Archive for the 'Basketry' Category

Diversion talk

Today seven of the artists showing in Diversion gave talks in the gallery space. There was a very positive and energetic vibe to the event. I continue to enjoy very much the experience of exhibiting and it gave me a real buzz to have people interested in my work. I had some great conversations both before and after the actual talks.

Artist talk
Photo: Nicole Robins

My contribution (or a variant of it):
Our curator Meri chose a wonderful theme with “Diversion”. From many possible interpretations I quickly focused on ideas around distracted attention and departing from your “true” or “proper” path.

I love going to classes, mixing with people as a change from the quiet hours in the studio, the inspiration, the new techniques and materials. For many years I was fairly focused, working with textiles although using a range of techniques. A few years ago I did a course in Mixed Media for Textiles and my creative world exploded – suddenly a wide range of media and techniques, plastics, plaster, resin, printmaking… – and away from two dimensions into space. I could definitely be off “the path”.

Happily some of the classes were with Australian artist and academic Ruth Hadlow. Her model or way of understanding a creative practice or indeed life provided a structure or framework for what could have been chaos.

In Ruth’s model there aren’t discrete bubbles of projects, each a separate series of steps: research and develop idea; plan outcome; produce outcome; deliver or display; full-stop. Instead there are series of strands of investigation co-existing, like the many currents in a river. A particular strand may start, fade, grow, join with other strands, resurface… It isn’t a progression to a Goal. You go where-ever most engaged at the moment.

There are no diversions! Anything could lead anywhere, at some future time. You never know the end point when you start – there aren’t real end points in this ongoing process.

Given you don’t know the end, you need to be very careful and clear about the beginning. What are your points of reference, what interests you, what attracts (not distracts) your attention? Analyse inputs and influences – be very specific about exactly what is drawing you.

Then you can develop a brief – a question or challenge. Explore, not committing to a single direction early. Sample constantly – often sampling becomes the work. Sampling avoids predetermining the work.

Ruth’s ideas have stayed with me. I haven’t applied her rigour, but my general approach is framed in those terms.

The Diversion theme – distracted attention and straying from one true path – felt a challenge. Could I work using the model and have an outcome bringing many paths together for the exhibition?

My brief for work towards Confluence:
o Use elements of the river – currents and eddies and flashes of sunlight
o Reflect my diverse interests
o Keep sampling as long as possible, keeping it provisional
o Capture that moment of coherence and balance when everything comes together just before it all flows apart.

Confluence as exhibited in Diversion:
o in my eyes elements of water or river or channel in each part
o There are textiles, including my hand-dyed threads from my weaving days, metalwork and cold forging, resin, making mobiles, virtually a beginner’s sampler of basketry techniques
o I’m disappointed there’s no welding or printmaking or cast plaster, or broken ceramics, or drawing, or …
o There’s a literal approach to the idea of momentary balance, using my recent and ongoing experimentation with mobile forms.
o There was lots of sampling (I took a sample-bag of the samples to illustrate the talk!). Some “samples” are incorporated in the exhibition work, some led to elements in the exhibition , some stay in the bag and may resurface in the future
o As for keeping work provisional, my misreading of exhibition deadlines meant I didn’t have the mobile element ready and fully documented in time. Fortunately for me curator Meri was very accommodating. After the deadline the flow of work continued as I kept sampling and experimenting. Somewhat bizarrely it was a surprise to me when I suddenly recognised it – the basin element – was a finished object, really not at all the form I was thinking of at the start. It was the day before installation that I emailed Meri and she so kindly agreed to the addition. Other than sitting in the exhibition space working, I don’t think I could have pushed provisional and sampling further.

At the end of the talk I briefly mentioned Waymarker, a sentinel of a stream of enquiry, of possibility, that I want to return to one day. An alternate stream that I’m hoping will allow me to experiment with some similar ideas albeit on a different scale has been progressing in the background. Fingers crossed, more on that soon.

