Prospero’s Cave 

“Spirits to enforce, Art to enchant.”  

William Shakespeare . 

An exhibition of Recent Art Works by Stephen J. C.Cooper

Known Professionally as Stephen Jon

(Drawings, Sculptures and Masks). 

September 22nd until October 20th

12 noon until 5.00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Free Entry

Moreleys Lane, Corby Glen, Lincolnshire NG33 4NL

at the Willoughby Memorial Art Gallery

I have spent from April till October on this drawing. Perhaps because of the Covid Effect, I have not been able to make sense of the drawing. It feels confused and muddled and lacking in meaning. A turning point for me perhaps. I shall just wait to see what happens next.

By the by, I don’t like the way that this blog site has changed. Finding it much harder to manipulate. Therefore, I am using this platform far less than I used to.

Started as ‘Shelter’ then became ‘Stone’ Charcoal on paper. 150 x 170 c.m.

The elements all fall into place in my mind but not on the paper. I therefore looked at the more formal aspects, shape, balance and composition in order to find some sort of resolution.

These last few weeks I have been working on a new mask/rondo of the face of Robin Goodfellow,  also know as Puck  (by Shakespeare in The Midsummers Nights Dream).   He is the Classic British Hobgoblin. I played him as a small boy and have felt a connection ever since. The design for this happened all very quickly, woke up one morning and sjust started, as if I was waiting for this moment for the sculpt to come. Not a lot of thought though aware that some sort of thinking has been smouldering away for decades. A few drawings and a mini version happened in a few days. BBD6EE5D-D5BA-4FCA-BA50-8D6F0C05D1B9

This is a Green Man version.                       I shall try out a nut brown version.                                             I don’t want him to be of our world, he has to be not quite human.              But I don’t want him to be a variant on Shrek, even though that character does have a strong connection with European Medieval Gargoyles. Robin is not to be found in Churches but out in the green Wood.

From drawing through miniature (12cm x12cm) to slightly over ice (rondo is 50 cm in diameter).                         Most unusually for me, I used grey clay instead of red clay, for the sculpt.    No idea why, just felt right.                     The whole process has been very intuitive.

I feel that I have known this character all my life and that it has                                                                                                        taken these six decades for him to have emerged fully formed.

Today I have been making cartoonish drawings of Primary Emotions.

IMG_4076 A Neutral Face

 

IMG_4077 Sad and HappyIMG_4078 Angry and DisgustedIMG_4079 Surprised and Fearful

These I intend to  use next week for some online teaching, as I give a demo on mask-making to prop. making students.    I would like to get them active and not just give a     one sided lecture. I use these ideas when teaching mask performance skills so why not for makers.  I hope it will make it more personal for them as they  examine their own faces and feel what muscles they use to make these extreme expressions.

Today was to have been the finale of the Hart Of the Woods Project.                                      Instead, the project is on hold until we are all able to get out and about, and  people are able attend Outdoor events again.  Instead, we are sharing images and films from the project.                                                                                                                                                 Check out https://www.instagram.com/hart_of_the_wood                                                We are:  to Ben Wigley (Artdocs) , Nathaniel  Robin Mann, Lisa Knapp, Martin Sommerville, Sian Allen and the National Trust folks at Comer Woods, Dudmaston, Shropshire.

These are the finished Red Deer Headdresses I have made for the project.IMG_4011

Started back in March, these three have been my principal companions over the past three months during the CV19 lockdown. And fine companions they have been to sooth my soul.  They have inspired me to make archeological  and folkloric investigations, drawings and prompted dreams.

Looking forwards to the time when they will be able to leave the studio and take their place out there, in the magical world of Art and Nature on this Midsummers Day.

 

I have been in working in collaboration with Richard T.Frost to make three wooden replicas of ‘The Canterbury Jade Axe’ (British Museum). These have been made to be handling objects, to be shown together with a large charcoal drawing, which may be included in an exhibition planned for 2021. IMG_3868

Elm from Tim , White Walnut from Rosie & Black Walnut from Tim

Many hours in the making. Several days for Richard to carve then two weeks for me to sand and polish, using  boiled linseed oil, seven coats of oil based varnish, polished with rotten stone, raw linseed oil and red earth to finish.

These artefacts are yet again a manifestation of my meditations on the human impulse to make stuff, the creative urge.  Many years ago I was horrified to see  in an exhibition, some ‘Sculptures for the Blind’ by Brancusi, displayed inside a prospect box!  These three pieces are designed to be handled, to be not just something to look at but also to be something beautiful to touch.  Hand and Eye in collaboration.

Yes, they have metaphoric resonances but my continuing rumination’s are taking me  somewhere else.  As I develop the drawing , started but expected to develop over the next few months, I hope to find that ‘where’.