Monday 4 March 2013

"Without Recourse" My first 2 person, site specific exhibition!

...And none of us brought a real camera! So, please excuse these fuzzy pictures from my crappy phone camera. There will hopefully be professional pics soon!
My fellow Studio 550 resident, Kate Coppola, and I spent this past week building an unfired ceramic installation in the temporary 3S ArtSpace gallery in Portsmouth, NH. Not only was this an exciting event because it was our first 2-person show for both of us, but we only had 2.5 months to design and create the whole show! Kate already works unfired, but I decided that the only way to make this work is if I did the same. So for this show, I was working in a completely new and experimental format.We had originally planned/hoped to be finished by Thursday night (which is also what the gallery staff wanted) so that we could have Friday to rest, do finishing touches and get pretty. Well, if you look at this picture from 2 am Friday morning...I think you can see things did not go as planned! We both ran out of clay Thursday night...

Day 4/5. Woman Down.
...but in the end there were no major hang-ups and we finished at 4:00 pm Friday with time to dress and attend and hour of happiness before the opening. We arrived fashionably late to a pleasantly crowded gallery.
Here is our show statement: "Though our work might look quite different at first glance, if one reads our artist’s statements, they will find much overlap of concepts between our works. We focused on these similarities to form the building blocks for this collaboration. Even though Kaitlyn works with animal forms and Annie with tree forms, our work centers around a core of environmental degradation and seeks to elicit a paradoxical sense of threat and empathy from our viewers. We both utilize a large installation format because the work has a greater impact when it is on a human scale, projecting into the viewer’s space to confront them on a more visceral level and control how one moves through the space. We hope to challenge viewers' sense of claustrophobia and force them to engage with both the work and fellow viewers in a limited space.
These forms are meant to be devolving, becoming less natural and reflecting on their more twisted natures. The unfired nature of the clay forces the work into a state that is vulnerable, ephemeral, and deeply ingrained with the potential for change; which direction this change will take is the question. This scene is built up to the brink of collapse, perched precariously right before the moment of dissolution. At this moment on the brink, failure is a given without the intervention of our collective potential for empathy. This is where the core similarity between our work really comes into play: the absurdity of what it means to be flagrantly marching toward our own demise as if our actions have no consequences."
 Below are the cell phone images to give you a taste. I'll do a website update when we have professional shots. (If you are unfamiliar with our work: Annie: Trees. Kate: Creatures)
Front center-ish

Front left

Front left

Front right-ish

Front right

Back alcove

Back right corner

Back to front

In the alcove, looking out at our over worked installation assistants.


The opening went well with over 50 attending which is good for a very cold night and the gallery being just outside of down town.  
If you're curious, my construction techniques involved heating up and bending PVC pipes, coating them with paper clay then paining black with tempera. The ceiling part is wire and stripped ivy vines. Here are a few studio/transport/install shots:
Used a spare studio to stage the pieces

Used a 17' moving truck to transport the work over 1 hour drive, snowed all day...I'm still fighting the remnants of a  very bad cold I caught on this day...8 days ago...UHAULS do NOT handle well in the snow!

Rather creepy in this truck...

Gallery shot, this may have been as late at Thursday morning!
There you have it! A very interesting process overall. Much easier to move than my other work, but took way longer to install. But I now have these components to use again in another space...maybe.
If you are in the area, HERE is the gallery info.
Lastly, I would like to thank:
Ben for all the encouragement, hours and hours of help and keeping the apt livable and the dog alive while I burrowed grad-school style into this. 
Kate for being so easy to work with and finding this opportunity and letting me join in!
Jeff also for your hours of help and food/coffee/supply runs.
3S Staff for giving us this opportunity, for being so excited and interested during the installation, and for trusting us with a crazy idea and never once making us feel rushed or insecure.
Monica for being flexible with our 550 schedules and letting us use the spare studios.
To my nanny family for being so supportive of my career and letting me switch around my schedule.
Next big post will be my NEXT two person exhibition that I have been invited to participate in at the Soo Rye Gallery in Rye NH opening May 1! (But guess what, Rye is hardly 20 minutes from I can't use this same work.....better go to the!)

