Studio Diary: The Marking Time Sculpture at Bronllys Hospital, Powys.part 1.

A new woodland stroll is coming together beautifully at Bronllys Hospital, near Brecon.

A new woodland stroll is coming together beautifully at Bronllys Hospital, near Brecon. This fantastic oak tree is opposite the walk’s starting point.

The path is laid.

The winding path is laid with beautiful curves, reminiscent of  celtic-knot-work.

And this triangle is the spot where the Marking Time Sculpture will go. There will be comfortable benches set in place so visitors, patients and staff have a tranquil place to sit and get a break from the often over-whelming activity in the Hospital.

And this triangle is the spot where the Marking Time Sculpture will go. There will be comfortable benches set in place so visitors, patients and staff have a tranquil place to sit and get a break from the often over-whelming activity in the Hospital.

Site Meeting. There is a really good-hearted group of people involved in this. They have spent a lot of time planning this Project with care and thoughtfulness. It is lovely to join such a strong Team. The Theme is how the military and the community support each other.

A really good Site Meeting covered all the restrictions and health and safety issues. These matters begin the process of defining  the boundaries of a new sculpture.

There is a really good-hearted group of people involved in this. They have spent a lot of time planning this Project with care and thoughtfulness. It is lovely to join such a strong Team.

The Theme is how the military and the community support each other. There are various Military Bases in this area including the world famous Gurkhas in Brecon. Many local families have military connections.

This is a subtle Theme and there is no obvious answer to it. We need to create a sculpture that will have genuine value for the people who will see it.  A piece that will draw the viewers in and give them some peace and hope. We need to pin-point what communities and the military have in common that is relevant to the hospital site.

Kids can be brilliant at putting their finger on the mark. Mount Street Junior School in Brecon has a lot of Military kids.  I spent a wonderful day on a huge join-in sculpture with 70 year 3 and 4 Pupils and the lovely, guiding staff.

Mount Street Junior School, Years 3 and 4 making a model of a town that cares for and supports it's Military members.

Mount Street Junior School, Years 3 and 4 making a model of a town that cares for and supports it’s Military members.

In the morning we made a town like Brecon and spread it over a network of tables across the double classroom.

I went around helping, talking through ideas and taking notes. These children were very forth-coming, imaginative and empathetic. They expressed their ideas clearly and thoughtfully. It was a joy to work with them and they were very helpful in clarifying the theme for the sculpture.

There was a Military Base on the edge of town:

A Military Base with tanks, helicopters and personnel.

A Military Base with tanks, helicopters and personnel.

Just down the road from there was a caravan park where Service men could relax with their families in a calm natural beauty-spot.

The Caravan Park

The Caravan Park. There are cabins, caravans, a duck pond, a fountain and lots of other fun and relaxing things to do.

Beautiful old trees are always calming and this is a perfect spot for reading and day-dreaming.

Beautiful old trees are always calming and this is a perfect spot for reading and day-dreaming.

The Caravan Park and the road leading to the Military Base.

The Caravan Park and the road leading to the Military Base.

All along the town’s streets were homes with busy family life going on. The children felt that it was the small moments that gave the greatest comfort to servicemen on leave from the war: meals together, watching telly together, chatting and playing video games.

 

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The support and care for the military people came from people in the community of all sizes and ages. The Military protect our way of life and our land and we keep our society in good shape in return.  A circle of care and protection.

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Having dinner together

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Talking through how best to tell the story of these homes.

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On the other side of town ran the river. The bridge crosses it. ‘The bridge leads the soldiers back into the community’. A fisherman floats by in his boat. There is a water-park in town too.

A solider enjoys an afternoon fishing on the river.

A solider enjoys an afternoon fishing on the river.

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He’s caught a huge fish.

The natural world came up many times. The children said it brings happiness into our lives and keeps us balanced. ‘Learning to forget’ was mentioned many times. Letting go of the past. The community helped the soldiers to forget past ordeals. These children are 8-9 years old. Wonderful.

In the afternoon we talked about how to show the idea of protecting and keeping everyone  safe.

A tree house is a safe place to live protected by the forest. And a dragon!

A tree house is a safe place to live protected by the forest. And a dragon!

