Next weekend I will be travelling northwards to Banchory for my next meeting with the Composer David Ward. As the conclusion of our collaboration nears I have made it a priority to ensure that my contribution is completed so that the musicians have plenty of time to prepare for their performance.
As the Masters Course nears completion and I prepare for my final show at the end of August I cannot help but critically reflect on the works that I have produced to date. My proposal two years back had been forged by my frustration at peoples narrow definition of beauty and an inherent need to explore media and new processes. I now recognise that my completed works are motivated by a more complex and personal agenda. That all I have made is a result of self healing: an extended journey of darkness through to light. The coast has provided me with the space to contemplate. The works I have created the solutions to my questions. This has been most evident in the films I have made for this collaboration.
I understand that what I have produced is a cliché. A story that has been said before and will be retold again and again. However, I make no apology to you, my storytelling has lifted me from a dark place that I saw no escape from. Instead I encourage you to confront your demons and tell yours.
Stills from latest film edit
A couple of surprise days off work and the sun benevolently casting its rays provided me with a window of opportunity to explore the coast and examine the tide line for found objects. Such explorations are best undertaken alone as I inspect the ground in an almost trance like state fearful of missing any special gift yielded by the sea. Companionship is a distraction, an intrusion. I could not help being rude for to engage fully with my task of searching means that I must disengage with humanity.
Not that I do not wish to share a walk with a friend. It is merely a different experience, for I am equally prepared to devote myself completely and wholly to a companion as I would devote myself completely and wholly to the task of exploration.
My crusade this week was to acquire weather worn plywood: recent storms providing hope for success. Whilst engaged in my task a fellow adventurer introduced himself and asked if I was an artist. We spoke briefly then went our separate ways for I was eager to complete my quest, the Masters deadline eminently approaching and always at the back of my mind.
By journeys end I had been rewarded with 3 sheets of plywood. It was here too that I was re-joined by the inquisitive stranger who gifted me artifacts that he had come across along the seashore. Touched at Kenneth's kindness I thanked him, taken aback by his thoughtfulness and fascinated by his selection.
Shell, stone vase artifact by Kenneth Burnett
Of all the advice given to me by my tutors at Gray's School of Art, the one that has really excited and challenged me is to be more considerate of the materials I select for projects.
It is fair to say that when planning a sculpture I would use materials that where readily available. For the Masters Show I intended to produce casts of my Wartime Structures from a large sheet of lead that I owned. My tutors were excited that I wanted to do some hot metal casting but told me that lead could not be used because of its toxicity. That I should reconsider my choice of metal and replace it with one that was non-toxic and that may also be sympathetic to the nature of the project.
It alarms me that the WW coastal batteries in the UK are disintegrating rapidly and will soon be lost for future generations to wonder upon. After much thought I decided that brass gun shells would be a fitting memorial. That maybe one of my sculptures would be a reminder of war in Britain.
Sourcing enough ammunition for my casting purposes was going to take time and money. My quest found me at Steptoe's Yard, by Montrose. A cornucopia of randomness and disorder.
Although my crusade for alloy was rewarded with a large brass shell the trajectory of the projects financing costs had steeply risen. It was clear that I would only be able to afford to make two or three small buildings.
Not wanting to disregard the remaining fabrications I began to consider new construction
materials. With my tutors guidance still in mind I determined that concrete would be the responsive conclusion.
This week saw me completing the first of a new series of mixed media works for the Masters Show. To date my found object pieces have been simply harmonious composites of textures and colours - compositions with little intervention other than placement and glue. This new series though, inspired by the artist Robert Callender, has markedly evolved with the addition of plaster, card, paint, wax and shellac. With each brave unknown outcome that I attempt I progress and personally grow. I am affected by deep emotions as I invest a part of myself in my works. My studio time is an intimate love affair were I am allowed to express myself in any way I choose. I may be weak, strong, or tender. I am involved, I am ensnared.
Three posts detail