Friday 21 September 2012

1 Year Scotland Anniversary!


Where am I?

Hello again! It has been nearly forever since I last posted here.  But two events have inspired me to write again!  Number 1: Roughly 1 year ago this week we "landed" in Lumsden, Scotland.
Before I go on, I would like to start with a video dedicated to Chloe Windsor (Gemma, you too, but this really stuck with Chloe). It is from a pod cast that is popular amongst our American friends who like this sort of thing and I HIGHLY recommend that any of you with a sense of humor listen to all the Superego pod casts available.

And, based on one of Chloe's favorite parts, we took this photo just for you in Edinburgh last Dec:
"You will play Bert, and I, of course, will be Mary. Let me get the costumes. Here is your chimney sweep and your cartoon penguin"

 The fact last posting here was from early Nov 2011 but we did not leave Scotland till Dec 15! That's right! I have a batch of pictures I never shared with you! Oh, it was in my planner on many a Cape Cod winter's day. (Trust me, I just flipped back to Jan, Feb, March in my planner and at least twice a week I see "update Nov/Dec UK blog"). Yet I never did it. Why? Not sure! Now, 1 year later, after unpacking everything that has been in storage since returning I think know why I avoided it. I did not want to think about how we were not there anymore. It's not that I put the whole UK experience out of my mind once we left; quite the contrary: hardly a day goes by that something does not spark a thought about that time. Its just that now I know how meaningful that time was. I think I  knew that all along and I feared it would make me  too sad to do a blog post about Scotland having so recently departed to that in-between-time that was our stint on Cape Cod. But here I am in Manchester, NH (a whole other blog coming soon on that) by myself unpacking so many mementos and I knew it was time. People say all the time "Wow, I can't believe that was a year ago!!" Well take that feeling and multiply it by 5. That is how we feel  about Scotland. I can recall the tiniest details like it was last week, I think its because we were there for so long that this past year has become very compressed in our minds and if feels like such recent past.
So, I unpacked one of the last boxes yesterday and found the "British Owls" tea towel that "accidentally" ended up in our last load laundry at SSW and then "accidentally" made its way back to the US with us (Hey Emily, and Christine: did you even know it was gone till this moment!? I'm sorry I took it! I just wanted it for the forthcoming reason!). It had been rolled up in a box of Scotland stuff that has been in the Cape Cod basement since January. I pulled it out and smelled it and it still smells so strongly of the detergent we used there! ( I think I often used too much because I was not accustomed to the small, high efficiency washers!)
You know how they say smell is one of the strongest memories? So true! The second that smell hit my brain, I was back in the bothy/studio/resident house at SSW. It was the detergent we all used. It reminded me of Christine rotating the laundry (she is the office manager at SSW and was like a surrogate Scottish mum for us and she would fold our laundry if she needed the machine to do kitchen wash). And that, paired with the 1 year anniversary  of our arrival -technically the 15th- is what finally spurred me to make my final post.
There is a batch of  pictures to see, and I have tried to label them as thoroughly and humorously as my former posts. (Scotland friends: please fill in where I am lacking facts,or with your own memories!). The link is at the end.      

