Thursday, 31 December 2015

222 Grips for a Stone - the trauma of an object

For many the familiar presence of things is a comfort. Things are valued not only because of their rarity of cost or their historical aura, but because they seem to partake in our lives; they are domesticated, part of our routine and so of us. Their long association with us seems to make them custodians of our memories. Yet this does not mean that things reveal themselves, only our investments in them.   
Peter Schwenger.

Not only does our human existence articulate that of an object through the language of our perceptions, but the object calls out that language from us, and with it our own sense of embodied experience.

This would imply that we as humans project upon objects the experiences of human emotions and qualities, yet at the same time things reveal to us to ourselves in profound and unexpected ways.

My explorations rely on the historical, social and political associations we place upon objects when I create my assemblages. I challenge our associations by placing objects under extreme duress, often subjecting them to immense forces which transforms the nature of the object and consequently our understanding of it.

I am not interested simply in the destruction of materials, but more about their resurrection and transformation.

These everyday objects comfort us through their familiarity, yet there is a tension between the two versions of the object: that of its known past as a familiar functional object (by association) to its current state which bears the scars of the trauma it has been subjected.

The progression of images shows the working process I am currently employing in the studio. Ceramic 'stones' are found, and then 'gripped' or contained by the steel wire woven into basket forms. 
Combining broken glass, and a shino glaze, the object is then fired to Cone 6 in a reduction atmosphere kiln. The results culminate in a glaze that has surface cracks, the wire becomes brittle and sinks into the glaze in places. The broken glass pieces mix with the glaze and run off the object before solidifying again. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Prints Charming - printing with paper doilies

The fun continues in the Prints Charming class as we explore different methods of creating a stencil for silk screening. This week we used paper doilies - and by cutting them up the class created some exciting designs. 

Anne's developing her circular doily design

Melissa's spider web design 

Jennifer's space design

It is always interesting to see how three different people will interpret an idea in three different ways to create stunning imagery. 

It is one of the reasons why I love screen printing so much. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

222 Grips for a Stone - Handles

Continuing my exploration into 222 Grips for a Stone, I thought it would be fun to literally take the idea of putting 'grips on stone'.

Working with found lumps of clay, I attached handles generally used in kitchens to create references to domestic landscapes attached to the stone. 

I liked the idea that this one references a chest of drawers.

222 Grips for a Stone

Previously, the metal I had put in the kiln and fired to cone 08 was steel, and the result was that it oxidised and blackened. However with aluminium handles, the metal completely burns away, leaving a residue similar to shaving cream. 

222 Grips for a Stone

Also, because I am using large blocks of clay, occasionally they explode in the kiln, leaving behind an interesting assortment of rubble (as in the image above).

222 Grips for a Stone

I really enjoyed the imagery of attaching handles along the 'ridge' of a block of clay, and it immediately brought to mind the nursery rhyme Mis Marry Mack

Miss Mary Mack Mack MackAll dressed in black, black, blackWith silver buttons, buttons, buttonsAll down her back, back, back.
She asked her mother, mother, motherFor 50 cents, cents, centsTo see the elephants, elephants, elephantsJump over the fence, fence, fence.
They jumped so high, high, highThey reached the sky, sky, skyAnd they didn't come back, back, back'Til the 4th of July, ly, ly!

222 Grips for a Stone

Unfortunately, these two pieces were destroyed in the firing, and I now know to attach aluminium handles afterwards.

I find it interesting that my work continues to reference  post colonialism, domesticity and feminism, even whilst I am exploring the new theme of '222 grips for a stone' and limiting my materials to found objects.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

222 Grips for a Stone - Macrame (48-51)

#50 of 222 Grips for a Stone

#51 of 222 Grips for a Stone

I have been thinking about the definition of 'grip'. The term can have many meanings and associations.

grip 1

a. tight hold; a firm grasp: drowning swimmer now safely in the grip of a lifeguard.
b. The pressure or strength of such a grasp: wrestler with an unmatched grip.
c. manner of grasping and holding: The crate afforded no comfortable grip.
a. Intellectual hold; understanding: good grip on French history.
b. Ability to function properly or well; competence: getting a grip on the new technique.
c. Mental or emotional composure: lost his grip after he was fired.
a. mechanical device that grasps and holds.
b. part, such as a handle, that is designed to be grasped and held.

4.       suitcase or valise.

5.        a. stagehand who helps in shifting scenery.
b. member of a film production crew who adjusts sets, lighting, and props and sometimes assists the cameraoperator.

#48 of 222 Grips for a Stone

#49 of 222 Grips for a Stone

Thursday, 3 December 2015

the temporal dimension of liminality

Its crazy to think that the end of the third semester is nearly upon me. Deadlines are fast approaching for papers, as well as my third semester stdio review to discuss the progress of my work.

2nd year MFA students are also expected to have their exhibition title, press image and statement ready for our thesis shows mid next year. 

It has taken me all semester to work out what I am trying to say. The concepts have been teased out through my studio work which has been working intuitively with found materials within the theme 222 Grips for a Stone.

