The Landscape Series.

This Series is a Collaboration with Photographer and Documentary Cameraman Stephen Foote.   Click on any picture to see it full size.

Stephen Foote and I met up after 30 years in 2014. We were good friends as teenagers, both rather disengaged with school, both making art in our own time. 30 years on we both still use art work as a major part of our interaction with this nutty world. Sharing our images was a key way we got to know each other again and harnessing that process in a joint project was simply a way of capturing a what was occurring naturally. We set a straightforward ” Artist Responds to Landscape ” brief and kept a very open mind while we walked, talked, Steve took pictures and I just took it all in. We met every few months and sent each other pictures of the ensuing work in-between times.

Steve is also a Cameraman and was involved in filming for Panorama during the early, very heated phase in Kiev and the Crimea. I was coming to the end of the Up Is Down Series . Our first visit was Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea. Then we went into Porth Yr Ogof caves and had a mind-blowing day for me; we spent hours in the dark, natural cave while Steve took a fab series of photographs. I stood in the river in the darkness, held the lights and listened to the flow of water, felt the under-ground breezes. From there the project clarified for us as the travels of the water from the sky above the Brecon Beacons to the river, especially the Tawe, down to the wide bay at Swansea, and out into the Ocean where much of it will return to the clouds and begin the circle again.

These pictures are roughly in sequence for the progression of work over time, with Steve’s Photos next to the related Sculptures in some cases.

Bracelet Bay , Stephen Foote.

Bracelet Bay , Stephen Foote.

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Up Is Down- in progress

Up Is Down- in progress

Water and Stone, Bracelet Bay, 2014, 24cmH x 56cm L x 33cm W, Marbled architectural ceramic.

Water and Stone, Bracelet Bay, 2014, 24cmH x 56cm L x 33cm W, Marbled architectural ceramic.

Stephen Foote; Dunes

Stephen Foote; Dunes

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

in progress, July 2014

Wyvern I in progress, July 2014

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

 

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

It was this fabulous picture of Bracelet Bay by Steve that shifted me abruptly into figures, much to my own surprise.

Busts in progress, Aug 2014.

Busts in progress, Aug 2014.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Wyvern II, 2014, 69cm H x 54cm W, x 31cm D, ceramic.

Wyvern II, 2014, 69cm H x 54cm W, x 31cm D, ceramic. Photo Steve Foote.

 

A narrative developed that was also influenced by the awesome storms of the previous winter. A trio of figures, the Guardians of the Aquasphere, the Lithosphere and the Atmosphere, arose and they and their Sentinels and Harbingers took on characteristics that the many life-forms of the Biosphere could relate to so that all would understand what was happening; The Triumvirate were going to let loose their forces. This was not to threaten or  punish. They simply knew it was time.

Each sphere over laps with the others. The Biosphere is particularly inter-woven with the other 3 spheres with the addition of sun-light. I  started looking at forms and ways to describe the Biosphere’s part of this story…the whole project is marvellously challenging! I’m far from sure I can pull this off but I’m loving the attempts. Steve’s stunning photographs seem to contain the whole mysterious narrative, characters and all, and I refer to them daily.

Here’s some links  to interesting, key parts of the research for the Landscape Series:

How the Earth Made Us, a fantastic BBC 2 series by Professor Iain Stewart.

-An interesting article put out in 2016:  Business Insider Australia

-here’s that information with a really interesting, informative video of leading scientist, James Hansen explaining the findings.

Naomi Klien‘s fascinating and very readable book, This Changes Everything and the exciting, optimistic organisation of the same name.

The Up is Down Series.

 

 

Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

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Osprey II, 2015

Osprey II,

Osprey II, 2015.

The Atmosphere over the Lithosphere in the form of an Osprey.

 

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Stephen Foote.2014

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Stephen Foote, 2014. We spent hours down here and as I assisted the photography, standing in the river and pitch black, I felt the underground wind and heard all the sounds of water travelling through the rocks. Extraordinary. A living, breathing world of unparalleled beauty.

 

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Guardian of the Atmosphere, The Osprey

The Wyvern and the Osprey, 2014.

 

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The Wyvern, Guardian of the Lithosphere.

The Lithosphere has The Wyvern, a shape-shifting dragon that has taken a number of forms so far.

The Leviathan in progress, Sept 2014.

The Leviathan in progress, Sept 2014.

