Exploring Uncertainty

"What happens when makers eschew certainty of outcome, instead embracing chance, volatility and impermanence in their work? Wood artist Nic Webb, and silversmiths David Clarke and Hazel Thorn discuss with session chair Lottie Davies, Taylor-Wessing Prize-winning photographer and BAFTA-nominated short film artist."

The sugar crystals took 6 months to form on this silver object by David Clarke.

The sugar crystals took 6 months to form on this silver object by David Clarke.

Hazel Thorn creates her own material through fusing rods of silver and gilding metal, creating an alloy, seen as the the third green stripe.

Hazel Thorn creates her own material through fusing rods of silver and gilding metal, creating an alloy, seen as the the third green stripe.


 

This was another great event held at Collect on Friday. It invited three artist makers with different forms of using unusual and "destructive" methods to give an insight into how it can help make something new and exciting. 

 

BURNING

 

Nic Webb was pointing out the difference he found between the work he makes and other artists using natural materials like Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy's work is fleeting, to be experienced but only for a time as it is left to the elements meaning that without photographs many people would never see his creations.

By making an object you see the effect of a person on a material, having some degree of control in order to leave a tangible record of their existence and ideas.

Webb likens it to the Castillo Caves where the hand of the pre-historic artist is traced in pigment for future generations to see. It is good analogy for an artist maker who harnesses the powerful, primeval force of fire to scorch out his designs.

It is this fine line between chaos and control that allows the most exciting work to be created. Our idea of beauty is often formed through the unpredictability of nature.

 

"MAKING IS A JOURNEY TO A PLACE I HAVEN'T BEEN"

Nic Webb


 

For Nic Webb his chisel is the force of the flame and his paint is the blanket of soot it creates. He says the decisions he makes are like sailing close to the wind. Go too far and you have lost the power but on riding on the edge you can control your manoeuvres and use the natural forces around you.

 

 

CUTTING 

Hazel Thorn gave a really thorough account of her making process which I really enjoyed hearing. She explained the many steps where she will make decisions on how to form her piece. Although appearing random she plans the outcome through instinct, using ongoing analysis and careful thought allowing a piece to "grow" to her design.

Hazel says how daunting a fresh sheet of silver can be, but she is able to lose that pristine preciousness through her approach where she literally cuts her material into pieces. Then it is almost like a series of repairs, each twist and turn as the material is altered is not a limitation but an opportunity she can work with.

Hazel also highlighted how important the hands on aspect of her making process is.  The incidents that occur such as when she unintentionally overheated a piece creating a new shape, means she has discovered something about her material. She can then choose whether to use this in her work having learned how to allow or deny it to happen.

 

 

DECAYING

 

 

David Clarke's work often provokes a big response. A skilled and talented silversmith with his graduate designs flying out to the V&A and Goldsmith's collections he eventually grew bored of making work he found repetitive. 

“It’s the level of perfection in silversmithing that I really moved against – the belief that you should polish every joint until the process becomes invisible,” he says. 

 

He insists on being called a silversmith rather than an artist. This recognises his understanding of this material through his working life so far devoted to learning and practising the skills to create with it. Through this he has earned the right to challenge it and push it. Like a close family member or old friend who can call you out on something you've done wrong when no-one else would dare, push you beyond your limits, and even make jokes at your expense. Just like your best buddies you both know how much you love and appreciate each other and would only ever want to bring out the best in both of you.

He goes against the conventions of a precious and revered material by fearlessly devouring or engulfing the silver using other materials, like baking it in salt or with lead. His work is a lesson to lighten up and enjoy a wonderful material for everything it is. It also serves as a memento mori reminding us of the fragility of a fleeting existence, to live life and enjoy it as it comes as we don't have the control we believe we have.

 

Top Drawer Zoo

Who wouldn't want to live in a miniature zoo full of tiny weird and wonderful animals? I visited Top Drawer in London's Olympia yesterday and was fascinated by these creations by Japanese needle felt artist Terumi Ohta aka "True Style Lab" as part of the brilliant new area for designer makers called CRAFT.