Along side this I have been reading a book a week and writing a response for independent studies. Through my reading and writing I have slowly filtering my key areas of interest which has finally been distilled into one word: Liminal. 

Press Statement

Liminality is the moment in time when things transition from one state to the next. The dissolution of order creates a fluid, malleable situation where one's sense of identity dissolves, bringing about disorientation, but also the possibility of new perspectives. Often the liminal experience is subliminal,  existing or operating below the threshold of consciousness. 

My MFA thesis exhibition explores the social context of liminality relating to place, travel, loss and regeneration through physical and metaphysical objects.

Friday, 27 November 2015

222 Grips for a Stone - Metamorphosis (40-47)

"stone is the only thing in nature that constantly dies" - Frances Ponge  
The solidity, reliability and impassiveness of stone is constant, yet it is continually changing, although at a greatly reduced rate compared with human life. Despite its solidity, it is worn down by atmospheric agents such as air and water, reducing large pieces of stones into pebbles, and then finally into fine particles of sand. 

#40 of 222 Grips for a Stone
Before firing

#41 of 222 Grips for a Stone
After firing
Because of this Ponge believes that stone is the only thing in nature that constantly dies (73). He then considers all forms of stone (rock, pebble, sand), all represent some stage of its evolution, exist simultaneously in the world. He relates this notion of connectedness as paradise, where all conception exists (74). 

#42 of 222 Grips for a Stone
Before firing 

#45 of 222 Grips for a Stone
After firing 

Stone is continually changing form, yet at the same time it remains true to its original composition of minerals. In some senses you could say that stone is an illusory force in nature, having the ability to continually morph itself over time. Once it is ground down into smaller particles it has the potential to be transformed into larger stones again through sedimentary processes, or melted under extreme heat in the form of lava.

#46 of 222 Grips for a StoneBefore firing  
#47 of 222 Grips for a Stone
After firing
Because of the vast difference in materiality between the unfired and the fired clay pieces, after much discussion and consideration I have started counting the before fire and after fire as different pieces in my exploration of 222 grips for a stone. 

Interestingly, the copper wire, which contains or grips the clay before being fired, acts as another grip after firing, as the melted copper sticks the ceramics together.

Ponge, F. The Voice of Things. Herder and Herder. United States 1974.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Thing Is - MFA Group Exhibition

NSCAD's Master of Fine Arts students are holding their annual group exhibition titled The Thing Is at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, November 17 – 28, 2015, with a public opening reception on Monday November 16 from 5:30 to 7pm.

the thing is invitation designed by Emily and Carly

This year, the group of sixteen MFA students will present work in a range of media from textiles, jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, and painting to photography and digital work. This group comprises nationalities spanning Australia, China, Estonia, Japan, and Canada, including four Nova Scotian artists.

They bring with them a variety of inspirations and ways of working, influenced both by the locality of NSCAD in Halifax and by their mother cultures. Representing a diverse range of themes, which include social engagement and working across disciplines in art and craft, the exhibition 'The Thing is' promises to be one that will engage the senses and the mind.

The Thing Is
Exhibition view looking through the window from Granville Mall

My work in the show continues to explore the concept '222 Grips for a Stone'. I have set parameters within the exploration, limiting my materials to found objects, wire and glass.

Presence of Absence Series

Whilst exploring the materiality of the objects I have also been contemplating themes that continue to surface in my work, including travel and movement, place, loss and regeneration.

Found clay object
shino glaze, wrapped with copper wire and steel handle
#36 of 222 Grips for a Stone 

The clay object (found in the clay recycling room) represents a sped up version of the natural geological occurrences in nature. It contains a sense of place, and is energised by fire and sensitised by touch.

Found clay object,
wrapped with steel wire, melted copper and glass
#37 of 222 Grips for a Stone

 Human occupation is a layering process on the landscape. The wire alludes to the impact of white settlement: roads, mapping and fences. At the same time it is reminiscent of women work, knitting and embroidery which uses line to create their own surfaces.

"The thread, or line transforms into traces, and surfaces are brought into being. At the same time the transformation of traces into threads also dissolves the surface" ~ Tim Ingold

Wire protects the stone, inhabiting the liminal space at the boundary of the object. It holds the stone together, but at the same time things are slipping through its grasp.

Found clay, railroad spike, glaze, steel wire
#38 of 222 Grips for a Stone

Glass has a materiality that under heat, or through time it will liquify which enables it to slip through the grasp of the wire. But at the same time it begins to also grasp the wire. Which embodies a continuous state of being.

Found clay object
nail and chain
#39 of 222 Grips for a Stone

The found objects have material, political and cultural resonances. 

The Presence of Absence, aligns with an extensive tradition of assemblage art that continues through to the work of Louise Bourgeois.

“To Bourgeois, assemblage is an act of ‘restoring…and rebuilding…it is a coming to terms with things…a work of love’ (it is a) a peaceful existence, not like carving, which she sees as an ‘attack on things' (Bernadac & Obrist 1998p.142-143)”

For more information on the exhibition, visit the NSCAD MFA blog


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