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AP1 research - Signs, symbols and ciphers

At the beginning of my MA I looked back at some of my ideas from my Ba arts practice which was very much engage with the language of pattern and the formulation of symbols. Much of my work made use of sculpture and was beginning to experiment with casting processes and the material of concrete. I also had begun developing skills in printmaking, specifically lino prints, creating very intricate geometric patterns inspired by the mathematical patterns seen within architectural reliefs. Many of these strands of research came back to the idea of signs and symbols...

'Signs and symbols represent abstract ideas and concrete objects, providing a sense of number, danger, value, distance in time and space, and even love' (Jean and Hawkes, 2004, p. 1). It is interesting how a sign can connote a particular idea - is visual art not just a process of signs and symbol to display an idea to an audience?

'The symbol always has an important part to play in all societies. Its function remains unchanged: it is to transform a thing or an action into something other than that thing or action appears to be in the eyes of profane experience..." (Mircea Eliade, patterns in competitive religion, 1958, p.1)

- process of transformation - different forms of display - the functional qualities of signs and symbols -

'Everything not directly consecrated by a hierophany becomes sacred because of its participation in a symbol. Most of the primitive symbols are substitutes for or ways of entering into relationships with sacred objects (Jean and Hawkes, 2004, p. 6)

- relationship between the use of symbols and

Stone carvings depicting wordless symbols

The idea of wordless signs represented in primitive cave painting. - inspiration from primitive stone paintings to explore painting/drawing within sculpture - possibly using concrete or plaster or found stone - image transfer or stone carving

Creating new art objects that reference back to the past - question authorship

Lino Printing Experiments:

Starting point tests - looking at signs and symbols with printmaking - reference to architectural relief.

Lino print was a very fulfilling process to learn - understanding of materials, use of pigments, magnesium carbonate to stiffen the ink, different amounts of ink to apply - creating my own jigs to allow for professionally aligned prints. Using different lino tools - understanding the difference between the chisel - e.g. for V cuts or U cuts, with wanting to create such small and intricate thing line the V cut was the most appropriate, after a lot of practice I became more confident in drawing designs and creating very straight lines.

This was a good starting point in beginning to explore my interest in fragmented forms and how I could use found objects as inspiration for creating work and translating imagery into different process e.g. from found object to printmaking.


Jean, G. and Hawkes, S., 2004. Signs, symbols and ciphers. 2nd ed. London: Thames & Hudson.

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