I completed a new piece ‘Cocoon’ last week for Fresh Air ’17. Inspired by the puss moth cocoon and pupa, it is a drawing in space, welded, woven and wrapped. The exhibition starts this weekend and runs until 2 July.
Months of research and writing for research methodologies on my MA is now finally over and I am looking forward to focusing more on developing my practice.
I have been looking at worms. I studied an earthworm through a magnifying glass. Its semi-transparent body enabled me to view its internal organs which buckle and coil as it moves. I am intrigued by a pulsating deep pink artery that runs centrally through the length of their bodies, delineating this coiling movement. My ideas are revolving around lead lines, reinforced with steel rod in parts, that suggest huge 3d worm forms, skeletal, with linear coiled pink innards made from copper wire, heated red glass, orange twine and plastic strands. This may change, perhaps it will seem too representational, although the expansive forms meandering through space could be quite breathtaking.
As an experiment, I have created a small worm colony in an old fish tank, with dead leaves for them to munch. In a few weeks I plan to remove the worms by attracting them to the top, then cast their tunnels. If it works, it will be interesting to see what their tunnels look like, how they interconnect.
I have cast some more 3d lead lines, using routed wood blocks as moulds, made with a friend (Nick Weaver)’s help. The wooden lines were gouged with 4 different router cutters, so that I have a range of curved and v-shaped lines. The process was slow, as the lead didn’t melt properly on my studio electric hob, until I directed a gas blowtorch flame into the hot pan too. When I poured, the slag remained in the pan, so the lines were smooth, clean lead. I am considering how these might become more 3d, or whether they don’t need to, and how to convey message with method and materials, creating forms that carry natural associations, bridging the gap between science and art.
I have created a brief questionnaire as part of my MA research (see images below). If you have the time to download the document (link below), fill it out and return it to me via email (e: firstname.lastname@example.org) by 1 January 2017, that would be fantastic!
To download click here: questionnaire
(Photo credits:1: Yellowtrace; 2: Amanda McCavour; 4: Laurie Lax; 5: Tate)
Thank you in advance!
Since finishing my egg sac drawing/sculpture (above), worms have been a recent preoccupation. Last week I went on a worm hunt (in a harmless way) to photograph and draw them for my research. There’s a special technique for this: by vibrating the earth, they rise to the surface (apparently to seek mates in the rain – more important than the fear of being pecked by birds or moles).
This is a layer of research over my investigation into possible uses of graphite (and linseed oil) as a medium. Graphite, interestingly, is a form of carbon, which, I’ve recently learnt, is a primary element (4th most abundant in the universe) that comes from the beginnings of life – brought from the stars via buckyballs. All living things contain carbon in some form. Julio Gonzalez, when he first coined the expression ‘to draw in space’ was initially inspired by constellations and the points between them as a metaphor for drawing in space. Graphite, due to its carbon property, is the thinnest medium and can stretch to only 1 atom thick, whilst retaining great strength.
Earth worms have been of interest to me for several years.
I respect their status as recyclers and importance within the cycle of life. I like their grey to maroon transparent skin tones (some with clearly visible red veins delineating their contours as they move) and their form that resembles many others – limbs, tree roots/branches, neurons, filaments…
I hope to create a series of works in 2-d and 3-d – drawings/sculptures/installations that could be immersive, possibly worm-like! The drawings might start flat on oiled paper with graphite, leading to graphite as 3-d. I need to explore other possibilities – perhaps using perpex to back the paper so it can arc into space. It’s early days, and seems a little slow to get going, but I’m enjoying the process of investigation.
My MA course at Bath Spa is all-consuming. I’ve been engrossed in research and explorative studies, leaving little time to add new posts here. To see what I’ve been up to, here is a blog/journal, which logs my progress and an image of a drawing I’m working on at the moment:
The arrival of Louise Bourgeois’ exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, Somerset, coincided with the first weeks on my MA course. I had been looking forward to visiting her show, being a huge fan. A few days before, I had been looking at my collection of ‘finds’ (all sorts of natural phenomena) for inspiration. A dried up fish swim bladder and a sponge-like form found on the beach grabbed me as starting points. I want to investigate similar forms in nature, sometimes micro in scale – their form and function. I’m also interested in drawing more – whatever shape that takes – 3-d and 2-d.
Bourgeois’ work struck a chord. Of course I love her Maman Spider, crouched eerily, over-powering the first barn. I was hoping for more sculpture, but strangely it was her etched drawings of plant forms, bodily parts and egg clusters that fascinated me most. Largescale and awkwardly drawn, they have real emotion, enhanced by repetition.
Her forms resonated with my ‘finds’. I have since looked up my sponge-like object on the internet. It seems to be whelk egg sacs! Serendipity, though not so surprising that I was drawn to Bourgeois’ seductive egg sacs. So I have been drawing the sacs with a view to creating 3-d pieces (drawings?) with wire, paper pulp, fibres and other mixed media based on them. Relic of little lives, now entered into the greater cycle.
