Archive for the 'Projects' Category

Workshop: Matthew Bromhead – Drawing and Sculpture

This workshop at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre was wonderful and dangerous. Wonderful for all the reasons below. Dangerous, because it could swallow me, instead of me swallowing and making my own from it.

For a start, there was a muddle with dates and at the last minute the workshop was delayed a week. Three of us were lucky – we could manage the date change and Hazlehurst was generous enough to run the class with such a small group. With three people and a generous and responsive tutor the class morphed to respond to us. What did we want/need? Let’s do that!

And for me there were so many resonances and gongs chiming and layers of coincidence and correspondence and a vibration… language still fails me. “Exciting” and “cool” were repeated ad nauseum – I really need to work on my vocabulary! Over the past couple of years I keep loosing and finding myself – and, shockingly, confrontingly, here I found myself in exactly the right place and time.

Deep breath.

Point one. Matt’s a great guy. All he can teach is what he knows – and he is prepared to teach that. It seems no holds barred.

Point two. He uses my wire. Well, let’s keep it honest – Keith Lo Bue‘s wire. And Matt was excited to find someone else who uses it. (I’m talking 1.57mm annealed steel tie wire – get with the program guys!).

Point three. Matt is teaching process. Provisional, play, chance… Make, draw, see

Deep breath.

Are you excited yet? I am.

Throat cleared. Refocused.
I can do this.

Matthew Bromhead’s website is https://www.bromhead.com.au/. He is currently exhibiting at Gallerie pompom in Chippendale. I’ll see you there next Saturday. His practice includes sculpture and drawing.

Matt taught us about elegance and decorum. (I could do with a bit more decorum).
He taught us about intelligent play, chance and intuition.

A limited set of materials. Thick brass wire. Air drying clay. Timber off-cuts. Plaster cast in clay. Steel wire (thump of heart), dental floss and tacks. Just a touch of acrylic colour gives polish, completeness.

Mixed Media Sample p5-11

[Resonance – casting plaster. See work done as part of Mixed Media for Textiles including 23-Feb-2016, 26-Sept-2015 and my “glorious failure” 14-Sept-2015.]

Calder (of course) is an influence. Drawing zooms in. There is counter-balance, leverage. Chance and intent. Work on the precipice.
Danger.
Risk.
Respond as you go.
Play.

Drawing from sculpture. Impetus exists within the sculpture. Texture, tone, values, repetition. Observe, embellish, invent. Multiply viewpoints, softly smudge, be sharp and thin. Begin with building, then change, add, subtract.

I dissolve and emerge.

Who am I? Where am I?
How self-indulgent am I, writing gibberish… ?

Roseanna and Vanessa were both delightful! (that sounds condescending, but I’m just a little drunk on wine and joy and it’s true). It was a pleasure to spend a day with them, to learn with them, to discover and grow with them.

I’m in a state where words release and expand.

Don’t edit.
Expose.

Share.

Let’s all expand.

Some photos.

Matt demonstrating

Roseanna sculpture

Roseanna sculpture + drawings

Vanessa sculpture

Vanessa sculpture + drawings

Vanessa detail

Judy sculpture 1

Judy sculpture 2

Judy drawings


So yes, the day was really fun. Permission to play. Total absorption in process. Growing up in a family of bellringers I recognise a reverberation that’s almost stupefying. So find some points of solidity.

Embracing chance is a key. I’m thinking of Ruth Hadlow of course, of clarity about the beginning because the end is indeterminate. Junctions could be a place to show or find myself. The air-drying clay gives structure without creating a restraint to experimentation. Could I change that up? The plaster casting spoke to my Mixed Media samples. Push that. Then something around austere elegance. It will be interesting to see Matt’s work in person, the level of detail and elaboration. Roseanne, Vanessa and I all brought in extra elements of texture, sparks of interest away from the main focus, rewarding closer attention. What of “my” materials and techniques can be brought in without creating mud?

John Chester Jervis’s earrings

John Chester Jervis (JCJ) was a great great … uncle on my mother’s side. Born in London in 1823, he spent around 30 years in Australia before returning to London and Nice in later life. Mum’s research on his life can be read at megshistory.wordpress.com/
john-chester-jervis/
.

Furniture, vases and other oddments believed to have been his have been passed down through the family, including a small pile of shaped and engraved pieces of mother of pearl. Such counters were crafted in China and introduced to England by the captains of the East India Trading Company. These would have been used in bidding and scoring card games and were popular in the period around 1700-1840. Mum recently agreed that I could use some of the pieces to make earrings for anyone in the family who wanted some.

A few of us spent some time pairing up counters and beads over the recent family weekend. First results are shown below. (and before you look – from the photos I’ve realised there’s some rework to be done with poorly matched amethyst).


