Caroline Achaintre

Caroline Achaintre (born Toulouse, 1969) spent her formative years in Germany studying Fine Art at Kunsthochschule in Halle/Saale (1996-98), with her postgraduate Studies in Fine Art and Combined Media at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London (1998-2000) and a MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London (2001-03). She trained as a blacksmith before coming to London, where she now lives and works. Recent solo exhibitions include those at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2016); TATE Britain, London (2015-15); Castello di Rivoli, Turin, IT (2015-16) and currently at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Riems, FR until April 2017. Her works were also part of the recent British Art Show (2015-17). 

Achaintre spoke to us primarily regarding her work rather than a biography and began explaining the general themes behind some of her work. She began by sketching and drawing patterns that explored a form of teenage angst. This tension was expressed and enhanced by the use of ink imitating that of a Rorschach ink blot test. Along the lines of this psychological field, Achaintre wanted to operate on a larger and explore the tension of a physical presence though domestic material.

This pursuit of a domestic material to work with translated into the making of carpets. 2003 was the year of the first development of her practice that followed the use of wool in carpet making. Achaintre liked the intensity of an image consisting of individual fibres. In her words there is a “non-neutrality to the material” as well as an inner tension and torsion in the manipulation of the threads of the carpet as well as the liminal display of object and subject.

In her piece “Insider” the work inhabits both object and painting as both the mask and figure are looking in retrospectively and outward towards the world itself. For me there is a question as to whether the mask itself counts as expression of a person, or is simply a painted persona, as Achaintre mentions: a “performative character”.  There is a distinct interest in shamanism and animism as the carpets themselves often contain elements of faces or figures that walk a tight rope between living and inanimate. This is aided by the hairy and shaggy qualities to the carpet which can be seen as seductive, inviting and playful.



Achaintre is interested in German expressionism and also masks and the process and performative qualities of masquerade. Often her work are attached to metal stilts, which although are polite and modernist still create their own context when introduced to masks. These masks can be considered as ceramic like carpets and, like the carpets, are something that she has never done. In terms of process Archaintre enjoys starting from something flat and trying to make it 3D with a presence and a voice.

One of her works feature a mask with a ceramic feature attached onto the mask itself. Here, there is a fetish-like element to the piece that, once the ceramic is displayed with the mask, becomes a character. There is also a keen interest in Anthropomorphy and the perception of humanity in animate objects. Achaintre claims to see human features in handbags all the time.  this habit creates and animistic habit in which objects and people co-exist and live and communicate together. This can be traced in her clay workings from which a slab of malleable clay can appear to change shape once looked away from for a brief moment.

Birdsssss is the only piece by Achaintre that is suspended and she states that it probably the only piece that ever will be. There is a definite Animist feature to the work due to the  tension and ambiguity of deducing if the bird is rising or landing. this tension is especially poignant to me as the bird itself is caught in suspended animation which is further highlighted by the object/subject debate related to the material itself. This idea of tension in material, form and perception is very intriguing as I do feel her pieces are full of vibrancy and life despite the fact that on face value they are carpets.



Camp Coo is described as a post modern annex by Achaintre, where plinths to display here ceramic pieces slot together like Tetris. There is another dialogue between these characters and the hollowness and fullness with their combination with the space.  In terms of process, Achaintres carpets are not woven but tufted: the canvas is stretched and shoots of wool are “tufted” back to front from the canvas. Archaintre calls this, painting with wool which I feel is a great description of her practice; merging both disciplines of traditional art and skilled crafting into a very unique and inclusive practice. Nevertheless, Achaintre always sees herself as an artist and tries not to define herself  in general.

