Climate Change Gardening with a sense of purpose.

Found Gallery, the sensational new contemporary art gallery in Brecon, Wales has been complimenting the gorgeous exhibition, Found In The Garden with a series of talks. I was invited to have a conversation with the incomparably wonderful author and forager Adele Nozedar about Osprey Studios Sculpture Garden, (which has just been selected to be part of the National Garden Scheme for 2020) climate change and where this is taking my sculpture.
Punch Maughan and her kind, thoughtful Team made the beautifully lit, spacious gallery welcoming and comfortable with tea and delicious cakes. A lovely, really interesting mix of people came along and the discussion was fascinating, thought provoking and very helpful.
Osprey Studios is at the foot of Cribarth, The Sleeping Giant Mountain, in the extraordinary Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark.
Gardening to fit in with the wild-life in your region really makes a difference. In a wide open, often harsh environment like the Brecon Beacons offering shelter, homes and food counts. Artist/Gardeners Karin Mear and Nigel Evans at The Happy Gardeners know the area intimately and along with others in the group described the long, dramatic evolution of this land that reminds us that the Natural World changes constantly.
Cribarth creates a boundary that holds wild, harsh weather largely on this side of it’s ridge. Just over this horizon, less than quarter of a kilometre away, is Osprey Studios, protected in a much warmer, milder micro-climate with the southern face acting as a sun trap all year round.
Walking out due north from Cribarth across extraordinary geology laid down by a warm sea and then exposed again by glaciers.
Breconbeacons.org : “The carboniferous limestone of South Wales was formed in shallow tropical seas in the Paleozoic era, over 300 million years ago. Much of it is of organic origin, being the shells and skeletons of sea creatures, large and small. Amongst the most spectacular fossils to be seen in the National Park are Lithostrotion corals. Their intricate internal detail is often beautifully preserved.”
Half a kilometre due south is where the wonderful Nant Llech, a very import river in my work, meets the Tawe that runs down to the coast 20 miles away at Swansea. Further up stream is Henrhyd Falls.
Petrified Stigmaria – Lepidodendron (Scale Trees) Root structure. This tree went extinct about 250 million years ago, much of them decomposing into coal and oil.
Walking the Llech’s bed when the water was very low a few summers ago I started finding and collecting petrified wood and other fossils. This fabulous one is in a big boulder. It’s awesome to know that as the river rages even the big boulders are washed down stream and might never be seen again.
Indefenceofplants.com: “As atmospheric CO2 levels plummeted and continents continued to shift, the climate was growing more and more seasonal. This was bad news for the scale trees. All evidence suggests that they were not capable of keeping up with the changes that they themselves had a big part in bringing about. By the end of the Carboniferous, Earth had dipped into an ice age. Earth’s new climate regime appeared to be too much for the scale trees to handle and they were driven to extinction. The world they left behind was primed and ready for new players. The Permian would see a whole new set of plants take over the land and would set the stage for even more terrestrial life to explode onto the scene.
It is amazing to think that we owe much of our industrialised society to scale trees whose leaves captured CO2 and turned it into usable carbon so many millions of years ago. It seems oddly fitting that, thanks to us, scale trees are once again changing Earth’s climate. As we continue to pump Carboniferous CO2 into our atmosphere, one must stop to ask themselves which dominant organisms are most at risk from all of this recent climate change? “
The wet meadow behind Osprey Studios sculpture garden. The hedgehog hotel is here too.

So the earth has changed drastically many times. You feel close to that here in the Brecon Beacons. It has all lead to the beautiful natural world that we know now and that we thought we could control and keep as ours…
This new, massive Climate Change and mass extinction is happening with devastating speed and we understand it: there is no way to sugar-coat it, it is our doing. We can predict what course it is likely to take and plan…
Humans are not innately destructive. Like many cooperative species that live in communities we are very busy. VERY busy…And that busyness can be turned towards cleaning up a lot of this mess.
Will our entirely justified grief, guilt and anger eclipse the beauty, joy and wonder that is still here feeding and sustaining us? Will despair fracture our communities and render everyone helpless and vulnerable? Except for those few profiteers who don’t or can’t care?
Believing we are a toxic force ruining everything we touch is a great excuse to do nothing. But we owe our fellows in the natural world better than that.
Leviathan II, 2015, 53cm H x 79cm L x 36cm D, ceramic.
Watching and re-watching geologist and fabulous educator Dr Iain Stewart‘s programs has helped me get my head around it and that lead to the ongoing Throwdown at the Hoedown Series which has just reached one of those turning points and I have been unsure what comes next. The discussion lead to this:
Eleanor Greenwood (who takes some of the most incredible photographs of this area which she knows extremely well): “My final thing that I wanted to say is that we are coming full circle back to the realisation that we are all nature. Our thinking that we are separate has hurt us in more ways than we realise. Your work is a big clear pointer back to that unity. There is sacredness and magic everywhere and you manifest it. I really enjoyed this eve and thank you for making me see climate change in a different light.”
Flabbergasted/very grateful me: “You are exactly right! And I think you have pinpointed the missing piece that I couldn’t see; the spheres, for want of a better term, are reaching out to us, taking forms we can relate to, but what are they saying? That!! Perhaps it’s just that…return to us while you still can….”
Gardens so often bring us together for the conversations that make all the difference.
Guardian of the Biosphere. The interior of this sculpture has spaces for wild-life to live.
Developing my garden over 9 years from a plain lawn with some old hard features like the cement paths and patio and the deteriorating wooden stable has also changed my thinking enormously. I first put in lupins and flowers and it was beautiful! No-one was more delighted and impressed than the slugs from the meadow at the end of the garden. After one, terrible, battle with them I saw this was not the fight I was willing to take on.
Joining forces with the rest of nature we can share the challenges of Climate Change. You can grow food to share with the other people in your community of wildlife and human neighbours, right down to those in the soil. The garden here is now full of fruit trees, bushes, a variety of strawberries, local wild flowers (slug-proof, bee/bug friendly, beautiful) and cultivated plants that can co-exist happily. Most of the grass has gone and now there is flowering low ground-cover, like cranberries.
There are lots of bird-feeders. And compost bins. You start feel like part of the solution and bit less like part of the problem. We can’t stop the change. But we can make amends as best as we can and ride the wave with grace.
All of nature has always had those who’s role is taking risks; trying out new habitats or times to flower, grow, mate or migrate. It seems very fair that we should make safe spaces for them and help with food and shelter if we can. Forestry Studies have found trees have been migrating in new directions for 50 years. One of my blueberries put out a few flowers this autumn, testing the chances…
This beautiful Acer was a special present to my self for being unexpectedly brave during one of those events that sharpen one’s appreciation of life. Our gardens can become a record of what matters most to us. It then taught me about choosing the right spot and not being afraid or reluctant to move unhappy plants. Or to give unusual plants a chance to make their home here.
Here’s a fabulous bit of drama and a tribute to the tropical past. And future? Changes in the Gulf Stream and other currents are happening now and it’s not clear what the implications are for the western UK. Right now it’s amazing that such a plant will grow here. (I transplanted the Torbay Palm across the garden from a hanging basket thinking it was a grass! It’s 6 metres high now and growing fast!) The interaction with the wild flowers is beautiful : this palm provides support and shelter all year round to a very long-stemmed wild flower that all sorts of insects adore on the edge of the pond. Gardening gets you looking to the future. Slow growing, long lived plants expect to face challenges and can be extraordinarily adaptable which is very inspiring.
Across the meadow at the end of the garden you can see the stand of huge Ash trees on the lower slope of Cribarth that have succumbed to Ash Die-Back. They have started to fall causing a landslip on the edge of a mountain stream and creating a beautiful new waterfall. After heavy rains the water has chosen a new route leading right to where a drainage ditch passes our gate and giving our patch a new shallow pond which fills with tadpoles and sustains other creatures. A few miles east another group of Ash are being watched because they seem to be immune to Die-back.
The movement of water is absolutely key.
This shady corner is full of wild life. All the sculpture plinths are hollow and provide homes for all sorts of people. The ground is always damp and often very wet. Just behind the sculpture is an apple, a pear and some blueberries bushes planted close together like I’ve seen in the woods by the river. They didn’t look too happy at first but a few years on they are taking off and I’m assuming that is because they have befriended each other underground. I had read that if you need a continuous supply over the season rather than big crops then close, varied planting is a good idea. Raspberries love this spot so I weed them out occasionally. A variety of cranberry plants have definitely taken and are quietly spreading among strawberries and various wild ground cover which I clear back sometimes to favour the cranberries but I get the impression they like the company. Everything seems happier with lots of other plants around them. Even my house plants do way better in mixed pots.
Anything cleared out of or from the edge of the pond is left on the side for a few days or tucked into the near-by bed so creepy crawlies can get back to the water.

