Babylonian Tour

 
installing "Babylon in Bloom" Monika Loster

I feel it’s really important for an artist to be visibly present and approachable to the audience as it gives you solid feedback from different perspectives on something you have spent a great deal of time on.

The first weekend of October I have taken part in the Kunststroom Roerdalen Artroute in Limburg, southern area of Holland which was a blast. This marked the second time I would participate and I knew I had to impress. Artroute consisted of thirteen locations, some of them old monuments and one of each of them was allocated a group of  talented artists, representatives of multiple artistic fields such as sculpture, photography, painting and blacksmith.

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Castle Montfort, dating back since 1260 is one of the thirteen exhibition locations of Artroute Kunststroom Roerdalen.

 

I proposed a large installation and was thrilled to find out the location assigned to me, I got to hang an installation in the Master Room on Castle Grounds. Castle Montfort to be exact, dating back since 1260! Being one of Hollands largest castles at the time, it was built as an impregnable fortress.
Nowadays it serves as a historical site with many cultural events taking place.


Allow me to introduce the artwork on display – “Babylon in Bloom”.
It is a large and colorful ceiling hanging installation inspired by the mythical (no definitive archaeological evidence was ever found) Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Its shapes and colors were carefully chosen and crafted to astonish and amaze similar to the feelings the Seven wonders of the ancient world (of which the hanging gardens were supposedly a part of) were meant to evoke.

“Babylon in Bloom” Castle Montfort, NL

Let me share with you that this installation was a pretty hard job to install on the location. The ceiling was about 350 cm high and the installation consist of about 35 loose elements which have to be separately attached to the net while hanging on the spot to achieve the right balance. With a lot of help it took me about 5 hours to have it done.

The event, while lasting only for a weekend, had a really good turnout with many visitors stopping by enjoying the art on display. I was on site during the entire weekend to answer questions from visitors and to soak in the comments and critiques my artwork had on the crowd.

 It was nice to feel appreciation for your efforts, some of the top comments I gathered said: “A true Eye-catcher”, “Deserving of a space where many people gather” or “This piece needs to be on permanent display on this location as it fits perfectly!”

“ This piece needs to be on permanent display on this location as it fits perfectly! “

“ A true Eye-catcher”

“ Deserving of a space where many people gather “

 

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It’s comments like these that make the hard work worthwhile and will continue to inspire future events and artworks. If you missed out on the chance to come see me and my artwork this time, stay tuned for the full announcement and details coming soon.

Cravings

Creating a new artwork requires a lot of input from your own past experience and knowledge but also inspiration beyond the artists’ own perspective. To create this installation I originally got inspired by Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, or rather the longing and urge to follow the dreams and the courage and will to experiment no matter the cost. The essence of such a desire can also be found in the well known myth of Icarus, whose newfound powers of flight came at a cost as it consumed him and let to his tragic failure.


 

The Installation is comprised of multiple spinal cord inspired elements that come together.

Appearing as sort of a hybrid vertebral column with tattered and burnt wings as bony extremities.

 

I use metal wire as the base for many of my Fiber Sculptures and Installations, crafting a frame or skeleton from the highly moldable material. Following the base shape I bring additional shapes on using jute and hemp while simultaneously adding color onto the Artwork. I dye and paint all my own materials resulting in complex and personal results. A thin layer of wood bark was used for creating a supporting structure and texture onto the bone shaped elements.


 

This installation is a symbolic representation of one of the themes of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, namely ambition and unrestricted experimentation without the shackles of morality holding one back.

The process of trial and error does not come without repercussions.

The same is true for the working methods of the artist. Combining Frankensteinian elements with the tragic tale of Icarus, the Artwork reflects on those who obtain power but lack the responsibility to handle it with care resulting in failure. The color scheme mirrors this as well with hues of Red portraying blood and charred flesh with a double meaning behind it as Red is also the color of Love and Passion, powerful emotions that became the onset of both characters’ misfortunes.  