There are 3 factors that gave that time so much value for us. As in, so much value that if somebody said "Hey Annie and Ben, would you like to come to the UK for a year or so and make art/music/teach in some capacity?" My/our answer would be "Absolutely!"...Too bad that none of the art schools in both Edinburgh and Glasgow have ceramics programs or facilities...
 These three factors are:
-The fact that Art and Music brought us there.
-The people we met/friends we made.
-The landscape and history of the whole UK but Scotland in particular.
-And a side tangent: my first far-away residency WITH Ben. Lord knows I've had plenty with out him and the negativity of being apart always detracts and distracts from my over-all experience. Thank you so much to Emily (and Nuno I guess?...) for not only allowing him to come but openly welcoming him as if he were an artist in residence himself.
I don't even know what order these things go in! If you asked me on a particular day there, I would have given a different answer as to which was the most important.
Since I have done posts about the art I made,  and the the tour and the landscape, this one is for our friends over there. This batch of pictures turned out to be more people oriented so it just makes sense. Plus you all were such  a huge part of the reason why Scotland now holds such a special place in our hearts (and this will continue to be so, though you will see Ben & The Hot Seats much sooner than I since the band is coming next July). I do not know when I will be returning, but I WILL return! Its' just that we have reached a place where I cannot spend money on an overseas ticket  unless it serves some purpose in advancing my career. We're down to the wire here folks. No more fooling around! ...Not that I have been, but anyway...
Everyone we met there and spent more than a few hours with  was part of what made our time there so special. Given the opportunity I would be so happy to see any of the following people again: (in NO particular order)
Leonie, Vanda, Roweena, Michael, Steven, Douglas, Jane Ann, Nicholas Oddy,  Dave the Driver, Gerry the Driver, Loudon, Emily, Gemma, Chloe,Christine, Kate Hobby, Craig, Rocca, Jules, Eden, Petra, Darren, Bridget, Rosie, Frazier, Ken, and Emma!! And if I forgot anybody I'm so so sorry, it's not personal, its because its Friday and I've had wine! I cannot believe that in just 4 short months I met THAT many people that were so memorable that I could just name them off the top of my head a year later. You are all amazing in your own ways! (..even if those ways mainly consist of generously vulgar swears and put-downs! -Gerry- He probably won't see this)
Regardless of the financial, travel, personal, artistic, etc... frustrations we experienced there... I can safely say I woke up every day with the  happy thought "I live in Scotland!" in my mind and that the awesomeness of this reoccurred to me ( and Ben too) multiple times a day. I know that I am romanticising things a bit just because we were in a country that was not our own...but many of our Scottish and English friends have had extended stays  in America and have expressed very fond feelings for this country. I'm sure they understand the feeling. Anyway, what follows is a random list of those little  (or big) things that would happen to make us have those moments of wide-view appreciation for our situation.
-Passing a castle on the way the way to the grocery store.
-Seeing signs of human presence in castles : like stair cases that in some ruined places lead to nowhere,or on the contrary, that have been inhabited for hundreds of years by the same family, who's stone steps are worn smooth and indented by centuries of foot steps.
-The way the modern and the ancient blend in Edinburgh on so many levels.
-Walking out of our house in Lumsden and with-in minutes being in the hills with those shaggy cows or those skittish sheep.
-How those stupid pheasants sounded different on the top of the hill behind Lumsden then at ground level.
-How the bus driver on Skye came out to the last point on his route during the off season that he normally skips because he knew we were out there.
- The moment during the Mega Yurt Event when I thought..."I am tending bar, in a yurt, in Scotland..."
- The fresh seafood truck that came through our little, middle-of-no-where town beeping his horn and the old folks that would come out and meet him.
-Dancing to the bag pipes in the Halloween parade, in a completely non-tourist oriented event ad the dance after.
....I could just go on and on...
I'll end with saying that we are so greatful to have had this expeicence, Ben is so greatful that he gets to continue to have it in some capacity, and thank you to all of you that made this experience what it was!
See all the pictures from Nov-Dec 15 Here. Reminder: I believe you can see the pics and their captions at the same time if you use slide show mode.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Isle of Skye! Oct 19-24