—–
Most of what I spoke about has been recorded in this blog.
* Mixed media for textiles course – see Categories listed on the right of this page.
* 25-Feb-2016 has the main information about Ruth Hadlow’s workshop Articulating Practice, but do a search on the blog for lots more references.
* Keith Lo Bue’s dvd workshop Poetry in motion: making marvelous mobiles (http://www.keithlobue.com/) teaches all about creating mobile forms. I wrote about some classes I took with Keith 23-Apr-2017, and a blog search will turn up lots more references to him.
* Summer school in Welded Sculpture with Paul Hopmeier (22-Jan-2017) taught me all I know about welding. Waymarker was made there, although named more recently.

Diversion

At the opening
Photo: Desdemona Foster

The latest Basketry NSW exhibition opened last Wednesday. It’s the first time work of mine has been shown in a formal gallery space, my first evening with drinks and nibbles opening, and I had a great time. There were lots of other artists to chat with (I think there are 21 artists being shown), plus I had family and friends who continued the evening with me later with dinner at the local pub.

The exhibition looked great. A team of us had worked hard on the installation the previous day under the leadership of curator and president Meri Peach. One of the strengths of our group is the wide range of materials and techniques, the different perspectives and focus of members, resulting in a showcase of current trends in contemporary basketry.

Most of the umbrellas from Shades of Red (9-Mar-2018) were reunited, installed lining the outside terrace of the gallery. Gallery Lane Cove is up a flight of stairs from the street, and it’s great to have such a statement visible from below.

Shades of Red installation

Waymarker

As well as my two umbrellas I contributed two works to the exhibition.

Waymarker has been seen before in this blog, but looks a bit different with the gallery lighting and hanging system. It was made in the Welded Sculpture summer school with Paul Hopmeier at the National Art School last year (22-Jan-2017).

Confluence had a last minute addition which really pleased me. When I last photographed it just a couple of weeks ago it was a mobile (19-Mar-2018). In the installation it was joined by a second element, which given the watery theme I’ll call a basin (some ambivalence here – “eddy” could work as well).

Confluence -basin element

The idea for this element came up during experimentation and development for the mobile. One Sunday, just three days before the entry deadline and feeling the time pressure, I made the resin section – and it didn’t work. Threads clumped every which-way, the simple form I intended became a misshapen mess… A total disaster and waste of materials. Confluence the mobile was entered into the exhibition.

A week or so later I decided I might as well try the wire looping edge experiment, just to get some value from the thing. As work continued I planned all sorts of extra elaboration, piercing the internal mass with more metal and perhaps voids … but suddenly, quite unexpectedly, over the Easter long weekend it was finished. And I liked it. All those extra plans seemed busy and pointless. The accidental form was way better than my original intention would have been. It sat for a couple of days under the mobile and in my eyes the whole was more than the sum of the parts. So the morning before installation day I emailed Meri, no expectations, thinking it was an unprofessional thing to do, but feeling I owed it to the work to at least ask the question. With incredible generosity, Meri said yes. Right from the start (21-Jan-2018) my thinking was of Ruth Hadlow’s model of practice, and keeping experimental and open as long as possible. I feel very fortunate to be supported in pushing that to the absolute limit.

Confluence installed


Finding the right position to hang Confluence was tricky, and in the end fortune continued to favour me – the air-conditioning vent nearby keeps the work in almost constant gentle motion.

Eight or so of us will be giving brief talks in the exhibition on Saturday 14 April starting at 11 am. The exhibition continues at Gallery Lane Cove to 28 April 2018.

Diversion – coming soon


This exhibition was previously code-named “other potential project” (14-Jan-2018, 21-Jan-2018, 4-Feb-2018) and “confluence” (18-Feb-2018, 25-Feb-2018).

Confluence

The second code-name was actually the name for the new work I’ve made for the theme. In brief, the question I asked myself was – could I bring together all the different materials and techniques I’ve been experimenting with over the last year or two and bring them together coherently – in balance and harmony? Were they just so many diversions, or were they currents and channels in a greater stream? Secondary question – could I remain provisional, keep experimenting and exploring, right to the last moments available?

The answer to both turned out to be a slightly vague “well, kinda, pretty much…”. The time I used to the last drop, assisted by misreading the due date and discovering I had a week less than I thought. Some materials and techniques weren’t used, and more components didn’t survive a pretty fierce editing. It’s enough for me to feel that it fits the confluence idea, the streams of inquiry and exploration coming together, at least momentarily.

For any readers who will be in Sydney over the exhibition period, it would be great to see/meet you – particularly on the opening night or for the artist talks.

