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.
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.
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.
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’.
Embarking upon a new line of enquiry. This continues my meditations on the human impulse to create, to make, to alter and adapt materials. To imbue material objects with meaning beyond their practical usage.
The starting point this time comes from this Jade Axe , found near Canterbury, U.K. Now a part of the British Museum collection. See Chapter 14, in ‘The History of the World in 100 Objects’ by Neil MacGregor.
What I am intrigued by is the fact that this was never a practical axe. Its purpose was inherent in its beauty, its meaning, its geographies and its biography. Add to that mix now, it’s antiquity (Between 4000 – 200 BC).
The stone has been identified as coming from a specific boulder in the Italian Alps, then was probably fashioned in Southern Brittany before travelling though to the British Islands. Extraordinarily, there is another axe, found in Dorset, which comes from the same boulder but maybe made at a different time. The two art objects made centuries apart, evidence of the longevity of a tradition.
Is this an indication of a trade being a way of maintaining relationships between distant peoples, of cementing obligations, ideas and culture?
I shall be drawing, and carving wood. The wooden versions will have to be beautiful to touch as well as to look at. To engage all the senses.
I am thinking already about the planned exhibition at The Willoughby Trust Gallery in 2021.
Two layers, one cotton and one poly cotton. If using Elastic two loops at 5 inches (13cm). If cotton tape’s, four lengths at 18 inches (46cm). It is possible to add a third layer of some non woven fabric inside. This could be baby wipes (washed) , vacuum cleaner bag fabric has been recommended, vilene or even paper towel. They can be used when shopping, when finding oneself in a place where social distancing is difficult, on public transport. Make two for yourself, one to wear and one to wash.
Next stage of the ‘Hart of the Woods’ Red Deer Headdress. Clay design complete, now mould making.
Many thanks to Richard Frost for documentary photographs and filming in the morning and then to Amira, Diane and Manuela from Nottingham Trent University for filming and interviewing in the afternoon. An excellent way to spend a Saturday.
I have just found this tiny pot which I made in about 1976 as a student. Probably the best thing I created at that time as it holds much of what still concerns me in current drawing projects. The Square, The Circle and a playful response to the world I live in.
What I like most of all is its ‘pot-ness’ whilst at the same time its ‘bird-ness’. I remember that I had seen an image of some ancient clay toys, which inspired the painting scheme. Hand-built porcelain at just 6 c.m tall, with brushwork in iron oxide. This bird with four legs still makes me chuckle.
My current work still has the same archeological connections as I continue to ponder on the ancient impulse to ‘make’. I am still obsessing with geometry in conjunction with natural forms. My choice of materials is still governed by a perception of ancestral connections. Clay, minerals, charcoal. The sense of touch is still as important in 2D work.
Catching up with the Drawings after a couple of weeks of inertia and poor health.
Good to be back in the studio. Although I did very little, what was done was significant and made for progress. I have used direct mark making, random accidents and finding something which I find awkward, giving both discomfiture and disruption of habits.
Last week I went to the Museum of Anthropology and Archeology in Cambridge.
I went specifically to see the Star Carr exhibition as they are the oldest mask like objects to have been found in the UK.
This has set me off on a new series of drawings.I wanted to share these with you as a part of my own thinking process.
I have been making drawings for the past year or so and spending several months on each series. A series being one large work 150cm square plus a variable number of subsidiary images (A2).
The Star Carr masks (and there are several of them, maybe 20?) are mesolithic objects made of Red Dear Skulls which were adapted to be worn. Possibly on the top of a persons head. What I find most intriguing is that the antlers have been cut down to remove the points and then hollowed out. Literally an attempt to getting inside the animal. Many flint tools were found with them.
The first image is the start of a new large drawing to which I shall be adding layers of images as they occur. Day one of a process that I expect to last for several months.
The second image is the current source material I am playing with right now. The third photo is of a memory of a shamanic ritual concerning fire and larch trees, a portal into another world. The first of who knows how many subsidiary drawings.