well, if the artist calls it a book, then it is one. But then you have to take that seriously, and interprete what you see really as a book. Too often, I think, this sentence is thrown out to reject the discussion about whether it is a book, what is a book. And that discussion, the question: “What can I make that bends the boundaries but still is accepted as a book?” That question is central to my work, and I’d be ever so grateful if you would want to join the discussion.
And with that, I claim:
- The video above is a piece of book art.
- The statue with the text projected onto it is a (different from the video) piece of book art.
Do you agree? Would you have described it as such without my claim? Does it change your interpretation of the piece?
Dominique Golden is a multidisciplinary artist, originally from Lancashire, in the North of England, and is now working and living in London. The first time I became aware of her work was through the “Familiar Machines” exhibition at Backlit Galleries in Nottingham in 2019 where an almost life-sized Madonna with an integrated structure that made it weep bloody tears was shown. Beside working in sculpture and drawing, Dominique also makes video art, writes and performs poetry, works with music and runs her own music label Pearl Home records.
The special circumstance of the ongoing pandemic has opened up the opportunity for us to meet online, and at the same time kept us from actually meeting face to face. But that didn’t stop us from getting into conversation.
Hello Dominique. Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions. Let’s start with facts and basics: Do you have a formal art education, and do you think that’s important at all?
Yes, I do have a formal education and without it, I would not have arrived at the art I practise now. Due to having grown up in a very loving but unartistic family, it has shaped and enabled my practise and personality. I would not have otherwise had access to the art world.
Growing up in St Helens at that time, for me, being an artist or even working in the arts was not really a career option. At school my careers advisor suggested I become a florist due to my obvious enthusiasm and dedication to creative lessons.
Luckily, my art teacher had suggested to my parents that I should go to art college. I was very keen to do this, so my path was set: I firstly went to the Gamble institute in St Helens, Lancashire for pre-foundation and foundation, and then went on to Leeds University Graphic Design, studying printmaking. And following this I was accepted to the RCA fine art printmaking where I completed my MA and fellowship which was 3 years in total.
In your statement on your website you mention “family” as a central topic of your work. What exactly do you mean by this? Are you referring to the family we grow up in, as in where we come from, or rather the core family we build for ourselves?
I am not exactly representing the family as such. All of my work is a self-portrait in a loose sense. I am addressing my position within my family and within the world at large.
I have a husband called Nik and 2 sons, who are 12 and 9 years old. I came to realise early on that as a parent you are controlled by your children. Therefore, there is a dance that occurs between family members. The dynamics move around the 4 of us as we all grow and develop into new figures due to the push and pull of each other; creating multiple selves at every stage.
Would you say you see your position in the world through your position in your family?
Recently I have represented myself in the image of Mary the Mother of God for performances of spoken word sound art and sculpture. Mary has been used throughout history as a template for all mothers. I want to combine this with the every-type woman, combine these traditional depictions and meanings and the idea of the domestic and worldly into my creative representation of the feminine.
But ultimately I’m not defined by my family.
Many of your drawings I find outright disturbing. Figures that have missing limbs or doubled features, sometimes limbs are twisted so that it seems to be bodies more than living people, and then some seem to be half animal… There’s an edginess to your drawings that doesn’t quite match the positive and comforting picture that’s often associated with motherhood.
For me, family both means comfort and conflict. A lot of my work has a psychological quality, and I address control in various states.
In my recent drawings, I have been focusing on the marionette figure which represents control and nature…
The animal aspect was a subject which I have worked with for many years and is prior to my recent myth building of children made of wood.
For example, I made a series with tigers that represented feminine lust. And I used sharks, indicating an archetypal personality type which only takes and does not give.
Marionettes and wood figures: Can you explain what interests you in them? You are drawing, not making them, right?
The subject matter of marionettes comes from an eclectic research pattern which incorporates among others Pinocchio, feminism, and what I call gender alternate birth rite.
The story of Pinocchio has always fascinated me because the mother is unnecessary, as the father Geppetto carves his son out of wood.
I paired this with the Catholic holy family. In this storyline, Joseph the carpenter is capable of singular child creation along-side the story of the virgin birth. This provides basis for intrigue about the origin of the son of God, and how this would shift the patriarchal control.
How would that shift patriarchal control, I don’t understand. If a man was birther of god wouldn’t that, if anything, strengthen his position?
Well, it refers to what I meant when I mentioned “gender alternate birth rite” and is a huge area of feminism and hard to describe in brief: In our male dominated society, child birth generates expectations of the role in society on women. In an alternate society as invented in the story of Pinocchio, this might turn and would mean that the notion of the house wife, or mother as primary carer would be broken down, perhaps men would become primary child carer’s, and in extension create a huge shift in society at large.
The drawing above is from this body of work?
The title is ‘Vincent climbing through the window’. Here, everything is made of wood and is a living thing. Therefore, everything is level in status, and everything is connected. Thus one’s actions affect everyone and everything around you, which refers back to the comment I made earlier: There’s a dance that occurs between family memers.