Windy Benny!
Hello! I'm here today to tell you about Isle of Skye!  Here's a map to start:
No, We didn't stay at the White Heather Hotel, this was just the most descriptive map I could find.
So we started out in the middle-ish area of the island in Portree where we spent 3 nights at the Portree Hostel It was not the best staying at a hostel but the price was right and we sprang for 2 beds in a 4 bed room. Ooo! Fancy! Over all it was a perfectly recent place. It being the off season the place was fairly empty till the weekend. We had our room to our selves the first night then got a couple interesting room mates. They appeared to be in their  late 60's or 70s! I mean, I know that hostels have dropped the "Youth" part from their name, and to each his own, but  when I'm 70, if I can't afford at least a bed and breakfast or have a camper ( or even a private room in a hostel!)...then I'm just not going on a trip! How happy would they have been had they gotten a couple of rude drunken 19 year olds instead of us?? (Plus the lady kept opening wide the damn window so when we would come in after they were sleeping the wind and rain would be blowing in  and the room would be freezing! We would shut the window, then she would open it again in the morning while we were sleeping and leave it open when they had left the room for good! All the while politely acting like we were the silly ones for wanting  a warm dry room! Weird!) Anyway....our first evening we just walked around the harbor, got some beverages and enjoyed it sitting on a bench looking out at the bay (in the dark drizzle, but whateves).
The next day was going to be a bus tour in attempt to stay dry-ish, but when the clouds suddenly cleared we immediate changed our plans! We found a hike right outside of town and it was lovely! I, however, felt it would be reckless to remove my rain suit... and ended up boiling in the sun!
Hot Lady!

Next, we took a bus around the Trotternish Peninsula and saw the Duntulm Castle ruins, did some beach combing, and saw the Old Man of Stor. The third day was rainy. Now, I only bother to even mention the rain (which normally is an assumed occurrence) because it was baaad! Even the locals were talking about it! Bridges getting washed out and what-not. But when one is on Skye (or anywhere in Britain) one cannot change their plans simply because of  rain! So we headed for the area around Dunvegan Castle and by the time we got there, the rain had stopped! We walked around the area as the castle itself was closed for the season. After a tiring, damp day we didn't feel like cooking at the hostel. But we also didn't feel like paying £.9-12 for "Fried fillet of cod with potato wedges" at the fancy pubs and after 5 minutes of looking around, found this little chippy where you get the whole shebang for £6. (But no outdoor seating this time of year!).
Day three we went down to Sligachan in the Cuillin Hills. It was a beautiful, dramatic landscape. It's described pretty thoroughly in words, pictures and videos in the  album so I won't go on here.We did two long-ish hikes each day we were in this area. Another great thing: due to the fact that it was Sunday and Monday in October, we had the whole bunk house to ourselves! They're was even a fire place in the bunk house with coal provided! As we entertained visions of reading or playing cards by the fire, Ben attempted to start one till his hands and arms were black! So, we don't know how to light a coal fire....whatever, they're too stinky anyway! We gave up and walked over to the pub at the Sligachan Hotel.
On our last day, we had intended to see "Scotland's most photographed castle"  Eilean Donan, before getting on the train, only to find out it had closed the day before!! Boo! It's okay, I have full intentions of seeing Isle of Skye in the summer some day so I'll see it then. Instead I ended up discovering a treasure trove of metal, glass, and pottery shards discarded by an old hotel at low tide on Kyle of Lochalsh!
While waiting on our train for departure, the train featured in the Harry Potter movies pulled into the station on the other track! I tried to get out and take a picture but the doors on our train wouldn't open...cause we were about to pull off...the look on Ben's face when he realized I almost got left while trying to take a picture of the Hogwarts Train was not amused!

Anyway, Here's the rest of the pictures!
It was a fantastic time and I can't wait to do it again in the future with our own transportation and less hostels!

Wednesday 30 November 2011


I know I know, you might be thinking..."But Annie, its almost December!" Well, whatever! Its time to show you October!  So here's the basic outline of what we did in October.
(Disclaimer: I'm not using European spellings on purpose! Spell check/auto correct is doing it! )
Mom sent me a care package!

