Research point – Part 4 Tondo and the interior & The poetics of space – Gaston Bachelard

Bachelard, G., 2014. The Poetics of Space. 10th ed. USA: Penguin Group.Roo S Waterhouse – Fine Artist. 2018. About Roo Waterhouse. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2018].

Mark Fairnington. 2018. Human Eyes. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2018].



This part of the course is mixing two things, the more intimate surroundings of the home and painting round or oval pictures.

The interior.

The interior implies a picture of part of my life, this can be as impersonal as the contents of my saucepan cupboard (as painted in part 1 of this course) or the private contents of my laundry basket. What we choose to show people on our shelves/floors and walls is a reflection of ourselves and through art a recorded history of things that are important at the time. However it could also be seen as a fear of the outside whilst inside is a safety and a surety in the stable unmoving nature of our belongings.

The course book suggests reading The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, this is a book that thinks about the home space as a place we inhabit in our heads as much as with ourselves, the first chapter (after immense forwards and intros) looks at when we are thinking about our ‘home’ and how we think about it.

2-House and Universe. Chapter 2 is more of an overview of other peoples words on this space, how they describe it in different ways, as a safe haven or a mother that keeps them safe from the outside world. The peasant who dreams of a castle and the castle dweller who dreams of a cottage. How all the spaces in a house treat sound differently.

3-Drawers, Chests and Wardrobes. Is about drawers, wardrobes and boxes. storage items, things we deposit stuff in. filing memories, or hiding them behind warm coloured wood. of boxes as unknown content that is richer in possibility than fact, the locks as things that can keep us from those contents. It seems a very positive view and doesn’t mention Pandora at all, but then this book is about the warmth of the home over the uncertainty in negativity.

4-Nests. I thought this would refer to a way in which we choose to live in a space, my husband accuses me of nesting in rooms regularly, I don’t over cushion, and the objects I put on display are carefully thought out. The chapter was more about the language we use to describe nests and there creation around the bird rather than being built and then moving in like a bricks and mortar property, although the analogy of a nest to a thatched cottage was marked. Also, the link between the fork in the tree that the nest sits in, apartment living?

5-Shells. This is more defensive than nests, the suggestion that crushed shells still have the potential of the curved shape if made back up again. The mythology around them is darker. Still using the same thought on construction as the nest where it is smooth on the inside from constant touch, implies a vulnerability not present in the nest as it is returned too while the shell is in constant habitation (?). Analogies with designs for forts and architecture with a view of hiding.

6-Corners. Arnaud “I am the space where I am.” Great quote better viewed in a corner, the author is right, a lot of lines take up the negatives of corners, the dust and the old and unwanted taking up the space, spider living in the corner dreaming about being a ladybird? it could be this negativity that has helped create open plan living? What is lost in the corner?

7-Miniture. Looks at the language of Lilliput and the experience of being up high and seeing the world small below and the feeling of superiority and better than in this miniature experience. brings up the value of images experienced within an understanding of time, of hearing the grains of sand in an hour-glass over our incomprehension of passing time in the sound of the ticking of a watch. Deals with the words of sound of silence. Read in the back garden listening to bird song from before 6 to after 9 on a sunny Sunday morning.

8-Intimate immensity. The immense described through the forest, the sea, the plain and the reflection in water or an eye. Vast as an overused word by Baudelaire to mean many things. How a plain can be comforting to one and a scary expanse to another. I’m finally getting to grips with the power of this book in its use of language, are we when we create large images trying to make observers of our work feel small? is this a power trip on the part of the artist?

9-The Dialects of Inside and Outside. This chapter talks of difficulty with inside outside, from a personal point as we cannot see ourselves to make considered judgements. Discusses doors as the route inside or out, half open etc. The vastness of outside versus the potential for everything daydreamed inside.

10-The Phenomenology of Roundness. The physical round of shape, of growth, of a rounded self and education, of the rounded form of a bird, of its life. This chapter brings home the relevance of this book to the research. We have the interior dissected as the content, and the tondo explained as the rounded form.

Putting shelf into the search engine of Saatchi brings an eclectic mix to the fore, the staged have to be discarded first whether its painted better than real life (Simulacra, or putting a rosey glow on your belongings. Think Facebook and Instagram) This is more honest, paint what’s there without moving it first.

Annabel Dover paints single objects out of place, ie no background or setting, which relies on her add on writing to define why the object is being represented at all,

Roo Waterhouse calls them Shelf Portraits, which sounds right. As Roo puts it, these objects “which we gather around ourselves, the external proof we supply, both to those around us and to ourselves, that reassures us of our existence as individuals in the world.”


Painting in the round creates its own focus, the above pictures are inspired by Mark Fairnington’s work, his paintings of eyes as a part of a face, be it animal or human are a hyperrealistic view of a part of a life. I get a sense of these eyes peering back at me, possibly looking through something to do it, in which case am I being looked at against my wishes? without my knowledge? These eyes are my children, painted with oils on window mount cut-outs from my local framers, its a good exercise in using oil paints, but these are the eyes of real alive children, not the glass eyes of museum exhibits that Mark has painted in his animal tondos.


This is a photo I took at Mottisfont, they don’t always have the servants attic opened, but they did this day. Apparently, one of the former gentry, who lived there, kept a crocodile in the bathroom on this floor, which is what this is set up to represent. However, the act of peering into the room seemed very tondo-esque. I quite like the humour of seeing something you wouldn’t expect to see and that it is looking at you.

Combining the two elements of interior and tondo creates a greater intimacy in looking at the contents of my home, I now get the relevance of different areas and the questions I can ask myself in these spaces.

The size of the tondo will create its own problems as it plays with our view of scale of objects, making us miniature over the items I paint, I’ll deal with these as they occur.

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