Wednesday, 29 August 2012

rusty bits .....

Can't wait to find time to play.  Found these gorgeous rusty bits in Steve's shed and am looking forward to seeing what marks I can make, what stories I can tell.

Had a week's break in Vanuatu which was divine and a very welcome break.  Those of us who are lucky enough to travel know that it is no holiday.  You often arrive home and need a break!  This week was just that.  Completely and utterly.  Busy catching up with life before I can spend the time I want to look and see what blogging friends have been working on and posting.  Always a treat.

Monday, 13 August 2012

rust and ferrous snowflakes ....

This morning I braved the cold winds and chill to plant some hydrangeas in front of the studio.  Somewhat distracted,  I looked into the two plastic containers that had held caustic soda and ferrous solution for my rusting some time ago.  The trays had dried out and formed these glorious artworks in the base of each tray.  The first few photos were taken in situ - beautiful marks resembling snowflakes, and snow drifts.  The magic happened then as I turned, tray in hand, towards the sun and the light came up underneath the plastic trays and caused this breathtaking illumination.  Wish I could take the credit - but nature has a way of trumping even our most ambitious ideas.

And here comes the sun beneath ......... other than the natural light,  the photographs have not been manipulated in any other way.

Many years ago I watched a programme on SBS television on Fractal Geometry and the Mandelbrot Set in particular. I was totally absorbed by the patterns created when a particular mathematical equation was entered into the computer (this was impossible to do prior to computer capabilities), each variable answer was given a different colour and the computer took this information, extrapolated the results and translated them as ever repeating coloured patterns - the more closely you zoomed in on one area, the same pattern was shown to repeat and this went on infinitely.  Of course I am not really explaining this in any adequate manner - you need a mathematician to do that and a superior brain to follow it all.  As an artist though, I was totally transfixed by the gorgeous patterns growing and repeating on the screen - resembling paisley patterns and beautiful mandalas which we have used in artwork over the centuries.  

If you look at the marks often left on the sand as the tide recedes you will see arms with protrusions, and on each of those protrusions more similar patterns occur.  It is completely fascinating.  If you have any interest in trying to understand what I am talking about just google fractal geometry and the Mandelbrot Set and there is a wealth of information and a you tube video to watch.  It is really well worth it.

Why am I writing about this?  Well - I see the same patterns arising here in the dried out chemical solutions. It reminded me so much of this programme on fractals.  Did any one else out there watch it?
I hope so - and if not, head to google!

Friday, 10 August 2012

tracemarks .....

A couple of posts ago in Fragments of a Life I commented on the traces we leave behind, or the marks we make on the landscape.  I have a body of work, mostly etchings, that form a study on 'The Art of Language' which deals with the theme of how we as humans found ways to make our mark in the way of language.  Initially carved into rock or painted on rock, long before the advent of writing as we know it today, we liked to let others know that 'I have been here' and placed my mark.  

I wish I could write as eloquently as Stephen Fry who recently produced a programme for BBC on Planet Word, or Patti Roberts-Pizzuto who in one of her posts wrote so beautifully about her dailies and how the purpose was not to be rigid  as "the point is to commemorate the day, in a way .... to notice it, to make a note of it .... to leave a trace."  I am always envious of those artist's who create visually but also have the gift of words.  

Without those words, I often leave it to my work to say what it is I am trying to say.  I have included in this post, photographs of a couple of etchings from 'The Art of Language' which I hope show how I feel about us leaving behind traces of ourselves on the landscape.  For some of us that is quite literal, but for many it is just the sense that we have lived and left, and that if you look closely enough you will find evidence that we have been.

'Woman in the Landscape' - etching by Susan Bowers (detail)

'Woman in the Landscape'

'Man in the Landscape' - etching by Susan Bowers (detail)

'Man in the Landscape'

The etchings are actually coupled with embossings - more marks!  As a drawer from childhood, the change from drawing into mark making has been quite profound and I think was brought about when I began practicing the art of etching.  My earlier etchings were overladen with fine line and cross hatching, very representational of what I was drawing as most of the old etching masters used to produce by way of illustration used for print.  However, as I began to let go the structure of drawing and tried to suggest what lay below the surface, I realised that beautiful marks could be made that seemed to sing far more vibrantly that well executed lines.  Etching on copper in particular gives rise to beautiful marks and that combined with the plate tone which could be manipulated on the plate gave rise to a very different approach for me.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

finished with moeraki ......

Back in June I posted on the Moeraki Boulders in New Zealand which have really captured my imagination.  Hopefully one day I will do some of the etchings I have in mind for these unusual boulders but who knows ...... at the moment my mind is racing with so very many ideas that many just get left in the 'some day' pile.

Here are some of the details of the finished book.  Actually I may make a cover for it yet but haven't quite resolved that ...... may just end up with a perspex slip case.  In some of the photos you can see the use of graphite.  I have actually used graphite line work throughout the pages but the lines don't always show up on the pages as they need the light to catch them. The book is sewn together with a simple black coptic binding though you can't see that against the background. Back in the previous post on Moeraki Boulders, you can see a few of the actual photographs I took.

The threads have been left very loose to indicate the ever changing play of the tide in and around the rocks and the piercings are there to suggest the beach texture.

This is a detail of the front cover - in many ways I wish I had embossed all rocks into the paper rather than stick some of them in as with the image above.  I still think they work quite well though as they are made from the same papers - using the cutouts and a little extra detailing with graphite. I love some of the blues that have appeared in this paper.

Though it would appear so, this final image is not altered.  The rich colours of the rusted and ink greyed paper edges are rather gorgeous in their own right.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

fragments of a life ....

Another of my artist's books - titled 'fragments of a life'.  This book is made up of ten acrylic paintings that I did in a series - another story.  The concept behind this volume is that our lives leave their mark, their trace marks on the landscape and from above, it is likely to see these as patterns floating across the Terra Firma sometimes with ephemeral brushes and at others with heavy gouges and imprints.  However the mark is made it is inevitable that our tracemarks are left behind.

The book is large - 51cms x 37cms, double mounted and embossed, bound in perspex and then protected in another perspex slip cover.  It is incredibly hard to photograph (as an amateur) and show how tactile this book is.  It is one of my favourites though, probably because I enjoyed the painting.  The first few photos more accurately give the sense of the book though not much of it is revealed.  You can see the lovely papers and soft edges. The paintings actually look better with the double mounting though in the detail photos only the back mounting is seen.

These are some of the ten paintings, not all.  In many of them you will see echoes of doorways and I have reinforced these with embossings.  These doors represent different choices we make and take along life's journey. It is actually not a symbol I use very often.

There is an image above which is my favourite and reminds me in many ways of Chagall's painting 'The Bride' and the quote from the film Nottinghill, that 'Happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat'!  See if you can work out which one it is.