“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Antarctic Guardian I, 33cm H x 83cm W x 36cm D.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Short essay by Randall Morris
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.