Smooth on the inside...crunchy on the outside

Smooth on the inside...crunchy on the outside

The patience and skill of hand needle felting is the perfect way to capture the colours and the textures of a spider's hairs giving this super little tarantula a lifelike appearance.

The patience and skill of hand needle felting is the perfect way to capture the colours and the textures of a spider's hairs giving this super little tarantula a lifelike appearance.

This little fellow looks preserved in a pre-historic environment as your own pet dinky dino in a bubble.

This little fellow looks preserved in a pre-historic environment as your own pet dinky dino in a bubble.

Hand made clay teeth are painstaking made and indiviually inserted for as their creator Terumi says, for her; "It's all in the details".

Hand made clay teeth are painstaking made and indiviually inserted for as their creator Terumi says, for her; "It's all in the details".

Here is my favourite of Terumi's art pieces, I really wish I could have taken this beautiful cub home with me but hopefully I can visit it if she will exhibit more of her menagerie soon!

 

Have a look at more of Terumi's work online at WWW.TRUESTYLELAB.COM who was exhibiting at  Top Drawer London as part of the new specialist makers area called CRAFT

Summer Celebration Ring

Let's Celebrate!

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Confetti Cake! Recipe can be found on Best Friends For Frosting.

My dear friend Natalie recently asked me to make her a ring for some summer parties she was going to. The dresses she had bought for these occasions were mostly a black background with splashes of gorgeous bright florals, perfect for dancing outside on balmy summer evenings, sipping champagne cocktails under colourful paper lanterns...

                                                                         Photo by Tanja Lippert Photography via   Bridal Guide

                                                                         Photo by Tanja Lippert Photography via Bridal Guide

These studio fragments selected for their corresponding colours look just like the bits of rock left at the bottom of a sweetie jar! 

These studio fragments selected for their corresponding colours look just like the bits of rock left at the bottom of a sweetie jar! 

To stand against the black Natalie wanted something in a happy, sunny, summery yellow, and we added flecks of colour in hand picked shades that would also highlight the floral details in the fabric.

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Scattering confetti in celebration!

The finished ring, the coloured and metallic fragments appear like scattered confetti!

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yellow contemporary jewellery resin bright colour hewn ring jade mellor art piece.JPG

If you would like more information on having your own special ring made, get in touch! I'll be happy to answer your questions!  :)

You can email me at info@jademellor.com

Society of Island Universes

Society of Island Universes, Produced by Lisa Denyer and Michael Thorp.

Featuring work by Holly Rowan Hesson, Jo McGonigal, Lisa Denyer, Sarah McNulty, Willow Rowlands.

Holly Rowan Hesson  Spark , 2014 Acetate and glass

Holly Rowan Hesson Spark, 2014 Acetate and glass

I was so glad I made it to the preview of this exhibition last night. Produced by Lisa Denyer and Michael Thorp, Lisa was able to give me a mini-tour of the exhibition explaining how the pieces had been installed and how the space had been a big influence on the work.

The artists had use of the space for a couple of weeks beforehand,  so it became more like a residency with much of the work being influenced by being created in, or specifically for the venue. 

Holly Rowan Hesson's  Riot   2014 Projects directly onto the bare grey walls.

Holly Rowan Hesson's Riot  2014 Projects directly onto the bare grey walls.

They used aspects of the architecture to their full advantage. Paintings by Lisa Denyer and Sarah McNulty were perfectly paired with breeze-block walls with left over drill holes and daubed on marks from the raw construction. This was much more interesting than a completely sterile blank space, where any object can hold your attention due to the absence of other stimulus. This made the exhibition feel like one whole installation. 

Lisa Denyer,  Blue Gem,  2014 Acrylic and gloss spray on found plywood 

Lisa Denyer, Blue Gem, 2014 Acrylic and gloss spray on found plywood 

"The exhibition brings together practices which demonstrate a strong interest in materiality, each piece of work provoking the viewer to examine and consider their immediate environment." Society of Island Universes, exhibition information 2014

Sarah McNulty  Right Off , 2014 Gouache on Canvas

Sarah McNulty Right Off, 2014 Gouache on Canvas

I enjoyed seeing this style of abstract show, for this kind of work has a home in this landscape. These artists often work everyday in places like this, creating studios in old industrial spaces as an affordable workspace in a city centre rather than pristine, pre-packaged office spaces advertised to the businessman. Life isn't perfect, art isn't perfect but it's all about interacting with the space around you and seeing it's potential. The exhibition then invites us to find a dynamic between them.