The drawing is also meant to represent a birth, the action of Vincent entering the home; this is also intended to echo the reversal of the gender reversal birth option as above.
That’s fascinating! – Do you currently work mainly with imagery? Is that the form you think it will stay in, or are these preparatory works? – It sounds like you have a lot of story developed, too, maybe it’ll end as a book?
I am currently making a series of drawing that are very defined in this thought process – so far I have only released them on instagram. But my plan is to make a wooden child – I’ve been collecting some driftwood for it.
I am also working on a design for a stain glass window
However, my next move which I hope to spend some time on is to make some more moving image work.
So what is your interest in the story behind your art? Is the narrative that you explore part of your research only? Or does it become part of the art itself?
I use existing narrative as a mosaic. I patch together various themes which resonate with me and present them as images. I don’t tell stories as such, I retell pre-written text via image making and investigation of well known and not so well known tales.
My other interest in terms of the written word is poetry. During lockdown I created a poetry pamphlet about journeying into new pastures yet feeling like you want to stay at home. A lot of my work is hinged on periods of time that are rites of passage like when you change from child to adult, I.e. a combination of fear and sexual awakening. You can find it on my website when you click on publications.
‘The Mary Fact File’ was another publication I put together that filled in as many missing blanks from Mary the Mother of God’s recorded existence as I could find. I performed the fact file as a rap with a backing track and video animation whilst dressed as Mary. The fact file leaflet was passed around the audience so they could sing along.
You mentioned performance before. So, you are not mainly interested in narritive, rather in spoken poetry? You perform and make music too, right?
I would say I am interested in narrative in general. I have special interest in alternate timelines and alternate worlds. I have often made work which is in some way influenced by childhood fairy tales and ancient mythology.
And, Yes. I am interested in spoken word and sound art. Prior to having children I sang in a band called Jesus Licks, I still play the flute with COMA London which is an improvisation orchestra. We perform concerts in various venues in and around London. I wrote a lot of the material for Jesus Licks, and also composed scores for COMA which were performed via zoom during lockdown.
Myself and Nik run a DIY record label that release handmade vinyl by artists working in these formats. We also host concerts at home and present a radio show www.theneonhospice.com on Friday nights at 5.30pm. This is in order to show case our own sound art/music and spoken word as well as our friends and colleagues whom we share similar interest.
Any immediate plans for the future?
My current enthusiasm is tied up in making sound art for the radio show, I have been writing material and selecting work from our back catalogue. Also, the kids just started school again this week, so I am looking forward to seeing some shows! Just booked to see Aubrey Beardsley at the tate.
I have taken a break from drawing every day (to focus on the end of summer) now we are back to term time I will endeavour to make some moving images/animation of my drawings and create some graphic score also using animation. During lockdown I made a film for COMA London, which I will review as a stepping off point…
I am afraid, we are running out of space on this blog here. Maybe a last question: If someone wants to follow up on this and find out more about you and your art, where should they go or where should they click?
There’s my hompage(s)
My radio show can be found here every Friday at 5.30pm.
Thank you, Dominique!
All images used in this article are copyrighted by Dominique and have been used with her kind permission
Over the last couple of weeks I have been working with the topics of woven pattern and motherhood in print. When you have a new baby, you are surrounded by all kinds of different fabrics and weaves all with their own particular tactile quality. There’s the muslin used when burping (or lying down) a baby, the mollin in the crib, terry cloth everywhere, for towels, bibs, and wash cloths, the mull for navel dressing, the velvet of romber suits, and the coarse woven structure of baby carrying shawls. And – oh my god – the sudden onslaught of laundry. It’s a very fabric world, a new Mum is living in, and so I presented her in this world, a backdrop of fabric…
To stress the idea of the Mum being surrounded by fabric, I thought of the tunnel books I made a long time ago. But the structure of a tunnel book is fairly mobile, and I saw this rather as something to put up on a wall or shelf than as a book to be handles, and thus wanted something in between a tunnel book and a simple 2D print. So I ordered in some shadow boxes to experiment…
In this first box above there’s a whole landscape of fabric that drapes around her.
From there I went maybe to the other extreme and just collaged the cut out drypoint onto the printed background. The woven impression comes from two overlapping prints, and an area where there’s just one of them, serves as a visual ground she’s standing on here.
From there I developed the idea to collage a bit more of a background landscape for her, indicating a cityscape in her background, but keeping to the fabric theme.
Both the 2nd and 3rd print are only one layer, rather than the full depth of the first with it’s many panels. Yet I feel the shadow box they are living in suits the topic and the collage.
I intent to keep working to this theme. I still have many ideas (and a bunch of half-finished prints), so you’ll probably see more of this series. It would be easier to keep going if I can sell some of them… I am going to list them in my folksy shop in the coming week.
If you would like to purchase one of them now, please contact me directly, they are £50 each, including the frame in the first case, optional frame (for a price reduction of course if you don’t need it) for the 2nd and 3rd. They are signed on the back.