Research Pics… British Museum visit

Turquoise Mosaic Masks, Mixtec-Aztec, AD 1400-1600

Turquoise Mosaic Mask, Mixtec-Aztec, AD 1400-1521

A pair of serpents is entwined around the eyes, nose and mouth of this mask. Two serpent tails meet at the top and a feathered plume hangs down on either side. Snakes were used metaphorically to represent the attributes of two well-known Aztec deities: the Rain God Tllox and the Creator God Quetzalcoatl.

Turquiose aztec mask, Mixtec-Aztec, AD 1400-1521

Turquiose aztec mask, Mixtec-Aztec, AD 1400-1521

A stylized butterfly  is picked out in mosaic of a darker hue across both cheeks of this mask. The butterfly is an emblem of Xiuhtecuhtli, The Central Mexican Fire God whose name also means Turquoise Lord and who is shown in the codices adorned with turquoise mosaic.


Turquoise aztec mask, Mixtec-Aztec, AD 1400-1521

A human skull forms the base for this mask of Tezcatlipoca, ‘Smoking Mirror’, one of four powerful creator gods in the Aztec pantheon. The Aztec believed that the defeat of Quetzalcoatl by Tezcatlipoca marked the beginning of the current era of creation.  The emblem of Tezcatlipoca an obsidian mirror, symbolises his control over the hidden forces of creation and destruction.




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Week 3 – Research 2

Masks masks masks – Where do I begin? A mask is an artifact normally worn on the face, typically for protection, concealment, performance, or amusement.

Masks have been around as long as man has expressed himself through performance and art…


Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Subsahara and West Africa. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures: e.g., masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks.

Masks are one of the elements of African art that have most evidently influenced European and Western art in general; in the 20th century, artistic movements such as cubism, fauvism and expressionism have often taken inspiration from the vast and diverse heritage of African masks.  Influences of this heritage can also be found in other traditions such as South and Central American masked Carnival parades.

In most traditional African cultures, the person who wears a ritual mask conceptually loses his or her human identity and turns into the spirit represented by the mask itself.   This transformation of the mask wearer into a spirit usually relies on other practices, such as specific types of music and dance, or ritual costumes that contribute to conceal the mask-wearer’s human identity. The mask wearer thus becomes a sort of medium that allows for a dialogue between the community and the spirits (usually those of the dead or nature-related spirits). Masked dances are a part of most traditional African ceremonies related to weddings, funerals, initiation rites, and so on. Some of the most complex rituals that have been studied by scholars are found in Nigerian cultures such as those of the Yobura and Edo peoples, that bear some resemblances to the Western notion of theater since every mask has a specific spirit.


Korean masks have a long tradition with use in a variety of contexts. They were used in war, on both soldiers and their horses; ceremonially, for burial rites in jade and bronze and for shamanistic ceremonies to drive away evil spirits; to remember the faces of great historical figures in death masks; and in the arts, particularly in ritual dances, courtly, and theatrical plays. The present uses are as miniature masks for tourist souvenirs, or on cell-phones where they hang as good-luck talismans.

Shamanistic masks

The often horrifying or grotesque masks were used in shamanistic practices for their ability to evoke fear, and humor, in ceremonial rites. The masks were often made of alder wood, with several coats of lacquer to give the masks gloss, and waterproof them for wearing. They were usually also painted, and often had hinges for mouth movement.

Typically one sees the following some of which are designated as national cultural properties.The Hahoe, Sandae and Talchum are all traditional Korean mask dramas of ritual and religious significance.

Hahoe Byeolsin gut is a kind of exorcist play while performers wear mask such as yangbantal(nobleman), bunetal, seonbital(scholar), gaksital (bride), chorangital, halmital, jujital (head monk), jungital (monk), baekjeongtal(butcher), and imaetal.

The mask play of Hahoe Byeolsin Exorcism itself was classified as important intangible cultural asset #69 by the South Korean government on November 17, 1980. Hahoe and Byeolsin masks themselves were also labelled South Korean National Treasure#121 at the same time. The Hahoe mask dance is one of the folk dramas of Pungcheon Hahoe Village in Andong city, and dates from the Goryoe Dynasty.


A death mask is a wax or plaster caste made of a person’s face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks, because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mold. In other cultures a death mask may be a clay or another artifact placed on the face of the deceased before burial rites. The best known of these are the masks used by ancient Egyptians as part of the mummification process, such as Tutankhamon’s mask.

In the seventeenth century in some European countries, it was common for death masks to be used as part of the effigy of the deceased, displayed at state funerals. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they were also used to permanently record the features of unknown corpses for purposes of identification. This function was later replaced by photography.

When taken from a living subject, such a cast is called a life mask. Proponents of phrenology used both death masks and life masks for pseudoscientific purposes.

