The library research task was set and we were split into groups of six. My group decided to research the practitioner Liz Nilsson, the material plaster and the process of obscurity. We decided to go off in pairs and each research a different word. Bellow is the collation of all the research we found when at the Central St Martins Library, as well as what we found at museums and on the internet.




Liz Nilsson’s work incorporates print, tactile mark making, drawing and photography, concluding in installations, printed compositions and performances. 


She uses laser cutting techniques to explore ideas of memory and time, recall and habit, often incorporating used fabrics imbued with her own family history. The shadows cast by one fabric onto another, or the surrounding area are reminders of the transience of memory and experience.


Circles are cut away from the surface creating an open lace-like structure that integrates the play on light and shadows. The shadows add a transient layering and symbolise memory, so the viewer may experience the actual work. 


Our minds automatically respond to the warm colours of red, yellow and orange as they are more noticeable and even help to improve the ability to recall. These are the colours that Nilsson frequently uses in her work.


When visiting the materials library at the CSM Library i found a series of materials linking to Liz Nilsson’s work. Most of the materials I found were of a fabric or metal mesh and could be used to create the layering and shadows that is so often seen in her pieces.  


I also looked at surface layering among other artists. There seemed to be a large range of mixed media used, such as ink, mono print collage and pencil illustrations.



When researching plaster we looked at the different techniques of making plaster and the different methods that can be used. 

Plaster is manufactured as a dry powder and is mixed with water to form a paste when used. The reaction with water liberates heat through crystallization and the hydrated plaster then hardens. Plaster can be relatively easily worked with metal tools or even sandpaper. These characteristics make plaster suitable for a finishing, rather than a load-bearing material.


Many of the greatest mural paintings in Europe, like Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling are executed in fresco, meaning they are painted on a thin layer of wet plaster, called intonaco; the pigments sink into this layer so that the plaster itself becomes the medium holding them, which accounts for the excellent durability of fresco.


Plaster expands while hardening, then contracts slightly just before hardening completely. This makes plaster excellent for use in molds, and it is often used as an artistic material for casting. Plaster is also commonly spread over an armature, usually made of wire, mesh or other materials.



When looking at obscurity i looked at the idea abstracting away from the normal everyday human form and to instead focus on things going on where they shouldn't be much like the images shown below that were collated from the library research. Martin Margella would use this in his work when covering his models faces and focus in on with what was going on with his garments.

We looked a lot into surrealism during this task. 

The definition of surrealism being: 

A 20th century avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example by the irrational juxtaposition of images. 


The CSM library had a lot of books on surrealism and the images we found oozed obscurity. When looking at the words we had chosen as a whole we focused in on the obscurity of plaster; how it goes from liquid to a solid represents the link between obscurity and clarity. 


I also looked into the work of Gerhard Richter who did a series of blurred portraits of images he had taken himselfMany of these paintings are made in a multi-step process of representations. He starts with a photograph, which he has found or taken himself, and projects it onto his canvas, where he traces it for exact form. Taking his colour palette from the photograph, he paints to replicate the look of the original picture. His hallmark "blur" is achieved sometimes with a light touch of a soft brush, sometimes a hard smear by an aggressive pull with a squeegee.


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