Looking back on my work this year has been really interesting. Although it has changed and grown substantially over the last 12 months, I wanted to identify the ideas and elements that have remained constant throughout the work. I felt that it might be too easy to head off in a new direction that was not inline with where I want the core of my practice to be and think that taking time to reflect on where I’ve been will be give me a solid foundation to continue working.
The main materials I have worked with have been paper, wax, metal, wood.
Paper was (and still is) of interest to me for its structural possibilities. The nature of paper, books, writing etc isn’t a driving force in why I would use it, the appeal for me is in the way the material can be manipulated and structured. I enjoy the fact that it can be floppy or rigid, patterned or stark, folded or curved.
Wax has a number of material and symbolic attributes that I’m keen to pursue. It’s texture, malleability, smell, ability to be carved and cast, it’s ability to be melted or frozen – in a material sense these attributes give me a lot to work with. Symbolically beeswax is, of course, associated with bees and bees have a whole raft of symbolism around them! Immediately I think of hexagons and the number 6 due to their hexagonal cone structures. With my love of geometry anything that involves shapes and numbers immediately gets my attention. (The ‘Honeycomb Conjecture” (first recorded c.36BC) states that a regular hexagonal grid is the best way to divide a surface into regions of equal area with the least total perimeter.)
Wax is also traditionally used for candles: heat and light, for sealing important documents: secrecy, and for lost wax casting, which leads me to metals.
Metals were part of my June work and are something I have wanted to work with more. I incorporated copper into my September works and copper is a metal that is of particular interest to me, I think because of it’s colour, malleability and ability to develop verdigris. The links between metal and wax are in the casting process. The wax is carved, then when the molten metal is poured it causes the wax to evaporate entirely leaving one material in the place of another. In order to make more of the item, the new metal must be moulded and wax effigies made in its place which are each lost once again to every metal that is made. There is something in that process of wax, heat, metal – solid, liquid, solid – the creation of multiples from singles through complete loss of the original that speaks to me. Maybe there is some type of alchemical process going on there.
I used natural wood in my September works along with charcoal and resin; all three materials are natural products of trees. On reflection it is the charcoal and resin that interest me the most as materials to continue working with. Charcoal because of it’s mark-making possibilities, it’s heat-producing properties and it’s ritual component. Resin due to it’s ability to move between states of stickiness and brittleness, it’s ability to release incredible scent when combined with the heat of charcoal.
Looking back through my April, June and September works I have pulled out some concepts that are manifest in all three.
There are also ideas around transformation, reactions, alchemy and potentiality which have been working through my mind and my research. These are ideas I have discussed with supervisors and colleagues.
There is an idea around ‘containment’ and ‘hiding/revealing’.
In the April work the unfolding piece had hidden messages, within moving objects, within containers (magical)
In the June work the reacted metals were held within glass containers (scientific) and the large objects were containers in that they had holes that allowed the viewer to peer inside them.
In the September work there was the ritual captured inside the glass box (ritualistic) and the dodecahedron that had popped open spilling it’s guts on the floor.
Concepts of hiding and revealing, secrets whether dangerous or benign, interior and exterior spaces are things I want to pursue further.
Although it hasn’t been as blatantly obvious in the last 12 months practice, I’m still curious about exploring ‘thresholds’. Contemporary works and ideas that I have looked at that in some way work with ideas around thresholds keep me coming back, so I know that there is fodder there for my practice.