Archive for the 'Projects' Category

Workshops with Mary Hettmansperger

Three days, two workshops back to back, spent in the company of fellow NSW Basketry Association members, inspired and led by Mary Hettmansperger – what a fabulous experience! The first two days were Sculptural Basketry – soft materials, the third Sculpture, Surfaces & alternative designs in Baskets & Vessels.

In physical terms there isn’t much to show for it:
There is some waxed linen thread, coloured with acrylic paints. This is the only thing you could term “finished” – and it’s a potential input into other projects.

Painted linen thread


A small, unfinished sample of twining. Lots of ideas here including the shaping, internal stiffening with modpodge, three rod wale, the painted linen, a bridge to create two tubes…

Twining wip


A barely started form in aviary wire, with three rows of knotting and the intended twining yet to begin.

Knotting wip


A complex form created with wire, pantyhose, glue and dress-making patterns, full of potential.

Bizarre form wip


Looping on a twisted and hammered wire form, progressing quite well.

Looping wip


All exciting in their own way and with their own potential, but the most exciting thing is my notebook, filled with ideas and lists and diagrams with arrows.

Mary’s underlying approach is just what I’ve been working on – creating components over time, ready as input to a faster, intuitive construction process. There were periods of quiet work throughout the days, punctuated with demonstrations by Mary when she threw out ideas, techniques, possibilities, alternatives… We all chose different things to experiment with over the time – I don’t think it would be possible to do it all. There was lots of metal play which I haven’t tried yet. I have lots of notes and photos, and plan to do my experimenting at home with the tools, materials and setup I already have.

A final photo – of Mary’s work with my own twist. Mary brought with her a lot of the jewellery she makes – but no earrings! Unacceptable!!! So two neckpieces came home with me and have since been appropriately modified. 🙂

Mary Hettmansperger neckpieces earrings

Mind the Gap

Plan versus Reality.
Sigh

Inspiration
A watercolour by Bela Ivanyi, Boab at El Questro (Kimberleys WA), a finalist in the Wynne Prize 2018 currently being exhibited at AGNSW. So much energy, exciting marks, texture and layering!

Bela Ivanyi
Boab at El Questro (Kimberleys WA)

Bela Ivanyi
Boab at El Questro (Kimberleys WA)
(detail)

Bela Ivanyi
Boab at El Questro (Kimberleys WA)
(detail)

Bela Ivanyi
Boab at El Questro (Kimberleys WA)
(detail)

Purpose
The build | draw response cycle, recommended by Matt Bromhead and as I was trained in the OCA classes. Matt displays his drawings together with the sculptures. I was more interested in really focusing on my samples as part of the selection process for further development.

The Gap
Oh dear. I had some ideas about how to create texture with watercolour and wax crayons. Not good.
So I tried again, just trying to create texture. Meh. Watched a youtube video by Jean Lurssen on creating texture in watercolour using acrylic ink. I quite liked the results – perhaps I’ll make some background pages to get things moving.
Went to charcoal and pencil, more directly what Matt taught. I managed a limited range of different textures, but they don’t add up to anything in this attempt.

Result
Why would I show and keep such weak work?

  • it’s my process. Writing this helps me think about what I’m doing.
  • I live in hope – maybe one day I’ll look back and see how I’ve improved.
  • I achieved my objective. I’ve spent time looking closely at my samples. I know that slanted grid from Marion Gaemer’s workshop is pulling me. I know the resin platform is important to me. I know the gentle lines and folds of the plaster warm me.
  • Next
    I can’t remember if I clearly articulated the component approach in an earlier post. I want to embrace chance, intuition, and thoughtful play. Processes I like, particularly at the moment looping, take time. So I’ve been spending time making components which are then available to incorporate quickly while I’m building.

    A mini conversation with Kath in the comments of my last post (4-Aug-2018) started a train of thought. Spending some quality time looking at and attempting to draw the samples has given focus. I’ve got some questions and ideas around combining looping and resin shards.