We started the garden when we moved here in October 2010 with beds marked out with old carpet from the house left over winter and the pond put in the following spring, as recommended. I was so proud watching my sons dig it and it gave me some insight into the ground: 60cms of lovely dark soil down and then clay and big stones. We put in a good, flexible liner and two oxygenator plants and mini water lily. In no time at all it was full of life. Lots of newts, frogs, toads, dragon flies, water-snails (how?!), all sorts. Between them, the hedgehogs, birds and the huge predatory slugs the plant eating slug numbers have begun to balance to the point where the invaluable work they do for the soil offsets limiting what I can plant. Just like they promise on Gardener’s World.
Rae Gervis is an expert gardener growing extraordinary vegetables at Ty Mawr near Brecon. Every week you can order seasonal vegetables from them. Rae had no trouble persuading me not to dig my soil. But I hadn’t expected the results to be so good.
Rae explained: “Soil is the foundation of all life so needs to be nurtured. Soil vitality & biodiversity needs to be protected. Worms and other micro & macro-biota distribute air, water & nutrients far more efficiently & effectively than man can through digging. Mulch with any organic material, preferably well rotted. Soil is then insulated & protected from the elements. Slugs are a good food source for many animals including hedgehogs & they do break down organic matter making it available as nutrients in the soil.”
Building and fencing materials tends to involve horrendously un-green production methods. So we use recycled stuff and make things last where ever we can. The old fence enclosing what was a little pony-yard leading out to the meadow is rotting so I’ve woven a cotoneaster around it to replace it with a living fence which is now much higher and covered in berries. I had found the plant in a container in the hot front garden looking small and wretched when we moved in and I had no idea what to do with it. I plonked it in a stony hole and apologised. It has grown so fast!! Weaving it into flowing shapes is extremely fun.
This area is a cabin and patio now. Before it was a stable, before that a fabulous green house. I would love to pave it but it would be daft, wasteful and the layers of history would be lost. The old cement ground is worn and the mosses soften the look of it so I encourage them instead. Same with the rather rigid cement paths and patio by the house.
Evergreens are gorgeous all year and great for the front garden. And now it’s important to have flowering and/or fruiting plants and ever-green shelter for the creatures that may end up out and confused in mild winter spells. And the arriving refugees.
There are berries at the lower levels, strawberries, raspberries, black currants and gooseberries. Now that it’s moister I might move some of the cranberry’s runners here.
I let all this grow in to see what it would do (ie drop dead?) and I don’t mind admitting I wasn’t expecting it to be so lush! Recently we put in supports and some structure to the look of it.
It was just a nice front lawn with a small brick patio 9 years ago. It got way too hot and very dry out here in the summer and so did the rooms on this side of the house. The paint was fried and falling off the render. A number of my neighbours were having to replace their blistered render at the time so we decided we had better strip off the old paint and re-do it. In the back was a big virginia creeper and the old paint under it was in much better condition!
Now the house is cool and comfortable all year round. The soil stays moist and I leave the falling leaves which quickly disappear into the ground thanks to the healthy wild-life. There are toads and lots of birds. Some are even nesting, glad that the street deters predators. I also find the sense of shelter very comforting.
This is the front patio which I never used before because it was broiling hot. The french doors lead into the Studio where I had to protect sculptures in progress from the heat. Now the vines form a roof and the light falling through it is exquisite. The purple-leafed grape vine stated clearly that it was ornamental and would not fruit but it does! There is jasmine, wisteria, roses, and an ever-green clematis amongst others so it changes and has beautiful scent.
Sweeping regularly keeps the weeds out from between the bricks and gives me a good excuse to go out there and revel in it. There is no joy to be had from herbicides and pesticides.
The parking area is really useful but I don’t miss not being able to see it. I’m building up a brush-pile in this corner for anyone who likes living in it and there is a small water feature here. I’m introducing a range of ground cover plants. Next year I hope to experiment with vegetables in movable pots on wheels on the driveway where I can separate them from the slug’s territory.
Gardening with a sense of purpose.
We are coming full circle back to the realisation that we are all nature. Our thinking that we are separate has hurt us in more ways than we realise.
We are being called to turn back to our natural world while we still can.
When all’s said and done it’s about Community.
Sharing with all our fellows, all the neighbours, great and small, wether we like them much or not, because we need each other. A garden reaches out from your home as much as it sets a boundary or shelters it. It creates links and bonds.
Gardening is a gentle, patient, subtle weapon in a battle we are better off for fighting. Our gardens become a record of, and a contribution to, what matters most to us.

ROUGH Stuff: A Celebration of WILD Surface (April 25 – May 25, 2019) at Cavin Morris Gallery, New York.

Click here to view the gorgeous Rough Stuff Catalogue: https://issuu.com/cavinmorris/docs/rough_stuff_catalog_1

Joining Cavin Morris Gallery has widened my horizons enormously. The timing was perfect. For many years, while I was finding my place with clay, I had rarely looked at other art. My focus was studying aspects of the natural world and experimenting with the language of form. When Randall Morris contacted me I had just started really getting into seeing new art on social media, was settled into a spacious new studio, had lurched through one of those health dramas that gets you right in touch with the essentials, and was getting drawn into the powerful, mysterious beauty of The Brecon Beacons National Park, our new home.

The incredible exhibitions they put on at Cavin Morris, beautifully presented, are fascinating, engrossing, challenging and awakening. Randall Morris and Shari Cavin are geniuses at finding artists who are totally involved and living in their making. They are experts in their field and very interesting. Read anything they have written, it will be enriching.

