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, The Tumble Commission, part 6.

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You learn a lot about your own work from watching a skilled Photographer taking pictures of it. You get a more objective view. The lights are certainly a merciless test of your planes and edges. Stephen Foote’s top quality lenses will pick up every flaw.

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I went over the whole piece with fine portrait tools and his perfect pictures reward that. I’m very inspired by the excellent craftsmanship of  stone or glass artists like Sally Fawkes (http://www.sallyfawkes.com ) her process is incredibly harsh and difficult yet she doesn’t back off until her stunning sculptures are flawless. Clay is way easier but avoiding marks when you are handling the piece is a constant battle

Sally Fawkes 'Perceiving Significance II' photo ;Richard Jackson

Sally Fawkes ‘Perceiving Significance II’ photo ;Richard Jackson

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After a spell of controlled drying it’s time cut the sections. Luckily I have a fantastic Assistant, Michael Preece. I spent a lot of time  planning the cuts; we have opted for large sections and I needed to ensure they would fit in the kiln and be handleable. Mike  used a variety of tools to make the cuts and he and my son Daniel lifted the sections to thick memory foam where they will stay for at least a month.

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Working in clay you always have an eye on the Drying and Firing -Plan; accommodating  these long drying periods where the atmosphere needs to be controlled and having the right sized pieces ready to pack nice full kilns that will distribute the heat evenly.

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I went round all the edges of the cuts and tidied them and repaired any dings. I will cover the sections with sheets to ward off drafts and turn them regularly. Most cracks form at this stage although they may not show up until after the Firing.

 

 

 

Studio Diary; The Tumble Commission, part 4.

 

 

 

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Almost there- it’s down to finishing touches now. I’ve re-done the head about 90 times and I’m still not happy with it. The Sculpture is wrapped in plastic to rest and settle.I will un-wrap it with fresh eyes and be better able to see what’s needed. In theory.  Once the top feels firm I will remove those internal supports- a scary moment ; it could collapse which is why you need to have a ‘sensibly'(pessimistically ) long build time!  The supports have to come out because they are restricting the shrinkage and soon they will start causing damage. That broom will never be the same.  The outside supports will stay to the end and those sections will get their finishing touches during dismantling.

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Andrew Preece of Smart-fix, my expert Installer came over and we plotted the sections. It’s great having his early input. I never compromise on the form but Andrew can advise on structural issues so that the Installation goes smoothly and we get the best result.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA That hole in the top left is the last bit to go in. The fired colour will be a stony pale yellow.

Sculpture in the Garden

_F147690A Sculpture will transform any Garden, huge or pocket-sized, elaborate or austere. It will need to be made of beautiful, quality materials that have a radiance complimentary to your gorgeous plants. A piece needs to be frost-proof and easily cleaned. No material is as durable or as low maintenance as high-fired Clay.

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I make simple , movable plinths with old bricks and attractive stone paving tiles. Dig a hole and put in some bricks to make a foundation if the Sculpture is tall or very heavy, then build a hollow plinth with a small doorway that can double as a safe, cosy home for wild-life. If security is an issue or the piece is tall and vulnerable to high winds sink a stake into the ground, build the plinth around this and have the stake go into the Sculpture- many of my Sculptures are hollow and you can set them securely with cement if needs be.IMG_20190504_175930057My garden is 8 years old and is now really coming into it’s own. IMG_20190328_105048782IMG_20190504_180149583

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The River, commission.

The River, commission.

Wyvern II, 70cm H x 52cm W. £850.

Wyvern II, 70cm H x 52cm W. £1100. (sold)

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Up is Down XV, £300 (sold)

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Harbinger I, £600. (sold)

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Up is Down XVI, 26cm H x 56cm L, £300.

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Up is Down II, 42cm H x 90cm L, £950.

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Half a Century III, 40cm H, £150.(sold)

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Some of the Sculpture is fresh from the Kiln and new work will be on the go in the Studio.

River Harbinger, 125cm H, £950

River Harbinger, at Wyndcliffe Court Sculpture Garden, 125cm H, £950 (sold)

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The River III, 80cm H, £500

The River III, 80cm H, £500 Sold

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The Edge III, 57cm H, £600, (sold).

I freely admit I spend countless hours staring into the pond ''thinking''...there are Newts !!

Callipygous, 41cm H x 73cm L, £600.

Callipygous, 41cm H x 73cm L, £600. (sold)

In the winter sculptures give the garden focal points and structure while the plants rest.

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Up is Down IV, 44cm H x 58cm L, £2400 (sold)

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Up is Down II, 80cm L, £300

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Harbinger I, £600. (sold)

The Garden backs right onto the wonderful country-side of the Brecon Beacons National Park

Osprey Studios Garden backs right onto the wonderful country-side of the Brecon Beacons National Park

Sculptures will define each area of your garden. This patio at the end of the garden is a calm, reflective place with dappled shade in the summer and warm sun in spring and autumn. In the winter the sculpture stands out and is eye catching from the house.

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Up is Down II, 41cm H x 80cm L, £300.

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Musings, 21cm H, £150. (sold)

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Musings, 20cm H, £150.(sold)

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The Edge XI, 77cm L x 49cm H, £300

The Edge I , 52cm H, £730.(sold)

The Edge I , 52cm H, £730.(sold)

The Edge XII, 71.5cm L x 46.5cm H x 40cm D.

