Archive for the 'Objects' Category

Reading Candor

Reading||Making has continued. Again I visited Candor, Anne Carson’s text, looking for guidance in transformation of the monoprints (25-Feb-2020). “If you are not the free person you want to be, you must find a place to tell the truth about that… You could whisper down a well. You could write a letter and keep it in a drawer.” Jane, wife of HG Wells, made faint pencil marks on the letter of sympathy she received from her husband’s mistress. Jane – born Amy Catherine – fulfilling her husband’s domestic expectations.

A square of one print became a folded envelope. It is named – “Jane”. Bound by net, by woolen skein, by the trappings of domesticity, by the stones of the well. Inside, hidden, her name – scratched, mis-written (my oops), torn.

I like this little object very much… except that in the end it is so literal. As I worked at reading the text I found it more and more full of imagery, of the material, the specific.

Playing with printed card, finding shapes, became more abstract.

As reading the process has worked. There is familiarity, and I still find more. Slow. Attentive. Absorbing and making connections. Can I claim that in these photographs the work of reading is made visible???

Eavesdropping at a half-open door

“one has to teach the skill of reading even to those who are no longer illiterate”

“uncultured readers… with a vague knowledge that there is something else here, and enjoying the text like someone eavesdropping at a half-open door, glimpsing only hints of a promising epiphany.”

Umberto Eco, on literature, pages 171 and 219.

Some days I have the confronting feeling that I’m a beginner in something I’ve practiced daily for almost six decades. Then I tell myself to stop being maudlin and self-indulgent, and just get on with it.

I have tried to make visible the work of reading. I have complained bitterly when I found reading challenging. I have made reading the foundation of every day. I write about attentive reading, focusing on every line and word… but lately I’ve wondered – am I getting all I can from all this effort? In particular, am I making connections, building usable knowledge. I note correspondences as I go, and the use of indexing glyphs in my notetaking has been useful in later consolidation around particular ideas. Possibly I need to be more alert to the need to extend my glyph set.

In my last post (7-Jan-2020) I tried to link books and authors with fabric swatches. That was step one in an experiment.

The previous data viz experiments were generally useful, giving me space and time to think, seeing from different angles, generating some surprises… I decided to look at where I was spending time reading, and to search for rhythms and flows in the mix of reading. Keep mine-ing the existing tool set and stash. The brief developed:
* Start recording time spent reading.
* Repeat the scarf form. This time with weaving.
* Begin simple, with options to elaborate as the process continues. So plain weave. I put a 2 metre warp of black cottolin on the 4-shaft table loom, a straight threading.

The result is a record of four weeks of reading – 30 November to 27 December. Information encoded:
* Length of weaving is proportional to length of reading. Four centimetres = One hour.
* Beginning of day is marked by 5 picks in cotton – white on Sunday, then darkening greys reaching black on Saturday.
* Indicate book by weft – torn fabric strips.
* Most reading was done in my workroom. If outside the house, a supplementary fine coppery weft was added (“sunshine”). If bedtime reading, a supplementary weft of silvery white was used (for the moon).
* When a book or essay was finished (not many were), mark by 5 picks in red cotton.

Detail – Wednesday 18 December 2019

In the detail above you might just be able to see the cotton picks at the beginning and end of the day. The book swatches all look quite different when squashed down and used for weft.

Umberto Eco on literature

John Berger
Selected Essays

In the morning I read Umberto Eco for 45 minutes. John Berger accompanied me on the bus, and in a cafe waiting for CPR training – a total of 50 minutes and a glint of sunshine.

Jane Hirshfield Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

At that time I was reading Jane Hirshfield before sleep – hence the loops of white rayon. I wasn’t taking in much, just trying to find the flow, to get an overall sense, hoping to learn enough to be able to read it again with more understanding. Thirty more minutes, and a total of 8.3 cm.

Classic uses of a data visualisation are discovery (learn something new) and storytelling (communicate ideas). I can’t claim either here. Using standard viz software I would have waited to collect all the data before even starting, then probably run a variety of statistical analyses, experimented with multiple chart types, maybe colour themes and scales, transformations, brought in other data sets for context or comparison… There’s the faintest hint of this in the fringes.

By amazing chance, the number of warp ends was precisely four times the number of days woven. So each piece of fringe is one day. The fringing shown above records the total amount of time recorded reading each day (range from 0.67 to 2.75 hours). At the other end of the scarf the number of books read is shown – from 1 to 4 each day. Note the same information is already encoded in the weaving. This is simply a different chart type.

plump folds, showing more of the fabrics

Despite the proportions, the resulting textile can’t really be called a scarf. It does not drape softly and warmly around the neck. However while it sat on my desk over the last week, I came to love its edges. And to appreciate that “not drape-able” could also be described as “sculptural”

reading scarf sculpture

So perhaps wearable sculpture.

Click for larger image

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?

    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.

    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.

    Germination I and II – in Basketry NSW Transformation exhibition

    Next Sunday is Basketry NSW’s annual Exhibition and Open Day. See details on the flyer to the right (click for larger view).

    This is the first one I’ve participated in. I saw last year’s exhibition (see 10-July-2016), and as I wrote back then it influenced me to make basketry part of my creative practice and indeed to join the group.

    I’m showing two objects in the exhibition, and will also be one of those demonstrating on the Open Day.

    Germination I and Germination II

    In early 2016 I decided to change up, transform, my creative practice. Previously textiles-focused, I undertook a week’s Creative Research Masterclass with Ruth Hadlow (13-Nov-2016), other weeks working on Welding Sculptures with Paul Hopmeier (22-Jan-2017), Basketry with Brooke Munro (15-Jan-2017), and a week with Keith Lo Bue exploring forms with steel wire and the poetics of found objects (23-Apr-2017). All this plus shorter classes in life sculpture, drawing, basketry, wearable technology, a sculpture conference, and of course joining Basketry NSW.

    Germination I

    The first growth from this intensive period is seen here. Germination I melds wire-forging skills from Keith with basketry’s random weave, informed by my loom-weaving background. The steel is construction wire, the same used in Germination II, and with hammer and hand-polishing explores the mutable qualities of this wonderful material.

    Germination II Sideview

    Germination II was begun in the class with Paul Hopmeier. Scrap metal and factory floor waste combines with construction wire in a tangle of growth, expansion, transmutation.


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