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Shari Cavin of Cavin-Morris Gallery: “So the question becomes: How can we use self-taught artists’ biographical information? For, after all, familiarity with it can enrich our appreciation of their art. Self-taught artists create in spite of life’s obstacles. Their art-making may be seen as an act of courage in the face of life’s harshness. There is an undeniable moral influence that self-taught artists exert on trained contemporary artists. Their message: Stay true to yourselves.” 

Randall Morris: “This field may be seen as part of the broader contemporary-art scene but it doesn’t play by its rules. Critics and new scholars constantly try to chop the body to fit the bed, but this art has its own intentions and its own rules.”

“Outsider Art: Then, Now Tomorrow” by Edward M. Gómez in Raw Vision Magazine 93

They got me reassessing why people make their art and what really matters about people looking at and living with art. There are lots of answers to that and you need to find yours. There is a spectrum and it is not hierarchical. It’s important that there is variety so that we have non-verbal communication for every aspect of our lives.

This link will take you to a fab page of past exhibitions at Cavin Morris where you can see the variety of astonishing art they show: https://wsimag.com/art/46537-the-fire-within

Through the Gallery I now have a network of creative friends that inspire, support and challenge me and share the courage to really go for it. My sculpture has gained immeasurably. It has been set free and has far more to offer the people who find it.

Cavin Morris never interfere with what you are making. They watch and study, listening to the rhythms. They see connections between art works so that their Exhibitions are conversations. Like a concert of fabulous music they enfold you and you become part of it all.

As with all their excellent blogs the following has a great selection of beautiful, evocative images and the text is really interesting. I was over the moon to see this write-up and be part of this particular show: it says everything I hope I am doing.

http://www.cavinmorris.com/blog/2019/5/11/rough-stuff-a-celebration-of-wild-surface?fbclid=IwAR2zfcUnfIdcM31sumW_3EgSyQIwRNDhsC_rVvTAFnsyL2S-Hf0VnCJ_r4o

ROUGH Stuff: A Celebration of WILD Surface (April 25 – May 25, 2019

Ashwini Bhat
Rebecca Buck
Melanie Ferguson
Peggy Germain
Mitch Iburg
Yukiya Izumita
Mami Kato
Lucien Koonce
Eva Kwong
Sandy Lockwood
Kirk Mangus
Lesley McInally
Freeda Miranda
Andy Nasisse
Rafa Perez
Sara Purvey
Chris Rond
Tim Rowan
Monique Rutherford
Jeff Shapiro
Avital Sheffer
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein
Mike Weber
Jane Wheeler

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ROUGH STUFF: A CELEBRATION OF WILD SURFACE

April 25 – May 25, 2019

The title, “ROUGH STUFF” is a deliberately ambiguous play on words.  The viewer might immediately expect an exhibition of wood-fired ceramics with great accumulations of ash, imbuing the surfaces with chthonic primordial landscapes.   And yes, viewers will find some of that rich technique in this exhibition, but in fact, we had something else in mind.

We live in cynical times.  In cynical times the first concept to be sacrificed to the beasts of dogma is most often ‘beauty’ or ‘grace’. To us, beauty makes rough and exquisite demands that the onlookers slow down and, however briefly, give themselves up to its call.  Beauty becomes a warrior in a performance reaching back to archaic times.

We want the clay to live in this exhibition.  It is common to link sculpted clay to landscape, but landscape is changing all the time right in front of us, especially now.  Landscape is umbilically linked to Place, and the art that Cavin-Morris Gallery shows, from Art Brut to ceramics (sculptural as well as tea and sake), to ethnographic, has always been closely tied to the myriad ideas Place awakens in the artists’ mind.  That vision of place runs the gamut from untouched and euphoric to dystopian.

That is really mean by ROUGH STUFF: a celebration of wild surface.  It is an exploration of the idea that never has earth, air, fire and water been more interactive with our daily lives than now.  

Like the tensed horse head in Picasso’s Guernica, our earth in all its beauty and ugliness is screaming to be heard.  Through the translations of visionary artists, we can always hear its real voice. 

Sculptors who use clay work with the raw essence of the planet that most of us take for granted.  We wanted special work for this exhibition, and we found them, created by the remarkable artists we have shown for years, and welcoming some amazing sculptors we felt would augment the vision.

We deliberately chose to emphasize the non-utilitarian aspects of their creations, with very few exceptions. The artists  experiment with local clays, they display edgy aesthetics, obsessively working surfaces both in naked clay and glazed, without losing their basic respect for the clay body.

For additional information please contact info@cavinmorris.com or call us at 212-226-3768.