The photo on the right gives an idea of relative sizes – plus some of the pieces still available for a few in the family who were interested but haven’t decided details yet.

A postscript – I’ve mentioned JCJ on this blog a few times before. One of my favourites was an exercise in an Art History course in which I mixed family history with the requirement to act as a museum curator selecting artwork for a room in a terraced house. See 13-Oct-2013.

Happy 90th birthday mum!

Recently my mother celebrated her 90th birthday, with a big party for friends one week and a weekend away with family (four generations, 22 of us) the next. For many years her mantra for a healthy life has been to include physical, mental and social activities in every day. The pace is a little slower now, but the interest in and care for others, her curiosity and keenness to explore the world around her, are constant.

I’m the middle one of five children, and we worked together to organise the celebratory Festival of Margaret. Among many other activities, mum used to run a Friday afternoon Craft Club, not just for the five of us but for all our friends around the neighbourhood. That’s the genesis of my joy in making, and I really wanted to bring one or two elements of that into the party.

First, how to identify the hosts – the children? Matching nametags, a photo of the five of us, modified to highlight who was who. Below is mine, plus me in full flight giving a response to mum’s speech.

Second, how to help people mix given they were such a diverse crowd? Make-your-own nametags, with lots of coloured pens, pencils and stickers to play with. Some were more elaborate than others, and only a couple were left behind for me to photograph.

Next, my sister suggested a wishing tree. One thing led to another.

Instead of simple tags, something big enough to write a little story about shared times? So everything got a little bigger and it became a message tree.

Instead of a plain or generic back, why not personalize it and bring in some colour? Mum has always been a keen traveler. I used the background of photos of her on her journeys and printed them onto the message cards – 88 different images. The example on the right is from a beach on King Island, a wonderful and eventful weekend together back in 2012 (7-Oct-2012).


For the tree I used straightened 2.0mm galvanised wire, twining with 0.7mm wire. Given the number and size of cards it needed to accommodate it had to be fairly large – around 85 cm tall and 69 cm diameter. It’s very stable on the wide base.

You can see a bit of the tree in action behind mum in the top photo. Shown here is a mockup before the party when I was testing the idea.

The tree and basket of cards were on the same long table as the gear for making nametags, and there was a real buzz around them. People shared some funny and happy memories, and wishes for the future.

It was a great party, a really positive and friendly vibe. Other siblings were responsible for organising an extensive slideshow of mum from baby to now (my goodness she’s traveled far and wide!), some yummy afternoon tea, a beautiful cake, colourful decorations, set up and smoothing things along on the day… everything to make sure that mum could relax and enjoy her day. I felt so proud and happy for her, and also so lucky to have such a family.

The next day I used the hanging loops and some more ribbon to join the cards into a book-like form. It’s sitting on mum’s kitchen table, a momento of a happy day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The second, family only weekend was great too. More talking, laughing, eating, and a lot of activity enjoying time together. There will be a little making coming out from it, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Still glancing back

Continuing from 21-Dec-2017, looking back as I move forward…

There’s been a little making over this time.

A matter of balance
Overall it’s not what I intended to make and it’s just not right. On the hand there’s lots I like, lots I learnt, lots I brought forward in this.

Good points include:

Sample p3-40 sand molded side

* Use of sample p3-40 from Mixed Media for Textiles (23-Sept-2015). This started life as a heat distortion sample of silver lamé, which was later encased in resin.
* an element of basketry – neolithic twining in wire for a couple of elements.
* I like the little dangle of shards and chain.

Class with Marion Gaemers

Marion Gaemers at workshop

This two day workshop was organised by Basketry NSW.

My class samples

In one sense Sculptural Basketry was pretty simple – cutting and distorting different sizes of chicken wire, wrapping it, coiling from it, covering with and removing paper. Repeat over two days.

Of course there was more. Marion didn’t stop, coming round to each person, asking questions… – and listening to our answers. Then more questions, encouraging us to see, to think about possibilities, to challenge our unconscious, limiting assumptions. With structure taken care of by the wire you can go anywhere with basketry. Cut some out to create voids, or add, or twist. Build in any direction, experiment with materials, use familiar techniques in new ways.


Marion also has lots of expertise in group installations, and while in Sydney she was helping with an upcoming project. It’s too soon to share any details, but here is a glimpse of some work in progress.

Art gallery talks
An embarrassment of riches really. The AGNSW weekly lecture series Site Specific: The power of place, shorter series and one-off lectures on Tolstoy, 17th century dutch doll houses, archaeology in Khotan and Dunhuang… I go and in the darkness scribble phrases and images that catch my mind. Too much to sift through right now unfortunately, but filed away as a resource for the future.

