Thursday, January 29, 2009

More sculpture pieces

Another assortment of random artworks! The first work is another one of those experiments that I've written about before where I wanted to try something, did, then didn't pursue it further. This is a self-portrait, each box about 5x5cm. They haven't been mounted as I've never exhibited them. It's a photo with my hair, and some toe- and fingernails. I've been collecting them for about 20 years. I also have almost all my hair from the past 10 years along with lots of other people's hair. This is completely normal, and not at all pathological... My hair always looks darker after it has been cut, in case those who know me wonder why the box isn't full of golden blonde locks!

This is a series of works that I called Prototypes when I exhibited them at PCL Gallery in my Touch show back in 1999. They've since been purged in one of my studio moves. They're from the time when I was working a lot with wire and I was experimenting with different materials to use with the wire, either inside the shape I'd made, or over the top of it. From left to right the materials are: 1) Burnt papier mache covered with polyester resin; 2) human hair stuffed inside, then covered in polyester resin (it soaked into the hair and made it hard, but didn't give that shiny plastic resin coating); 3) cotton wool stuffed inside, then covered in silicone gel (or is it silicon gel? I always get them confused). The wire had rusted; 4) plastic tape wrapped around the wire and covered with polyester resin; 5) sprayed with chrome paint, and twisted aluminium foil wrapped through and around the wire; 6) I think it was covered in plastic like no. 4, then completely covered with chunky glitter. I ended up making artworks from 1,2,3 and 5.

Here are two views of a "flying baby" sculpture where I didn't really do anything to the wire other than spray it silver (well, technically "chrome"). I've been looking through my what-I-thought-was-well-documented archives, but can find neither the title for this and the following work, nor the show (at PCL) that they were exhibited in. I also look at titles of early works and have no vision in my head of what work that applied to! My excuse is that it was a long time ago at the beginning of my art career, and I was very productive at the time!

This was the first made with this shape. The second one above was better formed, but neither survived the purge. This one was painted black, then had tulle sewn over it which I then burned in places to melt the plastic.

This was one of quite a large number of wire and lightbulb pieces that I made around the same time (late 90s). This is called A Corporate Life 25/45/65, and reflects my views of working for corporations, and how it ages and cages workers!

More textile works

Here are some more textile works, all unexhibited, and all unique. I once had a lot more time in my life to experiment with different materials and techniques! The first is a weaving of a feather boa. I had bought it years before for the feathers for use with wire works, I think. It then sat in storage for years. I eventually decided to weave it. This is about 50x50cm.

I made this at the same time as the Some People series (and the boa weaving was also made on the same warp). It's a honecomb, or waffle weave, often seen in textiles around the home like tea towels and baby blankets! Not usually made from socks, as this is. It, too, is about 50x50cm. It looks different to normal waffle-weave textiles because my warp thread is a thin mercerized cotton, and the weft is thick cut-up socks, so the same square pattern isn't as obvious (usually the warp and weft threads would be the same yarn).

This is a small (10x10cm?) experiment. It's a completely darned textile. There's no warp or weft, just threads going under and over each other to fill up space. I'd like to try this on a larger scale, but this small piece took ages to make and lots of yarn, so not good if time poor!

This was a felting experiment, one of only a few pieces I made. The trouble is it doesn't offer much conceptually for me to present it as an artwork, and it's too thick and wide for a scarf, not big enough to be a wrap, let alone a rug, so it's not really anything! Maybe a table runner? The white thread is a wool, and the various brown yarns are wool, acrylic, and linen. After weaving, I felted the piece by washing it in hot soapy water so that the wool threads contracted in on each other. The non-wool threads haven't felted, and form small pockets and textures over the surface of the piece. This is from about 2002.

This is a rare non-woven textile piece. It's a crochet "coral" piece. It was a technique which I developed myself, but which I later found all over the place (See the Crochet Hyperbolic Coral reef Project).

Hair textiles

More textiles in this post, and specifically textiles made with human hair. The first work (3 photos) is called Death Closes All, from 2000. It was exhibited in the Furr show at Kudos Gallery. This was an early experiment, and only has a very thin central warp (of linen), with the unspun hair just placed in the warp and flowing out the sides, and sometimes relooping back into the warp. It was about 3-4 metres long (3 pieces of different lengths were sewn together) and was hung down the wall, and flowed onto the floor.

This was the first major hair weaving that I made. It's a very thick yarn of hand-spun hair which I had collected from hair salons in the area. All the early hair works used anonymous hair grouped together to suggest an unidentified group. This work is Human, All-Too Human. I did write about it in this post, but that photo was actually the back of the work! Here are some closer detailed images. It's about 200x50cm, so very difficult to get all in one shot.

