Saturday, June 20, 2009

Waterfall Triangles

Waterfall Triangles, originally uploaded by e s c h e r.

When I woke up this morning I felt singularly uninspired. The stroll I took first thing to look at what nature was growing didn't improve my mood. I did witness, however, the dog owner who lets his dogs **** all over the place without clearing it up that I mentioned last week. He's one of those people who drives away from his home then lets his dogs out to crap in someone elses back yard (not literally) then they get straight back in the car to drive home again. I suspect he might have to give up on his little scheme quite soon.

I've been wanting to move away from the leaves and light series and explore some new materials and ideas. Despite all this being just something I do for my own satisfaction I do feel some, I guess self-imposed, pressure. I don't really know where the ideas come from and I am fearful that one day they will dry up, especially if I had hit on something good with the leaf series but I cannot repeat that formula with something new. I guess we all think a little too much about things sometimes.

Yesterday I collected some very tall grasses and started to play around making 3d shapes - pyramids, diamonds, cubes - and lacking inspiration I though I would combine them with coloured leaves. At this point my doubting thoughts increased and I thought to myself "is this art? Just repeating the same formula isnt art, what new things am I learning? what new things am I discovering about nature?"

And therein lies the secret that was hidden from my conciousness this morning. There aren't any discoveries to make in the thinking or the planning or indeed the worrying. Instead you need to just "do" (I haven't been talking to Yoda honestly) and so I did. I sat down with these grasses and some thorns and just got absorbed in making all sorts of little things.

I tried and tried to make little diamonds with coloured leaf windows but it was just far too difficult. I had neither the skill nor the patience to get it right. But all the while the land art lessons you often receive when exploring a new material started to seep around the edges. For several hours I learned about these grasses, their structure and form, their pliability and what they lent themselves to be made into just by playing around with them without expectation.

And so I remembered that this is what it is all about. By trying to make things you learn many new aspects about the plant and what you can do with it. Its like a tandem race. The material shows you what you can do with it and constrains what it is possible to make and then your artistic imagination catches up and you reach a point where knowledge of the material combines into making something new that both expresses the properties of that material, what you have learnt about it and your idea for an artistic representation of all those things.

I am always saying that the material itself and how it behaves influences the final result. It isn't just that the sculpture is made out of the material it is more than that. This is going to sound really arty-farty and when I used to read this stuff when other people spouted it I thought it was total guff. But I've never been to art school or been indoctrinated to be airy-fairy, I am a computer programmer after all who studied science at school! But it really does feel like a symbiotic relationship creates each sculpture. The material, environment and nature have an influence, I have an influence and they combine to achieve the finished result. But it is more than just using the material itself. It is as though the influence nature exhibits I am aware of at the time but I don't or indeed can't control it and each material and environment that I work in and with provides a different experience. It's really hard to explain but I hope some of what I am getting at comes across. It honestly feels like nature behaves in a sentient way and influences what I am doing. Of course I realise that I am anthropomorphising nature and that isn't what is really happening. I am just trying to convey that that is how it feels and the meditative quality of getting to know a natural material in that way can be very satifying and enlightening. I think that is why I am drawn back again and again to make something new. The little discoveries it brings me to are very interesting to me and touch me deeply but in a way that is hard to express. That said that isn't always the case and sometimes it's just for fun. Perhaps these words are reflecting my current introspective mood but what I have grown to love about art is that the whole world of emotion I can feel is present in my experiences making art. I have never in my life before understood that this may be what art is all about when you experience it in this way. It has certainly quite a interesing process whatever is happening at the time.

These triangles are made from that grass I researched this morning and are the culmination of everything I have learnt.

One thing I haven't managed to learn yet is that the midges are still out in force and if you stand knee deep in a stream for a couple of hours that you will get bitten a lot. My partner and I are now covered in red blotches and we look like we have chicken pox. But was it worth it? I think so. I am not sure if my partner agrees. If you made it this far then you'll pleased to know that my arty-farty nonsense normally doesn't last too long and eventually the funny little kid that lives inside me will return. (Multiple personality disorder comes and goes).


Pete Woodruff said...

Have commented on this on Flickr Rich, but have to repeat here that I personally like this as much - if not better - than anything else of yours that I've seen to date, well at least on the scale of your 'smaller' creation's.

DJ said...

Let's not apologize for discussing our creative process, hmmmm...?
Many creatives are not able to verbalize it, so celebrate that you are...
Great sculpture.
Carry on.