There was a whole day of lectures at the Sydney sculpture conference: in public space. Speakers touched on sculpture as a carrier of time – beyond time, space, reality; the language of a particular place, of Sydney; facilitating transformations; propositional and ephemeral work. There was a lot about the funding of work, challenges to the artist that push them. Maaretta Jaukkuir commented that a work can address the whole of society and public sculpture more ideology than art.

Statue of Richard Bourke
Attribution: DO’Neil at the English language Wikipedia

What has particularly stayed with me is Michael Hill’s comments on public sculpture helping you to understand a place and its history. He talked about a monument to Governor Richard Bourke. This was the first public statue erected in Australia. It is by Edward Hodges Baily, who was also responsible for the statue of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square. It shows a prominent governor of the young colony who worked to change it from military to civil government, to reduce the number of lashes a magistrate could order to a low 50, who declared each religious denomination on equal footing before the law, who was the first governor to publish the colony accounts. So a great, modern, guy. Except that he was the one who proclaimed the doctrine of terra nullius, that the land was nobody’s, dispossessing the indigenous Australians. And the statue stands high, looking over usurped land, on a plinth which lists this achievement.

Now the proclamation seems to have been triggered by concerns about European squatters on the land and a particular “treaty” that was claimed to be have been made and has all sorts of complications and issues. So maybe more establishing a pecking order in the plundering. But coming back to Michael Hill’s lecture, you can see why some in our community find the statue of Bourke offensive, and I don’t agree with Hill’s repeated laments about calls for the statue’s removal and that only sculptures and artworks are subject to such calls, while buildings and other works remain standing. To me the statue has limited modern artistic merit – if it was part of the AGNSW’s collection, would it be guaranteed constant display in perpetuity? It is there because of its historical interest, and that history is disputed and painful. So let’s get the statue down and display it somewhere with context, with other points of view given equal weight, where there can be discussions that take us to a better future that includes facing and redressing as far as possible past wrongs, rather than celebrating and continuing them.

Rant over. And catchup almost over, as much as it ever will be.

First stabile and other making

After initial attempts making mobiles (20-Aug-2017), I’ve moved on to a stabile. I’d never heard of them before starting Keith Lo Bue‘s Poetry in Motion: making marvelous mobiles DVD workshop. They balance just like a mobile, but instead of being suspended they pivot on a table-based stand.

So here in all its glory, full of blemishes but actually working … (drumroll) …

Galvanised wire and corrugated cardboard.

Gregory Hodge
Mime

I had some idea of making a variety of shapes and painting them, then drawing/painting the result (following Gregory Hodge – see 31-Aug-2017). Perhaps as well weights could be inserted in the cardboard, causing some apparent “impossibilities” in balancing.

The stabile isn’t right. Some clumsy connections that don’t hang well, the main balance is tilting to the side, obviously I haven’t gone on to painting, the “design” (let’s be kind) is awkward with parts hitting each other and the central support. Still, fundamentally it works!

I still think there are possibilities with the cardboard, but another idea has come up that loops around to experiments from a year or two back. More to be done 🙂

In other news, the ceramic earrings seen in progress 13-Aug-2017 are finally resolved, after multiple attempts. I’d rate them as OK, wearable, but not exciting. It was a good opportunity to play with wire, and a library of shapes is gradually building up.

Neolithic twining??

Neolithic twining? A video on Lanny Mackenzie’s instagram feed had me intrigued. I’m not sure my attempt is the same, but regardless it’s interesting. Unlike most weaving and basketry which structurally use two sets of elements – warp / rib and weft / weavers – this technique uses a single set of elements. Each length of material (yarn, wire, whatever – let’s call it “end”) follows the same pattern as every other. In her class Judy Dominic showed us that the same end can change function, a rib changing to weaver or vice versa. Neolithic twining, or whatever it is I ended up with, goes further – no differentiation. What possibilities does this bring? How could it be exploited?

Later edit: just so I remember: working end goes over 2 (a and b) and under 2. new working end is b. repeat.

More mobiles

A quiet week with a little progress in balancing and mobile making. Turns out it’s tricky to photograph something designed to move 🙂

First a mobile in .9 mm galvanised steel wire. About 16 cm high.

Very simple, but a good exercise to practice skills.

Next, I couldn’t wait to give earrings a go. I currently have asymmetrical hair, which is a wonderful excuse for mismatched earrings (not that I need any excuse). Design heavily influenced by earrings on Keith Lo Bue’s website. First the blurry action shot.

And the detail shot. It’s .7 mm galvanised steel wire except for the earwires (salvaged from a bought pair of earrings), so avoiding prolonged contact of the galvanised with skin. The discs are shell, with some 4mm Miyuki cube beads.

