Tag Archives: Salt Works

Shadow Pots

Hello everyone! A couple of weeks ago I posted about some tiny salt pots that I had made and today I am going to show you two bigger ones.

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They are both about 80cm long and I’ve hung them up on the wall so that you can get an idea of their scale. This little corner of the conservatory has become my working spot in the last few weeks, and sometimes I think I might take root in the chair. At the moment I feel uncomfortable spending a lot of time in the studio and so I have been bringing materials back to the house to work on here.

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These pieces originated from asking myself the simple question, ‘how would it be to make some big salt pots’? Their final form comes from the technical problems encountered in trying to salt them. Normally I turn the pots upside down, put them in a shallow bath of salt water and wait for them to do their stuff. But the length and unstable nature of the pulled thread work means that  I couldn’t use this technique here as they would droop and topple over.

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In the past I have filled bags with salt, soaked them in water and waited for them to dry and form crystals. So I considered putting loose salt in the bottom of the container, soaking and drying. But this would mean the salt might fall out and be messy if moved and I didn’t want that. The solution was to make a separate little bag filled with salt, a salt bag, (a bit like a sand bag), soak it until it was thoroughly saturated and then put it in the foot of the bag whilst still dripping wet. The salt has had to soak through two layers of cloth so the salting is subtle with a slight, weathered encrustation. I am really pleased with it. The salt bag also gives the work a bit of weight.

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I waxed the solid part at the top of the pot so that it would hold its shape.

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They look great in the evening when the light is switched on as they cast shadows on the wall. The blue is cast light from the lampshade.

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And it this casting of shadows that has started me off thinking about other ways that I could use shadows in my work.

To Coil

Hello! I hope you are all well. With all the time I have on my hands I’ve made another piece of work. As I was sewing, I was thinking about how the work came about and also about the manner of creation in general.

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When I begin a new piece work, I usually only have a vague idea of what it will be. Normally I have in mind a work that I have previously made, or an observation of something that has happened, or maybe an idea that I have read about. There is always some sort of starting point, but there is very rarely a definitive end point. So, when and how does the thinking and deciding what the work will be, take place?

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Very, very occasionally I think a piece into existence. I have an idea; I spend time drawing it up in my sketchbook; I make the piece and the final form is as it appeared in my sketchbook. The work is the materialisation of a thought.

But this rarely happens. Even if I think I have an end point, as soon as I start making, a dialogue starts up between my hands and my materials; they start telling me things and I begin to respond. Ideas change and so does the work as my engagement with the properties of the materials and observation of what is happening generates new knowledge.  This is a knowledge that can only be understood by actually engaging and asking questions. What did I notice? Why did that happen? How can I use that?

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By using your hands, listening to the movement and transformation of your materials, and then reacting to them, you can literally feel your way forward using your imagination and improvising as you go.  This is the method of making that I prefer to employ and the anthropologist, Tim Ingold, calls this creativity in action ‘participant observation’.

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This piece of work originated from two thoughts. First the idea of enclosure that came from the two works I showed you last time and secondly from a work I made sometime ago that was coiled. My starting point was a 5 m x 15 cm strip of fabric – all I knew was that I would coil it up and place it in a container with walls of about the same height. Other than that each move in the making process was dictated by my observations of what had gone before. The turquoise paint was too bright, so as I painted along the strip I dulled and darkened it. The eyelets were too close, so I moved them apart. The seam was too bulky, so I changed the manner of sewing it. The piece looked flat and unexciting, so instead of waxing it I salted it to give texture. One exchange after another pushed the piece forward to how it is now.

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And as I write this, I have found another reason for actually doing rather than just thinking. The title of this post comes from Richard Serra’s verb list. He stated that: ‘drawing is a verb’ and compiled a list of verbs in response to this statement and used it as a guide for his art practice. The list consists of the infinitives of a series of verbs whose actions relate to ‘oneself, material, place and process’. I realise I should write my own verb list of actions related to what I do – I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before!

Staying ever curious

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I’m sitting in the gallery for another days stewarding, spending my time making some new work and chatting to visitors. I thought I would reproduce the introduction to the exhibition that Mary Blue Brady has written. Mary has identified, and written, about the concept behind the exhibition so succinctly that I thought you might like to read it for yourselves.

‘Moments of Being.

The title for this exhibition is taken from a collection of autobiographical essays by British modernist author Virginia Woolf. The collection was first found in the papers of her husband, used by Quentin Bell in his biography of Virginia Woolf, published in 1972.

Virginia Woof was a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness and this exhibition celebrates the heightened state of consciousness experienced when one feels most alive. Both Caroline Fisher’s porcelain landscapes and Debbie Lyddon’s mixed media cloths share common ground in commemorating moments of focus felt by the artists when visiting the North Norfolk coast.

Both artists have inventive approaches to their chosen materials and employ them to create a sense of wonder and impart an atmospheric response, drawing attention to a moon rise, a flash of water, or the rustling of halyards on boats, for example. In short, these artists raise our awareness of what surrounds us.

Caroline and Debbie’s work also prompts us to remember the preciousness of time, to savour each moment and to tune into individual occasions through deeper observation. For us mere mortals, it is imperative not just to look down at our feet, but also to gaze up at the stars, staying ever curious and open to the wonder of the world.’

Moments of Being at Wells Maltings

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The exhibition has been up for a week now and it is such a thrill to be showing Moments of Being in the place that inspired it. Visitors can walk a few steps up from the reality of the marshes and the quay to the Handa Gallery at the Wells Maltings and see my work that is an evocation of the same place. I am delighted that people have understood the connections that I have been trying to make between the way we sense this coastal environment: its imagery, sounds and materials, and the processes of change that take place here on a daily basis. Many of the visitors know this coast as well as I do and have been able to relate the work to the environment.

I am sharing the exhibition with Caroline Fisher and her ceramics sit so well next to my cloth pieces. You can see some of the cobalt glazed bowls in one of the photos

Here are a few gallery shots.

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The exhibition is on daily until 6 April from 11am – 4pm, free entry. I will be in the gallery every day except 21 March and 6 April.

 

Exhibition

At very short notice, I have been given the opportunity to show my Moments of Being work here in Wells-next-the-Sea. I am absolutely delighted about this as this is the place that inspired the whole body of work and it will be the first time that it has been shown here.

Moments of Being is inspired by a series of vividly remembered encounters and engagements with the marshes and beach here in Wells and each work notates the memory of a commonplace event or observation: the sun moving over the marsh and creating shadows, the clink of halyards knocking against masts, the shape of a bend in the creek, or the way saltwater marks my clothes. These are not unusual experiences, but are personal and intensely remembered moments.

I will be showing The Sluice Creek Cloths which are large wall hung cloth pieces….

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several new Marshscape Collages….

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some Salt Works….

Debbie Lyddon Liminal Objects - Wrack

and some new small Watercolours

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I will be in the gallery almost everyday and  will be setting up a mini studio in a corner. There will be sketchbooks to look at and I will be drawing, painting and making work for the duration of the exhibition.

Moments of Being is on from 14 March – 6 April 2019 at Handa Gallery, Wells Maltings, Staithe Street, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk NR23 1AU