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Monthly Archives: June 2017
It would be nice to do some sketches from microscope viewing of samples taken from the local area and basing a project on that. I could also tie that in with the landscape tile work I have been doing.
If did at a pond, could produce a cross section bronze with slices of glass for the pond water, containing discs of glass with drawings (print on glass) of microscopic slides. I keep having ideas of incorporating glass into my works – one day I’ll manage it!
The pollen grid work doesn’t fit with the other 3 sculptures as it is very different in form and style. The grid works well, however the pollen grain is a bit too sterile? I think the decaying pollen sculptures have shown me that I need to try to introduce more randomness into my work. Also on this piece, it was put together to hang from the wall like a picture on D rings and string. However, this tips the piece forwards which doesn’t work as well. It would be better having recessed fittings in the back board so it fits flush against the wall.
The ‘Animalcule’ series of sculptures worked quite well. Working with open steel forms allows me to work on a much bigger scale without the issues of weight in using metal.
‘Animacule 1’ would probably have worked better using my original idea of Egyptian paste for the centre pieces if this could be achieved. Cast glass would also be an interesting alternative. The paper forms are a bit too messy for my liking – too messy in being not very well manufactured that is, messy in an unpredictable cracking like that which would be on the Egyptian paste would be fine.
The use of fabric and eyelets in ‘Animacule 2’ works well, although the fabric could do with being thicker to allow the eyelets to grip better and have less risk of pulling out. I wonder whether the fabric could have been drawn on or whether that would distract from the form. The unfinished steel works well with the slightly fraying fabric. Longer term it might need some kind of finish to protect it.
Leaving ‘Animacule 3’ as unfinished steel and bronze seemed to work well, echoing the feel of the organisms when looked at under the microscope – like unfinished basic forms of life. Whether it works better like this or finished as originally intended remains to be seen.
The ideas used in the animalcule series could have been developed further, but weren’t due to my restricted timescale in getting through this course before the 2 year time limit runs out. Overall I think they have been successful though, with the open steel forms and the material wired onto it being ideas I may carry forwards with my work. I just have to work out how on earth I’m going to store works of this size now!
I also contemplated what accompanying work could be produced with these sculptures. An exhibition of purely sculpture might leave a lot of wall space uncovered and many artists mix sculpture with 2D work. Some of this accompanying work may not be relevant for this course, but looking forwards to my next one (Mixed Media or Drawing), it becomes more relevant to think about this.
Shelves of vessels for storing water samples (tea-cups, glasses, white delft porcelain vessel, blue tub, stoppered glass bottle, glass phial, wine glass – all mentioned in his studies of water (Dobell and Leeuwenhoek, 1960)) – label with contents and number of days exposed to air
Note books of observations
Microscope slide disks cut in lino and stuck in the centre of rectangle bases. Make lino-cuts based on the images seen. Series of prints (one colour with coloured tissue behind elements – Chine Collé), then mould and cast the lino plate and use the bronze discs in a sculpture or archway.
Dobell, C. and Leeuwenhoek, A. (1960). Anthony van Leeuwenhoek and his “little animals”. 1st ed. New York: Dover.
For this one, I decided to stick with the idea of bronze elements in a steel frame – time consuming, but hopefully doable for one sculpture.
Again, a similar construction method was used for the outer steel frame, with additional small rods attached to the outside of the form.
To get interest in these forms, I had two options – texture or colour. I decided to go with colour with this sculpture and so kept the form very simple. The shape was created using oil based clay, cut in half and a mould taken. This mould was then used to create 16 wax shapes (or 32 halves), which were then sprued up for casting:
Once cast, these were tidied up and welded together. They were then drilled and a screw thread formed in the drilled hole so they could be screwed onto threaded rods which were welded on the inside of the steel form. This mechanical connection would allow me to patinate the bronze without affecting the steel, and paint the steel without worrying about getting paint on the bronze.
I liked the unfinished look this sculpture had after I attached it all together to make sure it worked before the planned painting and patination. It worked well together and echoed the feel of looking at unfinished or very basic forms of life. I decided to film and photograph it at this stage in case the painting and patinating ruined the sculpture!
Like ‘Animacule 1’, this was constructed out of round steel bar, bent around formers and welded together. Thicker straight rods were then welded through the form to create the spikes.
Inspired by the work of
Lee Bontecou (Salvo et al., 2008), I decided to cover the centre form in canvas, wired to the frame through eyelet’s in the canvas. It turns out that all eyelets are not equal! However, after some experimentation, I achieved what I was aiming for.
