In Process: Beyond The Surface of Things / by Simone Brewster

"What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognise the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed? 
MICHELANGELO

My recent foray in mark making was really the tip of quite a substantial iceberg that has been floating in the back of my mind for a while, waiting for the right idea to crash into. I'm still not so sure what this will become but by pulling that thread of thought it opened up a wide range of other questions, and left me thinking:

What happens when you make your mark and it leaves a scar?

Simone Brewster scarification skin 1

That question led me to my library (my bookcase) where I dragged out a treasure I've had for some years "The Decorated Body" by Robert Brain. The cover alone lets you know why this came to mind. The book which explores a range of body marks, scars, costumes and adornment has one of the most striking covers I've seen. The example of human scarification displays how marks have been made on the canvas of the body, with the results being an extruded decorative skin texture. The image on the cover is actually quite a beautiful, simple and tame example, when taken to the extreme, scars can be produced that almost reform the body. 

Simone Brewster African Body Art

The reasons and symbolism behind body adornment in these more permanent ways are vast and vary from people to people. However, the use and placement of marks was not confined to the body.
It was not unusual for certain objects to be treated in the same way as the skin, via painting and cutting, adorning the surface of the item with marks of importance. This personification of the object is so direct that it begins to speak to the core about our connection to the objects which surround us.


Storage vessel Kurumba peoples Burkina Faso Mid 20th century, Ceramic

Storage vessel
Kurumba peoples Burkina Faso
Mid 20th century, Ceramic

Headrest Master of Mulongo Luba peoples Democratic Republic of the Congo Mid-late 19th century, Wood

Headrest
Master of Mulongo Luba peoples
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mid-late 19th century, Wood


At first, this relationship may seem alien to wider Western and contemporary culture. However, we can also question how the high shine, smooth, blemishless finish on many luxury "power" objects and the rise in the use of photoshop's polishing of the human form to a hyper-real level of perfection does suggest that the ideals with which we hold our bodies and those of our objects are related... Or maybe the perfection possible in the machined object is in turn causing us to question and improve/remove the human condition, from our naturally imperfect façades.  

Either way, the relationship between our bodies and our objects lives in today's society surreptitiously and with possible insidious effect. 

How do these thoughts come together in form?

I am not enough of a daredevil to try scarification, however I do want to explore the relationship between, mark making and the surface or skin of an object. With these two ingredients I returned to a position of play and began creating my own textures and surfaces which may in time become alternative skins. 

Simone Brewster surface scarification 1
Simone Brewster scarification 2
Simone Brewster scarification 4
Simone Brewster scarification 5
Simone Brewster fur scarification
Simone Brewster scarification objects