Monday, 29 September 2014

Re-Creating, Part Two

the future through the lens of the past

So, one of the shows (of the three openings in eight days) of all this fall was at the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge, AB, which closed last Sunday. I participated last year, entering Wild at Heart - A Shrine for Salmon, but in my submission this year, entered two pieces. The first one, which was complete when I sent off the application, is above: I call it the future through the lens of the past, but as one of the first viewers of it said "you could easily call it 'the past through the lens of the future' too."

I like it a lot. It riffs, and expands, on two pieces I've done in the past: "objects of crystalline desire" (the winter section of my seasonal solo photography show at Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre, in spring 2011), which used pieces of shattered windshield glass surrounded by handspun/knitted edges, and my contribution to Emily Martin's Pantone Postcard Project, which, among other places, went to the Venice Biennale last year.

There's something nicely incremental on my past work about it.

Which is very unlike the second piece I slotted in at the last minute.

Neruda's Nest

This was the photograph I took just before I boxed it out to ship. The one I sent early in September was pretty rough (just the base, the stick, and the nest precariously balanced on some small piece of marble), and was not much further along when I got an email from the curator at the Galt wanting the finished piece a week later. That led to a lot of crazy thoughts about what I needed to do to complete it, and when I glued up the last piece four days later, then boxed and handed it over to a friend to drive down to Lethbridge, I had serious qualms about what it was, and what I could possibly say about it.

It's titled Neruda's Nest, which refers to one of the lines in Pablo Neruda's "The Book of Questions: which yellow bird fills its nest with lemons? I spun the yarn last summer to knit the lemon, had the bird's next since the spring before that (shortly after finding the quote), and the stick comes from a tree we trimmed in our backyard the summer of 2010. The travertine tile comes from work, where I found it a month or two ago.

Installation pictures will be in the next blog entry.

Before the snow flies

Meanwhile, in the rest of my life, we had a freak snowstorm three weeks ago -- I took this picture the day before. I love the colours of the trees in fall, and it was a soft evening when I took this picture.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Re-Creating, Part One

Tunnel Book Class #1

I've taken two other "hands-on" classes at the Esker Foundation: one that let participants build with corrugated cardboard, and the other that built a tunnel book.

Some of the pieces in the cardboard workshop, where we were encouraged to build our fantasies, were amazing construction projects: rocket ships, public art models, you-name-it. Mine was, well, pretty boring, in comparison: I built a live-work studio, with the studio end having a full skylight for a roof.

These days, that's my idea of a fantasy.

Tunnel Book Class #2

But I had great fun at the tunnel book class. Although we were encouraged to bring our own source material, I decided that I wanted to see what we would be able to draw from that was provided, and was happy to discover a topographical map of Quebec, a postcard with Greek statues from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, an old National Geographic magazine with a map of The Bahamas, as well as a vintage ink sketch of a flamingo.

With supplies in hand, I set to work, along with everyone else. There were times when we were working that you could have heard a pin drop and the photo above shows the furrowed brows of everyone in near-silence over the worktables.

Tunnel Book Class #3

I rather like the result, although like most of the work I've created lately, I'm not always sure where my ideas come from. That being said, I have been noticing recurrent themes (that's supposed to be a flamingo on a beach in one of the watercolours I posted up in my previous post, for example), so I obviously have fond memories of the time I spent on Great Inagua.

Reference Set

I've also finally gotten around to replacing the set of watercolour pencils I left in Nassau nearly three years ago, and decided that creating a page where I showed an example of the colours I had bought, both wet and dry, would be useful in returning to using them as a medium again.

One of my first artist books, The Zebra Book, shown here, used them: I like watercolour pencils for their portability, and, well, because they're fun too!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Four-Letter Words

Watercolour Workshop #1

Somewhat belatedly, I'm writing about returning to serious creative work, as well as my six-month mental-health update. I've been thinking a lot about both since the last blog entry, and doing a great deal more, in a structured, formal sense, about the former.

That process has pushed some of the public commentary (although not my journal-writing) with a bit more thoughtful retrospection about both of them aside.

Watercolour Workshop #2

There are a lot of four-letter words I could use to describe my life in the last 3.5 years, but until recently, one of them would not have been care.

Most of the time, I didn't, and on the rare occasions when I did (involving, more often than not, walking away from people who did not treat me with "care" either), I would surprise myself by doing so, as the reaction was much more of a subconscious one than a conscious one.

Here's Merriam-Webster's definition of care: I've had a lot of 1 and 2, and some 5, but not much else.

Watercolour Workshop #3

Well, that's the big change: I now consciously care: it shows at work, and more importantly, it's showing up in the art I'm now pumping out(comparatively speaking: three titled pieces with "2014" after their titles is huge, for me).

Part of finding my way back to art, as I mentioned here, was by putting myself "out there" to do art again, beginning with a watercolour class through the Esker Foundation with artist Brenda Draney last November. I wasn't ready then to share what I produced that day because I wasn't sure where the work came from.

I'm still not, but I've been producing enough new things that seem to be drawing on common themes, that perhaps it's time to begin to expose them to the light of day.

Books for Sale

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