Salvo, D., Hadler, M., Judd, D., Smith, E. and Storr, R. (2008). Lee Bontecou: A Retrospective. New Haven: Yale University Press.
The original idea with these sculptures was to produce bronze elements that would be attached to a steel frame. That was fine as it continued my work trying to mix these two mediums, but on reading a ceramic book (Goring, 2016) my wife got for her Birthday, I came across Deborah Sigel (Deborahsigel.com, 2017) who uses Egyptian paste in a steel frame to produce sculptural work. Applying this to these designs opens up another means of combining materials which is exciting and something I decided I definitely wanted to explore.
The outer frame was constructed out of round steel bar, bent around formers and welded together.
I started out by creating an oval form in bent steel rod, affixed to a base. I packed this with a yellow Egyptian paste mix, dried it out and then fired it.
The Egyptian paste shrunk a lot more that I had expected and the steel peeled a lot after having been fired.
I tried another attempt, this time incorporating a steel nut in a tube to enable the form to be bolted onto the frame. I also formed an inner core of paper mache in the hope that it would shrink less.
This was another failure – the paste has pulled away from the frame in the same way as before and the rod I rested the piece on attached itself to the nut in the heat of the kiln.
I think this could work as a method, but it would require a lot of experimentation to get it right. Unfortunately, time isn’t something I have a lot of left with this course, so a rethink was required.
My next idea was to form ceramic shapes instead. I could go for a blobby organic shape, colour the clay to get similar colours as those planned with the Egyptian paste, then use oxides to bring out the texture on the forms. Holes would be left in the forms and these attached to the steel frame onto threaded rods welded onto the frame, glued into the holes – not quite as elegant as my previous plans, but it should do the trick.
Before I got started on the ceramic forms, I visited the ‘Disobedient Bodies’ exhibition at The Hepworth and saw the work of two artists:
Isamu Noguchi worked with paper lanterns (rear two pieces in this image):
Lynda Benglis used paper tissue over a wire mesh:
I then had the idea that these could both be combined to give a solution to my problem. Tissue paper over a wire mesh frame would provide an easy form to attach to my steel frame and the transparency of the shapes would echo the organism’s transparency in real life. I had also thought that it would be good to incorporate light into these sculptures, something that was very important in being able to view them through a microscope. To this effect I could add lights inside the wire mesh frames.
I struggled to get the paper covering to work with thin tissue paper, so ended up using a thin printing paper I had. This meant that I lost the potential transparency effect so I decided to colour the pieces with charcoal and then acrylic paint.
The steel frame was painted black and the paper elements added using wire.
This sculpture has changed a lot since its original conception!
Goring, H. (2016). Low-fire glazes and special projects. 1st ed. Westerville, Ohio: The American Ceramic Society, pp.41-45.
Deborahsigel.com. (2017). Deborah Sigel. [online] Available at: http://deborahsigel.com/ [Accessed 9 Feb. 2017].
I visited this exhibition and went to a talk by Tony Cragg on the same day, so my comments on his views are made from the talk he gave.
I went to the exhibition with no views in mind. I had seen Cragg’s work in books and on the internet, but hadn’t connected with his forms. Based on previous experience though, seeing an image of a sculpture is nothing like seeing it in the flesh, so I was open to experiencing it as new.
The first sculpture I sat down and viewed for a while was actually ‘Points of View, 2013’, but I didn’t take a picture of it. What struck me most about this sculpture and also ‘Mean Average, 2013’ (pictured above), was how he had left the weld line obvious in these sculptures. As I have mentioned previously, I am keen on texture and variation rather than uniformity in a sculpture, however whilst these weld lines might break up the uniformity of the sculpture, they don’t work for me in this instance.
From his talk he said that he tried sending work away to be cast, but when it came back, it didn’t speak to him because he didn’t know how it was made. Later in the talk in answering a question about how he chose the colour of his pieces, he said that different colours were done as variations of a sculpture – i.e. not planned from the outset. Throughout his talk his focus has always (or at least since his move away from installation) been purely on form. Perhaps therefore the finish is less important to him than the form and the weld marks show how the piece was made which would seem to appeal to him.
As a viewer of the sculpture though, it didn’t appeal to me and I found it distracted from the emotional response to the sculpture, which is something he clearly aimed to get across in his work.