The first weekend we went back down to Edinburgh to assist our friend Leonie with an event she conceived of and organized herself: The Mega Yurt Event! She is hoping that maybe next year it can be an official Fringe Festival venue! The huge yurt came from her friends at Red Kite Yurts and we spent most of Friday afternoon putting it up. The event was held at the school where Leonie teaches which is a Steiner School (known in the states as Waldorf Schools). It was an all day event with food, all kinds of kids shows in the afternoon and musical acts in the evening, with 3 yurts all together! Leonie's dad, Malcolm Le Maistre, was kind of a big deal back in the day. He has a kid's band with a singing vegetable cart that played during the afternoon and a folk band that played later in the evening. Ben and I helped put up the yurts, paint the signs, man the door and tend the bar ("one for you, one for me"). It was a great success and they even made a profit which was more than they expected and makes repeating the event much more of a reality!! We also did a little more sight seeing and went to St Giles' Cathedral , the Greyfriers Kirkyard and the National Museum of Scotland.
Then, mid month we launched a little radio station from right here in Lumsden! Its only online for 2 hours each night, but is available for anybody in the region to come use. I'm not sure what the content currently is but if you would like to hear Ben and I interviewed and hear Ben play some banjo CLICK HERE TO HEAR! 

On the launch day we opened up SSW to the public for a full day of free activities including my pinch pot workshops, aluminium casting, radio broadcasting/DJing, films in the caravan, and lots of sweets and junk food! Then there was a kids disco and THEN an adult disco! Yes, the locals may have gotten super drunk and gotten into a group fight about some kind of boy-girl drama.....but they made up and went back to karaoke-ing. Honestly, I don't think they would have considered it a full Night Out if they didn't have a proper row! The kids dancing were super cute! It was really nice to have people from Lumsden and the neighbouring villages, not just other art people and existing friends of SSW.
I mean after all....we DID have a smoke machine!
Kids dancing is the best!

 The next big event: Halloween! We had a pretty full schedule! On Friday we went to a small music/story telling gathering hosted by a lot of the same folks from the Open Session at the Tin hut. We didn't really realize we were expected to contribute...but we we showed up and discovered that our group comprised half the circle...we started pulling things to share out of thin air. We went around the circle 3 times and SSW was able to represent on the 2nd and 3rd go-round with "spooky" stories, jokes or songs. AND (...after about 3 drams of whisky....-its cheaper than beer!!-) I sang a song! In PUBLIC! Whoa. Ben was mighty surprised as he has never heard me sing in earnest before! And he said it was pretty good! I know he's biased...but whateves. By the end he said he was like "Yeah! That's my WIFE singing!" Anyway, when the event was put up on our radio station...sommmmebody cut out the middle part and my bit. But once he sends it to me, I'll put it up and you can all judge for yourselves. I sang The Wind and Rain in the style of Gillian Welsh cause it's a murder ballad! Ben said a little bit of Georgia came out in my song. :)
Then on Saturday we first went to the Huntly Castle (reminder: Huntly in the largest village near us, about 15 mins away) for a Ghost dancing performance, we were then led to the town square by the Youth Pipe Band!

As you will see form the pics, I was dressed as Jesse from Toy Story (because we already had a red hat in the bothy and the whole costume evolved around it and cost me all of £5.!) Though in the absence of Woody, I voted myself Sheriff! Though I did find a Woody at the dance (ha-ha-giggle-giggle), I told him he could Just be my deputy. He was just supposed to be a cowboy, plus he got his get up in Canada! Anyway, its funnier for the sheriff to be a full head and shoulder shorter than the deputy!