Black acetate part of Jo McGonigal's Painting 1. Piece on wall is Sarah McNulty's Writher (El) 2014

Black acetate part of Jo McGonigal's Painting 1. Piece on wall is Sarah McNulty's Writher (El) 2014

Much of the work here had to form in this space as it is a way the artists has found a way to connect to this environment. Jo McGonigal dramatically drapes black acetate from a giant pipe overhead, showing us the materials properties. Sarah McNulty's Writher breaks down a painting into layers. Appearing to be painted directly on the wall it is an assemblage of printed acetate looming behind taut fabric.  Rather than politely ignoring a structural pillar Holly Rowan Hesson has bound it with scrolls of colour. These rolled photo-prints are so abstracted they appear like chromatography papers, a science experiment literally breaking down a painting into measures of colour.

Holly Rowan Hesson,  Bubbling Under, 2014  Tracing paper, rubber bands

Holly Rowan Hesson, Bubbling Under, 2014 Tracing paper, rubber bands

 

Making up part of Painting I  this piece of carpet was found by the artist Jo McGonigal in a charity shop. Soaked in the stench of tobacco from it's last  home with a heavy smoker, you can really imagine the cumbersome weight  increased by the layers of sickly pink gloss she has coated it with, painted in-situ. 

Jo McGonnigal Painting 1 2014

Jo McGonnigal Painting 1 2014

The sticky looking gloss has helped set it into the slumping form and the fleshy tone also gives the fabric folds a slightly gruesome edge. Nestled nearby is another painted object, Orange and Purple painted stone by Lisa Denyer 2014. 

The pink painted carpet forms part of Jo mcGonigal's painting. Lisa Denyer's  Orange and Purple painted stone  2014 rests discreetly against a pillar. 

The pink painted carpet forms part of Jo mcGonigal's painting. Lisa Denyer's Orange and Purple painted stone 2014 rests discreetly against a pillar. 

As Lisa had remarked on, the display of the objects at a similar height does make them look like they are having a conversation. In this part you can see stone assemblages by Lisa Denyer "chatting to" Willow Rowlands Dog Fruit 2014 watched over by Sarah McNulty's Paint II on the facing wall.

Left to right, a part of Jo McGonigal's  Painting II , Lisa Denyer   Temple  2014 Acrylic and emulsion on re configured cupboard door, Willow Rowlands  Dog Fruit  2014 Plywood and vacuum plastic, Sarah McNulty  Paint II  2014, Guache, fabric, paper. Lisa Denyer  Untitled   2014 Found brick & Omani stone, 

Left to right, a part of Jo McGonigal's Painting II, Lisa Denyer Temple 2014 Acrylic and emulsion on re configured cupboard door, Willow Rowlands Dog Fruit 2014 Plywood and vacuum plastic, Sarah McNulty Paint II 2014, Guache, fabric, paper. Lisa Denyer Untitled  2014 Found brick & Omani stone, 

Jo McGonigal  Painting II  (It is a patch of yellow and a geometric line and hence an idea) 2014 Yellow Chair, cotton, plastic, modelling clay, acetate, tape.

Jo McGonigal Painting II (It is a patch of yellow and a geometric line and hence an idea) 2014 Yellow Chair, cotton, plastic, modelling clay, acetate, tape.

Jo McGonigal Painting II adds tension to the space. An empty chair needs to be resisted to either be moved on its casters or sat upon. Nearby a ball of clay in a co-ordinating colour perches precariously on what appears to once have been a piece of corner skirting board, with a wondrous boomerang shape. 

This kind of work needs a large space like Unit 4 to have an impact and in Society of Island Universes the artists have created their own world. Only on until Sunday, and right by Piccadilly Station, if you get the chance you should really check it out to experience it for yourself!

