Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Experimentality Exhibition at Lancaster University

A few days after I made this stack I received an email from Lancaster University asking me if I would enter something for their 'Experimentality' exhibition. They had asked me several weeks before that but I couldn't think of anything that would fit the theme and so I put it to the back of my mind.

This latest email came within a couple of days of the closing date and when I thought about it I reckoned the stills from this video would fit the experimentaility theme as I realised that I hadn't witnessed or tried to witness the demise or collapse of a sculpture in such a way before.

So I took the ten stills that make up this timelapse and made them into a single picture, entered it and was very pleased to be chosen. (I am saving the actual picture for an upcoming book as it looks quite cool).

I called it Gravity and we went along for the opening night to see it and the other entries. It was a happy surprise to see the variety of artworks in the exhibition and I found it very interesting.

If you are interested then go along to the Peter Scott gallery at the Uni to look. It's free and open most days and is on until the 6th February. I'll be going along myself again to view the other works again when there are less people and I've had less Champagne!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Icicle Sunset Reprise

Icicle Sunset Reprise, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Too exhausted to write much (sorry) so this might be a bit staccato.

1) Congratulations to whoever it was that went up Clougha in crampons right from the car park. I'm impressed!

2) The grouse were flocking together today. I saw a couple of hundred in one group. Never seen that before.

3) Hi to the couple having an argument on the way up! I was sat behind the wall when you started. Highlights include "why do you always have to argue?" (Sounds like me) and "it is interesting, but as time passes we have to do more and more things your way!" They were holding hands further up the path, so it was alright in the end!

4) It has been very cold recently and I wanted to persist in trying to get ice stuck to ice after trying lots of times before. I had made things with sheet ice and snow but not icicles so far this season. These icicles are stuck to the biggest one I found which is underneath the snow. I got these icicles from the same place that I made this almost exactly a year ago. What was interesting was the biggest one (the one used as the base) grew in the same place and seemed to be the same size as the largest one I found there last year.

5) This was a lot more taxing than it looks. The sculpture itself wasn't too hard but the place where the icicles were was up a hill along a steep slope and I could only carry three icicles at once or they would break. And the place where I positioned it was up yet another hill. So I did trip after trip up and down hills carrying icicles, camera and so on.

6) My water bottle froze and I am very thirsty!

7) It might have been a good idea to take some food.

8) It isn't always a good idea to finish the sculpture early and then wait several hours for the sunset to photograph it. Inactivity and freezing temperatures are not a good mix. It was proper cold! So cold I couldn't grip the focussing ring on my lenses. And hot aches really, really hurt!

9) It was a beautiful day and the snow, blue skies and views across to the mountains were sensational.

10) Well every list is normally 10 long (or one hundred but I am not writing that much) but as my brain is about to cave in and I need to cook dinner now I'll say goodbye!

11) Oh and hello to the chap who took a picture on his phone. Hope you had a nice walk.

12) Isn't there something I am supposed to be doing?

13) What is this land art stuff all about anyway?

14) Anyone fancy a beer?

15) Low blood sugar schmo blood sugar

16) Does anyone want to cook me something?

17) Oh and I found a perfectly formed ice arch with a little icicle in the middle. It froze along a bit of grass hence the arch but I destroyed it trying to get it out before I could get a picture.

18) Can anyone hear an echo?

19) Wasn't there something I was supposed to doing?

Icicle Sunset Reprise, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Icicle Doodle

Icicle Doodle, originally uploaded by ...escher....

I made this while I was waiting for the sun to go down in an attempt to keep warm. It probably didn't help that I licked off the snow that had got on the icicles so that they would look more clear!

Icicle Doodle, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Friday, January 08, 2010

Rydal Shadow Pyramids

Rydal Shadow Pyramids, originally uploaded by ...escher....

We went to Grasmere today for a meeting that might lead to some exciting developments in the future. Fingers crossed!

The day has been absolutely beautiful and the Cumbrian hills are plastered with snow and the whole place looked amazing. Rydal water was completely frozen over and I couldn't resist spending a little time making something, if only a quick doodle. We hadn't intended on doing any land art but who could resist the winter sunshine, blue skies, snow and an iced up lake.

I found a dead wild rose branch and pinched off the thorns so that I could assemble the triangles. All I then had to do was position them towards the setting sun. Once I managed to get a picture a little gust destroyed four of them but the fifth went scooting off across the ice at high speed, completely intact.

The ice on the lake was very thick and the whole expanse was frozen solid.

Rydal Shadow Pyramids, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Frozen Ice Holes

Frozen Ice Holes, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Frozen Ice Holes, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Ice Flower Doodle

Ice Flower Doodle, originally uploaded by ...escher....

This only took a couple of minutes. I went out onto the frozen lake surface with a handful of small stones. They soon stuck to the ice surface and were hard to move around. I didn't really finish this off before photographing it as I was only messing about really and my knees were stuck to the ice! The circle is annoyingly wonky but I've posted it anyway just to keep a record.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Maple Ice Windows - now with added sunshine

What a difference a day makes...

After the blizzard and strong winds of yesterday I awoke to a hard frost, clear air and blue skies. I just had to go back to Ribblesdale to see whether my sculpture from yesterday had survived and to try and get the ice shine pictures I originally envisaged.

And, oh boy, I wasn't disappointed!

