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:

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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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Pennard Primary Lead Creatives Project, part 3.

The upper part of Pennard Primary School’s sculpture is complete, cut into sections and drying. It has been a joy to build. The pupils panels and tiles for the lower half are drying beautifully. I’m putting together the Book now and it’s lovely to review the wonderful time we had with this fabulous group.

Studio Diary: The Marking Time Sculpture at Bronllys Hospital, Powys, part 9.

The Installation.

I was really lucky to be working with the wonderful, resourceful, ingenious Gareth Ellis from Green Valleys. He has the patients of a saint. The writer Mark Christmas gave a huge amount of time and hard labour in addition to his years-long dedication to this project and this poem which will be set at the entrance to the woodland walk:

                                                                                        Catching a Moment

                                                                                               Within these woods

                                                                                       there is a breath to be found

                                                                               to ease new life into sight and sound

                                                                           transforming our world and how we see

                                                                           each branch, each twig, each living tree

                                                                                   so when the hurt inside we feel

                                                                               creates distraction with no appeal

                                                                        take a walk on this path to find this rhyme

                                                                            you will no longer be ‘Marking Time.’

                                                                                                                   Mark Christmas, 2015.

                                                                                                                   Dedicated to those who understand.

Because vehicles could not pull up to the site, the budget was tight (having been well squeezed by this point as is my habit!) and we couldn’t be too sure who would be able to join us we used a slightly different installation method than in previous sculptures.

We fixed the triangle of heavy railway sleepers securely, dug down 20 cms and then packed in hollow breeze blocks.

The first sections were put in place using the paper template of the mosaic and corner tiles, steel rebars hammered down through the sections and well into the ground and then post-crete was poured into all available gaps and half way up inside the first 3 sculpture sections.

Gareth Ellis and Mark Christmas. Marking Time, Bronllys Hospital, Powys.

The second sections were braced in place using blocks/ wood/ prayers, rebars set, post-crete poured.

Mark Christmas working on the Marking Time Sculpture, Bronllys Hospital, Powys.

The mosaic was built in the studio in 3 sections to aid handling and set securely in place with concrete going right down into the breeze block hollows. The mosaic tiles and the triangle corner-tiles were beautifully made by pupils in Ross Bennett’s Art Department at Llandrindod High School.

Marking Time, Bronllys Hospital, Powys.

Me adding the finishing touches to the mosaic, Marking Time, Bronllys Hospital, Powys.

Mark Christmas brought in poet Emma nan Woerkom to take some lovely photos and create this beautiful poem that has been cut in brass for the site.

Marking Time, Bronllys Hospital, Powys.

All the visible cement (pointing etc) was done with a white cement/gold sand mix that matches the fired colour of the Scarva ES50 clay perfectly. On the floor we topped it with light brown flint chippings and extra, handmade blue mosaic tiles and glass to soften the edge of the mosaic.

Marking Time, Bronllys Hospital, Powys.

Finishing touches on the sculpture were done with Milliput and the golden cement.

Marking Time, Bronllys Hospital, Powys.

Mick Farell has been a key part of this project and he was wonderfully supportive during the installation. His enchanting poem, written especially for the sculpture completes the triangle.

                                                                                               We are the child of nevermind

                                                                                             Who, finding dreams lost, unfind

                                                                                      Who, wandering, walking paths unknown

                                                                                               to find a woodland overgrown

                                                                                           And seeing in that woodland Glen

                                                                                              The happy minds of nevermen

                                                                                           Who elfin laughter laughly speak

                                                                                             Of how we humans keenly seek

                                                                                               Some new haven overhewn

                                                                                               And child stars of the moon

                                                                                                                                           Mick Farrell, 2016.

The poem tiles were made by the same fabulous pupils at Mount Street Junior School that developed the theme with me last year ( see Part 1)They are fixed to the sleepers with tile adhesive and screws.

We have spent a great deal of time on this one and it has been worth it. The Team have been a joy to work with and the whole woodland site looks really beautiful. Gareth Ellis and Mick Farrell will put in the benches and place and secure some tree-trunk logs. This is going to be such a calming, peaceful place for people involved with the Hospital to rest and revive.

                              

 

Studio Diary: The Marking Time Sculpture at Bronllys Hospital, Powys, part 8.

The cut sections had a slow dry for a month and the last 6 weeks in a tent with the dehumidifier. Water is still collecting!! Soon I’m going to have to start the firing. But if the sections are still damp they will explode into a trillion smithereens….

 

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

 

The letter tiles look great.