The Edge XII, 71.5cm L x 46.5cm H x 40cm D. £1400 (sold)

The Edge XI, 77cm L x 49cm H x 40cm D.

The Edge XI, 77cm L x 49cm H x 40cm D. £300

Wyndcliffe Court Sculpture Gardens.

Henry Moore said that a sculpture was not complete until it was in the place it’s owner chose for it. It is wonderful to see my pieces transformed by new settings; it is the best part of delivering work to Exhibitions.

Wyndcliffe Court is a truly lovely place. You follow a narrow winding road past old-fashioned meadows and woodland to reach the beautiful house.

Wyndcliffe Court has extensive, mature Topiary.

Wyndcliffe Court has extensive, mature Topiary.

 

Wyndcliffe Court Gardens are Grade II listed and designed in the Arts and Crafts style. Situated along the Wye Valley between Chepstow and Tintern, they are beautiful formal gardens with views to the south and east. Open every weekend, they are showcasing contemporary sculptures by local and well-known British artists. Open from 2nd May – 28th September 2014 three sculpture shows will run consecutively, each collection featuring hundreds of sculptures to suit all tastes in a wide variety of mediums, sizes and styles situated throughout the garden and offering the opportunity to view and purchase beautiful sculpture with an outstanding backdrop. 

 

The Gardens are full of unusual, breath-taking, mature plants.

The Gardens are full of unusual, breath-taking, mature plants.

The couple running this new venture are both Artists themselves. They are wonderfully down to earth and very knowledgable about Contemporary Art. They charge a modest Commission and are very supportive to their Artists so prices there are extremely competitive. There is a wide range of styles and materials on show across the enchanting Gardens. There is a delightful Shop and the most perfect Terrace Tea-shop. Their Website is very helpful.

Standing Form, 110cm H, £650

Standing Form, 110cm H, £650

Standing Form, 110cm H, £650

Standing Form, 110cm H, £650

Callipygous, 41cm H x  73cm L, £600.

Callipygous, 41cm H x 73cm L, £600.

 

Serenity, 53cm H, £625

Serenity, 53cm H, £625

River Harbinger, 125cm H, £950

River Harbinger, 125cm H, £950

River Harbinger, 125cm H, £950

River Harbinger, 125cm H, £950

Up Is Down X, 52cm W, £550

Up Is Down X, 52cm W, £550

Up is Down IX, 57cm W, £550

Up is Down IX, 57cm W, £550

 

 

Studio Diary; The Tumble Commission, part 3.

The shape looks crazy at this point.

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The first draft of the details can go on; the most important thing right now is to get good joins for the clay.

 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When the clay has hardened these can be touched up by carving with a delicate tool. These images were taken from archive pictures of 2 mines and the Railway local to Tumble. Apparently the Train that ran from Great Mountain Colliery was the first ever passenger line.

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I’m using smaller coils and each stage is taking longer.It is just approaching the point where the central hole will form and the top edges start to meet- lets hope my measurements were right! If it doesn’t meet properly I’ll cut out large sections and re-do them.

The props are getting more inventive!

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Those out-side supports will stay in place until after the upper parts are cut and lifted off. In theory it would be self-supporting….but if it collapsed it would do it fast! The final, fired and installed Sculpture will have cement and steel rods inside so it will be strong enough to climb on.

Studio Diary, The Tumble Commission, part 2.

The Photography Shoot was even better than I had expected; stunning weather, lovely people exchanging ideas, a great lunch and Stephen Foote working with grace and charm, taking time with each person to be sure he got what they hoped for.

The Studio had been scrubbed down and tidied so Steve’s kit didn’t get dusty and the Commission  wrapped in plastic to rest and let the water in the clay  settle. It was great to have a few days break then un-wrap the piece in a clean room and review the progress with fresh eyes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      The build method is the same as for the Monumental Sculptures but scaled down. The walls are thinner , the coils smaller , but the same sort of supports are used. The final sections will be much bigger so where the cuts will be needs to be pre-planned and internal structure put in to support the sections through the fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Because the form shrinks as it dries, internal supports are clay and shrink with the form and external ones need to allow shrinkage or only be used for short periods. Quality memory foam is ideal because it lets the clay shrink yet will hold up surprising amounts of weight.The finger marks also support the walls and are left on the inside and only smoothed away on the outside after the section has gone firm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The clay is Scarva’s Earthstone Crank Material, ES50, and it is awesome. Their previous Crank had fantastic build quality but it was a minging colour wet and fired unless you put something made in Black Chunky in the kiln with it – then it took on a lovely gold shade. This new Crank is even better to use and will fire to very nice pale gold ideal for the setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The lower section will stay wrapped most of the time to slow the drying and allow the water time to drop. I believe this makes the walls stronger but that might be nonsence. Each Clay-person develops their own relationship with their clay and techniques that are a breeze for one might be chaos for another. I started as Coil-builder 34 years ago and over time I’ve added a lot of side-shoots to my method.

 

It is 3/4 built, 225kgs of clay, 95cm high. I have definatly done the easy bits – from here on up it will be very slow; smaller coils added in small doses. In-between I’ll work on the surface images and the edges. This initial stage is building the basic form. A lot of clay will be added to bring out the curves and images. That will be left to harden and then the whole piece will be re-fined with subtractive methods. 3 steps forward , 2 steps back, slow and steady.