I spent ages trying to tweak the way the mobile earring hangs. Couldn’t quite get it, but in practice it moves pretty constantly so should look fine. Happy with these.

Approaching wire

I’ve been circling around, making different starts with wire, seeing what might come together.

Egg head

Ages ago (last year?) in a drawing class, tutor Sue Vesely brought hard boiled eggs marked up to show various angles and spacing of the human head. I’ve since made a version of my own, using Sue’s notes and a toy (rubber?) egg. Could I make these shapes and lines using wire and random weave basketry techniques?

It turned out I couldn’t. Nothing to show – it was quickly dismantled, cut up, reused…

… some of it into this face.

Which also doesn’t particularly thrill me. Clumsy lines, not the right selection of which lines to include. This weight of steel (construction wire, annealed steel, 1.57 mm diameter, 16 gauge) was difficult to work with at this scale (slightly less than life).

Not a dead end, but not an enticing path for now.

Another experiment using broken ceramic and wire in random weave also didn’t quite work for me in its first form.


The same steel wire, smoothed and drilled fragments from a cup and saucer, random weave.
The blu-tac is to hold bits in place until I could stabilise placement. Each shard has 3 holes, which I thought would allow enough connections to create a stable non-vessel.

Once again the gauge of the wire, its stiffness when working, caused me grief. When bending wire I was constantly at risk of breaking ceramic, and without sufficiently bending the wire to hold them the pieces kept sliding around.

More recently I’ve been introduced to galvanised steel wire. Lots of different gauges in the hardware store, doesn’t rust (although the shine wouldn’t suit all purposes), not a good choice for jewellery, but a great new option in this kind of work. The old 16 gauge wire has been cut off and new work begun. It’s going reasonably well, but needs to progress before any more photos.

More of the same 16 gauge wire and the ceramic, and still not satisfied with the various possibilities I’ve generated so far. The proportions of the ceramic and wire elements isn’t pleasing. The curve of the wire (from my new dapping set) doesn’t sit well with the different curves of the ceramic pieces. Beads of different sizes have been trialled at different positions, and then the earrings get too long.

I’m really not in a grouchy mood and I don’t think the inner critic is getting out of control. There are possibilities here, just so far none I would wear. It will come.

Now some happy snaps. My friend Claire and I got together for a day of dipping wire in paper pulp. Neither of us had previous experience, so it was all free experimentation. Claire brought the pulp – made from waste cardstock. We both had different types of mesh and wire. There’s more detail and process shots on Claire’s blog – https://tactualtextiles.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/paper-pulp-dipping/.

Here are some of my results.


Above: the pulp built up well on bird wire mesh. On the left is the form as dipped. When dry I was able to change the form, the paper remaining attached.

Above: two views of a form created before the mesh was dipped. A much firmer and sharper end result (compared to re-shaping a dipped piece).

Above: two more vessel forms, quickly random woven together using galvanised wire. I’d like to try this again with more preparation time, creating smaller spaces that the pulp would span better. It tended to slide off these.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Above: a range of forms, wire and an offcut of bird mesh. The pulp held better on the smaller spaces.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Above: the “flower” wouldn’t hold the shape. Some extra fine wire across the leaf helped marginally. The two views of a single “earring” show the impact of lighting on this material.

Above: the two sides of a piece of copper mesh that I had distorted.

Above: more mesh and pulp experiments. Love the combination of copper and the warm cream of the paper.

There’s lots of promise in these results. Some lessons learnt, some really nice effects. I’m hoping Claire and I can arrange another day – with enough lead time for more preparation. Maybe a series of days (or in summer??), so we can let things dry between dippings.

Finally, some first steps following Keith Lo Bue’s Poetry in Motion DVD workshop – http://www.keithlobue.com/product/poetry-in-motion-making-marvelous-mobiles-dvd-workshop-set.

This is what led me to galvanised wire, opening various doors as mentioned above. I’ve worked through the first couple of exercises, and am feeling excited and inspired.

First up was a clever way to straighten wire, plus practice in creating precise shapes and angles. I think a series of these piled up has much more promise of an interesting and dynamic composition than my earlier attempts at wire lines at the top of this post.

Next was an exercise learning to find and fix balance points. Back to 16 gauge wire (galvanised this time), plus corks.


Above: my very first mobile, in two variations. On the left, a flat, horizontal form that spreads out in space. On the right, a simple change in the orientation of one looped end changes the form to a broken straight line, descending in space.

I can see potential for a number of the approaches above to combine into a fruitful line of investigation – even those that left me cold as stand-alones. It’s the end of the weekend, work tomorrow, but I’m rubbing my hands in anticipation.


Calendar of Posts

July 2018
M T W T F S S
« May    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

Categories