I am progressing slowly and steadily with my new project based on my experience of the landscape of north Iceland and found objects from the beaches there.
Introducing a new material to my practice has been fun and continues to be challenging. I have always enjoyed working with 3-d objects and I am relishing finding out how to control and use plaster. I’ve always loved tools and in order to carve and manipulate plaster I’ve had to turn to instruments that I haven’t used before: a vice, chisels, hammers, surforms, a Dremel and files, rasps and rifflers.
I’m obviously still in the very early stages of understanding what I can make this material do and so far I have tried making reliefs,
Relief of an oyster shell with boring sponge marks
flat-bottomed casts with moulds made from clay,
Casts of Norfolk flints inspired by an Icelandic whale’s tooth
Flat-bottomed cast of a flint that has been drilled out
and now I’ve started to make blocks of plaster to carve and form into fully 3-d shapes.
Plaster block with (crude) chisel marks
Carving of a bone
These are all small-scale pieces and my aim has been to reproduce, as accurately as possible, some of my found objects. I think that if I am able to learn the skills required to represent each object precisely then, at a later date, I will be able to go ‘off piste’ and take my ideas beyond the purely representational. However, at the moment I’m still learning about what can be achieved.
Carving of a flint
I like this stage of a project. Although I have an idea of what I want to do this is only the catalyst to get me started – an original idea that kicks off the making process and enables ideas to flow so that the work takes on a life of its own.
Carving of a volcanic pebble, painted with oil paint
In my experience brilliant ideas don’t materialise spontaneously. Instead they occur only when you devote time and thought to the making process. I start by making something simple that then leads to something else and something else and I find that one idea leads to another, that leads to another, that leads to yet another. As the project progresses a growing awareness and understanding develops and takes the mind along a path that could never have been predetermined. The connections made along the way will hopefully culminate in something exciting and new.
My work table today
I’m still at the ‘making something simple’ stage, but it is fun and absorbing. Already I’m making connections and having new ideas and with any luck these first steps will lead me forwards.