Masks of deceased persons are part of traditions in many countries. The most important process of the funeral ceremony in  ancient Egypt was the mummification of the body, which, after prayers and consecration, was put into a sarcophagus enameled and decorated with gold and gems. A special element of the rite was a sculpted mask, put on the face of the deceased. This mask was believed to strengthen the spirit of the mummy and guard the soul from evil spirits on its way to the afterworld. The best known mask is that of Tutankhamun made of gold and gems, the mask conveys the highly stylized features of the ancient ruler. Such masks were not, however, made from casts of the features; rather, the mummification process itself preserved the features of the deceased.

In 1876 the archaeologist Heinrich Schleimman discovered in Mycanae six graves, which he was confident belonged to kings and ancient Greek heroes – Agamemnon,  Cassandra, Evrimdon and their associates. To his surprise, the skulls were covered with gold masks. It is now thought by some unlikely that the masks actually belonged to Agamemnon and other heroes of the Homeric Epics.

The lifelike character of Roman portrait sculptures has been attributed to the earlier Roman use of wax to preserve the features of deceased family members. The wax masks were subsequently reproduced in more durable stone.


In the late Middle Ages, a shift took place from sculpted masks to true death masks, made of wax or plaster. These masks were not interred with the deceased. Instead, they were used in funeral ceremonies and were later kept in libraries, museums and universities. Death masks were taken not only of deceased royalty and nobility (Henry VIII, Sforza), but also of eminent persons like poets, philosophers, composers, such as John Keats, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Dante Alighieri and Voltaire.  As in ancient Rome, death masks were often subsequently used in making marble sculpture portraits, busts or engravings of the deceased.


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Week 3 Research – 1

As I have always had a fascination with masks as just went into my archive of fashion shoots that involve masks or the veil – My favorite research and subject.  Here are a few – Fashion Masks

Fashion Masks

Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 17.53.44 Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 18.00.02 Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 18.03.01 Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 18.12.04 Screen shot 2012-02-12 at 14.43.17 Screen shot 2012-02-12 at 14.46.14 Screen shot 2012-02-12 at 14.53.56 Screen shot 2012-02-12 at 15.03.51 Screen shot 2012-02-13 at 19.14.27

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Week 2

Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 18.06.37Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 08.25.54I will keep along with my theme of 2 distinctive rows of pic that are to be visually strong and to be hung like a fine art exhibition. I would like to keep all of the garments in each shot one color to match the headpieces and would work with the texture and shape to create a uniform/costume to match the headpiece. For example the Chinese/mini mouse looking headpiece would be nicely styled with a kimono like garment…

Although very difficult to shoot I really want to try black on black on black or white on white on white for an eery, searching, fine art look like this portrait of Tilda Swinton above….

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Week 2

So now I am clear on identity/masks for my theme and have spoken with a wonderful friend of mine who makes amazing headpieces for himself to wear clubbing. Although he wears alot of female clothing and shoes he is male by birth and continues to be male…

What I also love about him is that he makes his headpieces to wear, they are his personal masks, they are not for sale nor will he make them to sell.

As we are quite close I have asked him and have confirmed that I can shoot them. The only problem is that he has no clear pics of them and is in Spain until around April 24th!

I have therefore had to search through his fb party pics to grab a selection of pics for them… I will try up-load them below. Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.19.01 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.26.09 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.26.26 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.27.29 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.28.28 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.30.18 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.30.54 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 11.00.02 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 11.00.31 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 11.00.40 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 11.01.51 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 11.01.58 Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 11.03.32

What a TOTAL DARLING…… !!!!

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Identity – Week 2 research


Adults: Sex-Performance-Ritual-Masquerade  Childrens: Play-Clowns-Acting-Superheroes

This week I have been researching using several sources, and methods as I always like to try and cover all aspects.

I have investigated Sex Masks used for BDSM by looking at books on BDSM, some psychology books and websites for Psychological and  academic as well as visual representations and research.

Fashion shoots by Gaultier, McQueen, Phillip Treacy and Sibling, to cover both vintage and modern styling for headpieces and masks.

I have looked at a read about masks used in the theater, ballet, bands and television for contextualization, associated performance enhancement or myth and styling.

Ritual Masks in books, on internet, I have planned a visit to the British Museum next Monday to understand more about the historical  and to investigate the role of masks in myth, dance and ritual.

Masquerade Masks I have looked at a noted through several Shakespeare, that provided the necessary mistaken identity that is the theme of a lot of his successful plays.

As well as the above I have begun to look at the amazing CINDY SHERMAN and work on transformation with make-up and her recent series involving disturbing representations on herself of clowns. I find her transformational work amazing and very visually investigative and representational of the world and women around her.

I have also looked at and included some of the amazing shots including masks by photographer and social commentator RALPH EUGENE MEATYARD.

Fashion Wise  I have been looking at  the amazing continual use of fashion masks of GAULTIER,  ALEXANDER McQUEEN , SIBLING 2013, PHILLIP TREACY and for make-up/drawn on masks the amazing Leigh Bowery.






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Identity Project Week 2 – Inspiration

Mask / Warpaint – This is what I used to call it. It was as if going outside or going to ‘work’ was a battle, to not show myself in any way, to be hard and untouchable. …..To go to war….. No emotion equaled no pain….