The Wyvern and The Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.

The Wyvern and The Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.

 

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Bracelet Bay, Stephen Foote.

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Wyvern VIII, 71cm L x 39cm H x 34cm D, Cavin Morris Gallery, New York, USA.

 

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The Wyvern.

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Bracelet Bay, Stephen Foote.

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The Wyvern.

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 Wyvern V, 2015, 27cm H x 51cm L x 25cm D, black ceramic.

Wyvern V, 2015, 27cm H x 51cm L x 25cm D, black ceramic. Cavin Morris Gallery, New York, USA.

Osprey, 2015, 31.5cm H x 21cm W x 17cm D, black architectural ceramic.

Osprey, 2015, 31.5cm H x 21cm W x 17cm D, black architectural ceramic.

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One of the exits of Porth yr Ogof Caves.

Leviathan II, 2015, 53cm H x 79cm L x 36cm D, ceramic.

Leviathan II, 2015, 53cm H x 79cm L x 36cm D, ceramic. Photo by Steve Foote.

Leviathan II, 2015, 53cm H x 79cm L x 36cm D, ceramic.

Leviathan II, 2015, 53cm H x 79cm L x 36cm D, ceramic. Photo by Steve Foote.

Wyvern V, 2015, 27cm H x 51cm L x 25cm D, black ceramic.

Wyvern V, 2015, 27cm H x 51cm L x 25cm D, black ceramic. Cavin Morris Gallery, New York, USA.

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Wyvern

The Guardian of the Aquasphere took on the form of the Mountain Ponies that run free in the Beacons.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA _F148186 _F148792 _F148797 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   _F147964   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA _F148811   _F148835  _F148822   _F148837

These are fantastic years in the Studio; I am harnessing the narrative and collective sides of the monumental Community Sculptures of the last 13 years. But I’m free to use any scale. The architectural clays I use have given me the freedom to go anywhere in space. My amazing collection of Sculptor and Ceramist friends, from all over the world, on Facebook have encouraged and inspired me enormously. I’m settled into my lovely big Studio ( and gotten over the shock of having it at last!). Stephen and I communicate very well and we egg each other on.

Many thanks to everyone who has visited the work and given invaluable advice and feed-back. We will continue with this series of sculptures until it is done. I will add new images as they become available so that a progression is shown._F149794 _F149792 _F149774  _F149778  _F149751_F149767

 

Wyvern VIII, 38cm L x 14cm H x 15cm D.

Wyvern IX, 38cm L x 14cm H x 15cm D. 2016

Leviathan VIII, 56cm H x 97cm L x 28cm D.

Leviathan VIII, 56cm H x 97cm L x 28cm D. 2016

I have been chasing a surface that will describe the 3 spheres. I have added earth pigments in a binder to add soft, natural colours and a silky texture.

 

Leviathan V, 45cm H x 65cm L x 23cm D.

Leviathan V, 45cm H x 65cm L x 23cm D.

Leviathan V, 45cm H x 65cm L x 23cm D.

Leviathan V, 45cm H x 65cm L x 23cm D.

Aqua-sphere Sentinel, 77cm H x 40cm W x 23cm D.

Aqua-sphere Sentinel, 77cm H x 40cm W x 23cm D.

Leviathan IV, 35cm H x 61cm L x 29cm D.

Leviathan IV, 35cm H x 61cm L x 29cm D.

Lithosphere's Sentinel, 19cm H x 29cm L x 15cm D.

Lithosphere’s Sentinel, 19cm H x 29cm L x 15cm D.

The Land I, 24cm H x 65cm L x 19cm D.

The Land I, 24cm H x 65cm L x 19cm D. 2016.

‘The Land’ sculptures are very much about the Brecon Beacons, the area around Osprey Studios. They combine all the spheres.

The Land IV, 15cm H x 26cm L x 14cm D.

The Land IV, 15cm H x 26cm L x 14cm D.

The Land III, 15cm H x 43cm L x 12cm D.

The Land III, 15cm H x 43cm L x 12cm D.

Biosphere Sentinel II, 23cm H x 48cm L x 28cm D.

Biosphere Sentinel II, 23cm H x 48cm L x 28cm D.

The Land V, 15cm H x 32cm L x 14cm D.

The Land V, 15cm H x 32cm L x 14cm D.

