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[Documentation for Master of Fine Arts course]


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Button, Loris 1984 , '[Documentation for Master of Fine Arts course]', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The central part of my proposal is essentially an
assessment of my past work - a necessary approach as I
usually work without a very clear-cut plan in mind. Each
piece is generated by, and developed from the ones that
have gone before, and is therefore part of a natural
However, before I begin that assessment there are
a number of points which need clarification at this stage.
The question of whether my work is a deliberate feminist/
political statement has been put to me on various
occasions. My viewpoint must be obvious because my work is
about documenting my life, however, there is no intention
to be political involved. There is also my obsession with
heads Which I have concentrated on almost exclusively. I
rely heavily on family and friends for my subjects,
finding it impossible to produce paintings of any tangible
truth when working with strangers. I find heads endlessly
fascinating and ever-changing - my subjects are my
victims - used as raw material to make statements about
myself. Making art is a self-indulgent enterprise and
therefore my fairly ruthless approach is necessary for me
to convey any truth or sincerity.
In the past four years I've produced what I now
regard as four major pieces of work. I must define the
word major, in using this I mean that they have triggered
new thoughts/methods etc., and are the basis from which my
present work originates. The first one 'Self Portrait 1978-80' was, as
indicated in the title, painted over a period of two years
by adding images at irregular times. My idea was to paint
a face often enough so that it became thoroughly familiar
to me and therefore to the viewer, i.e. to produce a work exposing some of the many sides of one personality. I was,
and still am convinced that my work needs to be personally
relevant to have any validity and the result remains one
of the most powerful and confronting images I have ever
produced. Every head I have painted since that time has
owed an enormous amount to the insight gained making that
work. Although painting directly from the model has become
a less obsessive part of my work, I still regard it as a
necessary path back to reality and will certainly produce
a number of these paintings over the next three years.
The second major work was painted in 1980 over
approximately a twelve month period. 'Family Snapshots
1943-80' was the first of my historical paintings and
precisely as the name suggests, is a number of small
paintings of black and white snaps from my family photograph
box. It has directly generated two other historical
works - 'Studio Portrait' also 1980, and an as yet untitled
piece, painted last year dealing with my marriage. I
find the device of using photographs to re-create a past
era fascinating and will use similar methods to produce
what has become an established form of memorial for me. I
intend to produce a piece dealing with the birth of my
daughter, but, as always with these historical works, need
a bit more distance from the event to enable me to deal
with it. The third work, which I consider to be a major
piece, is the series of ten 'Self-masks' which were produced
in my preliminary year by using moulded paper in a
cast of my own face. They are painted and sewn, I've used
glitter, glass eyes, ribbons and sequins - some are
obviously aspects of me, and some, (more covertly so), are
very theatrical. An exaggeration of my theory of people
putting on disguises as protection; they stemmed from the
necessity to use myself as a model once more - however,
having already produced a number of straight selfportraits
I found myself fairly reluctant to embark on
another large series, although an occasional one is still essential for documentation. This series provides me with
a basis for futher extension of this theme. I have also
produced a number of mask paintings - in the past I have
always worked at stripping away the layers of protection
through painting multiple portraits of my models. I began
to think that it would be a more revealing exercise to
start putting these layers back onto the exposed head,
therefore creating an unmasking by stating the masks. This
obsession also provides me with a topic for my seminar. I
plan to research the usage and history of the mask in
ritual and theatre with a view to discovering at least a
little about why it is, and always has been, such a
powerful and evocative device.
The fourth major piece is the first of a number of
diaries which I've kept for the past few years. Each one
has consisted of making a notation in colour of my moods
and feelings for each day of the year. I now feel that it
is time for the format to change and plan to make larger
single pieces which will deal with a longer period of time
- they will probably incorporate all sorts of scraps from
my day to day existence - photos, letters, lists etc., and
be sewn, painted, collaged and waxed. Some will become
collections of memorabilia which could be separately
handled by the onlooker. My year in Tasmania has changed my work dramatically
- the pieces I produced are very much a reflection
of my general feeling of isolation - they have a
closed-in, claustrophobic air and the colour has become
quite heavy and oppressive. The factors which contributed
to this will continue to exert a very strong influence on
me, as will the new experience of motherhood.
Time and events always impose unforeseen changes
in my work and attitudes, so therefore this résumé of my
intended work programme is not meant to be proscriptive,
however, it gives as clear an indication as possible of my
current objectives.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Button, Loris
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1984 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1985. Includes bibliographical references

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