The photo above is flat and static, not at all what a mobile is about. I’ll try to take some video when it’s up in the gallery. In the meantime, something that gives at least an idea of movement, light and shadow…

The Red Project – installed

The Red Project is currently on at a number of venues around North Sydney. See the North Sydney Council website for more details – https://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/Community_Services/Arts_Culture/Arts_Culture_Events/The_Red_Project and my previous post 15-Feb-2018 for some background.

Basketry NSW’s Shades of Red pops against the rich green of new turf – helped by all the rain on installation day!

The Coal Loader venue is a great re-use of some industrial heritage.

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As well as Shades of Red there is an installation by the Primrose Park Paper Arts group, plus in a series of chambers off one of the tunnels there are installations by individual artists.

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There’s lots of activity scheduled over the coming weekend, including on Saturday demos and mini-workshops by members of Basketry NSW.

Variations on a theme

That heading isn’t quite it. A sense of recognition or familiarity, but in a new context or with a different emphasis, going deeper or at a tangent. Of richness, complexity. Resonance.

A small example: This week’s lecture at AGNSW, Peter Kohane speaking on “Ancient Greece: the invention of the classical orders”. Back to The Canon, which so puzzled me when studying art history (13-Apr-2013) – but totally different. This time round the focus was on the analogy between a human being and the columnar orders, underpinned by the concept of the human body as a type of perfection. The idea of timber temple elements imitated in stone was familiar, then enriched with more detail, with the idea that the monument has within it a sense of time and a memory of earlier ceremonies. The formal nature of a Greek temple – no straight lines, but curves which compensate for angle of view and fall of light. And suddenly it’s a philosophical question: where does truth lie – “objective”, or in relation to the beholder who perceives an ideal beauty?

Another from this week, and also relating to the art history course: a visit to The Barracks museum in Sydney. Previously seen 11-May-2013 when it was all about the architecture. Visited this week, I appreciated the history it presented – particularly related to convicts and 19th century immigration; plus the reflection on the nature of the museum itself – the archaeological dig, the choices made in displaying aspects of the building and its history.

Lots more musing going on, but let’s up the tempo and look at something solid.

A variant of setup for resin had a range of heat-distressed fabrics (4-Feb-2018) suspended over drip trays lined with plastic and filled with oddments and experiments.

Raffia in resin

Threads in resin

More threads in resin

Rubber bands in resin

The drip tray contents were selected with an eye to the moving water theme.

On initial review none really excite, but they’ll all go in the stash as holders of possibilities and potential.

Possibly it was false economy. The fabrics don’t have as thick a coating of resin as would have been possible if I’d kept scooping up and re-applying the drips until the resin exothermic reaction kicked in. Lots to play with here, especially manipulating the fabric as the resin hardens.

Although not quite as robust as envisaged, some of the fabric has been cut and looping in wire added.

Heat distressed fabric in resin, looping in galvanised steel

A very pleasing result. Light, texture, shine, transparency, an ocean swell.

A very different variation on the watery theme started with some steel offcuts from welding what is now known as Waymarker (22-Jan-2017 and 4-Feb-2018).

Metal cut and transformed

Cut out with a jeweller’s piercing saw, drilled to create a classic moving water symbol. Smoothed and polished.

After a few classes which included using the saw the process felt good.

The next step of incorporating some basketry techniques and materials already using in codename confluence was a little tricker, but overall I think the result works with other elements.

Steel, threads. Random weave.

The hope remains that the different pieces will come together and transform under gallery lights and the movement of the mobile.

Metal and more

Codename Confluence
Previously this was known as “other potential project” (4-Feb-2018). Thinking and work is progressing on the new piece, still based on moving water, particularly river currents, eddies, backwaters, billabongs… I’m expecting it to take the form of a mobile (not locked in yet) – balance is another part of the story. So far focus has been on developing some individual elements, looking for some level of transparency so they interact with the light and gallery environment.

Silver fabric in resin, coiling

Photographed propped against a waterglass to give an idea of how it could look in open space, this is about 11.5 cm diameter. Not convinced I like the soft texture of the threads against the hard surfaces of resin and galvanised steel wire I’m using elsewhere. The v-stitch of the coiling reminds me of zigzag graphic designs for water.