It is becoming evident in my therapy that all my little quirky sayings actually were hints at the huge amounts of pain and turmoil that I have carried inside me. This degree course is helping me to work through, release and represent this pain in the form of photographs. To be honest I am each time I am making and revealing an image or film a huge weight seems to be removed from my shoulders, heart and most importantly my head. That is why I always wanted to be a photographer/artist and that’s what drives me to continue.

I was ashamed of being a sex worker but the moments of tenderness and care I recieved there and the fact that they chose me, and it was not real so therefore could not get real and involve real emotions and or rejection meant that although it was unhealthy my previous relationships with other humans hurt me more… If I could not get a job as a receptionist at my Dad’s work even though I lived a 5min walk away then I must be stupid and worthless. I mean who can’t answer a phone?

At least here in the dark seedy underworld I had a different name, no life story and a different face that I applied heavily every evening before I headed to work. And most of the girls were on heroin so here I was actually a success. I was good at something.

The fact that I discussed it with no-one outside of the brothel and was deeply ashamed or humiliated if I heard people make jokes about prostitutes and thought someone knew was clearly showing me something was wrong….. But I knew no other way to support myself that provided moments of care and tenderness that I could not get anywhere else. Sure I had worked in shop jobs throughout high school but they pretty much always ended the same. With my male boss coming on to me or making me feel very uncomfortable asking questions about my sexuality, did I have a boyfriend for sex, did I masturbate etc. Discusted at them talking to me and slightly pertrified that I had nothing to tell them I would stop showing up….. I don’t know what it was about me that men thought they could talk to me like that but they did. And I didn’t like it.

So there I was 19 with the sexual experience of  a few wasted 1 night stands, 1 actual boyfriend/lover who I walking in on with another girl in his bed, and an awful drunk 1st time which was announced to everyone by the male involved the moment we woke up the morning of the party.  Painting my face on to face the world every day was what I said and what I did….

I could be no lonelier than I was.  I had no contact from members of my family for months  at a time since I left home at 16yo. I was devastated when I got a call after the most important person in my life died.  My Uncle Theo, who showed me kindness and introduced me to a world outside of moving to the new Navy post every couple of years and living in poor suburban communities and homes filled with tension, illness and often violence .  He showed me art films, took me to the opera and introduced me to queer culture. As I was such a quiet teen and would not take a boyfriend my family decided I must be gay too.  He even began giving me books of gay teenage love stories and books about teens coming out.   I guess this was the beginning of my fascination for, and understanding of queer identity and culture.  I had so much to tell him and I wanted him to know that he was not alone and that he inspired me to not try to take my life again as I had after another move to a new City when I was around 14.

It find it interesting that My Uncle Theo was so ashamed of the way he looked while he was losing weight from HIV related illness that he did not want people to visit him in his final days and had apparently requested a closed casket. This attractive, physically fit, well groomed, creative and cultured gay male’s identity was stolen from him by a killer disease. In exchange he got the skeletal body a face of a skeletal dying man.

These words and the various masks I have fashioned upon myself and hidden behind since, (girlfriend, wife, mother, carer, teacher, artist, lover) are my inspiration for this project.


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Identity Project – Week 1

YAY finally got a laptop in my hands again!

After attempts at using a notebook for my one of my last projects and losing it then doing it all on presentation app and printing but then being told it looked messy I have decided to return to my blog as a way to organize my thoughts and work.

This time I will be sure to print off several days before it is due in so I don’t run out of ink again like with the group k ‘eruption’ project from year 1.

So, I was thinking to shoot a series on my transsexual friends and hang large format prints in a row 5 on each side. Left hand side being naked no make-up and right hand side all dolled up for a Sat night…

A kind of transition with ‘body armour’ clothes and ‘mask’ make up.

Amongst my friendship groups I know of quite a few male to female transsexuals and would ask them to model for me.   After some further consideration I realized that I would really only be interested in ‘documenting’ their looks and personal styling that would include dress, make-up and surgeries etc as opposed to styling them myself.

I feel the beauty of this story is in the personal and real, almost like a vouyerism into the day to day reality anothers life, and this,  I would not want to change. I am fascinated by the tough lives, confusion and probable self loathing that a lot of transsexuals must have felt toward  their native/born body like I felt against mine as a teen and young woman. I have therefore decided to develop this as a personal project.

What I have realised slowly from all of my work and this last idea is that I am fascinated by the transition of humans made by make-up and clothing.






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Year 2 week 4

Feeling really good after styling session with Karen….. Given her a more clear idea of what I want to achieve and she has given me some good tips about where to focus and what not to do!

Ideas are all clear just have to focus on the casting and sourcing the garments now!

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Year 2 Week 3

Looking at colors of Olympic rings, color in general and color theory etc for my project…

Had a very interesting Cultural Studies lecture about ‘What is Art? Who decides what is art? What makes an artist?’ etc and this theme of the wealthy white male keeps pooping up.

I think this is going somewhere.

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