Achaintre’s work is often described as both ancient and modern at the same time having an archaic, distressed presence. There is something quite humorous yet apt to her work that often when thinking about the future it can be imagined that humanity has “advanced” yet potentially could also “revert” back to a primitive state. The use of tensions such as these encapsulate the environment of her work exceedingly well. Achaintre never ceases to be surprised by how display changes her pieces this is especially true when her pieces get transferred into photographs. She describes them as “flattened” and I believe that only in full presence of the work is the real character is able to be experienced and introduced (although it is undeniable that traces of these characters can be met in the pictures).

When asked about sourcing materials, Achaintre explained to us that she doesn’t dye the wool herself but that she likes to work within certain limitations so that some of the choices when it comes to her process are taken away from her. Early on to the development of her carpet pieces she decided that irregular shapes, instead of symmetrical pieces, were going to act as the base to her work as symmetry is boring and with such vibrancy and diversity to her pieces, they must be considered anything but that.

Website address:


Things That Matter//Meeting with Kirsten Cooke

On Thursday we met with Kirsten Cooke in regard to our external project “Things That Matter”. She introduced us to her own practice as well as some fundamentals in regard to different styles of spaces that would be beneficial to us to understand. This included commercial galleries and project spaces and also the differences between event based practices and an exhibition. It was interesting to learn the possibilities of display in regards to exhibiting work and the implication of space and environment.

We were introduced to some of the roles in which we would need to assign to create a successful show. These were as follows:

  1. Technician
  2. Project Manager (formed as a group)
  3. Press Officer/Press Marketer
  4. Budget/Financial Officer
  5. Archiver/photographer
  6. Risk Assessment Officer
  7. Installer
  8. Artist Liason

As this is such a fantastic opportunity I feel like it would be a great chance to take on a role such as project manager. As this would be one of a few positions for Project Manager it would also mean I would be able to work as part as a larger team as well as collaboratively with Ellie (within the project) and Hazel (working in the studio this term).

We meet again with Kirsten in week 4 and in the meantime we are to start thinking about the type of work we would like to create as well as the scale, taking into consideration the logistics of taking our work to London, and the topic of our pieces.


**Collaborative Meeting**

On Wednesday Hazel, Ellie and I decided to discuss how to proceed with our practice in the coming term. We wanted to expand upon what we have developed last year, and from the advice of Jon, wanted our practice to replicate the properties of a three-legged stool: when one leg is taken away, the stool is no longer functional.

This is a rough bullet point list of what we hope to pursue this year/term:

  1. Work bigger
  2. Do something with more of a purpose/overarching concept
  3. Use things/objects as relics?
  4. Animism/collections/relics
  5. Move away from doodling/painting
  6. Place and non-places – identity with them.

We then discussed our main themes from last year and what topics could naturally develop from them.

First Term – identity and perception (peoples perception of themselves and others)

Second Term – Materiality (connections between people,places and objects)

Perhaps this term we can explore Memory and the relationship it has with place, objects and meaning. We could explore the sentience objects possess when memory of experience is imprinted on it. Additionally we could explore the avenue of nostalgia and the ramifications it has when we return to objects in which we recall fond or often bittersweet memories. The memories are in themselves fleeting yet made tangible through the host of objects.

We came to the conclusion that our main themes for this year are TRANSIENCE & SENTIENCE.

Caspar Heinemann

“Caspar Heinemann is an artist, poet and twinky butch anarcho-communist mystic based in Berlin. Their interests include critical occultism, gay biosemiotics, and countercultural mythology. Recent events include readings at the Baltic Triennial, Serpentine Miracle Marathon, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht, and the ICA, London. They have recently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, and Outpost Gallery, Norwich.”


Caspar Heinemann

Caspar introduces the talk by stating that they are in the midst of a mental breakdown. Although this has not been clinically diagnosed their current mental health, travel, the state of the world and a recent health scare take part in their current work.  They wish to talk about how their art operates in the art world in a setting they think, personally, should not exist. What resonated with me was how Heinemann explained that in order to pursue art there is a real focus on production; where their work itself is transient, untethered and – often – not physical. Heinemann states that their personal biography is not relevant to their own practice at this current moment and would rather like to discuss their current influences and spoken/poetry pieces within the current art world setting.