A dragon guards the town and the military can harness his power.

A dragon and a whale guard the town and the military can harness their power.

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Natural forms expressing tranquility.

The natural world gives us shelter, calm and peacefulness.

The natural world gives us shelter, calm and peacefulness. It is soothing and balancing.

The children also did drawings with captions of their ideas.

Marking Time’ is a military term for the marching on the spot done between parade manoeuvres. It is a perfect phrase to express those difficult periods in life when you can’t go forward or back but have wait in a state of readiness, especially when you are caught up in a Hospital situation. You can feel very powerless.

It can be very difficult for many military personnel to relax their guard during the gaps between deployments, when they can spend precious time with their families. Particularly if they have had a harrowing experience. The Pupils at Mount Street Junior School clarified the idea that  this is one of the points where community and military intersect and share support, empathy and strength.

I will spend some more time with the photos and drawings. Circles, spirals and forms in a variety of sizes raising up or giving shelter are the first images to come together. I will add this to my other consultation material and start preliminary scale models. Then I will take all this to an A-S Level and some year 9  pupils in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, for a Scale Model Making Workshop to share some skills in exchange for the pupils feed-back.

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Mount Street Junior School pupils sharing ideas and inspiration.

Mount Street Junior School pupils sharing ideas and inspiration.

Enflamed at Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York.

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Being invited to join this beautiful, sensuous, soul-reaching collection made my day. Some of my favourite Ceramists like  Melanie Ferguson and Monique Rutherford show with Cavin-Morris Gallery. Their introduction to their site made my week;

“Cavin-Morris Gallery has been exhibiting world artists for 30 years. We specialise in the work of self-taught artists whose work is made independently of the art world canon yet participates equally on the wall or pedestal. We represent the new generation of self-taught artists whose work remains authentic and visionary while representative of contemporary times. We also feature important works from preceding generations of self-taught artists including Jon Serl, Bill Traylor and Emery Blagdon.

We show an eclectic selection of tribal art from all the major regions of the world focusing on the unusual and the formally surprising.

Another focus is on textiles of the world, including South East Asian costumes an textiles including tribal China, and Japanese Boros: futon covers made over a period of a hundred years from cotton patches and threads.

Our newest department is a developing interest in Contemporary ceramics both functional and non-functional. We are especially interested in the way ceramists push the envelope of traditional form sand cultures. We show Western ceramists as well as Japanese, Chinese and Korean work.

The common thread that connects all this art is its uniqueness, its integrity and authenticity, and its reflection of cultural home-ground. The Contemporary artists we represent extend the continuum established by the self-taught and Tribal artists into a new and exciting multi-tiered arena.”

This article explains it perfectly; ‘A Chelsea Double Feature; Paper Meets Clay On “Homeground’s” Turf’ by Edward M Gomez.

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Melanie Ferguson extra ordinary pots encompass the universe and lead you beyond your borders.

Melanie Ferguson extraordinary pots encompass the universe and lead you beyond your borders.

 

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Mitch Iburg‘s stunning pots leave me breathless with wonder.

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Mitch Iburg. All the mountains of the world are honoured here.

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Sarah Purvey ‘s pot in the for-ground of  the beautiful display at Cavin-Morris Gallery.

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Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York City, USA.

Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York City, USA.

Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York City, USA.

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Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York City, USA.

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Wyvern V, black ceramic, 26.7 x 50.8 x 25.4 cm. Rebecca Buck.

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Wyvern VIII, ceramic, 39 x 71 x 34 cm. Rebecca Buck.

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Up Is Down VI, ceramic, 20 x 49 x 31 cm.

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Leviathan VI, ceramic, 12.5 x 21 x 8 cm.

This is a selection of images taken by Cavin-Morris Gallery. Go to the Gallery site  to see more beautifully presented photographs of these Artist’s  pieces and the other astonishing work by the Artists represented by this exceptional Gallery. The links from each name here on this post will take you to more information about each Ceramist. I will add more images as I get them.

Sculpture by Rebecca Buck at Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York City, USA.

Sculpture by Rebecca Buck at Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York City, USA.