  Ashwini Bhat  Garden of Earthy Delights  , 2019 Fired clay with feldspar and natural ash 4.5 x 5.5 x 5 inches 11.4 x 14 x 12.7 cm ABh 1
  Chris Rond  Fusion 2  , 2018 Ceramic 3 x 6 x 5 inches 7.6 x 15.2 x 12.7 cm CRo 5
  Ashwini Bhat  Garden of Earthy Delights  , 2019 Fired clay with granite and mud dauber nest and natural ash 6.5 x 6 x 4 inches 16.5 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm ABh 2
  Eva Kwong  AMALI  , 2019 Stoneware, colored slips, underglazes, glazes 21.5 x 11 x 11 inches 54.6 x 27.9 x 27.9 cm EKw 1
  Ashwini Bhat  Beginning is the End  , 2019 Fired clay, with glass and garnet media and underglaze 8 x 3 x 7.5 inches 20.3 x 7.6 x 19.1 cm ABh 3
  Eva Kwong  ARIRI  , 2019 Stoneware, colored slips, underglazes, glazes 21 x 14 x 15 inches 53.3 x 35.6 x 38.1 cm EKw 2
  Ashwini Bhat  Beginning is the End  , 2019 Fired and painted clay, with glass and garnet media and glaze 7 x 7.5 x 4.5 inches 17.8 x 19.1 x 11.4 cm ABh 4
  Eugene Von Bruenchenhein  Untitled (crown)  , 1950-1980 Painted Clay 4.5 x 8 x 7 inches 11.4 x 20.3 x 17.8 cm EV 45
  Ashwini Bhat  Origin of Species  , 2019 Fired and painted clay with natural ash 22 x 12 x 7 inches 55.9 x 30.5 x 17.8 cm ABh 5
  Eugene Von Bruenchenhein  Untitled  , 1960-1980 Hand dug clay and paint 10 x 5 x 5 inches 25.4 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm EV 46
  Ashwini Bhat  Alive Series  , 2019 Fired and painted clay with glaze 6.5 x 9 x 6 inches 16.5 x 22.9 x 15.2 cm ABh 6
  Eugene Von Bruenchenhein  Untitled  , 1960-1980 Hand dug clay and paint 7 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 17.8 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm EV 47
  Andy Nasisse  Dark Matter  , 2017 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 19.75 x 21.5 x 3 inches 50.2 x 54.6 x 7.6 cm ANa 2
  Freeda Miranda  Organic 2  , 2018 Ceramic 4 x 5 x 5 inches 10.2 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm FMi 2
  Andy Nasisse  Tantra Terra  , 2017 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 24 x 16 x 3 inches 61 x 40.6 x 7.6 cm ANa 4
  Freeda Miranda  Organic 1  , 2017 Ceramic 3.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches 8.9 x 14 x 14 cm FMi 3
  Andy Nasisse  Red Head  , 2017 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 22 x 22 x 3.5 inches 55.9 x 55.9 x 8.9 cm ANa 5
  Jeff Shapiro  Shield Series  , 2012 Woodfired Ceramic 20 x 13.5 x 8 inches 50.8 x 34.3 x 20.3 cm JSh 42
  Andy Nasisse  Ear Wig  , 2016 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 17 x 16 x 3 inches 43.2 x 40.6 x 7.6 cm ANa 10
  Jane Wheeler  Black Ice Flagon  , 2013 Stoneware clay with chun glaze, slab built 14.75 x 9.45 x 6.5 inches 37.5 x 24 x 16.5 cm JWh 3
  Avital Sheffer  Inannah V  , 2009 Handbuilt earthenware 26.77 x 12.99 x 7.09 inches 68 x 33 x 18 cm ASh 2
  Kirk Mangus  3 Flying Houses Ziggurat  , 1982 Stoneware, white tapies glaze (inspired by Antoni Tapies) 12.5 x 7 x 7 inches 31.8 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm KMg 1
  Chris Rond  Fusion 1  , 2018 Ceramic 5 x 3.5 x 3 inches 12.7 x 8.9 x 7.6 cm CRo 2
  Kirk Mangus  2 Skulls  , 1993 Local stoneware, paddled with artist's own carved wooden paddles, wood-fired 7 x 7 x 7 inches 17.8 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm KMg 3
  Kirk Mangus  2 Warriors  , 1993 Local stoneware, paddled with artist's own carved wooden paddles, wood-fired 8.75 x 8 x 7.5 inches 22.2 x 20.3 x 19.1 cm KMg 4
  Kirk Mangus  Aurum  , 1984 Stoneware, colored slips, salt glazed 17 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches 43.2 x 19.1 x 19.1 cm KMg 5
  Kirk Mangus  Swirling  , 1984 Stoneware, colored slips, salt glazed 15.5 x 7 x 7 inches 39.4 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm KMg 6
  Kirk Mangus  Looking  , 1982 Stoneware, gooey glaze 15 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches 38.1 x 26.7 x 26.7 cm KMg 7
  Lucien M. Koonce  Tri-Footed Hanaire  , 2017 Hand formed stoneware clay and natural ash glaze; wood fired (anagama side stoke area) for five days to c/12 8.25 x 4 x 4.5 inches 21 x 10.2 x 11.4 cm LKo 8
  Lucien M. Koonce  Hanaire  , 2018 Hand-formed stoneware clay (with native North Carolina clay) and natural ash glaze; wood fired (anagama side stoke area) for five days to c/12 9 x 4 x 4 inches 22.9 x 10.2 x 10.2 cm LKo 9
  Lesley McInally  Goodnight Noises Everywhere  , 2015 Porcelain and stoneware coil vessel 17 x 18 x 8 inches 43.2 x 45.7 x 20.3 cm LMc 1
  Melanie Ferguson  Circles In The Sand  , 2014 Handbuilt stoneware, sgraffito, flashing slips, oxide stains, celedon liner. Soda fired, heavy reduction 11 x 12.5 x 10 inches 27.9 x 31.8 x 25.4 cm MFe 25
  Melanie Ferguson  Resurrecting Fragments  , 2013 Hand built stoneware, flashing slip, kohiki slip, oxide stains, sgraffito, gas fired in soda 13 x 10.5 x 9 inches 33 x 26.7 x 22.9 cm MFe 45
  Mitch Iburg  Fond du Lac Formation 1  , 2018 Sandstone fragments, glacial clay, dolomite, limonite 9 x 19 x 12 inches 22.9 x 48.3 x 30.5 cm Mib 30
  Mike Weber  Tsubo  , 2018 Wood-fired stoneware 17 x 15 x 15 inches 43.2 x 38.1 x 38.1 cm MWe 31
  Mami Kato  Tsuchi zaiku  , 2018 Ceramic 8 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 20.3 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm MmK 12
  Peggy Germain  Grande jarre  , 2018 Ceramic 11 x 11 x 8 inches 27.9 x 27.9 x 20.3 cm PGe 1
  Mami Kato  Tsuchi zaiku  , 2018 Ceramic 7 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 17.8 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm MmK 13
  Peggy Germain  Petit jarre  , 2018 Ceramic 3.5 x 4.5 x 8.5 inches 8.9 x 11.4 x 21.6 cm PGe 2
  Mami Kato  Tsuchi zaiku  , 2018 Ceramic 9.5 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 24.1 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm MmK 15
  Rebecca Buck  Wyvern VIII  , 2015 Ceramic 15.35 x 27.95 x 13.39 inches 39 x 71 x 34 cm RBk 4
  Monique Rutherford  Untitled  , 2017 Wood fired ceramic 12 x 3.5 x 4.5 inches 30.5 x 8.9 x 11.4 cm MRu 11
  Rafa Perez  Untitled  , 2012 Porcelain and stoneware, fired at 1150 degrees 19.69 x 13.39 x 10.24 inches 50 x 34 x 26 cm RPe 25
  Monique Rutherford  Untitled  , 2017 Wood fired ceramic with carbon trap shino 9.25 x 7 x 6 inches 23.5 x 17.8 x 15.2 cm MRu 12
  Sandy Lockwood  Subduction Series  , 2016-2019 Stoneware and inclusions 7 x 7 x 6.5 inches 17.8 x 17.8 x 16.5 cm SaL 24
  Monique Rutherford  Untitled  , 2017 Wood fired ceramic 10 x 5 x 3.5 inches 25.4 x 12.7 x 8.9 cm MRu 14
  Sandy Lockwood  Gleaning Series  , 2016-2019 Stoneware and inclusions 12 x 12 x 3 inches 30.5 x 30.5 x 7.6 cm SaL 25
  Mike Weber  Trinity  , 2018 Wood-fired porcelain 17 x 11 x 2.5 inches 43.2 x 27.9 x 6.4 cm MWe 30
  Sandy Lockwood  Fish Box Series  , 2016-2019 Stoneware and inclusions 8.5 x 6.25 x 6 inches 21.6 x 15.9 x 15.2 cm SaL 27
  Sarah Purvey  Rhythm - Landscape Series  , 2012 Ceramic 23.62 x 16.93 x 11.42 inches 60 x 43 x 29 cm SPu 4
  Tim Rowan  Untitled  , 2019 Stoneware 8.5 x 17 x 8 inches 21.6 x 43.2 x 20.3 cm TR 165
  Tim Rowan  Untitled  , 2019 Stoneware 10 x 21 x 9 inches 25.4 x 53.3 x 22.9 cm TR 166

Saturday 05.11.19Posted by caroline casey http://www.Cavin Morris.com


Thank you Ashwini Bhat, here with Randall Morris and Shari Cavin at the Rough Stuff Private View, for the following lovely photos!

Peaks at Cupola Contemporary Art.

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This stunning Exhibition is part of a series run by Cupola looking at art and our relationship to the environment. I could not have been more pleased to see my sculpture thoughtfully and expertly set with gorgeous paintings from 3 outstanding artists.