A phrase that struck with me throughout the talk is that there is a:

“Need [to be] bloody and raw. To know how to be a body.”

specifically that there is a necessity to be uncomfortable in order to experience what it is truly meant to be alive.

I particularly enjoyed a specific spoken word piece that (to paraphrase) included the term: “Reading novels and fucking is the greatest ambition.” There is something wholesome to think that ambition is only important once you feel truly content and fulfilled. Some heights do not need to be reached to complete a purpose and feel stable in oneself.



Heinemann began to describe how there is a quote that they have pinned upon their desk by Lisa Robertson taken from her piece “The Middle”. The stanza that the line was taken from goes as follows:

Minute perceptions speeding along a dirty surface
will say something else about the way
every pronoun is absurd.
One puts up her hair—
she makes sound
to treasure her body’s
unsynthesizable remnant
then the city can dissolve
in the scale of her accident.
And if I think in these letters
to substitute, to distribute, to fuck
universe of the undiscussed
as in myth and ritual and politics
this is a very old tradition.
Because of the fact of the structure of the human mouth
the festival of idleness is speaking in signs through my body.
I do this because it’s valueless.*

*italics added for emphasis



As their practice is often based around the spoken word and what seems to be the very private thoughts of the artist, the art itself is not deemed as sell-able. In the same sense, the transience of each piece is what prescribes it value.

Heinemann briefly discussed the practicality of working as an artist. They talked about how they were able so sustain their practice and their living costs. Heinemann takes part in a plethora of activities to enable them to continue working. These involve Poetry readings, transcribing interviews, living in a relatively cheaper city and knowing that they are able to ask for help from their parents if they would ever need to. In revealing this information they hope to start a dialogue regarding the art world and money where there has previously been little transparency.

Heinemann describes how they have an uncompromising aesthetic position when it comes to their work. They enjoy the fact that it is often seen as dirty and often falls apart and so is consequently not sold. They envision a time in which everyone can be considered an artist while simultaneously not being anything like one at all.



Heinemann has a real focus on the emphasis of desire and consumption rather than production. They hope to adapt and manipulate the functional everyday objects and make them as opulent as they need to be.

A quote by Marx was featured in the talk:

”The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public-house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save — the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour: your capital. The less you are, the more you have. . . .”

It was interesting to consider that (disregarding money) that a person is their most valuable at their basest function.



An influence and personal friend to Heinemann is C A Conrad whose process included them writing a ritual for himself in which he partakes in the ritual, takes notes during it, then makes it into poems.

A phrase that was spoken in the talk that I found powerful was that “Survival is more than the day to day maintenance of a body.” We must remember to do more than simply sustain ourselves in order live up to our true potential.

There was then a brief discussion of the relationship between Heinemann and their artwork in terms of installation. They state that they are “building many crushable things and decorating them so very well”, embracing the delicate and impermanent nature of their work.

When writing their poetry and other spoken word pieces, Heinemann describes how they carry a notebook and write their thoughts directly. From there, they add and edit from their writing and what remains is the final written product.



Currently they are interested in ideas of the occult, materiality, and animism. They are particularly focused on the emotional and spiritual effect of these outcomes.

When questioned about the relationship between their spoken pieces and physical installation pieces and how one informs the other, Heinemann explained how object making creates a space outside of writing. It is a symbiotic relationship: they are both integral to each other.

Summer Project 2017

Ellie, Hazel and I discussed how we should proceed collaboratively over the summer and what topics we were particularly interested in as a group. We felt that it would perhaps be difficult to work as a true trio due to distance restraints and so thought we should pursue and topic together but create work in response to it independently.

Hazel began the discussion by finding a quote she had recently found in the media that resonated with her and shared it with Ellie and myself.


