Industrial Revolution: period defined as the changes in manufacturing processes and transportation that began with fewer things being made by hand, instead using machinery in large-scale factories.


Romanticism: movement which emphasises emotional self-awareness as a necessary pre-condition to improving society and advancing the human condition.

Incorporating metal into work. Steel frames. Combining this solid, industrial material with the fluid, emotive, painting style, completely changes the context… industrialised, freestanding structures. Traditional paintings entwining with the machine-made movement. I’m interested in how artists in the 18th/19th century reacted to this revolution in society through the ideals of Romanticism. E.g, John Martin / Turner / John Constable. Am I seeking the opposite in my work? Contrasting the romanticism in my imagery, through a hard metal structure. Power through metal.

18th century artist- I’m interested in revisiting the romantic painters from the industrial period. Have referenced John Martin for years. Despite the benefits of the Industrial Revolution on society, the wealth and security it brought, and the ability to speed up processes of making, artists such as John Martin, were painting epic, apocalyptic imagery, suggesting an end to the world. This didn’t reflect the flourishing environment of the time. In many painters work they reacted to this advancement by portraying an imaginative, romanticism within imagery.

The Destruction of Pompei and Herculaneum, 1822

21st century artist-Hannah Sawtell. Relevant to my recent work. Saw her artist talk at the beginning of term. It was interesting to see Sawtell’s use of steel frames, which hold up her imagery around the gallery as an installation. She abandons the use of the white walls.

In regards to her imagery -she collects and assembles a backlog of ‘contemporary material’ or ‘surfaces’ from the digital world, concentrating her work on post-internet society and the boundaries of image production. She presents fragmented imagery. Imagery which although not clear where it is sourced from, looks like it could be an advertising campaign for a futuristic product. Sawtell let’s machinery do the taking and the making in her work. – “All image capture, manipulation or slicing is made by the screen used as a lens.”  —> Relates in itself to the factors of the industrial revolution which introduced the use of machinery to make for us, rather than making by hand.

Vendor at Bloomberg Space. 2012

One of my concerns / art problems is that the craft of making work by hand, particularly the personal, time consuming process of creating a painting, is being lost to the use of computers, phones, machines, relying heavily on these technological advancements to do the job for us. All produce faster results. Something Sawtell has utilised in her very current practice. I am interested in the preservation of craft.  Often why I literally preserve the final layer of paint with a coat of varnish. Encase it / preserve.

There’s an importance in retaining painting in my practice, in revisiting traditional aspects/imagery, but to integrate modern material; acetate prints ? / metal stands –> grounds the traditional medium in a contemporary context. I’m considering the relationship between a romantic aesthetic and the material components in the work.


Abigail Moffat