Thursday, 6 August 2015

Ground Now Workshop with Ruudt Peters

Windmills in Holland
I was invited to participate in Ruudt Peter's Ground Now workshop that was held in the countryside in the south of the Netherlands from 3-9 August 2015.

The FarmHouse 
Ruudt has been a professor at two of the most prestigious universities in Europe, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and Konstfack University of Arts and Crafts in Stockholm. He has extensively exhibited his work, which can be found in many public and private collections around the world.

In short, he is a rock star in the art world!

Studio Garden 
The Ground Now workshop is intended for artists who seek to deepen their work and I was with an international group of artists from Moldova, Korea, New Zealand, America, Trinidad and Holland to name a few.

Table set for lunch
The theme of the workshop was 'Ground Now' with a focus on our feet. Often we are not aware that our feet do more than transport us. They can be used as tools and also assist to connect us to the ground.

My pair of shoes made from natural materials (leather, feathers, ivy)
We had to make a pair of shoes using natural materials ahead of the workshop. Being in Florence I used materials that were readily available : an old leather jacket someone had discarded, pigeon feathers and ivy.

Modelling my shoes
Image by Lucienne Buga 
These were then swapped with another workshop participant (Fiona) who manipulated them. Fiona joined the leather and ivy shoes together and painted them.

Shoe manipulated by Fiona.
Afterwards they were buried in the shoe grave yard.

The shoe grave yard.
 The the theme 'Ground Now' we focused on our feet as both the inspiration for our drawing and creating of objects, as well as using our feet to make images.

We also had blindfolded drawing assignments, and drawing responding to touch. These exercises were to assist us to work with 'the belly' or the unconscious, rather than our rational logical brain. 

Ruudt interpreting a blind drawing.

 We had many different experiences and assignments over the course of the week. A highlight for me was a visit to the local church that was constructed on ley lines (ancient earth lines of energy that connect spiritual sites across Europe).

The Old Church
 Using divining rods we were encouraged to find the energy lines in the area. Excitingly (and also a little mysteriously, which gave me goose bumps) most of us responded to the energy on the site. I even found the point at which the energy line entered the church site.

Searching for ley lines 
 We were also encouraged to select a natural material and spend the day investigating its potential, exploring how it reacted to different treatments. I chose to work with the discarded leather jacket, and undertook a series of treatments that involved burning, binding or boiling the leather.

leather bound around rocks using copper wire.
The results of boiling leather
boiled leather samples
The results of the experiments were exciting and often unpredictable. I found that boiling leather for 10 minutes was the most effective and it would shrink around objects, become hard and hold its shape.

Others experimented with bamboo, rice, paper, fabric, paperbark, and metal. 

My Opal ring
 We were asked to bring along an object that grounds us. I chose my Australian Boulder Opal ring, which was given to me by my Nan, and I like it because I have a piece of Australia with me whenever I travel.

the first interpretation of my ring.
 Using the ring as inspiration we had to copy it using natural materials. Because my object was so small, Ruudt encouraged me to work big.

second interpretation of ring
 Once we made the first interpretation, we had to make an interpretation of the interpretation. My second one wasn't as successful, and so I was encouraged to make more.

Third interpretation of opal ring

Fourth interpretation of opal ring
Whilst the workshop was intense (we started at 7.30am every morning with meditation and finished around 11pm after sharing a communal meal) I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. The environment was amazing, and it was lovely of Ruudt to share his studio space with us. The other artists participating were also wonderful and I got to know some very talented and clever people. And the best bit was that I was encouraged to grow and expand my artistic practice.

For many more images of our workshop experience visit Ruudt's Facebook page.

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