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Cupola Contemporary Art’s award-winning Gallery is one of the UK’s most established. They are welcoming, friendly and hugely helpful. No heavy selling or rushing. They will give you knowledgable guidance and support to help you find the art-work that really speaks for you. It is clear they are genuine: they love their gallery and the creative process. There is a wide choice of materials, styles and prices including beautiful unique and affordable gifts like un-framed drawings or prints and jewellery. 44775361_2101981446508272_8965180284014166016_n

Cupola looks after their artists so they get our very best work. They encourage us to take risks, try new things but they never push for ‘sellable’. With their very loyal, customers are looking for sincere art, real communication.

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“Cupola Gallery brings together 4 artists who deal with landscapes.  The exhibition will feature 3 painters and 1 sculpture.  The 3 painter’s distinct styles embody a meteorological exploration of the landscape shifting moods and seasons fluidly from painting to painting.  The painter’s fluid approach is complemented by Rebecca Bucks almost geological sculptures, the predominantly black and white ceramics embodying the land itself.

Painting 2 (seven Stones for a Drunken Philosopher)

Paul Evans takes inspiration from the modernist canon of Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel.  Paul work explores aspects of our physical and emotional relationship with nature something that he consider to be ‘a complex response to a complex field of interactions’.

 

Alison Tyldesley’s work aims at capturing movement, intense light and atmosphere – particularly glowing horizons, wild skies, receding hills and textured foregrounds. Her paintings are not always depictions of a particular scene, although she cannot help her work referencing the peak district she immerses herself in.

Edge

 

John Bainbridge practice is strongly rooted in the Northern Pennines.  The rich colour and texture of the land is enhanced by the Pennines’ unique quality of light and the atmospherics of seasonal wind and weather.  The paintings try to reflect the close contact he has had with the land through fell running in all conditions, day and night!

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

 

Rebecca Buck’s sculptures deal with the landscape on a geological and spiritual level.  Fascinated by climate change Rebecca’s ceramics are a combination of roughhewn textures and polished smooth surfaces, as if the clay had been less formed by hand but from the erosion and weathering of the elements.” Karen Sherwood, Cupola Gallery Owner.

I have 14 sculptures in this inspiring, intense Show including new pieces hot out of the kiln that I havn’t photographed yet.

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

Arctic Harbinger, 33cm L x 13cm H x 12cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Guardians of the Valley, 30cm H x 67cm W x 26cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Guardians of the Valley, 30cm H x 67cm W x 26cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Over Half A Century II.

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

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Detail,Up Is Down VI. Photo by Stephen Foote

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Up is Down VI, second view. Photo by Stephen Foote.

 

How to make Animals using clay armatures.

We animals are frequently surprisingly similar and identifying those differences can be really difficult. Furriness or our perceptions built around our relationships can confuse the information and make it hard to see. Skinny legs supporting big bodies or building on larger scale where the weight of the clay is a huge issue cause a lot of problems.

This is the same technique I now use for making heads.  A simple clay armature supports the weight throughout the build and gives you a central point that you can work outwards from, allowing that most important key to success: making loads of mistakes and fixing them. You get to avoiding hollowing out so that you can play around with textures while you are building. And you will be using the process to re-organise the information in your head: there is no better way to do that than hands-on.

The skeleton is a stick-figure with the proportions (so important when you are being species specific) set out clearly and unambiguously. Fur, muscle shapes changing with the pose and fore-shortening in photos can confuse leading to sculptures that are cross between lifeless amateur taxidermy and stuffed toys.

The key reason making  forms from life is so hard is that the perception (the way we take in our knowledge) that we have built up over our lifetime of what shape the thing is, is based around our general experience of that animal. Making a sculpture of that living, moving, person requires going against what ‘feels’ right and using information we are unlikely to have bothered with before. Portraiture has a system to organise the huge quantity of subtle details. Learning this system will broaden your knowledge, and your access to more knowledge, enormously. That’s why the study of Portraiture and Figurative Sculpture is traditionally the bed-rock of Art.

The more you practice these invaluable skills the more you will see improvement in all your artwork, your general concentration and your ability to see. Like a pianist ‘doing scales’ you will build up the small muscles, motor-skills and neural pathways involved in this challenging, rewarding activity.

It is not rocket science and you can do it.

Because clay shrinks as it dries and is floppy when very wet a Clay Armature that will support and shrink with the form through the drying and the firing is invaluable.

Most techniques for building  hollow have a strong ‘voice’ of their own and will influence the final look of the piece. They can demand that you harden lower sections before you can build upwards and you are then unable to change them when you later realise they are wrong. This is a real disadvantage irregardless of your skill level. It is better to work solid over a clay armature especially if you are not using a scale-model and hollow out just before finishing touches. It’s not difficult. That technique is detailed here: Working solid and hollowing out.   

Working solid is an excellent method. You set aside the ceramic need for certain thicknesses in the clay  until you are sure you have the best sculpture you can make at that point. The armature holds the weight up. Some areas can be built hollow too. 

I was really lucky to run this workshop over two days at the wonderful North Devon Ceramics Academy and Studio. Nicola Crocker and Taz Pollard have created a fantastic, fun, supportive and practical space for learning and sharing creativity in clay. I absolutely love teaching there. Nicola and Taz have a very genuine commitment to empowering other people and sharing their open and imaginative approach to the vast potential within ceramics. The Studio is spacious, bright and comfortable and the atmosphere is friendly, unpretentious and very encouraging.

This amazing group of all experience levels were a joy to work with. And they came up with some great improvements to the technique. You will also adapt it to suit your hands and ideas.

We are using the out-standing Scarva ES50 Crank clay (a stoneware clay with a lot of grog – ground up ceramic grits- in a variety of sizes from corse to dust making it much easier to hand-build with) because of the way it reacts with water and it’s superb strength when hard and also when dry. You can use different clays for the armature but using the same one means everything shrinks at the same rate during drying and firing.

Many thanks to Nicola Crocker for the great photos of the workshop.

The Technique:

Print out skeleton images of your animal, ideally in the same scale as you wish to make your sculpture, images of the whole animal and images of that animal in the pose you want. On to a stiff slab that will be your central support, carefully draw the skeleton.

 

This is an important opportunity to get your head around this animals construction. You can trace through the skeleton using pin-pricks or pressure. But measuring from the diagram to transfer the image will begin the process of clarifying your knowledge of the animal for the purpose of sculpture.

The skeleton is set clearly in a simple to read pose. The sketch is the pose desired. On the clay slab the skeleton is set in the pose. This is not easy to do, takes time and is a huge investment in your sculpture’s foundation and in your skills.

Using stiff slabs, stand your central support up ensuring it is nice and stable. Make good joins: while much of this supporting armature will be cut away eventually some of it will remain and be useful during the firing. Build outwards using images of the animal to assess the widths. Use comparative measurements: the ribcage is twice the width of the head etc.

A narrow standing figure like a meercat will need something to support him or he will be and almost worst, look, very fragile. In the figurative tradition acceptable motifs are employed: think of those little shrubberies at the ankles of classic marble nudes. Or you can add a second figure and get support, a fascinating narrative and lots of fab negative shapes into the bargain.

Supports can added and removed all through the process. This wonderful student, herself a teacher came up with several practical and useful ways to improve this technique.