Fresh snow had fallen and the wind had carved it's own wonderful sculptures. Aretes and fins aplenty and amazing meringue shapes around holes and dips. As we walked up to the place I couldn't see the sculpture and I doubted whether it was still there but as we got closer suddenly I saw it. The ice windows were much more translucent and the sun shone through strongly. This was perfect and exactly how I had imagined it.

But like a total fool I had left the pencil eraser, that fixed my camera yesterday, in a different jacket pocket and it started to play up again, and again and again. But despite it's lack of cooperation I still got what I wanted.

We hadn't gone there to do any Land Art but I couldn't resist a quick doodle (see below) before we went back to the car and slithered our way up the icy hill. A fitting end to my Christmas break as work looms large for tomorrow.

Maple Ice Windows, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Maple Ice Windows

Maple Ice Windows, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Do you remember Pacman? With the shadow this looks to me like the ghosts that used to chase you around.

Sun Shadow Snow Doodle

Sun Shadow Snow Doodle, originally uploaded by ...escher....

We hadn't gone there to do any Land Art today but I couldn't resist a quick doodle before we went home.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Maple Ice Windows

Maple Ice Windows, originally uploaded by ...escher....

This one turned into a bit of a trial...

There was a light dusting of snow on the ground first thing but soon after it started to rain and what was there on the roads and pavements turned to slush. This made it a little dicey driving and as it poured down I wondered if I should be in the car at all. Fortunately it soon settled down and the roads further from home were better.

This was my fifth trip in a week to Ribblesdale, I wanted to make the most of my Christmas break. Yesterday we went up there to just mess around in the snow and I had my first go at skiing. Apparently the video footage of me falling flat on my face is very funny. I can't risk showing it to you as you may die laughing.

The forecast was reasonable and although the North East was expecting more heavy snow, it was calm and still and I hoped that the sky would clear later on so the ice would shine. If felt a little warmer too and the freshly fallen powder consolidated quickly and would be excellent for sculpting.

I alternated between warm mountaineering mitts to reinvigorate the circulation to my fingers and yellow marigolds for dexterity and the handling of the snow. I could sense the temperature fluctuating as the snow cooled my hands more quickly at different times and I hoped that this meant that I might see the sun soon. Ice comes alive in the sun. Indeed there were patches of blue above me and they seemed to be joining together. The portents were good and I was hopeful the sculpture would come together as I could see it in my minds eye.

It started to snow lightly and clouded over, this might clear the air once it passed over so I set up my tripod and camera in readiness. I took a couple of test shots just to be sure, or at least I tried to...

"Blink-blink-blink Err 01" It said.

"I don't speak camera" I said back to it.

"Blink-blink-blink Err 01" it repeated.

"Oh sod it, my camera has decided to give up on me." I tried all the normal things like removing the battery but it didn't work. I couldn't do much else without some shelter as I didn't want little flakes of snow inside it.

I encased myself in my jacket and tried to open it up underneath but it still wasn't working. I expected that I needed to clean the contacts on the lenses. The trick for this is to use a pencil eraser to rub them. Did I have an eraser with me? Did I 'eck? Could I fashion one out of grass and snow? Ermm no. How about rabbit poo, ice and limestone?

I stowed my kit under a boulder and set off back to the car in the forlorn hope that I would find what I needed there. Trudge, trudge, trudge, mutter, mutter, mutter. "All that effort and I won't be able to take a picture!" "Bah!"

I scratched around in the side pockets and down the seats before opening the glove box and finding a pencil with an eraser on it's end! Hallelujah! My camera spoke to me again "alright boss, sorry about that, having a funny day don't you know, let's get back at it!"

Redeemed, my friend and I headed back up the hill and just as I got back there I noticed the light had subtly changed. There was an orange hue you sometimes get in snow and the sculpture was set against a darker background as the dark clouds moved down the valley ahead. The ice was still not lit up but hey this might be the best I could get.

And so it was...

Behind me better weather seemed to be arriving, more blue sky and brighter too. But it was a wolf in sheeps clothing.

Gradually the breeze started to strengthen and within minutes a full on blizzard had hit. Spindrift was blowing all around and it stung the eyes to look into the teeth of the wind. I stayed for a while hoping that it might relent but instead it got stronger and stronger bringing another full on white out and arctic conditions. This was quite low down so it must have been horrendous on the tops. Navigation would be nigh on impossible without googles to protect your eyes.

Everything I had was covered or full up with snow and there was nothing else for it but to get out of there. My tracks had now been filled in and I could only see a few yards ahead of me but I knew the direction I wanted to go in and set off fortunately with the wind on my back. I tried a few times to look back at the sculpture for a few last looks but the stinging ice was too much for my eyes.

When I finally made it back to the road I glanced up to look for my car only to have a camera pointed straight at me and a snap taken. I must have looked a state coming out of the blizzard covered head to toe in snow.

But despite the intense conditions, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Land Art has so many lessons to teach and it was a joy and a pleasure to be out there making a sculpture in Mother nature's palm, feeling her snow between my fingers and feeling the force of her wrath on my face. I am privileged to be given so many opportunities to experience her many different facets. Long may it continue

Oh and the Snow Sentinel had fallen over. It was still there yesterday when we were messing about skiing but it was leaning disconcertingly. I would have got a picture of it's remains but the blizzard had different ideas.

Maple Ice Windows, originally uploaded by ...escher....