Sunday, September 30, 2012

Drawing birdsongs

25th August
 I've been trying to draw bird songs.  In the midst of getting breakfast, trying not to waste electricity and worrying about how people in Australia are ever going to  afford rental accomodation this seems like an eccentirc, trivial task.

The sound of bird songs surrounds you physically just as the scrubby twigs, branches, new growth and leaf litter does.  The sounds have body, their lipid texture entering your eyes and gently shaking the the delicate balance of bones stacked like a rickety tower of children's building blocks inside your ears.  The life of the bush continues as I, ridiculous in jeans and shoes sit writing in a pure white sketchbook while the catfish noses it's speckled way through the clear brown water.

The bush is full of half glimpses.  The ghost of a movement, the shaking leaf and fragmentary evidence of something that has continued it's existence indifferent to the human species.  The creek contains refractions of sky, shifting across the surface ripples, myriad creatures touching on each other's existence through reflection on the surface of the water, a sophisticated web of real and mirrored connection.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Making Pots for David Attenborough

Sometimes when I'm in the studio I pretend I am making pots for David Attenborough.

 To capture the essence and physicality of a plant, or a bird , or a feather you have to give up thinking about the design and what you think you know exists. There is no "It should go there" in nature.  You have to trust your observational skill and let your eyes relax onto the object of contemplation.  The hand must be ready , a willing tool.  Your own will coming through your hand must be prepared to fade into the background betraying your presence in the drawing with only a tremor or flick of line, your subconscious signature. The role your own personality plays in the observation of nature is in the germination of interest in something hidden or overlooked.  Once the eyes and hands are engaged it is your task to just observe, look closely.  Open your brain so it is free from assumption to see what is in front of your eyes.

Once you look like this, other things, human things, metaphors, stories and legends begin to attach themselves to the subject, sometimes they are not the ones you would expect.  Sometimes the old legends attached to what you thought was a familiar subject are surprising and meaningful  even though they are exactly what you expected, the looking has filled them with new life.

Would DA appreciate  the addition of and extra vein on a leaf for "balance"? No he would not.  Anthropomorphizing subjects leads to mistaken conclusions in both art and science.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

mutant terracotta and explorations in terra sigilata

 Mutant terracotta, fired three times, bisque, 1280 and then terra sig applied to warm pots and refired at 1120.

 Mutant terracotta with black clay terra sig and scraffitti bird.  Mutant terra cotta is very strong when used with dark brown underglaze (a mix of commercial underglaze and iron oxide) or iron saturated terra sig.  Dark clay absorbs decoration at higher temperatures so I have had to adapt the subtlety of the initial decoration and then "pull" the drawing back to the surface after the 1280 firing with brushwork and terra sig, then refire at 1120.

 Little pinched pots- mutant terracotta and porcelain. Terra sig made from Jane Sawyer's black clay that she gave me- the colours are natural!  The black clay terra sig is beautiful, glossy rich reddish brown when fired the third time at 1120.

 Two cups, fired three times.  Black clay terra sig is very successful on top of an iron saturated terra sig.
Two little vessels.  It is very difficult to get the white  terra sig working effectively over the darker colouts, I had to mix it with underglaze for the 1280 firing and then refire it with pure terra sig on top at 1120 to get the terra sig surface and slight sheen.