Leviathan VI, 12.5cm H x 21cm L x 8cm D, Cavin Morris Gallery, New York, USA.

Mountain River Sentinel I, 69cm H x 39cm W x 28cm D. Oriel Bevan Jones Gallery, Carmarthen, UK.

Mountain River Sentinel I, 69cm H x 39cm W x 28cm D.

Mountain River Harbinger, 37cm L x 21cm H x 19cm W. Oriel Bevan Jones Gallery, Carmarthen, UK.

Mountain River Harbinger, 37cm L x 21cm H x 19cm W.

Coastal Harbinger II, 43cm L x 29cm H x 22cm W.

The Land VIII, 21cm L x 12cm H x 11cm W.

Coastal Harbinger, 35cm L x 23cm H x 16cm W.

Marking Time, Bronllys Hospital Woodland Walk, Powys, UK. 2017.

August 2017 and the focus is currently on Antarctica:

Christopher-Michel_flickr_Web

Fantastic image from Christopher-Michel_flickr_Web. Interesting article here: //goodnature.nathab.com/larsen-ice-shelf-breakoff-our-future-in-ice/

Guardian of the Valley I, 2017.

Guardian of the Valley I, 2017.

This fascinating article by Randall Morris about Masks describes the process that I am trying to work through here. I have learnt a great deal from Randall since joining Cavin Morris Gallery. His amazing collection and beautiful writing brings clarity to, and pin points the essence of, what is important in art. I am an animist by nature and it is my job to portray what I see but the distractions can be over-whelming.

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Studio Diary, Landscape Project, pt 5.

The Leviathan in progress, Sept 2014.

The Leviathan in progress, Sept 2014

Frame-works for The Wyvern IV and, in the back ground, The Leviathan.

Frame-works for The Wyvern IV and, in the back ground, The Leviathan.

The second framework has become the Leviathan, the guardian of the Aquasphere as The Wyvern is the guardian of the Lithosphere. I will make more versions. These will have a pale gold colour. Next I will make a larger Osprey, guardian of thew Atmosphere, in the same  clay(Scarva ES50 Crank) and then move to the black clays and re-do the set.

The Leviathan in progress, Sept 2014.

The Leviathan in progress, Sept 2014.

The Wyvern and The  Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.

The Wyvern and The Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.

 

Studio Diary, Landscape Project pt 4.

The Wyvern IV, Sept 2014

The Wyvern IV, Sept 2014

The frame-work for this one was much more developed and lead the form. I made a second one so I could keep the flow going around the drying periods but I didn’t need to break from Wyvern IV; it was strong enough.

Frame-work for The Wyvern IV.

Frame-work for The Wyvern IV.

This is asking a lot of a clay. But this is Scarva ES50 again and reckon I’ll get away with it.

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Studio Diary; Landscape Project pt 2.

The tortuous kiln-loadings/ fab firings of the Tumble Commission are nearly back on schedule.The Landscape Project started in April with photographer Stephen Foote (http://www.stephenfootephotography.co.uk )getting some depth.Time to review it and have a bit of a think…

Up is Down IX, 57cm W,

Up is Down IX, 57cm W,

Bracelet Bay , Stephen Foote.

Bracelet Bay , Stephen Foote.

Up Is Down- in progress

Up Is Down- in progress

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Up Is Down- in progress

Up Is Down- in progress

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Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

in progress, Aug 2014.

in progress, Aug 2014.

 

 

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Before the Busts and while the Tumble Commission was drying we did the trip to Porth Yr Ogof Cave near here and spent some hours in there setting up photographs. Steve was very busy with his thing and I held lights and stopped the groups of excited, awe-struck children Caving from bumping into equipment. It gave me a long time to stand in the shallow river in the darkness listening to the echoes of voices and water disappearing into the mountain’s warren of tunnels. Amongst many other fabulous ones Steve got this picture

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Stephen Foote.2014

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Stephen Foote.2014

and over the following month I made these pieces; OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA They are 30cm wide or less, each one has a central ‘cave’ and some naturalistic elements. This was when the narrative involving the Wyvern joined in. The Bird is the above -ground landscape from the Tumble Commission and the Whale is the water… beautiful images full of movement….

I am privileged to have special access to the excellent writer  Daniel Buck (http://altamiraultimatum.co.uk). He is heavily involved in the story-telling in digital Games and other contemporary Media and we regularly disscuss the myths and icons  of the Natural World. He knows my work better than anyone and has been an invaluable influence.I am going to turn to him next and see what frame work he might see in this.