Both of us felt that the quote was especially relevant to today’s society, not so much as to a specific news story or recent event but where often people are traded and exchanged similarly to an item for personal gain. Ellie eventually decided to pursue her own topic which after consideration she felt she could produce better quality work from.

Personally, I struggled with creating work in response to this quote despite the fact that I agreed with it’s message. I attempted to think of something whimsical and different that I could do but the end result was a bit more sombre and pessimistic than I had hoped.

I started by gathering old user manuals and receipts I had found lying around my house. These pamphlets were often found in old drawers alongside disregarded bits and bobs such as batteries, string, currency and outdated technology. I felt that this was apt in fitting to the quote by showing the progression of what people once loved and soon after time these items are tossed aside and forgotten about. I decided to use the receipts and manuals as the base of my work.

I then experimented with what I would be describing/depicting on these objects. I started by painting, on receipts, certain anatomical features of the human form to represent an aspect of a person. I then painted the same feature, in this case a hand, but as a wooden model and then a mechanical model so the person becomes more and more removed from humanity and transitions to object status. I finished by labelling the hindrances of the human hand and the improved features of the objectified hand.

My second attempt deconstructed the human eye and provided assembly instructions to further remove the humanity from that human feature.

I then created poster like pieces that had a broader message of the manipulation of people. I wanted to showcase how a person is often manufactured by negative circumstance and exploitation which strips them of their identity and so removed the features of the individual in favour of a plastic, generic, blank shell.

I included a distorted portrait of, myself in one pieces, obscured by bar-codes to represent how the pursuit of material profit often overshadows the need to consider others.

The final poster piece is a collection of the anatomical ideas in previous pieces and also the exploration of profit over person. Although I feel this is the most aesthetic piece it is probably the most empty of meaning.

Finally, I had defaced a small manual book with anatomical drawings, which is a more subtle hint to the overarching theme that people, in generic sense, are increasingly considered as objects ready to be transactions, manipulated, toyed with and eventually disregarded like the lost technology of recent years.

Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington acted as a minor influence to our work as we considered using objects and symbols to represent our identities. Carrington’s surrealist paintings are filled with ethereal and magical realism that reflect her own experiences. Often sinister figures are depicted as well as elongated women, half human/wolf hybrids, faces located within bodies and lizard like snakes. Symbols of the occult or religious symbols are also present. Hazel, Ellie and I did consider using symbols such as this but we are yet to develop this in our board pieces.

Quilt Artists Influences

Grayson Perry

Perry uses a variety of classical medium such as ceramics, bronze, prints, cast iron and tapestry. Often, his work comments on social/political themes which is something we felt we could eventually develop within our quilt. Wit and nostalgia are frequently present and through his tapestries – normally associated with grand houses –  he is able to elevate the the dramas of modern life. This juxtaposition is something we wish to infuse in our own piece by displaying the quilt as something other than comforting. For Perry, emotional investment is imperative as “An emotional charge is what draws [him] to a subject” and therefore, we believe that it should be present that someones life has been affected by their imprisonment.


Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close


The Adoration of the Cage Fighters 2012


The Agony in the Car Park 2012


The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal 2012

Grayson Perry, The Walthamstow Tapestry (2009)

The Walthamstow Tapestry 2009


you could lay it out for a national picnic

Robert Rauschenberg 

Rauschenberg’s “Bed” influenced us immensely especially considering that he used found objects to construct his work and essentially used the pillow and blanket as his canvas. It has been said that the bedding itself belonged to Rauschenberg which makes the work itself a relic of his own life, similarly as the blanket is an artificial relic of a prisoners experience in prison.


Bed 1955

Tracy Emin

Emin’s “My Bed” reveals an intimacy which aims to engage the viewer with universal emotions which establishes an “intimacy with the viewer”. This sharing of the personal space humanises the art which is a theme we wish to include in our quilt installation.

My Bed - Tracy Emin 1998.jpg

My Bed 1998