Archive for the 'Metalwork' 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.

Exhibitions: Steel for now; Recalibrate; Arcadia

Caroline Duffy and Ellenore Griffith Steel for now
This exhibition by sculptors Caroline Duffy and Ellenore Griffith is in its final week at Gallery Lane Cove. I’ve been fortunate to spend some quiet time with the exhibition, plus hear the artists speak about their work and their creative paths. The works felt familiar and exciting, inspirational… aspirational.

The two artists met at a National Art School class in welded sculpture around 11 years ago – basically the same class I took last year (22-Jan-2017). They have since worked independently and collaboratively. In the talks they went into quite a bit of detail about the methods and challenges of welding, with some really helpful discussion and generous tips about managing safety concerns. Their assessment was the same as mine – welding, grinding etc are serious things with clear dangers, not something you can do casually in a domestic environment. However they had a few suggestions about how to create other possibilities, find other environments, which gives me a bit more optimism for the future.

Steel for now installation view
Caroline Duffy


As well as her work in steel Caroline Duffy showed a number of collage works. I had an immediate and very strong positive response. At a deep level these works resonated with me. It’s a response to material and form, which seems to be the way in which Duffy herself views her work. In her talk she explained that the material leads. She adds material – “stuff” – then takes away stuff. Process, the sheer fun of the work, is the thing and it’s never outsourced.

Caroline Duffy
KYLIX

Duffy’s work is named with meaningless groupings of letters. There is no narrative in her work. In fact if by chance something literal is suggested, say a bird, then she will remove or change that area.

Germination II


I felt like a fellow traveler, maybe a younger sibling. More resonance or suggestion than specific. For example the general form, the repeated elements, the material of KYLIX had me thinking of Germination II (30-Jun-2017). Mine looks fussy by comparison, but that textile sensibility, the threadlike basketry elements, is important to me and something I feel I should focus on.

Ellenore Griffith
Paper Plane

Ellenore Griffith discussed the experimental approach she takes with her work, putting elements together then taking days or weeks looking at them, adjusting in minor or major ways, until she is satisfied and proceeds to welding.

Like Duffy, Griffith is not narrative in her work. She states “My hope is that these sculptures can be appreciated on an aesthetic and imaginative level rather than allowing environmental or social issues to take over the narrative.” However she is happy to accept titles suggested by others, accepting to some level the seeking for meaning or known points of reference that we often bring when looking at an artwork.

Ellenore Griffith
Sheer Red

I find it refreshing, perhaps liberating, to hear such strong statements treating material, form, aesthetic response as the purpose and reason for art. So many people choose to use their art as a means of bringing attention to social, environmental or other issues that concern them. I don’t in any way reject or question that meaning and purpose. If an artist has strongly held beliefs or wants to bring attention to a cause then using their art to publicise and express that can be an important contribution to social discourse. It’s more that I personally don’t have such drivers, and it feels good, validating, to be reminded that that is one option among many, none more nor less legitimate than others.

Tracy Stirzaker Recalibrate
Tracy Stirzaker’s exhibition Recalibrate is also in its last week at Gallery Lane Cove.

Stirzaker uses textile collage, embroidery, installation and soft sculpture in this exhibition, which stems from a recent 3-month artist residency.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The themes of the work revolve around mental health, the emotional body, and the concept of being overwhelmed in the everyday. I thought the works were very effective in expressing these ideas.

One more technical aspect I particularly appreciated was the coherence of the works. A limited palette of fabrics was used, basically a blue and white kitchen towel material and a number of black and white fabrics. Forms and images were repeated – the straight jacket in different materials; a series of silhouettes in collage and stitch; the straight jacket presented as an installation, in a series of photographs taken in the streets nearby, in a video of a silhouetted, straight-jacketed body struggling for freedom. The repetition made for a more compelling exhibition, but also was expressive of the themes being explored.

