Art and Design: Elisa Conlan Explores Fragmented Civilisation in Exam Project

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Upper Fifth pupil, Elisa Conlan, writes about the ideas and methods behind her poignant Art and Design exam project, ‘Fragments’.

For my Art GCSE exam project we have been given the title 'Fragments'. Such a broad title has enabled us to reach out to a vast range of topics and develop our themes in an individual way. My own personal interpretation of this idea is the theme of our fragmented civilisation.

I painted an image of a man from Karo in Ethiopia. I explored the theme of fragments by leaving where his facepaint would have been as a blank space. This represents an absence of past traditions, which are been slowly erased by the spread of a modernizing society. Karo is in the  thrones of deep-seated change. White and yellow face paint in the Karo tribe has become of great interest to tourists and photographers, curious by their traditions.

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My next painting is a portrait of a man from the Tuareg people, in the Sahara. His face is partially covered with a desert scarf, which provides safety from the intense climate and desert sand. This gives us an insight to the differences in the norms among different cultures and ways of life.

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I painted an image of a girl called Creidis, from a Native American tribe, Ye ‘Kuana. She is wearing a glass-bead necklace; jewellery which is passed through the generations from mother to daughter. Her tribe continues their practices as they have for many generations despite the changes around them. I have combined this image with one of my previous paintings to try and bring together different unique cultures. I have followed the idea of ripping the images and re-assembling them in an imperfect way.

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Throughout this project I have studied artists ranging from Larry Rivers to Chuck Close. All of these artists so far have given me inspiration into separate aspects of my project giving me a direction and deeper understanding to different techniques I could use. I am now currently working on a painting of my friend and focusing mainly on the highlights and shadows.

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One of my ideas for my exam final piece is to take segments from faces of different regions and morph them into one, both accentuating the differences between them but also by doing this, essentially proving that there is very little difference between them all. I feel that this will raise attention to social issues regarding equality.


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