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

Studio Diary: The Marking Time Sculpture at Bronllys Hospital, Powys.part 6.

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Things are progressing really well. The intense texture, which will look great in the woodland light, is developing  strong patterns and as the curves get tightened up there is lots of flowing movement.

 

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The birds head is done and the dragon’s is getting there. The main thing, a powerful embrace,  is there and when the blue mosaic is in place in the centre it will look enchanting.

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Our foster-kittens are being very helpful with lots of feed-back. It will soon be time to cut the sections and begin the long slow dry.

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These fabulous images are from the wonderful Black Eagle Project.

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Studio Diary: The Marking Time Sculpture at Bronllys Hospital, Powys.part 5.

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

The full structure is built and the 1st layer of the textured surface is on. It has been every bit as challenging as I hoped!

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

The next stage is developing  the surface to enhance the flow of the curves. The clay with extra grog added will go on in layers using ever-smaller tools. It takes a great deal of time but it will leave fascinating, subtle surfaces and edges that are also very strong.

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

In these early stages it can look distractingly chaotic. Any part that just doesn’t work well can be removed and redone.

Mick Farrell and Janet Epplestone visiting Osprey Studios to help with their very useful feed-back.

Mick Farrell and Janet Epplestone visiting Osprey Studios to help with their very useful feed-back.

It was lovely to have Mick and Janet call in to give me their objective feed-back. And some gorgeous flowers for my birthday! I will get in as many people as I can to double-check how the piece is being read. The Red Kite is becoming very clear. Bringing together the Dragon will be the trickiest bit.

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

Marking Time Sculpture for Bronllys Hospital, Powys, UK.

Studio Diary: The Marking Time Sculpture at Bronllys Hospital, Powys.part 4.

Working on a large scale means returning to the same form everyday for months. So you need to be sure about the design.

I’m really pleased with the scale of the Marking Time Sculpture. It is within the human scale range so that the embrace and  eye level of the dragon and the kite/guardian’s wings will feel very personal.

Marking Time scale model.

Marking Time scale model.

Osprey Studios has a flexible layout and a solid floor so that anything up to 6m x 3m can be built there which keeps costs down.

Osprey Studios has a flexible layout and a solid floor so that anything up to 6m x 3m can be built there which keeps costs down.

The base foot print was painted on the floor in red and the outline of widest/deepest edges painted in blue to check that there will be space to work around the forms. The largest section is set on blocks to give the height of the eye-line. The other 2 sections are on wheels for easier access. The base footprint is painted on the boards in blue.

I always miss my wonderful Volunteers from past projects at this point. But it is a lot easier to be building in my own studio. Advancing decrepitude means some of my systems for moving heavy loads around lack dignity. And I can loose myself in the curves.

Areas are kept wrapped in plastic to keep the drying even. When you add new clay you need to allow time for the water to re-balance itself down the form. A large piece will be holding gallons of water.

Areas are kept wrapped in plastic to keep the drying even. When you add new clay you need to allow time for the water to re-balance itself down the form. A large piece will be holding gallons of water.

I am building the armature of the piece. The final surface will be added to it so I need to keep the clay at the best stage of hardness. Scarva ES50 Crank holds its water really well while still being very strong at the leather-hard stage.

I will be adding a lot of deep texture and modelling so these armature walls are very thin. In places the lines and curves of the final form are showing.

There is an internal support structure made of clay that will stay in place during the firing. It will help to support the sections when the sculpture is cut up so you need to plan them well in advance. Other materials like foam and wood are used inside just long enough for the clay to stiffen. External supports can be anything. They will need constant adjusting to accommodate shrinkage. I have a treasured collection of heavy-duty props and oddly shaped bits of wood.

There is an internal support structure made of clay that will stay in place during the firing. It will help to support the sections when the sculpture is cut up so you need to plan them well in advance. Other materials like foam and wood are used inside just long enough for the clay to stiffen. External supports can be anything. They will need constant adjusting to accommodate shrinkage. I have a treasured collection of heavy-duty props and oddly shaped bits of wood and memory foam.

The lines of the supports can be distracting.

The lines of the supports can be distracting.

2/3 of the way up. But the forms are not complete, especially width-wise. You see the movement starting in the curves of the central space. I'm using the sound-track from The Legend of Korra to keep the theme consistent across the weeks of work.

2/3 of the way up. But the forms are not complete, especially width-wise. You see the movement starting in the curves of the central space. I’m using the sound-track from The Legend of Korra to keep the theme consistent across the weeks of work.