This piece has never been exhibited. It's another one-off experiment. I used some of the hair I had spun for weaving (when it was still quite chunky - before I refined my technique), and used a basket-weaving technique to make this small (10x8cm) nest. I then tried to mat some of the hair together, making it more like a dreadlock, and therefore more stable.

This small weaving is a similar technique to the first work in that the hair hasn't been spun into a yarn. I separated the hairs, then picked up a bunch and used them as a weft. There are still hairs coming out randomly from the sides, but most of them are contained by the warp. This was never exhibited either, but was a test piece for a commission for a local hair salon (a relationship which rather ended badly over price!).

This piece was one of the first after I had learned to make a slimmer yarn, and when conceptually I wanted the hair of the various donors to be differentiated. I've almost always used a twill weave for the hair pieces (when you can see a diagonal line running through the weaving). For this experiment I used a reverse twill, so with each new colour I changed the direction of the twill. This piece is about 20x20cm.

This was another experiment from the same period, trying to work out the width for my Six Degrees series. I ended up going with a thinner weave to make the most of the hair I had.

This is another early piece, with early not-very-good photography! It was a transition work, one of the first with the thinner yarn. I'm not sure what happened to this work. I may have framed and sold it. If anyone has it, please let me know!

I think this one sold. And this may actually qualify as the first hair weaving. I think it was an off-loom test piece for what eventually became Human, All-Too Human above. It's the same thick and chunky yarn. Location also unknown. This is probably from 1999 or 2000.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ceramic Experiments

This post is featuring a number, well, most of the ceramics I've made. I had a brief but productive spurt about 7 years ago. I was mainly interested in experimenting with different textures and finishes, rather than the shapes. I made mainly bowls, a few tea cups, and some non-functional broken egg-shaped pieces.

With the first couple of pieces I was inspired by Lucy Rie's work, especially the pitted surfaces she produced.

I went a bit overboard with the use of copper in the following pieces. I used copper wire and pieces of copper which melted and produced the green tinge in the glaze, but also left the grey metallic flows on the 2nd and 4th pieces.

I was also inspired by Japanese ceramics, particularly bowls for the tea ceremony. These were my attempts to make something comparable.

This piece was an experiment with some existing sculptural work. It was a hair-filled wire cage which I soaked in porcelain slip. The steel wire remained intact (but weak and fragile) and the porcelain created a thin shell (subsequently covered in a white glaze). I also did the same with a small hair doll, but that one broke during one firing. The main reason I've never continued with ceramics is the delays caused by waiting for the work to be fired, and the lack of control (since I don't have my own kiln).

These are the broken eggshell works which I posted awhile back. These were mostly pit fired. I was experimenting with different textures and colours, adding pigments, salts, bits of metal, etc. I was trying to emulate natural textures like rocks that had been worn and weathered by natural processes. These are the only ceramic works I've exhibited, in my solo show Hate and Fear and Envy and Darkness and Pain. The collective title is Population Explosion, with the idea that these are eggs that have hatched some creature.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some People

In my last post I showed a woven sock work from the Some People series. I was looking through my disc archives for images of art to write about here, and found the whole series of 8 works. So here they all are. The following text is from the last post - I didn't see the point of trying to paraphrase!

When I started using socks for weaving at the beginning of my Master's degree, I was making a large and time-consuming installation, and needed to work on something a little different to keep me fresh! The series was included in the Dislocation show at Kudos Gallery in 2005. All the works in this series are made from black and white socks. This was partly in response to the number of socks of those colours that I had collected, and knew I wouldn't be able to incorporate into the I Am Because We Are installation, but also because of the stark contrast between the 2 colours that would make bold patterns. The works that just feature a horizontal stripe pattern are plain weave, and the pattern comes from changing the yarn being used, in this case cut up socks. The rest of the works in this series are double-weave textiles (the square within the square, the cross, the vertical stripe). This means that the textile is two layers thick, with the pattern on the front reversed on the back (a black square surrounded by white, for example). Because of the thickness of the sock yarn, this made for a very bulky finished product.

I have an installation shot of the series somewhere. They were displayed in two rows of four panels (the textile is stretched over frames I made with my bare hands...). Each panel is 50x50cm square.

The title is from a
song of the same name from the musical Gypsy. I had been incorporating the names of the donors into the sock weavings, but not with this series, so the meaning is that these are just "some people" rather than named individuals (as well as including the meaning from the song, that some people are made for a boring, conventional life, but not everyone, and not me!).