Friday, November 30, 2012

Dagmar Dyck
Beyond the Grid
By Kyla Mackenzie

Use the five days to do something different.  Grab a range of ideas to create fruitful directions and spin-offs.  These 5 days are not about pressure on you to accomplish ‘perfection’ but to push yourself in terms of ideas and approach... - Dagmar Dyck, Paintor and Summer School 2013 Tutor

Dagmar Dyck’s immaculate screen-prints were first known to this interviewer in the late 1990s.  She was a recent graduate from Elam School of Fine Arts and had a professionalism and sense of purpose which was most impressive.   In her distinctive, spartan images, a grid format with echoes of Bauhaus modernism was used to contain Tongan and sometimes German symbols and motifs.  These were informed by extensive research of both archival and contemporary sources.

Dagmar, daughter to a German father and Tongan/German mother is a scholarly traveller-artist-teacher who has made many trips to Tonga and Germany.  Recently, she has turned to painting and in a style which is loose, gestural and multi-layered.  As of this year, Dagmar has also taken up the full-time role of Art and Technology teacher at Sylvia Park School, Mt Wellington, in Auckland. 

Her Beyond the Grid workshop at the Corban Estate Art Centre’s 2013 Summer School will help participants form their own visual languages relating to identity where formal values are explored in an intuitive fashion, but one still informed by ‘order’.  This extremely busy artist takes time out to chat about her art and the upcoming 5 day course. 

Dagmar Dyck Surface Features I

KM: Dagmar, could you explain the title of your upcoming Summer School Class,   Beyond the Grid?

DD:  This title was actually a reference to my last show; the name marks my new own found freedom from ordered, formal compositions.  I want to demonstrate to participants in the Summer School course how it is possible to combine some measure of order with the intuitive, along with meaningful cultural objects to create dynamic, multi-layered imagery.
So, this is a way of allowing people to both free themselves up and yet apply a level of research and formal discipline as well?

Yes. I myself used to work primarily with printmaking.  Printmaking is such a careful process, a step by step, methodical medium; I think of this pedantic manner as the ‘German’ side of me!   For me, returning to painting is a departure from this close method to an evolving and intuitive process which does still necessarily requires some visual map of sorts.  The layering is such a challenge and a joy... each day, you put on another layer, so the work is an accumulative thing.

What sorts of motifs might people research and explore in terms of the 'traditional'?

This workshop is best geared towards research of repeating design, cultural objects and reference to textile patterns:  If you’re Irish, you could bring Irish motifs...If you have Scottish ancestry, bring those references and textiles that are meaningful for you.  Some other textiles might include saris, Middle Eastern design...Anything that is resonant for you and has compelling formal qualities – enough to enliven a canvas.  I own a great many Pacific books – for those interested in those resources–   I’ll be bringing in a lot of books... 

Reflect on, rotate and re-orient those designs to make your own iconographic language.  It’s a visual language you're creating; a visual story... 
Dagmar Dyck, Here she comes... Acrylic and ink on canvas and tapa cloth, 2250x1500mm

What does Dagmar Dyck's own visual iconography consist of now? 

I have always been interested in matters relating to 'belonging'.  I’m a New Zealander; I also have both Tongan and German heritage.  Much of my art has been about ‘self’.  How do I ‘fit’? 

In recent years I have explored traditional Tongan textile design - women’s bark cloth production called koloa.  However, as I approach my 40th year milestone, I’m loving       a confident new shift, a new area of enquiry beyond the old concerns.  Those motifs I’ve used are becoming increasingly abstracted; it’s more about art for art’s sake          now... exploring formal values...I’m really enjoying this.... The funny thing is, this is how I painted at school.  It was always my style.  I’ve had to re-learn it, which is ironic. In art school – you learn a lot, you have to learn, but it’s all very conscious.
What are some of the procedures of the workshop the participants can expect?

I’m looking forward to working on something side by side with people; this is a really effective way of teaching.  It will be a hive of activity and imagery as they should have two or three paintings going at the same time, which will all be drying at different rates during the layering process.   Acrylics are pretty good in terms of drying time though.  This multi-work approach is great in that they can choose new palettes for each and we’ll talk a bit about that.   I’ll address some issues in colour theory but also intuition will play a major role in the course.  I personally like to use Tapa cloth in my works but to simulate the feel of textiles and fiber there are other ways, such as tissue paper and I'll be demonstrating this. 

What kind of attitude should students bring?

An attitude of openness and acceptance...  Please don’t expect some perfect, ‘pretty’ work to go with your lounge suite...  It’s important to explore, be open to ideas; unresolved works at the end of the five days are o.k.  Painting can be unpredictable and there will be happy accidents along the way and challenges to work through. 

What do you want the Summer School participants to gain from the 5 day course?

I want to help others explore their own visual language in a layered, accumulative way.
It’s an exciting experience and a workshop is a really rich environment to ‘work’ things out. 

Bring ideas, notes, objects, reproductions... I don’t want reproductions or clones of my style; it’s about the participants, their voice and their symbols and story.  I want them to generate avenues of thought and approaches to weaving together both iconography and abstract values in a way that is meaningful for each person. 

Use the five days to do something different.  Grab a range of ideas to create fruitful directions and spin-offs.  These 5 days are not about pressure on you to accomplish ‘perfection’ but to push yourself in terms of ideas and approach...

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