N.C.A.D. Diploma in Art & Design

Arte Povera 2 - Project 1 (Outline & Research)



See below for project outline and research

See HERE for final Arte Povera pieces for this project




Using our ideas and experimentation of Arte Povera, from our studio workshop day in I.M.M.A. (Irish Museum of Modern Art), our first project was to build upon these studies.  We were instructed to return to the basics of simple ideas and objects (using found materials) and explore for a deeper meaning within these simple and every day objects. 


The idea behind Arte Povera is to break from tradition and it is a movement that is more interested in physical aspects such as assemblage, installation and performance.  The term Arte Povera first derived from the description of a group of Italian artists in 1967 and was first used by the art critic Germano Celant.  Three important artists who are related back to its beginnings are Alberto Burri, Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana.  


RESEARCH (Theme: Containment & Connections)

Subject Matter & Inspiration:


I again drew inspiration from the caged sand pit of Hélio Oiticica that was on exhibition in Irish Museum of Modern Art (I.M.M.A.) during our studio workshop a week prior.  Though this caged area was likely meant as a place of exploration and solitude, I decided to use the subject as an exploration of different scenarios of how we can be caged or boxed in, defined and confined in our daily lives.  Certain aspects of containment can connect and affect many of us in some form or another due to the fact that we all tend to face similar life situations that subject us to similar confinements within our lives.


Planning & Researching your Work




I again decided to implement boxes, as a symbol of containment and confinement, into my project work.  I decided to have the boxes closed shut in order to allow the viewer to then open the boxes and hence create a feeling of discovery and add a touch of playfulness to the project. 


At the beginning of all of my projects I usually prepare a mind map / brainstorm exercise in relation to the theme that I have chosen to study.  I do this in order to investigate the different ideas that instantly come to the forefront of my mind.  I then review these interests and ideas and decide upon where my focus should lie.  I decide this by examining which subjects I may be able to best build, develop and grow within my project. 

Below are some of the ideas from my mind map exercise in relation to this theme of containment and confinement:


- Enclosed / Deprived of freedom / Chained up / Caged in

- Force / Push through / Escape?

- Ongoing battle with others, or, yourself

- Nature: Roots / plants / soil / nourishment / nature / seeds / growth

- Fear of the unknown / What lies beneath (beneath the ground, beneath a person etc.)






Following my initial brainstorming exercise, I decided to focus on the idea of being chained up / caged in / enclosed and to look at how all of us can feel this sense of confinement within our lives - sometimes in quite a negative way.  This confinement can come from how people judge you based upon certain aspects of your life.  Some of the subjects that I listed in relation to what may confine us were as follows:


- Gender: Sexism. eg tick a box if you are male or female

- Money: confines us in many ways!

- Address: people can instantly judge you on where you live/your location affects issues such as visa requirements to access certain countries/opportunities available depending upon where you were born/access to certain schools can be dependent upon your address

- Our own thoughts & fears.  Sometimes, due to fear, we can contain ourselves and this stops us from experiencing many opportunities.  We avoid the chance of failure and thus confine ourselves in order to avoid risks. (person wrapped up in cotton wool)/comfort zone

- Chance: sometimes we just happen to have opportunities that have been determined by chance

- Health / what we eat ie. if we are overweight or unhealthy then this can impact opportunities for us

- Job: our job can contain us each day, for example, our to do lists, our office block, our cubicles within the office

- Education: dependent upon roles you seek in life/groups you mix with/visa requirements

- Our looks / what we wear:  for example, judged on the labels of what you wear

- Family & network of people that we keep

- Religion

- Age

- Skin Color / Ethnicity

- Accent & how you speak - mannerisms etc

- Time: constant ticking of a clock. All of us are confined by time.

- Talent (or lack of talent!)

- Political government  / state of the country we live in



Or, we can sometimes find solitude in our own confinement (though some of the below can lead to a negative impact on your life):


- Sometimes we like the familiar in our own small confined space.  Eg. your home, your neighbourhood 

- Sometimes we can find comfort in being boxed in with people like minded and similar to you


- No chance of being hurt if you hide & confine your heart from others 

- If you confine yourself you can feel that you are protected from danger 


- To live in your own dream/bubble and not have to live in the real world


- We can find peace & comfort in our own confinement as sometimes we need our own space, thoughts, time to reflect, silence in a hectic world in order to self heal.  This can also assist in allowing creativity to grow and nourish (which is interesting as it therefore actually leads to the opposite of confinement in this case). 





While performing the mind map/brainstorming exercise, some found materials that I considered using were as follows; small steel cages like bird cages / use of netted material (like football goal netting) / knitted material / sewing a cocoon of stitching through the box and perhaps placing something inside?  Covering objects in the netting? 


Some further ideas of materials that I may use during this project were as follows:


- Boxes

- Toothpicks

- Wires – both copper and normal wire

- Thread

- Address labels

- Foam balls

- Deck of cards (chance)

- Layering of confinement through overlapping of wire, wool etc creates a sense of chocking/smothering

- Post-its

- Chicken wire

- Money







In contrast to much of my prior art work (where I usually worked with dark or minimalistic color schemes), during this project I became strongly influenced by color and Pop Art - although I still maintained a dark element to my work through some of the serious subject matters that I dealt with.  


Some of the artists who inspired me were:

Andy Warhol

Wayne Thiebaud 

Donald Robertson 

Hans-Peter Feldmann



Hans-Peter Feldmann:  I have wanted to use money in my art work ever since I went to see a Hans-Peter Feldmann exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum (in New York).  In this exhibition, Feldmann had pinned the exact amount of his Hugo Boss Prize money ($100,000) in $1 dollar bills onto the gallery walls in a grid of overlapping bills; even covering the pillars within the room in these bills.  It looked pretty spectacular walking into a room covered in green bills.  


The strong smell of these dollar bills persisted throughout the room thus allowing the piece to not only be visual but also to be olfactory.  It was very interesting to think of how this artwork may have passed through many hands prior to this exhibition and that it was likely to return to the system following the exhibition, therefore allowing people to own this art work of such esteem without even knowing that they are in possession of it.  Hans-Peter Feldmann has previously assembled other everyday images and objects into serial form and orchestrated installations' and I drew inspiration from this idea for parts of my project, such as,  in my use of the repetitive alignment of the address tags and sweets (the sweets also creating an olfactory nature to my work).  This work can be viewed in the below link.  

See HERE for final Arte Povera pieces for this project