    Clarifying the beginning

    After the excitement of the workshop with Matthew Bromhead (10-Jul-2018) I felt inspired and keen to start working.

    I wanted to combine lots of the ideas from Matthew’s class with techniques and materials I’ve worked with in the past. For a start, from Ruth Hadlow – not knowing where you will finish, be very clear on where you start.

    A few weeks have passed since I started writing this post, there’s been some activity, but at the moment it feels like a tangle of threads and I can’t find a loose end to start work on.

    Ideas percolating:

  • Chance, intuition, intelligent and thoughtful play
  • Elegance, decorum
  • Precipice, counter balance, leverage, impetus, precarious, shimmer, shiver
  • Glide, hesitate, teeter, catch (of breath), instant of focus, moment of coherence and balance, the space between – spark, pivot point, point of balance (mobiles!), tipping point
  • Would like a build | draw cycle – keep responding
  • Maintain the energy & excitement of the class
  • Blocks of time. Make space to work in the moment.
  • Mine my history of materials & techniques. Remind myself of what I know
  • Joins. Matt showed us air drying clay for joins. I did a whole project on joins for Mixed Media for Texiles (see link). Surely there’s something there I can bring forward. Plus on reflection I’ve been searching for joins – welding, soldering, rivets…
  • a shared weight
    Elyssa Sykes-Smith

  • Scale. Personal, domestic. I thought of Elyssa Sykes-Smith – I seem to recall a video in which she talked about measuring things with her own body. Then Luke Sciberras talking about the scale of a painting absorbing him bodily (27-Jul-2018). Which doesn’t quite fit where I’m going…
  • What’s happened so far:

  • Casting plaster using a clay mould (demonstrated by Matt Bromhead).
  • Plaster, wire, mouse mesh

    Sample p5-11

    The clay was lined with ribbed plastic, thinking of sample p5-11 from the Mixed Media course (23-Feb-2016).
    I don’t like the proportions. The plaster is a bit squat. The mouse mesh is too orderly, too fixed. But there’s some movement and shimmer in the wires.

    Plaster, wire. Cast in rough clay, wood on one side, wire inserted through clay sides

    The second cast tried a couple of ideas – different surface textures, different angles for wire insertion. An ugly lump.

    I used these together with one of the experiments from Matt’s class to try some joining methods.

    Sample From Matt Bromhead Class

  • Joins

    Small lengths and pieces made by looping with florist’s wire. This version the larger wires were threaded through, in another a slightly longer, thinner looping was twisted around, almost like a bow. Stays in place fairly well. Brings a level of detail and interest that I like. It also works on a single wire, not a join, as a small focal point.


    Another variation, this time a larger, square piece of looping.

    I had great hopes of this. A hole drilled through the thick brass rod, rebar wire threaded through, a bit like an incomplete rivet.

    Drilling the hole was slow and awkward. The end result is effective as a join of two wires, but doesn’t really contribute anything else. It might be useful in some circumstances, but hardly exciting.

    Holes drilled in a shard of resin and wires threaded through. Great introduction of colour and shine. Possibilities.

    Two lengths of rebar wire were connected by weaving across them with florist’s wire. An extra length of rebar wire was added in. Lots of movement and form-building potential.

    I like the level of detail that can be achieved.


    A simpler variation of weave also works quite nicely.

    Unhappy with the mouse wire used in the earlier plaster cast, I took a couple of photos with a wrapped wire sample from a class with Marion Gaemers (26-Dec-2017).

    Sample from Marion Gaemer’s class, posed with plaster cast


    Now that gets the blood moving. I’d want to wrap the wire after it is cast in the plaster. I also like the way the wrapped wire goes to the side, below the top of the plaster. How much manipulation could be done after casting?

    I wondered about making my own variant of a larger grid.

    Some lengths of rebar wire, quickly joined with simple wrapping of florist’s wire. The sample has a unfortunate suggestion of a trussed chicken ready for roasting.

    Still feel like I’m groping around the room wearing a blindfold. I might spend some time drawing, or I might take some of my favourite things from above and throw them together…

  • 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.


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