Carpet Piece

Sometimes, when you don’t have much money, you have to use whatever is lying around for your art. There was a pile of old carpet tiles in the studio when we moved in, so I’ve started working on the back of them. I like that they have already had a life, and some character of their own; it helps me avoid the fear of the stark white canvas and the fear of making mistakes and having to produce something. The carpet tiles don’t care what I do to them, so I feel free to play. They don’t mind if I walk over them with paint on my shoes, or spread glue about and then heat it so it bubbles up. They don’t mind if I peel away their sticky backing to get at the fur underneath and then paint over it for texture. I might try working on the carpet-side next.

Here’s Carpet Piece I that I’ve called ‘Some Kind of Spinning Away’ inspired by a Brian Eno, John Cale song.

 

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Some more carpet tiles beginning their second incarnation as art surfaces.

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And just so I don’t forget, here’s some sublime pieces I’ve discovered recently by Dutch artist Walter Rast. His website here.

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Featured on sculpter Robyn Gordon’s sumptuous blog, here.

http://robyngordon.weebly.com/index.html

 

 

 

 

Art and Transformation: Tending the Secret Fire

What do I want to create? I know something wants to be born, but I don’t have many clues yet. Not many signs or tracks to follow. I look at other people’s work. I collect images and ideas that resonate. I collect pieces of wood and tiles and slate from skips. The studio fills up, takes on a lived-in feel. Now there is a space, there is possibility.

Instinct tells me to build layers so that whatever wants to can emerge. I use tile grout and tissues and glue and wax. Build strata. Make texture with glue and material.

Drawn to the mystery of transformation, the artist-alchemist transforms herself during the creative process and achieves new insights through her work.

I apply heat to initiate alchemical transformation. I scratch and scrape, trying to find doorways in, or perhaps to solve the riddle that will open the doors.

At first the work keeps transforming and won’t stop until it is finally destroyed. Keep going. Don’t give up. This is part of the process.

Some days despair crackles at the edges. Doubt seeps in about ever finding the gold.

In a dark place, I read:

– Søren Kierkegaard

I go back. I breathe and pray and try to stay out of the way of the process.

Trust. It will flow better as I start to work consistently.

The Secret Fire. The flame at work in the laboratory of the soul. Alchemists must tend it well if they are to have any hope of transformation. Nothing melts or evaporates or circulates without fire, or desire.

So, one piece at last reaches a point that I can name it, identify it. There is no beginning or end, just a pause as between breathing out and breathing in again.

Maybe, over time, getting closer and closer to what the flame cannot consume – that is where the alchemist’s faith lies.

 

 

 

The First Abstractionists

Two interesting exhibitions in London recently: Hilma Af Klint at the Serpentine Galleries and Georgiana Houghton at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Hilma Af Klint (1862–1944), of Sweden was creating abstract works about five years before Kandinsky. Through her work with the group “The Five,” af Klint created experimental automatic drawing as early as 1896, leading her towards an innovative geometric visual language. She had no desire to be part of any contest, or indeed the art world in general. Her paintings would not be seen publicly until 1986.

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Hilma af Klint,The Ten Largest, (1907)

Georgiana Houghton (1814–1884) was also painting in a non-figurative way even earlier, from 1861 when she produced the first of several hundred intricate, abstract and richly symbolic artworks, which were, according to her, “without parallel in the world”. In contrast to af Klint, she was keen to present her work to the artistic establishment. The exhibition at the Courtauld was the first time this artist’s work has been exhibited publicly since 1871.

Interestingly, both artists rejected direct authorship of their work, claiming that they were guided by entities to convey important spiritual messages through their art – perhaps  a subconscious means to sidestepping the cultural marginalisation of women at the time and finding validation for their work. Through their spiritualist experiments, they were able to conceptualise invisible forces both of the inner and outer worlds and develop radically innovative styles.