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.