Ewa Pachucka Arcadia: landscape and bodies
This installation can currently be seen at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Ewa Pachucka

Ewa Pachucka

It is fascinating on a number of levels to see this multi-part installation Arcadia: landscape and bodies (1972-77). It was created within the context of 1970s fibre art, and first exhibited at the Gallery in 1978.

There are references to classical art (and world) history, notions of collectivism, feminism and environmentalism. Most importantly there is the elevation of textile traditions and craft into the privileged realm of fine art.

What’s had me thinking is a recent incident in a group installation, part of a larger exhibition. It’s not one I’ve written about, and I won’t go into detail because quite possibly the story has been distorted in the telling (something that could be interesting in its own right). In any case, the story I’ve heard is that the group, all women, prepared a number of elements as part of the installation. Included was a large piece that deliberately evoked the look of a patchwork quilt. That element was rejected by the curator of the exhibition as “too crafty”. It was displayed, folded up, partially covered by other material, in a way to minimize its presence.

Was the curator simply exercising her (note gender) role, effectively excluding work she didn’t see as appropriate in some quality? Given it was a very conscious, deliberate evocation of the domestic by the artists, does it show a lack of understanding by the curator? Do we need to fight yet again for the place of the domestic, the place of textile traditions and craft, in the realm of art? Does it make a difference that it wasn’t actually a textile in traditional terms?

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…

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.

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…

Folding metal for objects & jewellery making with Christian Hall

This was my third time at Sturt summer school. The first was in 2012, Contemporary Weave with Liz Williamson (14-Jan-2012). The second, last year, was Basketry with Brooke Munro (15-Jan-2017).

It was the same lovely space at Frensham school in Mittagong. The general atmosphere was purposeful, happy and welcoming. The class was out of my comfort zone – a beginner, but I thought with some relevant experience from last year’s Welding Sculpture with Paul Hopmeier (22-Jan-2017) and working in wire during Steeling Beauty with Keith Lo Bue (23-Apr-2017). (Yes, I’m clearly a workshop fanatic).

So why am I back in Sydney writing up this experience, when I should still be in Mittagong giving the final polish to my work before the open-class walkaround that closes the week?

It’s going to take some time to think through many details, but I think fundamentally it was a bad match of my skills and ability to the major projects of the class. Although billed as suitable for all levels, I was the only beginner and it showed. There was clumsiness, mistakes, eyesight issues and lots of frustration. There was also learning, lots of camaraderie and support, and a good tutor. Combine all of these with a workroom which needs some tlc in arrangement and tools, and weather that hit 38° C yesterday with 40° C forecast today. Plus a particularly fraught afternoon yesterday. My final sample could have been finished in the time available today, but only with so much assistance from others that it would only theoretically be my work. So much less learning than ideal – and in that heat!

Class work 1

That’s not saying there was no learning or making. Above is my sample from the first day, made by folding a strip of copper, extensive hammering of selected areas, repeated annealing, and finally partially opening the fold. There were pretty results around the room, and some students returned to this technique repeatedly over the coming days. (those working much faster than me)

Sample day 2

On the second day we used hammering around a die to make a shallow dish, carefully sized to act as a lid to some brass tubing Christian supplied. The end result with two dishes/lids or one lid and one soldered base was intended as a tea caddy or similar.

The idea of precision and tight fits alarmed me, so I decided to experiment with using “too much” copper to see how the material behaved. Some beautiful folds, complemented by the roller embossing with leaves that Christian also demonstrated. On the left is the photo above is Christian’s sample. On the right is my response 🙂

The following two days, and what would have continued today, was my “major work” – hammered brass, scored, folded and soldered into a square tube, then soldered onto a base. Nothing fit to photograph due to a sorry (and for anyone else boring) tale of woe.

All is not doom and gloom. Since arriving home I’ve sourced and enrolled in a silver smithing course in February – three Saturday mornings at Sydney Community College. With the benefit of hindsight, just what I should have done before the Sturt class!


Calendar of Posts

April 2018
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

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

Archives

Categories