Thursday, April 30, 2009

DISINTEGRATION PROJECT


D-Day is here at last! I was up early with the sparrows to dig up my disintegration bundle.



Being a late starter for Seth's disintegration project I thought there would be far less impact on the bundle but there was still enough time for the weather and nature to leave it's imprint. If you look carefully you will see my earthworm colony munching, wriggling and generally doing what earthworms do in healthy loam soil.



Because of all the rain we've had it's a completely different picture to if it had been a dry month. In a dry month the termites probably would have started gnawing on the wood. This piece was already weathered when I buried it so basically all that has happened is that the natural stains from earth, rust and foliage have seeped into the wood. Now that Autumn is here I am leaving a piece of wood buried in the earth until the end of Winter hoping to see some termite damage at the end of it.



The paper obviously didn't fair too well with all the rain but I will let the stronger pieces dry and see whether it strengthens. I've no idea how this fleur-de-lys design came about.



The fabric on the other hand was very rewarding. Now that I know how beautifully it stains the next bundle will have more carefully laid metal objects ....


...... and leaves.


All in all I'm delighted with the results. To see how over 120 other disintegration bundles have faired go to The Altered Page and find your way
from there. Thanks Seth for another successful project.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

STICKS AND STONES


Stone sculpture by Hirotoshi Itoh, Keiko Gallery.



How can one not smile at Hirotoshi Itoh's rock sculptures. From zippered rocks containing shells, coins or coffeebeans to a mouth full of teeth......many mouths full of teeth! He also sculpts the most amazing stone garments. Have a look at his site, here.




Photo taken by TruShu


" Although I work with various kinds of stones, most of my work consists of optimizing a stone's original shape. I pick up these stones from a river bed in my neighbourhood. While utilizing the image that a stone is hard, I think even from now on I would like to express the warmth and humor."

Stone sculpture by Hirotoshi Itoh, Keiko Gallery

On to the powerful sculptures of Ilan Averbuch

Loneliness of Queen Hatshepsut by Ilan Averbuch

Grapes and other promises by Ilan Averbuch






Tree sculpture by Alastair Heseltine



Eucalyptus Bark Pod in Wood Frame by the late Valerie Pragnell, Brown Grotta Arts


"I try to distill the essence of a place into the work, so that each becomes a small environment in its own right." - Valerie Pragnell



That Word by Gyong Laky, Brown Grotta Arts



River Squares by Richard Shilling

Richard Shilling's art keeps drawing me back to his site. He has this amazing empathy with the land and through studying his work I am developing a new sensitivity to the natural environment around me. Richards land art images are now available at Red Bubble.

"I didn't know when I started if I would find enough colours to fill the platform, but as always as you start to get a feel for the pebbles that are there, you start to see many more colours than were first apparent. It takes a few hours of being there before your eyes become attuned and the different hues reveal themselves. This is what is interesting for me when making these sculptures that as you spend more time looking you become more absorbed in the environment and more and more aspects are revealed to you. This process is at the heart of land art. Through making sculptures with natural materials you peel back the layers of the place and discover what is at first hidden from the the fleeting eye." - Richard Shilling.

Sitting Pretty by Patrick Dougherty

Friday, April 24, 2009

BACK IN TIME



There's a shop in the little dorp* of Howick that we visit every month or two, called Back in Time.



We daren't go more often because our house just isn't big enough to cope with all the "junk" we cart home with us.




It is a sprawling double story building with many rooms surrounding a courtyard and each room is filled to the brim with curiosities.





From weathered whale vertebra to buck horns, hyena trophies and zebra hides...





Metal trunks and farm impliments in various stages of decay........




Rusty "everythings" hidden in boxes under tables laden with antique silver and old china....




Beautiful old furniture and bouquets of golf clubs.





On the way out there are tiny shops selling patterned gourds....



Handwoven rugs and animals.......





Baskets, books, beads and artefacts.





I mentioned one of these shops in another post, here....but much to our disappointment it had gone so I never did get a chance to ask about the sexy red underwear.


*Dorp - afrikaans word for small town.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

IDEAS SIMMERING

Ethiopian storage vessel, Hamill Gallery


Browsing the internet for inspiration I discovered this milk storage vessel from Ethiopia. Isn't it beautiful? Not everyone's cup of tea but I certainly couldn't get it out of my mind.
Storage vessel made from a gourd. basketry, mud/clay and leather, adorned with cowrie shells.

That was 2 weeks ago and since then I've been sketching and developing ideas around it, trying to incorporate the concept into the totem I'm working on. For days I've moved cowries and leather bits around on the wood, playing my own brand of chess....but not winning at all. A little voice in my head is saying ...assimilate and move on. After all, this has happened before when I've loved an idea but no amount of coaxing will bring all the elements together. In fact I've known an idea to simmer for years before the solution leaped forward and I was able to pull it off with out much ado. Not that I want to wait years but when an idea isn't ready, it just isn't ready. Anyway, the seed is sewn and who knows when it will germinate but I do have faith that it will.

So for now.....I will pack away the cowries and the scrummy aged leather (which I'm dying to use)....and try to look at the blank piece of wood with fresh eyes.
"I have tried to study African Art in order to assimilate it into my being , not to copy but to seek the essence of it, it's spirit and quality as art." - Hale Woodruff

Thursday, April 16, 2009

AMULETS, TALISMANS AND CHARMS

Detail of amulets, talismans and charms from one of my earlier totems.