We are gearing up to our ‘step in stone’ exhibition at Salisbury Art Centre, which I am curating with Amanda Wallwork. The exhibition runs Thursday 18 August – Saturday 24 September.
“This exhibition tells the story of a unique event held last summer in the South West. Fourteen artists, all with connections to South West England (including two from Wiltshire) but from as far afield as Norway and Australia, created a collaborative and multidisciplinary series of site-specific artworks that fused art and the natural landscape in response to the nature of quarries and their place in the environmental, cultural and industrial heritage of the region.
The pieces were installed in six venues (three disused and working quarries and three related indoor exhibitions), and staged in three “steps”, the quarries’ natural history, ecology and geology inspired works in surprising forms. Aiming to link culture and the environment, the extraordinary artscapes gave over 8000 visitors a free opportunity to encounter contemporary artworks while exploring the spectacular, wild landscapes of abandoned and working quarries in rural East Mendip.
‘step in stone’ really engaged audiences, encouraging them to consider the environment around them, our place in it, how it evolves, the benefit we get from it, our impacts upon it and how nature responds and reasserts itself. It engaged a whole spectrum of the public, including school children, families and the elderly, many who had never visited these interesting spaces.”
Exhibiting artists include Artmusic, Catherine Bloomfield, Bronwen Bradshaw, Duncan Cameron, Fiona Campbell, Duncan Elliot, Tessa Farmer, Stuart Frost, Suzie Gutteridge, Ralph Hoyte, Sally Kidall, Caroline Sharp, Amanda Wallwork and Christina White
We’d love you to join us for the launch event on Friday 19 August from 6 – 8pm
I will be showing my large ‘Cirri’ pieces and sketchbooks:
Other artists’ work will include the following:
My blog writing has suffered in the past few months as demands on my life expand. It can be said of many of us, life seems to be getting busier. Trying to take time out to simply enjoy can be a challenge! The past month has certainly been a massive effort for me to manage, but I seem to have done it fairly unscathed. Planning and running workshops at different schools, drawing and making large sculptures for new exhibitions, transporting and setting them up, endless admin and meetings for new roles and plans (to be divulged soon) and of course personal life, son, garden, home blah blah…! So, here’s a snapshot of what’s happening in terms of exhibitions and projects I’m involved in this summer.
I’ve been working towards several summer shows at seaside venues and in some lovely gardens in London, the South West and Guernsey.
Starting next week is my solo exhibition entitled ‘Found, Now Missing’ at Contains Art, Somerset, as part of their ‘Voyages’ programme. My largest piece (image above) will be sited on the roof of a shipping container/gallery overlooking Watchet marina and Bristol Channel. It will be seen from the West Somerset steam railway line above, too. See the Private View invite below for further details – please come along if you can.
On 7th June, I’ll be running a drawing workshop tied in with the exhibition. Do drop in!
From July to September I will be showing work in Glastonbury Abbey’s grounds for their Abbey Orchard Sculpture Trail and participating in the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail ‘14. (See current and forthcoming exhibitions for dates.)
My work is currently featured in The Hidden Garden Art Show as part of Chelsea Fringe and the National Garden Scheme until 8th June and at Art Parks International Sculpture Festival, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG until October. I also have 3 pieces on show until July for Sidcot Arts Centre’s Outdoor Artist Programme.
Various workshops in schools include recently making crane sculptures with All Hallows students linked with the Great Crane Project – soon to be filmed by Whitespace Productions in the making. We made a 2 metre high Tree at Watchfield Primary and this month I’ll be constructing a large nest for children’s litterbugs to live in as part of a Litterarti project, which will feature in Bristol’s forthcoming Big Green Week.
On 12th July, I will be discussing my SAW/NGS Abundance work at the ‘Make, Create, Cultivate Symposium’ – a weekend celebration of some recent innovative creative projects in Somerset.
Then I’m off to Florence for a short break, which I’m sure to enjoy!
I hope you can visit some of these events and wishing you a happy, hot summer ahead!
It’s always great when things tie up, strands of ideas link and what seems random fits into place. Pondering on where to go next in my work and exploring ideas, I picked up a vividly coloured twig during a dog-walk and was captivated by the microcosmic yellow, orange and green world of lichen growing on it. Strangely, I’d recently considered using lichen as a backdrop to my website pages. The colours and textures seem so fitting. But I hadn’t looked closely enough at the amazingly sculptural formations of their growth. Researching lichen back at home, I discovered it is a prime example of a symbiotic union between fungi and algae. I love the whole concept of symbiosis in the animal and plant kingdoms. Equal collaboration. Wish we humans could do it more successfully.
Lichen occurs in extreme environments and illustrates life’s cycle and persistence. It is also useful in our assessment of environmental pollution (as with diatoms – another fascinating subject I’ve looked at recently). Zooming in on lichen formations, it struck me how closely the bulbous ‘cushion xanthoria’ relate in shape to weavers’ nests, coral and other forms I gravitate towards. Nitrate coloured dome-like heads on tentacles enclose a cavity of rich orange. And I’ve just returned from Rome where domes are huge and plentiful and the walls burn orange. New work on lichen begins…