If you are comfortable doing it, build hollow. Or add the clay on solid. At this stage you are still building the frame-work for the sculpture: disciplined measurements will give you a great foundation that will give life to the artwork stage.

 

Squirrel.

This piece is all about the energy and character of this squirrel. The ‘fluffy tail’ can be a meaningless cliche and has not been used here.

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Work right around the form in layers giving full attention to the whole sculpture at each rotation. It is extremely important that you are always will to cut off parts that are wrong no matter how long you worked on them. A beautifully crafted eye will look grotesque in the wrong place.

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Once your form is completely ‘ blocked out, with all proportions correct switch to using tools to apply the clay rather than fingers. You will get a more attractive, stronger surface and can be more specific. A good habit is to go all around adding. Then all around subtracting, repeat until you can’t see what else could be done better at this point in your progression. Then hollow if necessary. Then do finishing touches (with small tools) Then poke a needle hole into any area that might contain trapped air.

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Add other types of supports if useful but remember they wont shrink with the form during drying.

Birds

Making birds is notoriously difficult because of their insane relationship with gravity. Work slowly in stages allowing the parts to firm up and add to the support system. Remove your clay-armature cautiously in small stages.

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This flying bird will be set on a base as yet un-determined. The armature holds the pose well on this very tricky piece allowing it to change and develop.

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This flexible technique can take you places you had thought of. Here the internal space has become part of the sculpture.

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Because the weight is supported and the skeleton provides strong boundaries you can play and feel your way around the form. The finished piece will need it’s own supports but here you can try various alternatives until you are happy with the look, strength and feel.

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Lots more trial and error will happen to this fascinating bird-scape in the next weeks.

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Take breaks, look out side to clear your eyes then glance at your sculpture and note what you first notice. If you hit a wall with it cover with a bag and walk away! I sometimes leave sculpture wrapped for months. I check regularly to mist with water and see if I can move forward again. Taking photos can be a good way to get some perspective. Ask others ‘what they see’ and compare that to what you want them to see. A dog that looks like a donkey has too big a head for example.

Giraffe

A wonderful form where negative shapes play a stunning role. Their grace and movement is enchanting and very tricky to capture.

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Five points of contact with the ground could give this piece stability but at this small scale those legs and feet are still so small. This elegant solution, where the central support is tidied up attractively and immediately becomes neutral, eliminates the distracting fragility.

Wild Boar

This animal is iconic and has held it’s place in art for Millenia. It’s bulky form and thick fur can easily be over generalised into a blob on sticks. Here the skeleton secures the integrity of the structure. This sculpture is about his power and movement.

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This piece will be completely cut away from it’s supports once it is firm to retain it’s shape, rested on foam and a hole made for a metal pin and base that will show off it’s galloping form.

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The details of the face should be in balance with the rest of the sculpture. At this small scale it is also a mistake to try and put on complicated detail. It will take a lot of time to find what can be left out. The skull will give you the clues: it is the structure of the face that matters.

Cats

Cats are extraordinarily flexible and their exterior hides their structure. Making pets can be very difficult because we have so much knowledge of them that can cloud the sculptural information. Use the skeleton to keep on track with proportions that our nutty perceptions may think are similar to humans!

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A beautiful, gentle way to address the eyes expressively in keeping with the form.

Dogs

This student had gorgeous pictures of her adorable young dog, especially his loving face. But at this small scale she focussed on his movement and energy to portray him. She will paint his distinctive markings on in colour.

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Keep re-checking those measurements at every stage.

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The armature is cut away (but continues to function usefully inside). Needle holes will be poked up into the form to vent all the air pockets made by building hollow. Then a hole will be placed for a wooden dowel set in a base to display this dog leaping as he runs.

 

Meercat

These little guys have tiny feet and very slender legs. You could build some grass or rocks around their lower legs to give stability. Or add a friend.

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Like the giraffe parts of the support wall could remain and no-one would notice because the charm of these characters and their friendship is far more engaging.

Otter

This up-right stance gives similar problems to the meercats but the way otters stand gives plenty of attachment to the base.

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An otter’s simple form can be very difficult to capture. His gesture and poses are well recognised so that helps. Starting with the skeleton puts the key points of his body in the right place under that silky fur. There is a lovely change in loose to very smooth modelling on the surface that recalls water running off the fur.

The Horse

Like many big herbivores horses have surprises in their skeletons that are key to their shape. A rig of spurs along the spine limits over-flexing but also keeps predator teeth away from the precious spinal column. It defines their characteristic silhouette. The skull seems bizarre but get that blocked in well and the head will look great, even in a small scale.

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Follow the transition points of the legs very carefully. Note how those big neck muscles cross and attach behind the shoulder blades. At this stage it is almost as if the legs are just attached to the edge of the body but you now know those leg bones go right up near the spine and have a wide range of movement which can be gauged by measuring the length of a bone and pivoting it from it’s socket. It was suggested that you could cut up a spare skeleton in order to make a hinged ‘shadow puppet’ that could be helpful in designing the pose from a standing skeleton.

Armadillo.

These guys go well above and beyond not to look like animals all! They have extraordinary skeletons, well worth studying. But it has to be said that apart from proportions the hard shell-like outer skin means you see no clues of it showing on the armadillo’s surface. Their shell is a very subtle, beautiful shape with exquisite patterns.

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This student did all the skeleton work as part of the workshop. But then he switched to working solid/hollowing out as a technique far better suited to armadillos.

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On solid clay use your skeleton to identify the right proportions.

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Use a serrated kidney tool to shape the body. Then use a flat wide modelling tool to add clay and further refine that gently undulating form.

 

Your central, weight-bearing support does not need to be flat/straight: Both of these abstracts were built outwards from a stiffened curvy up-right central shape of various thickness set on a metal rod.

Antarctic Harbinger III, 26cm H x 37cm W x19cm D.

Antarctic Leviathan, 45cm L x 23cm H x 12cm D.

 

Quality Joints:

Genuine joins are formed when the chains of platelet-shaped particles from each section inter-lock. Picture a magnified image of hair.

Score marks do not give the surface ‘tooth’; they allow water into the clay-body. On vertical surfaces they hold the water in place to give it time to sink in.

Slip is not ‘glue’, it is clay particles spread out in water and has little strength, especially when it has dried. It is ideal for holding a lot of water in place to give it time to be absorbed to soften the area of leather-hard clay.

Once both edges are softened put the pieces back together and move back and forth until you feel the edges lock together.
Manipulate the softened clay at the join to encourage further integration of those particle-chains and to disturb the straight line of the join; cracks love to zing along a nice straight slip-weakened join during the firing when the pull of shrinking stresses the sculpture.

Thicknesses: cracking/breaking.

How thick the clay can be to fire well depends on the amount of grog (the gritty bits of pre-fired clay ground to specific sized grit/dust that gives improved structure and resilience to your clay), the denseness of your modelling style, drying time and the speed of your firing.

Air bubbles trapped in the clay will expand with the heat. Grog and/or a loose surface will allow the air to seep through the clay. The same is true with water but steam expands fast. If your piece breaks into big bits during the fire it was trapped air and you will be able to see where the bubbles were in the shards. If it blows up into a trillion smithereens it wasn’t properly dry!