Amulets, talismans and charms. From snakeskin pouches holding ancient Ethiopian prayer scrolls to Bamana hunters tunics festooned with tiny leather parcels; Christian Crusifixes to the Hand of Fatima; rabbit foot charms to the saint christopher medals so many of us have worn at some stage in our lives; then there are the old favourites such as charm bracelets and the silver charms found in christmas puddings.


There is always some overlap in the meaning of the three words...amulet, charm and talisman. Shiela Paine in her book Amulets says.... "An amulet is a device, the purpose of which is to protect, but by magical and not physical means."

"A charm is something believed to bring good luck, health and happiness. In so doing it might also be expected to protect from bad luck, sickness and misery, but protection is not its primary function."

"A talisman is something thought to be imbued with some magical property. It can both protect, and radiate power, and is often used in ritual."



Details from past totems I have carved. The central figure is the Healing Goddess.


Whilst scrounging the internet for inspiration for this post I rediscovered the brilliant work of Keith Lobue. Since the last time I drooled over his website (for hours I might add) he has started a blog, here.

Telling the bees by Keith Lobue (The title refers to the old folk practice of telling the bees of a loved ones death; it was believed that the bees were attendant to the soul of the departed.)

He speaks about his work using found objects. "Many of these objects are centuries old, and they lead me to create works that seem to have been conjured from a rather improbable past. Presenting themselves as scientific instruments or devices of divination, these assemblies appear to have some particular function. Without that utility, however, these pieces are left with a sense of mystery; of questions yet to be answered."

Requiescat by Keith Lobue


Talisman by Susan Lenart Kazmer

"Recently I have considered another dimension utilizing found objects. Picking up a piece, holding it and contemplating it, I let the object lead the way as to what direction the finished piece will emerge. The magnitude of energy carried with the found object from their previous lives can be seen felt and touched. When you close your eyes and hold the object in your hand you can feel whether the user has enjoyed, neglected, or cherished it. Fear, happiness, struggle, and strength are also feelings embedded in an object. My job as an artist is to take the found object and present it in a new and unexpected way. Combining these energies in recycled objects is indeed creating a contemporary talisman." - Susan Lenart Kazmer
Talisman by Caroline Soer


Caroline Soer created this delicate drawing of an Omani necklace in her collection. It is called a kirsh kitab (coin or disc with writing) and was worn by women throughout Northern Oman not only to offer protection, but also to bring gladness and cheerfulness to life. Read the post about it here.

Pocket Divinity, pewter sculpture by Malaki Blunt

Malaki Blunt creates small sculptures to carry in one's pocket as a reminder of one's connection to the divine. He refers to them as "A talisman, an amulet, a meditative friend". If you happen to wander over to his blog look out for his "Murder of Crows", pocket sculpture.

Warrior of light (protection for Obama) by Adriene Cruz


I found this talisman on Fiber Focus a wonderful blog full of textile and fiber art.



Ethiopian prayer box beads from Africa Direct


One of the most intriguing aspects of these prayer box beads is that they have probably survived a hundred years of wear and traveled through at least 3 continents. How exciting is that? I wonder what the history behind them is. Who wore them? What is their story?


Inuit amulet cluster, ivory and sinew

Monday, April 13, 2009

TOTEMS


Lirrminginging by Yidumduma Bill Harney (wood, natural pigments, fibre,feathers)

I read somewhere that totem poles are long sticks that tell a story. Put simply, that is exactly what they are. I've been carving totem poles of sorts since my teens though my first totems were based on the North American Indian totems. Completely different to what I do now. I was always on the lookout for anything totem related but the only information I ever found was about the Native American totems. Now having access to the internet I'm amazed at the different interpretations I have found.

Columns by David Nash


Gavin Young's typographic tree sculptures installed in Crawley Library

Fourteen oak trunks were used to display carved passages of text from literature within Crawley Library. The lettering on the trees is sandblasted out of the wood. Read the story here.


Totem IX by Ralph Holker

"Among Native American people's totems represented the clan and it's ancestors through an animal or natural object related by blood and taken as its symbol. The clay and the abstract carvings of these Totems are my connection to the natural symbols and the artists of the past" - Ralph Holker

Totem (2 piece) in clay by Louise Gelderblom, South Africa

"Louise Gelderblom’s sculptural vessels are handmade in Cape Town, South Africa. While the working methods are firmly rooted in an African clay tradition, the work is part of an urban contemporary aesthetic."

"I only coil, because when I coil it feels like I am busy drawing in three dimensions. The shape of the piece and the surface markings on it create a rhythm, a percussion beat that I think of as a wordless tactile language." - Louise Gelderblom
Totem (made with scrap metal) by Meagan Wainwright


Moon Spot Totem, waxed linen, iron and brass by Mary Giles

Paper Tower by Jane Balsgaard

These structures are part of a series "experimenting in paper in connection with sticks and other finds from nature."

Totemobile, painted steel by Louis Fatta

" I work from large gage steel sheet and I-beam, 1/4” to 1” thick, cutting silhouetted images of objects such as cars, cities, birds, plants, and ants. My work involves the environment formed by the automobile and related elements of the urban surroundings and explores their relationship with nature. The works present themselves as artifacts enduring time, seeking to atone themselves with nature through their deterioration. My sculpture touches upon the imprint these images have left on our psyche, awakening personal and emotional connections." - Louis Fatta

"....each totemic ancestor while travelling through the country was thought to have scattered a trail of words and musical notes among the lines of footprints." - Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines