Contextual LEVEL6

Barrie Cooke

Megaceros Hibernicus1983

“Cooke’s art often deals with issues of nature and culture, particularly with the formation and transformation of the environment over time. The skeleton of Megaceros Hibernicus, the largest deer of the species which flourished at the end of the last ice age, was recovered from the bog-lands of Ireland. For Cooke the elk represented a powerful symbol of pre-civilised consciousness. In Cooke’s painting the elk emerges from the gloomy bog-land with its enormous antlers treated like massive antennae transmitting, as it were, a message from the past. Yielded up by the bog, the elk demonstrates the process of perpetual interchange that occurs in the cycles of nature.”

This work by Cooke, while it deals with similar themes of nature and changes in enviroment, as well as contains similar animal and decay imagey, is much darker than my own current work. This work comes across quite grusome, the backgroud is very dark, there appears to be blood on the animal and its standing up like it has somehow come back to life and continued to move.

on the other hand, my work is much lighter, with smaller areas of darkness for contrast. It feelsquiet but not sad, the death balances or even overshaddowed by the colours used and plant growth.

we both deal in animals and decay, these elk are extinct, the animals in my work are usually dead. combining the live plants and snimal bones in my work also hints towards the exchange of life in nature and the cyles of life and decat which occurs.

Contextual LEVEL6

Cleaning Bones – New Technique Research

The main subject of my work this year is bones and skeletons, I already had a few, but to get more material to work from I bought 2 more on eBay. However, one of these arrived mostly clean but had obviously not been degreased or sanitized (this was obvious due to the little friends it arrived with). Because of this we left it in a bucket of water and washing up liquid for a few days and then we got some 12% hydrogen peroxide and left the skull in a mix of this and water for a further few days to ensure it was properly cleaned, the hydrogen peroxide would also bleach the bones. A stronger solution would have worked faster, and for any stubborn areas we could have scrubbed it with a paste made up of the hydrogen peroxide and baking powder.

Some bones can be expensive to buy, so the least expensive way to get bones would be to find and clean them myself. The hydrogen peroxide is relatively expensive, but can be reused somewhat if stored correctly, getting animals from roadkill would not cost anything (although it is worth noting that I is not legal to own any part of some animals, whether you just found it already dead or otherwise)

One method to cleaning bones is maceration, where the bones are put into a bucket of water after being mostly cleaned of flesh and sealed. Heat will make the process quicker, however the process will also smell very bad so its best to do it away from any houses. The water may need to be changed every few weeks, and when doing so it’s a good idea to use a strainer as the process will separate bones from one another, teeth may fall out. Because of this its not a good method for very small animals because it will be difficult to find a piece back together all the small bones.

After maceration the bones need to be degreased then bathed in hydrogen peroxide, as said I did with the skull I bought.

Although this would be an ideal way for me to get bones, I’m not overly comfortable with going out and finding roadkill, I also do not have a garden to do this in and had to use someone else’s for the skull I cleaned.

these processes would be used by any artist who find their own bones to use in their work, or by the people the source them from. for example, Jodie Yeung is an artist i discovered at Beautiful Death Art Exhibition (link to post on that). Yeung is an artist who makes mandalas from bones which she collects from wild barn own pellets, then processes them over 3-4 days so that they are clean and white. – Jodie Yeungs website

from Jodie Yeungs website
LEVEL6 Professional

Artistst CV

Melissa Davis

Melissa Davis is primarily a watercolour painter, depicting animal skulls, weeds, insects, and objects in various states of decay. Washes of colour are used to illustrate the parts of nature that people generally dislike, which is also a big point of interest for her, animals which people are afraid of, considered pests, weeds or ugly. Her paintings are quiet and the mood quite calm, the decay and death may seem mournful but overall, the growth of the plants and colours used creates a balance in mood, a calmness, and for some may completely overshadow the sadness.

Her most recent practice has been exploring dark imagery with peaceful atmospheres using various techniques, including drawing, print, photography and painting. these works primarily show skeletal remains and plants.

From Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, currently based in Derby and Leicester


 Fine Art, De Montfort University   2019 – current

Photography at Thomas Alleyne’s 6th Form, 2016 – 2018

Art and Design at Thomas Alleyne’s 6th Form, 2016 – 2018

Psychology at Thomas Alleyne’s 6th Form, 2016 – 2018

various comissions and work sold into private UK collections

LEVEL6 Professional

MA – Illustration

Illustration MA

Moving forward from this course I would like to go on to potentially do a postgraduate in illustration, as this is a career I am interested in pursuing along side making my own art. I think that doing a course on it would help me to make connections in and learn about the industry.

Im currently considering going to Derby university for this, as I am currently living there and do not feel I am in a position to move cities to somewhere like Leeds. Although it is not ideal to chose a course based on this, I feel that in my own individual circumstances it is the most realistic.

The course at derby is a design course where you can choose to specialise in graphic design, illustration, fashion, textile design, interior and spatial design or product design. You can also do it as a broad Design MA. It’s £6,750 for the full course or £755 per 20 credits, 1 year full time and 2 part time. Ideally, I would like to do the course part time as this will give me more time to also work.

The entry requirements include an undergraduate degree of at least second class in a related subject, as well as a portfolio of my work.

Selection on to the Programme is based on a portfolio interview. The interview experience is an exciting opportunity for applicants to demonstrate their passion for Design. Applicants will have the opportunity to show teaching staff their interests and experimentation in the subject and they will have time to ask the questions that are important to their study. During the interview applicants will be expected to discuss the potential focus of study that they would like to undertake, including specific pathways, and to show and discuss their previous work.”

My current next steps are going to a postgraduate open event on November 27th, this will help me find out more about the course itself, the tutors and facilities. I have been to derbys Markeaton street campus looking at there fine art ba, but it would be very banaficuial to see what they offer for this course.

Contextual LEVEL6

Christophe Van De Walle and Isabelle Van Assche – Art Decay

“ArtDecay represents two passionate photographers Isabelle &
The passion of decay brought us together as couples, two years
later we are husband and wife With ArtDecay we want to show
you where the decay brought us
Exploring around the world that’s what we try to do every free
moment. Go to places other people neglected, wander around and
take pictures of the abandoned world”

i began my current line of investigation with my facination with abandoned places left to nature, the way that nature takes things back. Art Decay are two fine art photographers exploring abandoned places, which is something i would love to do if not for the risk of being arrested for tresspassing, so i have settled for photographing them from the ourside.

for me photographs of abandoned places create very unique feelings when you look at them, especially when nature has begun reocupying the space. although i found through seccond year that i dont particulary enjoy painting buildings, my cruurent work work with bones and plants aims to convey similar feelings.