The Up Is Down Series started in November 2013. As often happens there was a progression from a previous Series ( the Edge). I knew there was a shift, and I knew what it was about, but couldn’t find the words for it. Sculpture is my ‘first language’, the one I think in and use to work out my understanding of the world. This is how it goes for many Artists, it’s not unusual.
I’ve been describing our perceived borders in The Edge Series but we don’t actually possess clear borders; the cloud of particles and especially bacteria that make up us dissipates and interacts with our surroundings and fellows , interchanging constantly. When you leave the Forest some of it comes with you , some of you is left behind.We are constructed from atoms that have been used to form countless other things since the Big Bang. After death those atoms will move on to build other parts of the World. As my son put it beautifully when he was 5 ; ”So we become part of the mountain? Good.”
by Chet Raymo
‘Behind the apparent decay and new growth the atoms endure, those mysterious and eternal particles that contain within themselves tendencies to combine and recombine in endlessly creative ways.
The church, the village, the rank tropical growth, the creatures that creep and fly and crawl are composed of recycled star dust, atoms forged billions of years ago in hot, massive stars, here woven by the hands of energy and entropy into a fabric of gorgeous complexity.
I went there for the same reason the naturalist/scientist Rachel Carson went to the edge of the sea. She wrote: “Underlying the beauty of the spectacle there is meaning and significance. It is the elusiveness of that meaning that haunts us, that sends us again and again into the natural world where the key to the riddle is hidden.”’
The title, Up Is Down, came from Hans Zimmer, the fabulous Composer and his brilliant piece of the same name in Pirates of The Caribbean III. I have all 4 Pirates , Rango,and The Lone Ranger sound-tracks on shuffle most of the time these days. Fantastic stuff,full of wild leaps of emotion , heady ideas and humour. His version of The William Tell Overture for The Lone Ranger is hilarious and wonderful.
Like the Up Is Down scene in Pirates III,”At Worlds End” this Series breaks away from the normal parameters that have defined my forms, particularly the base contacting with the table. It will take me a while to get this right but in theory the Sculptures can be turned and displayed any way you like ; the full 360 should have impact. The weight of the wet clay makes this very difficult to pull off….! I’ll get there. I will work smaller to reduce the weights and allow me to move through new forms more quickly. It is a massive challenge for someone who started out as a Vessel builder seeped in the tradition of the classic Vase form with it’s reliable base. But even in my earliest work , 30 years ago , that base kept trying to disappear. A-symatry and unlikely balance have always been my trade-marks.
This piece still has a ‘base’ but it has nearly gone. It is not necessary to loose the base for the piece to make sense; I work to Themes but I don’t set rigid rules because that would be trite. It is very difficult to trust that the Forms will evolve in a valuable way given the freedom but if you don’t this work-meathod is meaningless. The idea is too prepare your craftsmanship, memory and sub-concious with as much expertise as you can. Then you add Music and give your hands and clay free reign.
Extracts from J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1961, Two Conversations with Barbara Hepworth: ‘Art and Life’ and ‘The Ethos of Sculpture’, pp. 23–24(in conversation with J.P. Hodin, 18 August 1959)
“Art at the moment is thrilling. The work of the artist today springs from innate impulses towards life, towards growth – impulses whose rhythms and structures have to do with the power and insistence of life. […] In the past, when sculpture was based on the human figure, we knew this structure well. But today we are concerned with structures in an infinitely wider sense, in a universal sense. Our thoughts can either lead us to life and continuity or […] the way to annihilation. That is why it is so important that we find our complete sense of continuity backwards and forwards in this new world of forms and values. I see the present development in art as something opposed to any materialistic, anti-human or mechanistic direction of mind.”