Society of Island Universes "explores the ideology behind abstraction".

Currently showing at Unit 4C Piccadilly Place, Manchester Thursday 17th July-Sunday 20th July,  1-6pm.

 

Ruin Lust: Tate Britain

Ruin Lust "An ideal of beauty that is alluring exactly because of it's flaws & failures."

One of my granite and resin Hewn rings, inspired by the crumbling textures of ageing and weathering in our surroundings.

One of my granite and resin Hewn rings, inspired by the crumbling textures of ageing and weathering in our surroundings.

Ruin Lust (from the German concept of appreciating ruins - Ruinelust) is the exhibition at Tate Britain which finished this time last week. Now that it is over (as anything must end to become a good ruin) I will collect the fragments which I left with and assemble them here on my blog.

 

I was very excited to visit this exhibition as this idea of discovering partial remains of a bigger thing and capturing the textures of erosion have long been a big part of my work. But knowing me, I am a curious beast and the look of something has never been enough. I always want to find out the why and how, and these not only form the concepts behind my work but also my experimental processes. I was not disappointed by Ruin Lust, there was a great variety and depth on this cultural phenomenon to explore.

The main idea I'd like to take away from the exhibition is that Ruins can be seen as a positive thing.

 

Ruins as a Memorial

"Sublime warnings of the past" Ruin Lust, 2014

"We were intrigued by the World War II bunkers that were being drawn back into the water," Jane says. "It was like something from an ancient civilization, but darker."

"We were intrigued by the World War II bunkers that were being drawn back into the water," Jane says. "It was like something from an ancient civilization, but darker."

 

Louise and Jane WIlson's work had a big impact on me. At first glance these angular forms could be contemporary sculptures, but they are the remains of Nazi bunkers in Normandy. These clean and crisp images with no discernible date let the stark forms stand out without complication. They could be from any time or place but in learning their origin presents them as symbol of the end of a devastating chapter in History with many things to learn from. "The ruin may remind us of a glorious past now lying in pieces or point to the future collapse of our present culture." Ruin Lust, 2014

 

 

 

Reinventing the Ruin

"Find new uses for ruins and new dreams among the rubble" from Ruin Lust, Tate Britain 2014

David B McFall, Bull Calf 1942

David B McFall, Bull Calf 1942

I was charmed by this sculpture by David B McFall. Following the Wilson's ruined bunkers this is a remnant from Great Britain's experience of the Second World War.The Portland stone used for this piece was once a part of a London Bank, one of the buildings destroyed in the bombing of Southwark. You can see the original carvings of the 19th Century swags and flowers from its architectural past. This wonderful re-use of debris and the subject of a young Bull Calf is a symbol of new hope and seeing the potential to grow strong and rebuild.

You can see why it was chosen for the Royal Academy Summer exhibition in 1942, even when McFall was still a student.

 

 

Engraved by J Greig, from a sketch by L Francia, for Excursions through Norfolk

Engraved by J Greig, from a sketch by L Francia, for Excursions through Norfolk

"The ruin traffics with more than one time frame: it arrives from the past, but incomplete; it may well survive us."  Ruin Lust 2014

Another example of a ruin reused which not part of the exhibition is this unusual sight of St. Benet's Abbey. The ruined abbey is situated on the River Bure within The Broads in Norfolk England. Demolished from the dissolution the gatehouse remained, which is now a grade I listed building. In the second half of the eighteenth century, a farmer built a windmill inside the abbey ruins, (adapted even further to make a wind pump later on),  The windmill is now itself a grade II listed building, creating a ruin within a ruin.


Ruins to Incite 

I enjoy the fact that a ruin leaves space for your imagination. The journey it has gone through to get to that point had affected it and it is up to us to use our minds to investigate, elaborate and furnish the remaining bones. This is what engages us with it and makes our experience a personal discovery rather than being presented with a perfect, pristine place or object, which could literally be a brick wall to creative ideas.

Paul Nash, Steps in a field  near Swanage 1935

Paul Nash, Steps in a field  near Swanage 1935

These concrete steps look out of place in this surreal image by Paul Nash. Without trying to envisage the lost structure of the demolished building they can be enjoyed as a curious sight in their own right. Like an Escher drawing these impossible stairs let us create an invisible doorway wondering where or when it might lead to, a portal to another time or dimension.