I left the square during the costume contest because I thought it was just for kids, but later, the guy running  it said there had been one for adults and, had I been there, I would have won! Damn it! As we were parading from the castle to the square, I was kind of dance-walking to the pipe music in a way that I though Jesse would, and caught the eyes of at least two young kids who were totally star struck!! So cute. Next came the Ceilidh ("Kaylee") dance which is much like contra dancing.  At the end, I shook the hand of yet another little boy on his way out who's mom said in my ear "Jesse is his favourite and he thinks you're really her!" It was we got a taxi home...BUT not before going to the pub for two more rounds while waiting for said taxi! THEN we had an after party in the bothy (pics on facebook....not very flattering!). By the way, AMERICA, you need to start stocking THIS. And it's even better with whisky in. Needless to say...we all spent most of the next day in bed!!
To see all the October pics GO HERE.........

So there you have October! BAM! Minus our trip to Isle of Skye which we'll be coming very soon!
Update of right now: I have just finished all my wet work and everything is now either drying or in the kiln! Everything will be finished by this time next week and I'll begin installation of my wall piece for the opening of SSW's Winter Exhibition Thursday. After I'm gone, the pieces will hope make the rounds at few galleries! Emily is eager to show that SSW can do ceramics (that is, once the kiln's fixed!) and I'm glad to be the spokesperson! So as of next Thursday my resume enters a new level of coolness: "Internationally Exhibited Artist"! Woot!
And to close: A picture for Chris Golden!

Tuesday 15 November 2011


HI! I figured its about time I show you all what I have been making and looking at for inspiration for the last 2 months! To start...think back to my first post with that shot of my studio in the B.A. Era ( before Annie). LOOK AT IT NOW:

Whoa! Looks like my child hood bedroom right Mom?...But alas, there's no Memas, Bipas or Mimis here  to surreptitiously slip me $5 for cleaning it!
I have been working through some new ideas so this is going to be a bit of a mish-mash tedious art ramble so get your cup of tea now!  I'm still figuring things out and welcome your feed back and thoughts. This will be the first time I've attempted to articulate  these ideas "on paper" so I think this will be helpful at this 2/3-of-the-way-through-point. But might also be quite confusing!
The first decision I had to make upon arrival was: do I disregard any possibility of shipping  the work back  and make my typical fragile and spindly forms that would just live here, or do I keep shipping in mind and make more compact pieces, like smaller pieces that would make up a larger installation, for instance.
 So, I decided to disregard shipping so as not to limit my self and formulated an idea while traveling around central Europe before coming to Lumsden. The plan included  three pieces that were an evolution from the last  trio of pieces I made in the states.... Here they are: Tip (these aren't even on my website yet...I'm so bad!)
(they're 24"-45" tall)
They were going to be similar shapes and sizes to Tip but with more movement ( like the huge ones from my thesis show) and  have cast metal "spines" coming out of their centers with tree slices (pic below) positioned as if they were vertebrae. The spines would have been cast of iron from whittled down tree branches. While getting the ceramics studio in order (I'm the first resident since a major renovation) and waiting for the clay order, I formulated the idea into a detailed plan drawing, and spent a lot of time whittling, really! look:

I was interested in the light-colored fleshiness under the bark and how this black and orange fungus made patterns under the bark. (see it in the pics?)
 ...And I did some "drawings" on the wall with bendy twigs:

..And made some tree "disks":

