Sometimes a project throws up an image that stops you in your tracks: the question then becomes whether to exclude it or whether I need to change the direction of the work to accommodate it. Just such an image has come out of working on the video for ‘A Space for the Bittern’. This is it. Still pondering…
Back at art college for my final degree show I produced a sculpture made from sliced inflatable decoy ducks, each duck connected to an air pumping system which slowly inflated and then deflated the hapless birds. (I must dig out a pick to show you.) Anyway, I find myself once again working with a hollow bird, this time not an inflatable but a 3D digital model of a bittern. Strange how these things themes come around again. I have just put together this storyboard for a short video of the model for Dan Hughes McGrail who is helping me with this. Okay, not quite up to Hollywood standards, but I think it gets the message across! Thanks Dan for taking this on.
A years worth of data is captured in the shapes of these twelve forms, each one representing a month. Made out of sintered bronze, they are now ready to go to the foundry to be patinated. Next time I see them they will have a verdigris patina, an artificial process that replicates the natural weathering of bronze over time. All this is in preparation for ‘A Space for the Bittern’ at the end of next month. Preparations are going well at the moment. Gavin, I will come to you next time.
Working with 3D scans made from photographs of a pair of bitterns for ‘A Space for the Bittern’ which is going to be shown at the Old Chancel, Waterhay, 24-25 May. The show is about the presence/absence of this bird in the Cotswold Water Park and these scans reflect that, not being quite here at the moment. What is interesting is that the technology has split the birds into two, the front separate from the shadowed back. Here you can see the fronts, but the birds are cut down the midline between light and shadow. Lots of work to do!
From the air, the Old Chancel at Waterhay is bound by a beautifully eccentric pattern of hedges, remnants of bygone usages, different times layered one upon another. To me, this is a picture of dreaming, of past and present overflowing the borders of each another, and so the perfect site to present Alluvium, the work I am making from my time as artist-in-residence in the Cotswold Water Park. Alluvium will, as the title suggests, be water based, also time porous, past present and future mingling. For this, I am going to be trying something new: to write a text that is not just a description, or explanation of the other work, but something that will stand by itself, alongside the sculptures, prints and soundscapes that I have in mind. I have been awarded a bursary from VASW for a week-long ‘artist critical writing’ residential in January at the Arvon Foundation in Devon. I have been introducing writing in my work more and more (well, this blog being one sign of that), but this will be the first time it is intended to be part of the presented work, rather than a commentary. That week will be a time for dreaming. And in the meantime, to all of you who read this blog thanks, it really makes a difference to me and my work, and Best Wishes for christmas and the new year. See you in 2014!
The bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is known for the males’ booming calls during the breeding season. Hidden amongst the reeds, the deep sounds they produce, resonant of a bellowing bull (botaurus is latin for bull), pulse across the water revealing a presence but not a location: the frequency of the calls makes it very difficult to locate individual birds. Could these calls soon be heard in the Cotswold Water Park? As global warming inundates the bittern’s coastal breeding areas, it is responding by moving to inland wetlands, and bitterns have now been seen in the Cotswolds. But, from what I can gather, they have yet to breed. Sometime soon these alluvial lands might vibrate to the call of the bittern and perhaps, within a generation or two, the bittern’s call will become an accepted part of the local soundscape. So I stuck this sonic oracle into my audio analysis programme and this is what it looked like! Have you heard a bittern call in the the Water Park? If so, do get in touch.
Visited Pangolin today, the massive bronze foundry just up the valley from my studio in Stroud. I am looking into how the (printed) bronze spore cases might be treated through patination. Strange to be back in the world of traditional, long-lasting, big sculpture (last encountered when studying sculpture at the Royal College, which had a bronze foundry attached). Patination here involves heating up the bronze and then applying different chemicals to the surface, layering colours and textures to the object. My seeds, coming in at around 15mm in length, are somewhat on the small side for the usual painted process, and so it looks like they will need be fumigated: heated up and then placed into a chemical-rich atmosphere with which the hot surface of the bronze can react. I am intrigued: for me, it is the copper element in bronze that interests me and the way that it reacts to water. Thanks Steve for showing me around and I look forward to the results of the experimentation.