 

I feel a famous quote by Blaise Pascal, a 17th Century mathematician and philosopher, sums it up best:

“Man is neither angel nor beast, and unhappily whoever wants to act the angel, acts the beast”

“Cravings” will be on the show during the exhibition “Material Matters” from the 1st till the 30th of November in Gallery Zone in Leiden.

Intuitive creation: a study in streamlining chaos

The title of this post could have alluded to a handbook for any ambitious deity, instead I thought it would be interesting to dedicate this month’s blog to an insider’s look at my creative processes.

"Extroshell" 100x70cm, choarcoal on paper

 

No matter which discipline you cover, whether you’re an artist or just an all round creative person who likes to try out stuff and change the world around, creating almost never goes in a straight line. The beginning phase is nearly always a process based on intuition. Starting a research for my installation Corallium made for the 15th  International Triennial in 2015, I made plenty of study and drawings based on existing sea life that stir the imagination. I would like to share a couple of those in this post. The forms were meant to be soft and express a flow and movement which can be only found in the deep sea.

The beginnings are based on a lot of insight. While any artwork is inspired by outside sources surrounding the artist, it is foremost a search within. Creating a dedicated artwork is a multidisciplinary development the artist must go through every single time you take the time and the effort to create something new.  

 

Now I’m sure you’re left wondering if you need any special tools for exploring the inner self. Some people have the best ideas immediately after they wake up, other just before they fall asleep, some of us simply on the way to work or the studio, on the bus or on the bike, the most lucid and bright ideas can pop up at any given time. What really matters is that you capture this idea. Put it on paper, write it on a post-it, or even on the chewing gum wrap that you’ve been saving because you don’t want to litter. You’ve laid the foundation that can be further transformed into the “real deal”. At least this is how it works with me. Hundreds of ideas are swirling in my head daily as well as all sort of impulses brought on by everyday life.

"Octopodiform" 100x70cm, choarcoal on paper

Evolving a concept of the artwork as intuitive as it can be, can also be very frustrating. The majority of stuff that you develop in your head nearly never comes out as thrilling as imagined.  It is critical to attempt to catch this transitory concept by any means.

Surrounding yourself with a wide slew of ideas builds up to a certain kind of chaos. You’ll be overwhelmed and wanting more at the same time and it is from this combination that new concepts are being formed to explore and try out.

"Macrospira" 100x70cm, choarcoal on paper

 

Fabrics and materials are cut, shredded, torn, dyed, deconstructed and then reconstructed or transformed giving them form and purpose. The basic forms for this installation were built and constantly improved upon or changed as another element was added or replaced. I think I completely mastered the art of dyeing over a 100 different shades and tints of turquoise and pink fiber for this project. From here on out I started making a real progression on the Corallium installation.

 This inquisitive process which is often based on intuition is highly important in the creation of the artwork or any sort of creation what so ever. It is a culmination of certain emotions that make up the creative output. And as you know, your artwork is an expression or even a physical manifestation of a part of your own being.
To see more of Corallium, I’ve made a small booklet detailing this installation (10 x 10 cm / 4 x 4 inch) in full color images of its various elements including some inspirational sketches & drawings. It is available for just € 5,- (excl. postage)

To order one, simply send me an e-mail

Openpoortendag Buggenum 2018 re-cap

Looking back at my latest exhibition, a couple of weeks ago in Buggenum, I feel it was well worth it. Not only did the Art Route draw over 3000 visitors on a Sunday, it was the first conjoined exhibit-outing for Ardamon our Artist-collective composed of Hadas Lieber & Bart Hoogveld and myself.
We took over a whole barn and transformed it into an abattoir, at least in a meta-literal sense.

The idea behind the Artworks lends itself to the location. Upon first visit anyone can sense a state of decay; it wasn’t until we were installing our Artworks that we heard the whole story behind the building, which gave the place an even more haunting vibe.