But really...honestly, I had NO idea what I was doing or why I was doing these things! Then the clay came at the end of week 2. We ordered all different colors and textures and my wheels started turning a little more easily but I still didn't start the stumps, and I didn't know what was stopping me.
Two weeks after arriving we went to Edinburgh for the weekend and on the bus, looking out at the landscape, it became so clear: other than the cast metal aspect of this idea, I was 95% sure that I would be making the same pieces if I were at home! They were, for the most part, in no way related to where I am, the new landscape I'm in, and new experiences I'm what was the point!? Why come all the way across the damn ocean to make what I would make at home? Furthermore, I realized the idea of never being able to ship them home really did bother me and needed to be taken into consideration. So, it was a relief to see the obstacle so clearly and  know that that's what was holding me back. That feeling lasted about 5 minutes till I thought "Shit! What AM I going to make then?!" But, we were on our way to Ed for the weekend, and for once in my freakin' life I told myself that it was fine that I didn't have a plan right now and to just open my eyes and look around more and pay even more attention to the things I was looking at and taking pictures of with the set intention of discovering a new idea...but also not try to force it.
 By the time we returned, I had a seed of an idea. And again, contrary to my usual ways, I began making with just that seed of an plan (!)  and decided to just see where it went and that that was the only way I could truly let the influence of my surroundings have an effect. Wowie Zowie! This is the complete opposite of my working methods in grad school, but that's the wonderful thing about a (long term) residency: there is no fear or anxiety in not having a detailed plan. But one must keep working of course.
So! What was it that got me going on a "new" exciting track? STUMPS! Ha! But wait...a completely different type of stumps! Really! There were two sets of images that were piquing my interest. First, these two stumps from a public park in Edinburgh:

It occurred to me that I was so drawn to these stumps because of the shape of their out lines. Its not very common to see this kind of thing in the states. If a tree needs to be removed from a park or yard,  it's chopped up by a stump grinder and removed. But not here, they just left it and didn't replace it. So, still not knowing exactly where I was going with this, I made a couple stumps emphasizing the shapes and was interested enough to keep going:

There's also this one, which I think was inspired by my recent experience of being finger printed (grrrrr...).

The other main aspect influencing this work is logging forests. You may have picked up from previous pictures that all the  pine woods in this region are for logging. We can walk just a 1/4 mile here and see them. I can see one out the window right now. Aesthetically, I'm interested in the whorls of the tree rings, each different like a finger print, with the contrast of the straight diagonal lines made by the saw:

My interest in these logging areas caused a conundrum for me for two reasons. Part of the concept behind the work I make at home involves condemning destruction of the environment, but I didn't want to come to this country as a guest saying "You shouldn't be logging! Logging bad! Naughty Scotland!"...And it's not that I was suppressing these feelings, I honestly don't feel that way. The deforestation of Scotland happened so many centuries ago (mostly 1300-1600) that it does not fit into my usual miasma of negative feelings about environmental destruction. Also, due to prevalent high winds, a lot of the higher hills in Northern Scotland are naturally bald to begin with! Additionally, the sight of these pine logging areas being harvested does not bother me because, if they didn't plant pines for harvest, there would hardly be any forests at all! So it's a whole different experience  than say,  the sadness I felt upon seeing the logging forests in Washington near and in the Olympic national park, where huge stands of old-growth trees used to be and you see pictures from as late as 1900 of proud men standing at the base of a 500 year old felled tree. Anyway, I digress.
So, to sum up: I'm interested in the stump's shapes, patters and their interiors...but where to I go with this if I'm not relating them to my two usual references (the human body and  environmental destruction)? I made those stump forms directly from the images above and wanted to keep using direct references from my surroundings for the shapes. Due to that aforementioned scarcity of old trees, there is also a lack of old stumps, and the shapes I tried to invent myself were not nearly as unusual or interesting as the real thing. Then, I was walking past the table of one of the other residents who is creating maps of her experiences while walking outdoors. She had a huge map of just this region unfolded on her table. I noticed that there were green blob shapes denoting the forested areas...and they looked  like the stump shapes! I borrowed the map and traced the green areas and came up with these forms:

 I made a few more single stumps, and for some reason, the notion struck me to cut the middle out. I think I was tempted to cut all the way through while carving tree rings... It was interesting how I now had a negative and possitive of the shape derived from the map form:

