In this exercise I am asked to explore the potential of collage as a means of drawing an expression. Marcelo Monreal is a Brazilian artist who creates surreal collages in response to the theme of identity. He combines photographic portraits with imagery of vibrant flowers to convey the idea that identity is not just about personal appearance and that there is more to us than meets the eye. Monreal believes that people often keep parts of themselves hidden, and his work conveys the idea that beauty is not skin deep.

Above are some images of Marcelo Monreal work of faces(UN) bonded.

I started by making collages of items in my hand bag. I made these collages just with scissors. I chose items in my bag of a personal relevance. In this case some tablets that I keep in my bag as I am often in pain these days. I wasn’t allowed to draw the objects first. I had to use my imagination, some of the lines on the box I ripped to get a softer line. I decided to work in the same scale as the real objects as I thought it would be easier to photocopy.

My second item is a lip gloss that I thought was fun. Sometimes I like objects that not only serve a purpose but that also look fun. Every time I put this lipgloss on I smile. I used different textured paper in shades of white and grey for the body and face and colour paper for the mane.

The third object is a paintbrush that is always in my bag. I obviously use it for painting but occasionally when I haven’t got a head band I use it to hold my hair. It’s a very important item in my bag. I changed the colour slightly as I didn’t have the same blue. I used torn pieces of paper to do the splashes of paint on the wood of the brush.

This item is about the only make up that I use. It gives me immediate colour and sometimes more confidence, I know! Shallow you may think. The collage is simple, I just cut the simple shapes in blocks of colour.

My favourite purse in the whole wide world. It is getting old and I should replace it but I can’t part with it. It is a Ted baker purse and inside it it says: Ted says, ‘the more you give the more you get’ it also describes the leather as cow dressed like snake 🐍 it’s a fun girly funky purse. I decided to cut lines to construct the purse and to show its the texture,  I like the final effect. The paper I used is a plastic bag that was holding all my scraps of paper. The effect is a shinier glossy one.

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I decided to use my real hair and pins. It is very simple but effective. At this point the boundaries of what collage is has disappeared and everything goes.

I woke up in the morning not feeling very sure of myself and found the subject of my identity very deep. I asked my friends what did they think was my identity? I felt that like any other subject I needed to research the qualities patterns and colour of,  in this case,  my identity. I got very good feedback.

This exercise was becoming very personal and intimate. These where the comments:

  • Kind
  • Generous
  • Warm
  • Experimental
  • Funny
  • Generous of spirit
  • Sensitive
  • Honest
  • Dependable
  • Caring
  • Spanish
  • English
  • Strong
  • Independent
  • Proud
  • Loyal
  • Like a tree, strong roots, nurturing, sheltering… wise… beautiful ( obviously not my words)

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The time came were I had to look at my face straight on ( awkward) and I began to take ” selfies”  in black and white. The worst part was having to blow up my image in A3. I could not bear to look at it!

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I decided to use this one above as I felt the resolution was better and my hair wasn’t taking over my face.

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I began by placing some of my collage items to get an idea of composition. I wanted my hair to be paintbrushes representing my creativity. The unicorn lip gloss to come out of my head representing my ideas and imagination but wasn’t sure what to do with the lipstick or purse.

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I got crazier and crazier! Hair brushes for earrings, unicorns coming out of my head, lipstick as a Spanish ‘peineta’ the purse as a Symbol of generosity. I felt that it was just all too much! Funny though.

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more experiments. At this point I am starting to enjoy this exercise and let go.

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above – I feel has a better composition. I am clothed with generosity (my purse) my hair is paintbrushes representing my creativity, iboprofen is coming out of my face- representing my constant pain (fibromyalgia) I have cut out my nose -representing the saying ‘Cut your nose despite your face’ something I am good in doing – symbol of my stubbornness and pride. My crown is London (where I was born but also my first home and where I had my children) the lipstick represents my feminine side and the unicorns my imagination and funny side.

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I decided to changed the background and brightened it up ( like Marcelo Monreal’s work) making the image pop out. It’s mad but I prefer it!

I was having way to much fun to stop. Cutting my face placing it in different angles, introducing plants, photocopying, I was no longer taking myself seriously.

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I went back to Marcelo Monreal images and looked in detail to see if I could do something similar. He uses vibrant colours and flowers so I printed some  photos of my roses and cut my face as if to open my head and expose a garden of roses. I changed the background to a bright vibrant yellow which changed the whole effect making it look more like a Marcelo Monreal. I am pleased with this collage, I enjoy the brightness and the contrast of the black and white photo.

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Above- I introduced stitch to change and modify my identity similar to Melisa Zexter. Melisa uses photography and embroidery crossing the boundaries. I enjoy how she modifies her images with her embroidery.

I am not sure I like the results of my efforts above but it is a fun concept and one I hold like to explore further.

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I enjoy how Melisa has used stitch to change the surface of the picture and has archived a dreamy mood. Very beautiful! I would love to have more time in this exercise to play with this concept, as I feel there is so much I need to practice and experiment with and so little time!

This exercise has been very enjoyable, it has also helped me like myself more which is a bonus! As an Artist it can look very vain and self-indulgent to spend time looking at ones image or in this case identity, but I can see the importance of doing so as by knowing where we come from and what makes us we can understand our influences, teachers and inspirations to then understand the language of our work, our voice, our journey and the destination.

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I played with the different moods to make the image look colder as if it came from some fantasy fairy tale.

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More exriments modifying photography with stitch, by simply doing some cross stitch in silver thread the photograph has changed the mood of the picture to a more scary picture. It makes me wonder if the bird has made the scaring of my face with its peak. The bird has become scarier with his emerald eye and his crown: giving him a feeling of entitlement. I enjoyed this exercise very much and it has became almost addictive!

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I re-visited this exercise and felt the need to experiment some more. I took my original photo and scanned it on acetate and then printed it on paper, I like the way the paint stays wet on the acetate and when leaving it for a few minutes the paint becomes dots or drops.

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am really pleased with this image. I like how the paint has created cracks and lines. I think these cracks would be interesting markings that I could bring to the forefront with some stitching ( just an idea at this point)

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prefer these images as the convey a feeling of mystery and decay maybe something that would have been found in a archaeological project. I find the cracks in the paint the most beautiful so I decided to experiment with some loose stitching with no defined lines.

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eally enjoy the white on white effect and the looseness of this technique I feel that this is a better portrait of me as I tend to shy away and I revel in my solitude. I have learnt to deconstruct and make the obvious not look so obvious. I am usually so literal that I feel this may be a breakthrough.

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