Archive for the 'Basketry' Category



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.

Some momentum

Pace and energy are beginning to build. It’s a good feeling.

Object 2 of embargoed project 1 has been painted and just needs a check, touch up and tidy up to be done. It’s due for installation with its peers later this month. A teaser photo when it’s entirely done, and hopefully full details of the project can be shared soon.

The other potential project is looking more and more certain. I’m contributing two pieces.

Waymarker

The first has been seen before – an output from the welding sculptures workshop with Paul Hopmeier last year (22-Jan-2017). Given this new (still potential) exhibition is being developed in a very short time, recent and relevant work is being accepted as well as new work.

The work was never entirely finished, so the rust has been largely cleared off (not entirely – I think some is appropriate to my ideas about it) and some wax has been applied for a glow and to protect against ongoing rusting. I’m really happy that it’s going to have a chance to been shown.

Play continues on a new piece for this exhibition. The thinking behind includes currents and eddies and flashes of sunlight in a river.

Some looping techniques in different weights of wire might just possibly suggest droplets of water in the sun. A range of synthetic fabrics in watery colours have been heat treated and I’m planning resin. On the right is a scrap piece of resin with threads embedded, cut out and used as a centre for neolithic twining (? never sure of this – need to check with the basketry people) in wire. Not the colours I want, but some very exciting possibilities being generated.

Also this week I started a beginners class in silversmithing. Too soon to have anything to show, but it seems exactly what I need to address the problems experienced in the Sturt summer school class (7-Jan-2018).

There’s even been reading! Plus the first of this year’s lecture series at the Art Gallery.

Glimpses of potential

Back at the day job + warm weather = slow progress

Object 2 of the embargoed project has been a roller-coaster. There are competing practicalities of sturdiness and weight – last night I was thinking of abandoning the attempt, today a balance seems closer. Basic construction is close to complete, but lots of finishing ahead.

It’s been an opportunity to try out a new tool – a ClampTite. This elegant little steel and brass number helps you bind wire around – well, nice firm tubes are easiest, but pretty much anything as long as you have space to work it. My project wasn’t ideal, but still a big improvement both visually and in effectiveness over my hand bound attempt on the left in the photo.

Play continues on the potential project. I’ve been thinking about all the materials and techniques I’ve been using in the last couple of years, also how I want to work (Ruth Hadlow’s streams). It might seem like I’ve been going in all sorts of directions, but things circle round, come together, inform each other, find some kind of balance…

Process and play


A good week, but not a lot I can show. Still it seems to be an important thing for me to pause and review on a regular basis.

The unmentionable object first glimpsed 26-Dec-2017 has been completed. The project is still under embargo, so no details (except for the photo above, which is all details). It follows that the second object I’m making for this project must also remain in the shadows.

Thinking about another potential project has begun, but that isn’t confirmed yet so… nothing to see here 😦

Instead a little general musing about process and play. How does one approach an exhibition theme? What does a viewer expect – and should I consider that?

One approach to the theme could include mind-maps and mood boards and sketches and plans. Not appealing (makes me feel claustrophobic) and I think something directly connected, even narrative, isn’t for me. I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learnt from Ruth Hadlow (see 25-Feb-2016 among other posts). So treat the theme as the beginning of a chain of thought and experimentation, and see what I’ve got when time is about up.

“Creativity” – definitions generally seem to involve creating something (physical or otherwise) new or novel and somehow of value or use. Imagination may be mentioned. But how much is truly novel? Play, curiosity and problem solving seem more relevant. And I love applying ideas or techniques learnt in a different area.

Quite a bit of reflecting, not much writing. To finish this lopsided and vague post, a pointer to something worth your time if in Sydney – Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age: masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, at AGNSW until 18 February. I’ve been a few times – not directly inspirational, but for the interest of art history and the simple pleasure of looking.

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.


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