Plus I like how much the shape changes from paper to stump form, to negative shape, to removed core...without me intending to change the shape at all! Still not quite sure why I'm cutting the middle out! It is interesting looking at least, no? But again, I'm just following whims and letting the ideas build off of and on top of each other. At first, I was afraid to work this way because I was worried the work would be too different to from my existing body of work... (unfortunately, at this stage of my "emerging artists" career, I must be concerned with potential university employers/curators wanting to see a cohesive body of work). But it still looks like mine....right? What do you think?
Anyway, I decided that with the remaining month left, I wanted to make a grouping of theses forms that "fit" together. Now the ideas are starting coalesce a bit more...these are map forms, it makes sense for them to go on the wall, and have profiles that some what puzzle together, like our own continents... So I simplified the map tracings, slightly altered them so they would match up a bit and made this arrangement
Installation plan. (ended up adding an 8th cause they didn't fit together so well once they were made of clay!)
Another interesting note: the space between looks like rivers! But the individual pieces still look like stumps. So now some semblance of a concept is starting to develop....instead of condemning/commenting on the lack of trees...I'm exploring the prominence of the land...using a form that represents the former presence of trees. The Appalachian mountains of the American East and the Cairngorm Mountains in the North of Scotland are very similar in age and geography ( at least from my observations). But when you look at the Appalachians, you notice the thick blanket of trees, but here you notice the shape, color and texture of the land. And both are beautiful and intriguing in their own right.
Here is a progress shot of the installation:
Wall installation progress 1, middle stump removed.

Wall installation progress 2. middle stump off to the left, walls on 3 out of 8.
They will all have walls of varying heights, and as you can see, the middles are already cut out.

 I'm not sure how the cores will be re-attached, probably mounted a couple inches above their corresponding openings. The clay colors vary from black to tan/gray mixed in all manner of combinations!
So! There you have it! The first batch of the 4 individual stumps is in the kiln now, and these progress shots of the installation are from yesterday. CLICK HERE to see the full visual inspiration/art album (about 80 images).  Again, I'm interested in  all manner of comments from anyone, not just my artsyfartsy friends...especially if you've read this far! ( I know at least Virginia has read this far! Hi Virginny!...and probably Chris too...and Mom and dad...).
Post Script 1: Sadly, even though these stumps are definitely sturdy enough to ship, there will be no money left over at the end of our stay for crates and shipping costs...they'll live in Scotland for while after the exhibition until I can save enough to get them back, I guess!
Post script 2: I wrote most of this last night...and I woke up (earlier than usual) with the clearest head I've had in a loooong time! I had no idea these unorganized-and-unspoken-until-now thoughts we clouding my whole mind so much! Whew!
Coming soon....All of October (whoa!) and Isle of Skye!
Thanks for reading! Byebye!

Sunday 6 November 2011

Sunday Walk

Hello! Guess what!? I'm actually doing a blog post about today on today! I'm preparing a  big fat post that covers most of October, so while waiting for that, I thought I'd share our walk from today. It was unique for a few reasons: because our immediate surroundings are so wonderful and it was a perfectly clear, not very cold, windless day, which is rare even in summer and almost unheard of in November!
So we walked down our street and into the hills following sheep trails and headed for the nearest high spot. I may have mentioned  before that Scotland allows free access to hill walkers, even on private land. It's pretty great. There was still frost  at the beginning of the walk in the low lands, though it wasn't very cold. It was actually warm enough to remove our jackets atop the hill! It was beautiful!  I love the tree rings with the saw marks accentuated by the frost.

The video from the top of the hill. There's narration so make sure your speakers are on and watch out for Upside Down Bennys!  <-- Video link.
Even though it was only 2pm our shadows were crazy long! (It gets dark at 5):

As we descended we walked through multiple groups of sheep. When they first spot you they stare at you for a few moments, not sure which way to run: ( the black sheep could care less!)

Or maybe they stay put and pee out of fear!:

Then they trot away in little  panicky groups..till the get distracted by some grass. Here they are running from Ben. (He is SO scary , right!?)

On the way back we heard and engine so we started looking around to locate the vehicle and caught this farmer herding his sheep with.....a sheep dog? Nope!   <--Video link

Anyway, It was a lovely day. Hope the weather is nice at home too!