 

Studio Diary; The Landscape Project, part 6, Review so far…

It’s the end of the 1st year and time to take stock. You can see the earlier parts of the story via the Contents page. Click on any picture to see it full size.

Stephen Foote and I met up after 30 years. 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 the last year with Steve’s Photos next to the related Sculptures.

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

Up is Down IX, 57cm W,

Up is Down IX, 57cm W,

Stephen Foote; Dunes

Stephen Foote; Dunes

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

in progress, July 2014

in progress, July 2014

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

in progress August 2014

in progress August 2014

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote.

It was this fabulous picture 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

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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 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.

 

Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

Brecon Beacons, by Steve Foote.

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

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

 

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Guardian of the Atmosphere, The Osprey

 

The Wyvern and the Osprey, 2014.

The Wyvern and the Osprey, 2014.

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The Wyvern, Guardian of the Lithosphere.

 

 

 

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 Lithosphere has The Wyvern, a 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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The Wyvern.

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Bracelet Bay, Stephen Foote.

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The Wyvern.

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Bracelet Bay, Stephen Foote.

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The Wyvern.

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Osprey.

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Wyvern

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Leviathon

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Osprey.

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Leviathon

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Wyvern.

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Wyvern

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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 _F148023 _F148792 _F148797 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   _F147964   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA _F148811   _F148835  _F148822   _F148837

It has been a fantastic year 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 over this last 6 weeks and given invaluable advice and feed-back.I will continue with this series of sculptures until it is done.

We will start a new project focussing specifically on the passage of water from the mountains to the ocean along the  Tawe Valley. We are partnering with some Public art venues and setting up some Community participation to widen our perspective. We will  visit  a small Coal-mine and the Open-cast mine. Only a few years ago, on the 15th of September 2011, 4 men were killed in a dreadful accident at Gleision Colliery when their mine was inundated with water. Making the Pit Markers in Blaengarw, I heard about these type of accidents but, like everyone else, I never thought such a thing could happen here, in this century. From just below the Studio down-wards the River has an extra-ordinary history in the Industrial Revolution.

Neither of us have any idea where this will lead. We feel confident that we have something with substance and a great deal of potential and we have found a work-method that is productive and sustainable. I know from past projects that the community will come up with all sorts of treasures that will lead us into work that is far richer and more interesting than we would make alone. We will trade Workshops in photography and ceramics for input from community groups and individuals. It will be a fun process. We need images, stories, myths, legends,  history-including the ancient history and favourite,  special spots on the river or tributaries.

Studio Diary ,The Tumble Commission pt 7; Installation.

From the outset the many people from Arts Care Gofal Celf, Gwalia and Mynydd Marw involved in this 2 year , multi-fasceted, Baring Foundation ‘Yma a Nawr’ project have put in their all to make it out-standing. After the excellent Installation of the Sirhowy Wyvern I knew that Andrew Preece and his team at Smartfix Property Maintenance would also do whatever it takes to make this Sculpture look fantastic. They are incredibly picky and fastidious, it’s marvellous. Best materials,committed craftsmanship, and they always stick to the Budget no matter how much extra time they have to put in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Smartfix Property Maintenance at Mynnyd Mawr, Tumble

Smartfix Property Maintenance at Mynydd Mawr, Tumble

Moving the heavy sections around meant 4 men had to be on site.

Moving the heavy sections around meant 4 men had to be on site.

The 2 bottom sections are lowered over rebars set into the solid plinth and foundations.

The 2 bottom sections are lowered over rebars set into the solid plinth and foundations.

It was critical to get the position of these first sections correct.

It was critical to get the position of these first sections correct.

The sections are filled with concrete and left overnight to set.

The sections are filled with concrete and left overnight to set.

Once everything has set the supports can be removed and the joints pointed.

Once everything has set the supports can be removed and the joints pointed.

The charming tiles, made by pupils at Llannon Primary School and residents at Mynnyd Mawr are laid out in a measured pattern.

The charming tiles, made by pupils at Llannon Primary School and residents at Mynydd Mawr are laid out in a measured pattern.

Andrew and Phil set the tiles.

Andrew and Phil set the tiles.

I did the glass with Andrew.

I did the glass with Andrew.

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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.

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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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