Thread in resin, neolithic twining in wire

Really like this combination of threads in resin and neolithic twining in steel wire. It’s 12.5 cm wide. If I have time I want to make a companion piece exploring this combination further.

Metal smithing class with Jane Tadrist
Nine hours over three weeks at Sydney Community College, this was a great chance to consolidate and extend my metal working skills.

Copper tealight in progress

We could choose to make a cuff or a tealight. I really wanted to get a handle on soldering, so went for the tealight. The design reflects my “moving water” theme, and was deliberately kept simple so I could finish in good time.

Soldering was completed in the final minutes of the class (yay!). I should be able to do the finishing here at home.

vessel wip from Christian Hall class

Sadly that meant I didn’t have time to complete the soldering still required on my little vessel begun in the Christian Hall workshop (7-Jan-2018). In theory Jane was happy for me to work on it – but dratted time got me again.

Hope is not lost. I’ve booked on another class with Jane later this year. Maybe third time lucky for this little brass object. Another possibility is setting up a soldering area in my workroom at home – hoping that will happen before the end of the year.

Lady and the Unicorn exhibition
Six stunning tapestries made circa 1500 are now on exhibit at the Art Gallery of NSW, on loan from France.

Detail of The sixth sense – heart, desire or will

While there are side galleries of interpretive detail, the actual tapestries are in a single dimly lit room, surrounding the viwer. The impact is amazing. I’m not sure how big they are. The Lady could be near life size.

Still a detail

The photo above shows one small detail in the largest tapestry. To the right is another view of the same piece – still just a detail.

There’s lots of information and many much better photos on the gallery website linked above. All very accurate and objective and academic. The works themselves, the whole experience of standing there drinking them in, is an emotional and physical thing.

ARTEXPRESS 2018 exhibition
Also at AGNSW is this year’s selection of student artworks developed for the artmaking component of the HSC examination in Visual Arts 2017.

How Irrigating
Hannah Raeside

A wonderful mix of media and intent. I particularly enjoyed Hannah Raeside’s work playing with garden hose and fittings. It’s an exploration of shape and form, taking something very prosaic and creating abstract beauty.

Shades of Red

A previously embargoed project can now be revealed: Shades of Red, one of a series of exhibitions and events making up The Red Project: Celebrating Creative Women in North Sydney.

Shades of Red will be a collaborative, site specific installation of 32 umbrellas by 22 artists from Basketry NSW. The process was collaborative from the start, with selection of a theme and development of criteria. Each individual piece started with an actual umbrella or parasol frame. We used shades of red, with limited use of black, white and natural. Naturally basketry techniques play a major part of construction. Ideas of sustainability/recycling and International Women’s Day were also considered, as was durability and safety in an outdoor installation.

I’ve seen quite a few of the individual works, and there is an amazing array. Most retain a basic umbrella shape, but there are a few very inventive exceptions. It will be exciting to see them all come together at the venue – installation begins in around 10 days, and the actual exhibition is 3 – 18 March.

I have made two umbrellas.
The first was based on an umbrella I bought while living in the UK in the early 1980s. It has been dubbed an “un-brella”. Yarn and heat-distressed organza, random weave, coated in resin. I wanted to play up how useless it now is, so there are tatters and permanent resin “raindrops” dripping.

Given the outdoor setting of the installation I really wanted some interesting shadows, and it’s great to see them plus the sparkle of resin in the sunshine.

An umbrella used by my children was my second starting point, happily already red in handle and other fittings. Steel wire, random weave, cold forged and painted. The weave is spaced to create an effect of stripes – tricky to capture in the photo, especially with the satisfying shadows.

Shades of Red will be open 3 – 18 March at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability, 2 Balls Head Drive, Waverton. Note that the specific area of the installation will be ‘The Terrace’ (stairs behind the café), a late change not reflected in printed versions of the Council material. There will be basketry demonstrations and mini-workshops 11 – 2 Saturday 10 March.

For more information see www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/redproject

‘Shades of Red’ is part of THE RED PROJECT, a North Sydney Council Arts & Cultural event exhibiting artworks by 74 artists at 6 venues throughout the month of March, in celebration of creative women in North Sydney and International Women’s Day.


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