Drying:

I dry thick sculptures slowly under plastic which I turn inside out ( to avoid condensation pooling) daily for 4 weeks minimum and then 1-2 weeks in a plastic tent with a dehumidifier.  A card-board box makes a great, slow, draft-free drying chamber.A long dry allows the water to level out as water loves to do and that will enhance the structure of the clay within it’s new sculpture shape. You will get less cracks or distorting in the fire.

I fire very slowly with an 18 degree C rise until 600 degrees C. then onto full power up to the desired temperature.

Generally 3cm is a fair maximum thickness for a well grogged clay.

There is good essential advice about handling clay on the post about Coil Building.

How To Make a Head is essentially the same method and you will find it helpful. It talks about human heads but of corse is relevant to all heads apart from the handy option of being able to measure with callipers from your own.

Throwdown at the Hoedown.

 

 

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/

“If there was ever an example of humankind being unable to bear too much reality, it is the current debate on climate change.” John Gray

Antarctic Leviathan, 45cm L x 23cm H x 12cm D.

I have been following the fascinating progression of Climate Change for 35 years. At last it is a main-stream subject. It’s intriguing how a small number of people are still trying to avoid seeing it, the deniers but mostly the avoiders. It is terrifying, lethal. Our doing and responsibility. The prospect of shifting the habits and habitats of our gigantic population is exhausting.

So a narrative has slowly emerged from the progression of sculptures (rather than the other way around), beginning during The Landscape Series. I wont interfere with that. I will record what I see, let the clay take the lead, research areas I need more information on, add music and follow the road. This is how I have always worked. But this time there is far more clarity.

Antarctic Harbinger I, 20cm H x 33cm L x 19cm D.

Throwdown at the Hoedown

A trichotomy of the Earth, 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; They were going to let loose their forces. This was not to threaten or  punish. They simply knew it was time.

Rebecca Buck osprey Studios

Arctic Guardian and Harbinger, 70cm H x 37cm W x 24cm D.

The three spheres cover all that is water, stone or air. At first that seemed simple. But the three over-lap all over the place. And combining with sunlight, they build the whole of the Biosphere that they nurture and threaten.

Arctic Harbinger, 33cm L x 13cm H x 12cm D.

Steven Foote’s stunning photographs from The Landscape Series seem to contain the whole mysterious narrative, characters and all, I refer to them daily and they will continue to be the bed-rock of the Series.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios

Bracelet Bay, Swansea, Wales UK. by Stephen Foote

The key there became the beautiful, evocative forms left by water as it passed over rock and the land, an echo of it’s own shapes. This, coupled with intense news from the Antarctic about accelerated melting and glacial movement has kept my focus particularly on the Aquasphere.

The Aquasphere

It is changes with water that cause the most upheaval to the Biosphere. Water holds centre stage in the atmosphere’s massive weather events. More often than not it is at the forefront of dramatic episodes in the lithosphere: mud-slides, sink-holes, erosion and sometimes the provocation of volcanos.

Water takes so many forms: flowing (fresh and salt), vapour, ice. Each has a range of characteristics. The primary character is the Leviathan but there are many others involved.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Guardian I, 33cm H x 83cm W x 36cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Guardian I, 33cm H x 83cm W x 36cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Harbinger II, 13cm H x 26cm W x 14cm D + base.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Harbinger II, 13cm H x 26cm W x 14cm D + base.

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Mountain River Guardian, 36cm H x 67cm L x 42cm D. Landscape Series. Cupola Contemporary Art Gallery, Sheffield, UK

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Mountain River Guardian I, 36 cm H x 67cm L x 42cm D.

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

Leviathan IX, 35cm H x 60cm L x 25cm D.

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

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

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

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

The Atmosphere

At first I was seeing atmosphere simply as sky. Weather, especially the fabulous, awe-inspiring kind like hurricanes. But the atmosphere is every where, filling every gap, breathing life into the world, even under the ocean.

For this reason the Osprey is it’s main form.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Osprey II, 39cm H x 50cm W x 50cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Osprey II, 39cm H x 50cm W x 50cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Osprey II, 39cm H x 50cm W x 50cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Osprey IX, 13cm H x 18cm W x 11cm D +base.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Osprey I, 12cm H x 46cm W x 13cm D +base.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Osprey I, 12cm H x 46cm W x 13cm D +base.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Osprey III, 17cm H x 57cm W x 32cm D.

The Lithosphere

The Lithosphere, the geologic, stony part of the world has The Wyvern, a shape-shifting dragon that has taken a number of forms so far.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Guardians of the Valley, 30cm H x 67cm W x 26cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Guardians of the Valley, 30cm H x 67cm W x 26cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Antarctic Harbinger and Sentinel, 28cm H x 17cm W x 13cm D + base.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Wyvern XI, 13cm H x 20cm L x 16cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Wyvern, 11cm H x 15cm L.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Wyvern, 11cm H x 15cm L.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Wyvern, 11cm H x 15cm L.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Wyvern X, 12cm H x 21cm L x 11cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Wyvern X, 12cm H x 21cm L x 11cm D.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

Wyvern X, 12cm H x 21cm L x 11cm D.

The Biosphere

I  started looking at forms and ways to describe the Biosphere’s part of this story. ‘The Land’ sculptures started in The Landscape Series but this was different: it was no longer just the form and far more the theme of vulnerability. Change in the Natural world is  wonderful, a miracle. Frequently spectacular. And terrifying, heartbreaking, sometimes to dreadful to countenance especially where the Biosphere is concerned. But there is also belonging, the perfect fit of life grown out of the combined trinity of spheres. Nurtured, protected, watched over.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

Biosphere’s Guardian I, 22.5cm H x 22.5cm W.

 

As with all my posts I will add to them over time as things develop. Here’s some links  to interesting, key parts of the research so far for the Throw-down at the Hoe-down:

26 years ago I left New Hampshire with my first son in my arms, new CD’s of Bela Fleck in my suitcase and returned to the UK. This extraordinary music sustained and developed my work  for 15 years. Steve Vai and later a wider variety joined Bela. But this track, Bigfoot, is the key and the seed that has lead to this new Series:

Bela Fleck’s Throwdown at the Hoedown seems like the perfect title for this new Series and a fair way to honour all his music has given me, so I’m going to go with that for a while.

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.

Published on May 6, 2016  

Short essay by Randall Morris

Animism: informative article by Sarah Anne lawless. 

There is a ‘modern’ resistance/confusion to animist ideas. The waters are muddied by spiritualist ideas, religions and fantasies. It can be difficult to avoid distractions when you are working on this kind of sculpture. The process is intuitive and free-flowing. Expertise with well organised techniques allow for that by managing the clay’s weight and ceramic requirements leaving the maker and material to associate with minimal restraint. I’m not taking a political, moral or religious stand. I’m just doing my thing, same as always, doing my bit to get the sculpture made. That feels very important to me and I don’t need to know why.

But none the less I keep informed on new science about consciousness in matter and enjoy the kinship and familiarity of Outsider art/ Art Brut. Having boundaries helps to weed out those irrelevant distractions.

Within animism there are many practices used to engage and interact with the spirit world, to put it over-simply. I’m not attempting that. My role is just to be part of it. A record keeper, perhaps, a chronicler to help my fellow 21st century folk maintain a link with the natural world.