Looking at more of his work is was interesting to view his ‘Group 2012’ in the underground gallery and see the similarity to Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s work which was displayed in the same place at a previous exhibition. The finish is obviously different with Rydingsvard leaving the rough chainsaw marks and Cragg finishing it to a high polished surface, but I found the forms very similar.
In Cragg’s career, he has had seismic shifts of direction at certain stages, with his work using coloured rubbish or stacked machinery parts having little in common with his current work. In his talk he mentioned about the time he realised that he had reached the limit of what he could do with his installation work and started to concentrate on the development of new forms.
The work of his I liked the best was his later work, from the last 4 years or so, but it was interesting to see how this work came about as the development of a theme over and over again over a period of many years.
My favourite works of his were ‘Spring, 2016’ and ‘Skull, 2016’
‘Spring, 2016’ is a beautifully polished and varnished laminated wooden sculpture which begs to be stroked. Its form echoes the gushing of a fountain and, although it is rather 2D in nature, it does have a strong presence in the room.
‘Skull, 2016’ is a cast bronze piece, painted with white enamel paint. The forms used in this piece are much more interesting to me than Cragg’s usual wavy forms and the holes through them create more interest and help the piece to work from all angles.
Overall an interesting exhibition, but it hasn’t changed my views much on Cragg’s work. To take away from it would be:
the importance of viewing sculptures from all angles (I found quite a few of his works only really worked from one angle)
Working with laminated wood – provides a very interesting layered surface which could work with my map/contour work
The passion and dedication to his work which was evident in his talk
This sculpture would be wall hanging and consist of two parts, the grid and the pollen spheres.
My initial idea with this was to create a ceramic grid with an organic feel about it.
My first attempt used wooden dowels glues together and then coated in paper clay slip, sanded at the edges and then fired. This worked to a point, but suffered from cracking and, more importantly, didn’t create as organic a form as I had envisaged.
I then tried a second one using dead plant stems covered in paper mache and then covered in ceramic slip. The form of this was much more successful.
As I was experiencing problems with the ceramic grids, I decided that I would produce a bronze version in case they didn’t work. It would also be much more durable, but it wouldn’t fulfil my brief of using mixed media more.
I made this in wax, textured the surface and sprued it up to cast (in two halves):
Once cast it was tidied up, welded back together and patinated a white colour.
The pollen spheres were always going to be made out of bronze. To do this, I formed a thick wax sphere using a mould I had created previously and then carved it to represent a Passiflora caerulea (passion flower) pollen.
To make sure I could get multiple version (and in case the cast failed), I created a silicon mould of this.
Waxes were created and, due to recent casting failures, cores were used in these to hopefully give a successful cast.
Fortunately the cores worked well and the casts were successful:
Rods were drilled and tapped to be able to accept a bolt and then welded to the back of the pollen spheres, these were then patinated and finished. Only one pollen sphere was used in the end.
Wall hung map tile
In the reflection I mentioned trying a map tile as a wall hung work. I tried this with another cast of the Grimwith tile (photographed on the ground):
Although this is now much easier for people to find a place for in their houses, I don’t think this format works as well as it needs to sit horizontally to get a sense of the landscape form.
In the development ideas I mentioned producing a ‘fractured map tile’ exploring the themes of the destruction of the landscape from industry/etc. And produced some drawings of these. This took a while to construct, but I got there in the end:
Bronze, stainless steel and mild steel
I am really pleased with the way this has worked out and feel that it is a positive development of the theme and the way I will take these map tiles forwards in the future. This piece has lost the ‘baggage’ of the OS map base and has a message across rather than just representing what is in a landscape. The contrast provided by the shiny and rusted steel works well with the bronze and I have improved the colouring in this tile – all round a much more successful piece.
In my reflection I mentioned that two areas could be improved – the black background and the steel rods holding the sphere in place. Also in the development ideas I mentioned producing smaller works on the same theme.
I produced a number of smaller works as planned and ironed out the areas which needed improvement in producing these. However, when casting the spheres, a failure in the internal shell caused the mould to split and bronze to pour out into the centre. After my initial disappointment at this, I started to clean them up and realised that this had resulted in much more interesting shapes than the original wax.
‘Decaying pollen 1’
Steel and bronze in a wooden frame
The failed casts provide much greater interest than the originals, both in their form by making them look like they have started to disintegrate, and also in their texture through the bronze’s contact with the sand which was placed around the shell.
I intend to continue working with this series and will try to replicate the shell failure to produce more bronzes like this.