 

 

 

 

Studio Diary, The Landscape Project, part 1

Busts in progress, Aug 2014.

Busts in progress, Aug 2014.

Lots of changes, lots of layers.This is the main photo I am  focussing on; The sky, the land and the ocean and man’s presence – everything is integrated.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea, by Stephen Foote, 2014.

These 2 pictures and the experience of being in both these places is never far from my mind these days.

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Stephen Foote.2014

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Stephen Foote.2014

A narrative is emerging that involves the passage of water from the Beacons’ sky to the ocean at the bottom of the Swansea Valley. The Tawe River passes the Studio and the ground beneath us is full of  tunnels from the rivers and from mining. The Wyvern, a dragon with a wonderful mythology about guarding the treasures of the subterranean world entered the picture when I was heavily involved with the history of local Coal Mining and  the Pit Marker Sculptures and it is re-emerging here. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next clay-armature is more specific now that I have a clearer idea of where I’m going.

3rd Bust armature in progress, Aug 2014.

3rd Bust armature in progress, Aug 2014.

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in progress, Aug 2014.

in progress, Aug 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Diary; Return to the Figurative

in progress, July 2014

in progress, July 2014

An intense couple of months ending in a merciful bereavement has lead me back to the clear boundaries and challenges of Figurative sculpture. Portrait skills are hard won and need to be practiced regularly or they will be lost.

I’ve been playing around with the technique of building outwards from a framework that wont be hollowed out later and/or is a visible part of the form for a couple of years now and  I wanted to try it with naturalistic work.

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The River,a commission. 1.5 m high

The River,a commission. 1.5 m high

Half a Century II, 48cm H x 32cm W.

Half a Century II, 48cm H x 32cm W.

I started with the exercise Lloyd Lilly taught us at Boston Uni (about 300 years ago); Make the skeleton and layer on the muscles and skin. It is fascinating to do and hugely informative. These are the skills that give Abstract work presence.

Anyone who has taken one of my Workshops will tell you, with tears in their eyes, that the key to figurative work is organising the huge amount of information into manageable stages and that the Skeleton is just a stick figure with the perfect proportions simplified for you.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not sure how I manage to be so thick but once again I made a clay armature for a bust that allowed the head to tip forward. Good thing I have that red broom on hand to prop it up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  With the 2nd one I made a much more interesting frame that would show in places.

in progress August 2014

in progress August 2014

It allowed me to work on the whole form from the outset  rather than build from the bottom up. I’m pushing myself hard to use new methods rather than fall into the same ol’ pitfalls and to be more expressive with the naturalistic format rather than only technical. I’ve done that many times before… but the results were pretty dire! This may also be yet anther very bad road but it’s the only route to get somewhere interesting. I’m aiming to integrate the figure with it’s landscape following the ideas of the Up Is Down Series. Wish me luck….!

Clay armature for a bust, aug 2014

Clay armature for a bust,  aug 2014

This clay armature is much stronger and the hollow spaces are more defined as part of the form good and early. The plan is to work towards integrating the Landscape work I’ve been doing with Cameraman Steve Foote using his stunning photographs.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

This could take a while….

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Studio Diary April 15

Up Is Down- in progress

Up Is Down- in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not sure about the results yet; they will change hugely when they are fired apart from anything else, but the method is working. These pieces are built solid from layered different clays that all have the same shrinkage and firing temperature so they shouldn’t crack at the joins… IF the joins are good…The main form is done in one go,thick. Then, once it is firm enough a lot of extraction is done. This shows up the colours.

Up Is Down- in progress

Up Is Down- in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are not meant to be portraits of rocks.  The pieces are meant to have implicit forces running through the form causing the curves and the form creating a flow to the forces – exactly what happens as the tide ebbs and flows through the stones at Bracelet Bay. The Sculptures are about us. (see earlier posts about Up is Down)

Up Is Down- in progress

Up Is Down- in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At last these are properly 360 sculptures! I turn them over and in every direction as I carve,focussing on getting that flow to run past and into the surfaces,up and down.

Tidying and polishing takes forever because of keeping the white clays clear. An old, rough e-cloth is very helpful just on the white areas, used dry.

Up Is Down- in progress

Up Is Down- in progress