Sunday, July 24, 2011

I n t e r c o n n e c t e d

At last I got out today to make some 'proper' land art. It didn't really turn out any good but the end result is not what real land art is all about for me. I'm pretty fed up with working late every evening and having little energy for anything creative so today was an all round good day.

Find somewhere quiet and sit down and absorb the ambience. Watch the swallows put on a aerobatic display and the tall grasses bend and flex in the summer breeze. Take time to wind down and pretty soon you become part of the landscape. Real land art means making something for yourself, not for an exhibition or to put on the internet. Look around and see the beauty and diversity around you. Delve deep into these things and see colours and structures you had not seen before. Immerse yourself in studying these things and learn a little more about what you find. With knowledge of new materials must come new ideas in which to use them in a construction.

The inherent properties of a little understood material, will mean you will have to devise new techniques with which to construct something from them. Are they strong and robust? Will they dry and break and become brittle? As you learn about the properties and structures you must create in new and different ways. By moving away from the familiar, the formulaic and the easy path, there are opportunities to feel immersed, meditative and connected once more to nature. Sometimes the learning curve is steep and the final sculpture unsuccessful when presented in an image. But who cares when the point is the discovery, the fascination of seeing the world afresh, anew and with a child's eyes.

I will try again with what I learnt about today and hopefully will have more success with a sculpture and image. But the tougher it is, when you are fully absorbed, is as successful as I ever want it. That's why it's been a good day. Shame it's blody work again tomorrow, late evenings weekends and more drudge! I think I need a holiday!

This is indeed made from Birch Bark and I took a sheet of Paper Birch and carefully cut out the letters. That took many, many days of toil and as well as what you see before you I also ended up with a numb and calloused finger that is only now beginning to come back to life, several weeks after I'd finished it!

I've been researching the colours of Birch for quite a while now and all the hues you see here are from thin sheets of Erman's, Chinese Red, Himalayan and Paper Birch bark, backlit by the sun. I'm quite astounded by the selection of colours available and how radiant they seem in natural light.

I made this for my exhibition and took it into them yesterday. I've been searching for ways to make natural art sculptures, still only made from natural materials but that can be brought into the gallery space or be sold as original artworks. Although bringing land art indoors is missing the point somewhat, most people don't get to see ephemeral artworks in situ and even if they did do, they wouldn't catch them at the optimum moment, as I try to in my photographs.

However, one thing I did learn about this sculpture is that, normally the photography is all part of the process. My best images are a combination of the right sculpture, the right light and the right time. The best stories I right come from that too. They all need to happen on the same day, I need to be in the groove to be inspired in the right way, to make something cool, to get a cool picture and to feel enthused in the story I write. All those things seem to flow together, when I've go my head in the right place. Each thing leads to the next and are all important components of the whole.

What I found with this bark sculpture, that it was bloody hard to get a photo I liked. I've tried for weeks to get what I wanted but none (including these) turned out the way I wanted them too, I'm not happy with any of them at all. It seems, that without the inspiration and meditation that comes from being in a natural place, feeling it and making something based on what you find and feel there and then, leads you to perform better when it comes to the photography. Being more attuned to the elements, the movement of the sun and the best aspects of a place are only gained through that immersion. Making something over several weeks and then taking it out to photograph it just didn't seem to work for me.

But, in a way, I think that's a good think. That this sculpture looks better in real life. After all that's what it is for, whereas the outdoor ephemeral stuff is the other way around. It just seems funny that I can't get a good picture of it, however hard I've tried. But this failure in getting a good image, has given me new insight into the inner workings of my creative process.

So this was my first attempt to capture the magic of land art, the intensity of colour,the surprising variety of materials and the beauty of Mother Nature, encapsulated into a single art object, still without having to use anything artificial that I do not allow myself when working outside.

I might frame it between two pieces of glass, to protect it and enable it to be displayed, perhaps backlit to show off it's colours. Whether I've been successful in creating an original land art object that someone may want to acquire I'm not so sure but if not, at the very least, it's put me onto the path where I might be able to do that in the future.

I have more ideas for ephemeral land art that can be brought into the gallery, in a way that I've never seen before. I just need the opportunity for more gallery space to give me the kick up the bum to give them a try.

I think I'm rambling so I'll sign off for now, I'm weary if you couldn't already tell. It's hard work sitting in the sun watching the swallows and listening to the rustling grass, I obviously need to be back at work for a rest!

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