Panpsychism: The idea that everything from spoons to stones are conscious is gaining academic credibility

How the Earth Made Us, a fantastic BBC 2 series by Professor Iain Stewart. And some fab clips from another series, Earth: The Power of the Planet.

Awesome iceberg video. I now collect these!

Climate change info 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.

 

 

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 what was occurring naturally. We set a straightforward ” Artists Respond 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, on 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. As it flows it leaves it’s mark on the stone, the ground, the life it passes.

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.

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Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

Wyvern, 10cm H x 18cm L x 11cm D.

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

Wyvern, 10cm H x 18cm L x 11cm D.

Wyvern X, 21cm L x 12cm H x 11cm D.

 

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. Photo by Stephen Foote

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. 68cm H x 64cm W.

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 that shifted me abruptly into figures, much to my own surprise. The character of the Wyvern developed while making the public sculpture the Balarat Pit Marker in The Edge Series: the coal, a buried treasure to be used wisely or there would be consequences, watched over by a shape-shifting Welsh dragon.

Busts in progress, Aug 2014.

Wyvern busts in progress, Aug 2014.

Here the Wyvern is a guardian of stone.

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

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

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Porth Yr Ogof Cave, Brecon Beacons, by Steve 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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Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

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Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

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Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea by Steve Foote

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The Wyvern III, 2014

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios

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

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The Wyvern IV, Sept 2014

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

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Wyvern VIII, 2015, 39cm H x 71cm L x 34cm D, ceramic. Cavin Morris Gallery New York.

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Wyvern VIII, 2015, 39cm H x 71cm L x 34cm D, ceramic. Cavin Morris Gallery New York.

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Wyvern VIII, detail. Photo Stephen Foote.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios

Wyvern VIII, Cavin Morris Gallery New York. Photo Stephen Foote.

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Water moves from one sphere to the next in all it’s forms, changing everything it passes. On heavy, stormy days here in the Brecon Beacons it careens in sheets 10cm deep across the grassy hills, colliding in the streams and rivers to tear down towards Swansea Bay. It drops through the gaps and cracks it has left in the stone to the fabulous caves it has been cutting for Millenia. Standing out in the middle of all this you can see the mountain ponies, uncompromising, resolute and beautiful. They became the Guardian of the water, the Leviathan, in it’s mountain form.

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Leviathan V, 2015, 11.5cm H x 25cm L x 9.5cm W, ceramic. Photo Stephen Foote.

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Leviathan VI, 2015, 12.5cm H x 21cm L x 8cm W, ceramic. Cavin Morris Gallery New York.

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Leviathan V, 2015, 11.5cm H x 25cm L x 9.5cm W, ceramic. Photo Stephen Foote.

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The Wyvern and the Osprey, 2014.

The Osprey followed as the guardian of the sky.

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Stephen Foote Photography.

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Osprey II, 65cm W x 50cm H. Photo Stephen Foote.

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Osprey II, 65cm W x 50cm H. Photo Stephen Foote.

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Osprey I, 40 cm W x 25cm H.Photo Stephen Foote.

Steve’s landscape photos unify everything exquisitely, portraying a vivid place with such clarity you can feel it around you. My sculptural response inevitably, and with some regret, separated the features which got me thinking more carefully about their connections.

The  sphinx-like form and majesty of the Brecon Beacons also showed up first in the Balarat Pit Marker. A classic sculptural motif, the reclining  figure, with it’s many options for themes. Like the complex internal aspect of the Beacons complete with breath, life (water) running through veins in the rock, hidden secrets, moods, supporting of forests, wildlife, and us since the dawn of time. The subtlety of age: the Beacons are especially ancient and have been many things in their past. ‘The Land’ sculptures are about this part of what we saw.

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Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios.

The Land II, 21cm H x 52cm L x 27cm D. Cupola Contemporary Art, Sheffield, UK.

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

Rebecca Buck, Osprey Studios.

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

 

At this point the Series branches off into new territory lead by images and news about Climate Change rather than Steve’s photos and my local landscape. I have been following the fascinating progression of Climate Change for 35 years. At last it is a main-stream subject. It’s intriguing how people are still trying to avoid seeing it, the deniers but mostly the avoiders. My guilty secret is that I see it as thrilling: nature rejoicing in it’s power and spectacular magnificence, the wonder of transformation. Throwndown at Hoedown is an ongoing Series now.

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.

Short essay by Randall Morris

The Up is Down Series  proceeded The Landscape Series and was a transitionary point in how I put together forms, particularly in relation to their bases. The research involved clarified my thinking and ability to see.

Most of the sculptures in The Landscape Series are built with the technique explained in Heads and clay armatures.

Pennard Primary Lead Creatives Project, part 4.

I am proud to say we have poured our hearts into this marvellous project. The amazing pupils, their awesome teacher Miss Bygate, the extraordinary Head Ms Hanson and all the dedicated, kind,  thoughtful and very patient support staff were willing to really go for it and gave us all the encouragement and back-up we could possibly need.

The book we made: The People Of The Throne.

The final draft of the story The People of the Throne written by Pennard Primary School year 5, 2017, pupils and Daniel J Buck.

Hidden with in this old business text book is the record of the whole project. Read Daniel’s description of the project from a writer’s view-point here.

A great boost to have this kind and friendly Volunteer come along and rake over the foundation while we set the sections in place.

The People of the Throne sculpture unveiled!

After Headmistress Ms Hanson’s really lovely introduction Daniel read out some of the story

The moment we have been working for! A nod from Ms Hanson and this sculptural playform is covered in excited kids at last!

The pupils wonderful art work about what their character was doing during the story is set well into the coloured cement to protect it from play activity. This has given it a mysterious, ancient quality, like revealed carvings of a disappeared civilisation.

During the design phase the pupils were clear that they wanted the sculpture to inspire other children to make their own stories. There are tunnels and hidden places.

The sculpture is set facing the rising sun in a circle of established young deciduous trees, across from a big ground-work playform castle in the far corner of the huge play-ground at Pennard Primary School. This area is often used as an outdoor classroom and is a wonderful, magical, sheltered spot for free imaginative play.

Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios

In the background, ever ready to step in and help is Hugh Blackwood, the school caretaker and artist who makes beautiful jewellery. He was invaluable during the installation, an out-standing assistant.

It was a joy to see this amazing group again, show them their book and talk about their new ideas.

The extraordinary Headmistress, Ms Hanson and some of her very proud pupils.

The Throne, Pennard Primary School, Pennard, Gower, Wales, UK. By Osprey Studios and Pennard Year 5 2017.

Year 5 had made us a fabulous card with drawings of each character.

Kind, beautiful, creative and very dedicated Miss Bygate with her fabulous class and Daniel on the sculpture they have made with Osprey Studios for every future generation at their school.

The Throne, Pennard Primary School, Pennard, Gower, Wales, UK. By Osprey Studios and Pennard Year 5 2017.

The Throne, Pennard Primary School, Pennard, Gower, Wales, UK. By Osprey Studios and Pennard Year 5 2017.

The Throne, Pennard Primary School, Pennard, Gower, Wales, UK. By Osprey Studios and Pennard Year 5 2017.