 

In my next blog post I will be presenting my response to this exhibition and some of my latest work, looking at these ideas and a few more...

Walk the Line: Printing and Fashion

Last Week's Thursday Late at Manchester Art Gallery allowed us to take a closer look at a particular item in the collection. The extensive costume collection from Platt Hall has started to venture out of the wardrobe and into the art Gallery on Mosley street. Displayed with a selection of Pre- Raphaelite paintings, the flowing fabric draping over the heavenly bodies of the women is seen in real life in the gown by Mariano Fortuny.

I've always loved this painting by Charles-August Mengin. It depicts the greek poet Sappho who lived around 600BC, from the story that she threw herself into the sea for an unrequited love.  Apparently  it appealed to the Parisian men attending the salon exhibition at the time, but I think the expression in her face is what makes it. SImilar to nudity in fashion photography today like a Dazed & Confused shoot of Kate Moss with her top off.

I've always loved this painting by Charles-August Mengin. It depicts the greek poet Sappho who lived around 600BC, from the story that she threw herself into the sea for an unrequited love. Apparently it appealed to the Parisian men attending the salon exhibition at the time, but I think the expression in her face is what makes it. SImilar to nudity in fashion photography today like a Dazed & Confused shoot of Kate Moss with her top off.

Delphos Dress 1908 - 1912   Mariano Fortuny

Delphos Dress 1908 - 1912 

Mariano Fortuny

Self portrait by Fortuny

Self portrait by Fortuny

Described as a Renaissence man, Fortuny was the son of accomplished painters and repertoir included architecture, interiors & stage design, fashion, painting, photography, lighting and textiles design. The Delphos dress we discussd in the gallery late was inspired by ancient Greek art and his method of the beautiful intricate pleating was his own secret. Art nouveau beading would trim the dress, for decoration and also to weight the fabric. The construction is what makes this dress so timeless, with detail such as a laced sleeve making it make contemporary so that his designs are still worn on the red carpet today. It really is worth investigating more of his work, the more I find out the more amazing it is and not just from a fashion/design history perspective - it is all still very desirable. Sighhhhhh

Dress details

Dress details

Fortuny label

Fortuny label

The group discussion was organised by Connie Witham. Hopefully there will be some more fashion related chats like this as there are plenty of amazing garments in Platt Hall in Rusholme that are worth appreciating in depth with details that are easy to miss on a quick look round.

Careful-it's sharp! Removing the shiny surface to get through to the fuzzy papery layer meant that the ink would stick here and transfer onto the paper.

Careful-it's sharp! Removing the shiny surface to get through to the fuzzy papery layer meant that the ink would stick here and transfer onto the paper.

After discussing the dress (and quite a few other things) with the group we headed to another part of the gallery where artist Adam Quinn was holding a printing workshop. I didn't think I would have time to make one as I was heading to meet friends but I'm a big fan of printing and hadn't used this technique before so I made a quick drawing in the foil card using an H.B pencil, scalpel and an unknown attachment on my Swiss Army knife. The theme was portraits so I used an image of one of my pyrite Hewn rings.

thick squidgy ink-similar consistency to nutella! (erm n.b do not put on toast bleauch!)

thick squidgy ink-similar consistency to nutella! (erm n.b do not put on toast bleauch!)

Inked up 

Inked up 

It was very satisfying working the gooey black ink into the lines in the drawing. The rest was wiped off the shiny metallic areas so that the pressure of the rollers would force it out of the lines and onto the dampened paper.

Removing the excess ink-messy business

Removing the excess ink-messy business

artist Adam Quinn rolling our prints.JPG
the resulting print!

the resulting print!

My finished "self portrait"

My finished "self portrait"

up on the new studio inspirationy wall of things and stuff along with a collar from the V&A and my fave fashion week outfit by Simone Rocha

up on the new studio inspirationy wall of things and stuff along with a collar from the V&A and my fave fashion week outfit by Simone Rocha