I visited the Venice Biennale last month and loved it. Of course, Venice is beautiful: the canals, bridges, crumbling textured walls, astonishing architectural details.. and so much art. The Arsenale is an awesome building. Originally a naval dockyard, it is now filled with international contemporary installations, some more impressive than others. My favourites are Yee Sookyung’s huge ceramic sculpture and Ernesto Neto’s woven tent with hanging pods, both filling vast spaces. At the Giardini, Phyllida Barlow’s ‘Folly’ for the UK Pavilion greets you with huge bauble/lollipops, monumental towers jostle inside like gigantic elephant legs stretching upwards and pushing out of the building confines. ‘Folly’ is a playful maze challenging our perceptions of art. I also loved Geoffrey Farmer’s water piece. The Canadian Pavilion is unfinished, so his work utilises the space with a refreshing outdoor piece. Steel structures camouflaged as wood planks with holes spray water into the air, playfully catching sunlight and casting rainbows. In the Japanese Pavilion Takahiro Iwasaki has created incredible tiny 3d thread architectural constructions in unexpected places within the room.
I have been making my own glass tendrils with Sonja Klinger’s help. I hope to use them within an ongoing installation (see bottom – work in progress). My new interest in glass led me to the Glasstress Exhibition, also in Venice. Ai Weiwei’s ‘Blossom Chandelier’ dominates one room with white glass swirling forms, a fusion of exotic flowers and his anti-authoritarian motifs. In contrast, Josepha Gasch-Muche’s ‘T.30/12/07’ comprises fine slivers of transparent glass packed into a box-like structure. Jagged but delicate, the edges become abstract drawings.
I’ve been inspired by Judy Pfaff’s work, which ‘seems to zoom into the organic then zoom out to the planetary.’ (Tim Higgins). She creates installations and assemblages that fuse collage, drawing, painting and sculpture, a flamboyant mix of glass, tree branches, fluorescent lights, tar, melted plastic, expanded foam, plexiglas, steel, styrofoam, plaster and resin. A recent TV series ‘The Art of Japanese Life‘ touched on the use of Ma in Japan: the spaces and lulls between things are as important as positives, often suggesting peace, silence.
Now in a temporary new massive studio at Sion Hill, Bath Spa Uni, as part of my MFA, I am enjoying the liberating space and opportunity to really go for it in my quest to explore line as form on a larger scale, drawing in space, treating line as object, taking lines ‘for a walk’ (Klee). While still referring to the connection between line, growth and energy, I am trying to allow the work to unfold, working in a more immediate way and introducing unfamiliar materials to see what happens…