Without delving too deep into its background, it suffices to say, many animals met their end here.

The idea for my installation came to me immediately, once I’d seen the place. I took on the challenge of working with quite a bit of space. The area I decided to install the Artwork in was about 21m2 and about 5 meters high.
Hanging an installation on site can always bring unexpected issues along,  therefore I decided to start building it three days in advance, buying me some time to solve any obstacles.

While I was in the process of creating the hanging segments of my installation piece, I realized I needed more impact besides transforming the space. I needed to incorporate it’s essence into the artwork. That is why the combined segments are hung from existing structures in the building. These lend itself to the installation as if they had always been a part of each other.

To take it a step further I came up with the concept of employing the wall in the background to further stress that Artwork and environment are meant to be one. The Artwork sort of grows naturally from the building; they seem to breathe life into one another, recalling the events that make up the history of the locale.

On a final note - The exhibition had a great premiere as well on the night before it was released to the public. A gathering of all (50!) Artists right in our barn with an opening word from the Mayor. Bring on the next challenge!

Sneak peak

This time we’re doing something different, I’ll be offering a sneak peek at my latest work. Before we get to that though, allow me to invite you to come to the OpenPoortenDag in Limburg. In a small town called Buggenum to be exact.

My work will be exhibited in a former farm, one with a bit of a history no less… Without spoiling too much, I aim to capture the rather gloomy emotions this place evokes (on me) into my artwork.

There’s an ominous kind of desolation at play here where the space has taken on its own morbid identity. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five came to mind after my first visit to the location.

Fear not! Besides taking in the atmosphere, there will be wonderful Art to behold and not just my own. To appease the Genius Loci presiding there I have joined forces with two fellow Artists. Operating under the name Ardamon, I work together with Bart Hoogveld and Hadas Lieber. Our Artist collective hopes to make your visit worthwhile with our own Artworks, all the while delivering a message to which the meaning of is open to interpretation.

The Openpoortendag is on Sunday, May 6th,   11.00-18.00 Buggenum, NL

Patterns in Color & Patterns in Textures

By studying the possibilities within the materials I use, I now and then try to put a new focus or perspective in my art. Bringing in new materials or introducing new colors to your work can be quite useful in getting you started on experimenting.
Experimentation means incorporating what you know onto new situations and to try and learn from the process.
I started with my trusted medium silk. This medium catches the color so beautifully intense that just working with this is an adventure in discovering an insane amount of variations.

Silk works particulary well with all dyeing techniques

Combining old and new techniques together can also lead to surprisingly new and inspiring aspirations.

These are my results of applying the Shibori technique on cotton, using synthetic dye in combination with my own familiar hemp.

It’s always a challenge to try something new and try to make it your own. My attempts to practice the Shibori process on customary materials such as hemp or jute and using familiar colors produced surprising results. These pieces were made by placing several layers on top of each other.

When you are studying you are often working on new things but it also pays off to revisit past Artworks after having learned a thing or two.

Sometimes I just rework existing Artworks with the materials I presently use and sometimes I deepen the connection to works I’ve made by creating branching Artworks that preserve the same basic idea behind it.

An Experiment in Textile

With the new year upon us I thought it was time for a new post. Preparations for working on a new installation often take up a large portion of my time usually requiring research, color studies and material testing. 
All ideas start somewhere and many of my concepts are formed during research. That means making stops to the library for hard to find books, visiting exhibitions or going on a  trip out in the wild. Remember, inspiration takes many shapes.
When I tackle a project I always aim to bring something new to the table while trying to stay true to the core elements of my designs. Art needs to evolve, especially when one of the central themes of my work revolves around Organic Growth. Whilst it can feel safe and comforting to remain within a certain kind of Crafting, I feel an Artist is never done exploring. Stepping out of that zone might be scary but the pay-off is bound to be worth it.