Thursday, 24 September 2015

222 Grips for a Stone #18 - #21

I am participating in the MFA course 'Things' which considers the historic and contemporary discourses around the experience of things and the significant role that our relationship to things retains in the production of objects and subjects in visual culture. The course is taught by the dynamic Bob Bean and I am finding it fascinating.

We explore questions like: What are things? What do they do? and why do they inspire creative and critical attention? 

So far we have discussed 'things' ranging from the found object, Heidegger's philosophy of the jug and the void, collecting things, nostalgia, the broken tool, how language and words are things too.

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to Heidegger's notion of the object as 'ready to hand' which refers to tools that we often overlook such as hammers, needles, pens etc. 

Which led me think of the readymade, and Duchamp's iconic artwork that changed the way we think about modern art. A urinal where he changed the context and meaning by turning it upside down, renaming it and placing it in a gallery, titled Fountain 1917.

I have also been thinking about the found object and the ready made in my work. 

I started noticing 'ready made' grips for a stone on the architecture in and around the city. So I thought I would include them in my 222 Grips for a Stone exploration. 

#18 of 222 Grips for a Stone 
#19 of 222 Grips for a Stone 
#20 of 222 Grips for a Stone 
#21 of 222 Grips for a Stone

Thursday, 17 September 2015

222 Grips for a stone #17

This semester I am the Teachers Assistant for the Introduction to Ceramics class with the delightful Neil Forrest. Neil spends his time between Nova Scotia and Scandinavia and specialises in large scale ceramics. He is particularly interested in the built environment and how ceramic sculptures interact with architecture. It is an enjoyable class and we are currently assisting the students with building large scale sculptures using slab building techniques.

This is proving to be inspirational for my artwork as well, and I have started to explore the idea of 222 grips for a stone, where the clay (consisting of minerals) becomes the stone. This is an exciting place of discovery where working with the soft clay opens more possibilities for how things can attach or grip the 'stone'.  

#17 of 222 Grips for a Stone
before firing

My first experiment consisted with embedding a large bolt into clay. This was about 20cm long and 15cm wide. It was quite heavy, and a solid piece of clay. 

#17 of 222 Grips for a Stone
after firing

The piece broke in the kiln (it wasn't 100 percent dry) and I prefer the unexpected result compared with the controlled shape. It is an earthenware clay and was fired to cone 04. I particularly like iron bolt which turned black during the firing process. 

The next step is to experiment with how certain glazes will interact with the piece, along with reduction firing, that may change the colour of the clay body.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The beginning of the Second Year of the MFA

Its hard to believe that my summer holidays are over already! Already I am wondering how 4 months have disappeared so quickly, but when I think back to what I have achieved it makes sense. 

I received a scholarship to attend the SNAG conference in Boston in May.
I also received a scholarship to study traditional jewellery in Florence during July. 
And I was also selected to participate in Ruudt Peter's workshop Ground Now in the Netherlands at the end of July.

No wonder time has passed so quickly.

And now it is my first week back at NSCAD for the second year of my MFA (Master in Fine Arts). Due to the interdisciplinary nature of my work I have been graciously provided with a studio space at the historic Fountain campus and one down at the Port.

The Fountain studio is full of charm and character. Tucked away in the attic of an historic building, which must be over 200 years old, I am nestled in amongst old large giant wooden beams, large thick brick walls that look out over the Halifax harbour. I delight in watching the ferry go past and thinking about the history of the building.

View from my attic window
I feel a little like Rapunzel sitting up so high and watching the world go by. It is a great place to read and think. This semester I am participating in a class which discusses the philosophy and theory of Things, and I am sure you will find me tucked away in here contemplating Heidegger's Thing theory or the fundamentals of phenomenology and metaphysics.

My attic studio looking very clean and organised
My studio at the Port campus is in ceramics and allows for the messy making of larger scaled objects, particularly in ceramics but can lend itself to other forms of sculpture as well. This campus is newly built and has wonderful floor to ceiling windows with great views of the harbour (when there isn't a cruise ship in the way) and natural light.

View from Port Studio
And yes, that is a cruise ship you can see blocking the view!
My summer adventures have led me to realise that I the direction of my thesis will be changing this year. Last year I focused on the pioneer and post colonial feminist theory. My travels provided the space to critically asses my project and with my new experiences I came to the realisation that I was would like to explore the themes of place, travel, loss and regeneration - which essentially does include pioneering (so thankfully my previous research can be incorporated). However I wish to move away from the pictorial and towards a subjective, and perhaps ephemeral or atmospheric artwork.

To give you an idea of my current thinking, check out Olafur Eliasson's phenomenological art work.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

222 Grips for a Stone (14-16)

222 Grips for a Stone exploration continues....

222 Grips for a Stone

#14 was made from a piece of wood with nails found in the back yard. I found the perfect stone to balance on the nails. Serendipitously it rained just before I took the photo and I like the addition of the water droplets.

222 Grips for a Stone

#15 is made from slate collected from the drive way and a piece of weathered wood found in the back yard.

222 Grips for a Stone

#16 I found a rusty spring on on my wanderings around the streets of Halifax. I found the perfect bit of stone and wood to fit within the spring.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

222 Grips for a Stone (7-13)

Ive been progressing slowly this week with the continued exploration of 222 grips for a stone.

222 Grips for a Stone

Im trying to restrict myself to using natural materials and/or objects that have been found in the environment.

#8 was a rusty metal piece I found on the streets of Halifax last winter. Its been sitting on my bench for quite some time as I admired it, but wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it. And then, I found the perfect stone to fit inside it.

222 Grips for a Stone

I have been wanting to try viking knitting for quite some time. #9 is my first attempt using silver wire. I like how the stone becomes naturally polished from being handled.

222 Grips for a Stone

Similar to viking knitting, #10 is created using a home made knitting nancy constructed from a toilet paper role and some popsicle sticks taped to the sides. 

222 Grips for a Stone

#11 is my favourite from this series. I like the highlight of yellow lichen on the stick. And the shape of the pebble.

222 Grips for a Stone

And I have even started exploring growing crystals in and around wire structures. #13 contains a crystal made from Alum.

Working through these ideas is exciting and each one generates and sparks new ideas that shoot off in different directions. Some I would like to enlarge and turn into sculptures, others I would like to translate into jewellery, whilst some ideas could be reinterpreted into ceramics. 

222 Grips for a Stone is going to be a fascinating adventure of exploration and discovery!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

222 Grips for a Stone (1-6)

As a parting gift at the Ground Now workshop by Ruudt Peters we were each given homework to continue our investigation into materials and methods of working. These were generally a follow on from our last piece of work created in the final day of the workshop. 

In my case it was a progression of the ring exploration I was undertaking. My homework was to explore 222 Grips for a Stone (or mineral).

222 is a favourite number of mine, however it is a massive undertaking to try and explore this many grips for a stone. I have made a start... here's the first 6, only 216 to go!

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone
222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

Thursday, 13 August 2015

What Grounds You?

One of the projects we had to do at the Ruudt Peter's Ground Now workshop was to make a 1 minute video on what grounds us. We paired up in teams and were allocated half a day to work on it. This is my interpretation on what grounds me. 


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