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.
Today I have been making cartoonish drawings of Primary Emotions.
A Neutral Face
Sad and Happy Angry and Disgusted 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.
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.
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.