Welcome to my online Journal where i hope to share my thoughts, feeling, inspirations, processes, problem solving, and completed works as well as works in progress.
Apart from researching various artists, authors and thinkers we continued to make work this summer! My themes last year were working with nature and the elements which was a process i enjoyed and learnt a lot from. I had always been interested in the tantric arts, most people in the west think of sex when they hear the word tantra but the 64 Tantric arts were an ancient Indian education system that affluent men and women were expected to learn. The 64 arts are wide and varied from learning about jewels and gemstones, gambling, mathematics, music, art, dancing, flower arranging/gardening, languages, riddles/rhymes, teaching birds to speak, carving, learning to read a mans character by his facial features and many more. I decided to pull one randomly out of a hat as a way of making myself try something different over the summer and perhaps learn a skill i never noticed or given much thought to. The first one i pulled out was: The magic of sorcery!
This was a great one to start with (mathematics would have made me groan) a lot of my later work last term involved some sort of ceremony and often had a spiritual almost nature worship element to it. Also my past work running retreats and ceremonies had equipt me with some knowledge of sorcery, albeit a modern approach to it.
I decided to go to the lake in the woods where i grew up and collect a bucket of natural clay. Clay to me symbolizes raw potential, creativity, earth spirits, craft, birth, new beginnings and practical magic. Perfectly, the cottage i grew up in was called "Claypit cottage" due to the large Victorian clay mine nearby which was later turned into a large and private lake hidden in ancient woods. My most fond and lasting childhood memories are embedded in the beautiful landscape there, the deep forest is my home, my virginity was lost there, i learnt to swim in the waters there, i go there when i need to think, or stop thinking and the clay there holds a certain personal symbology and meaning. Having gathered the clay i organized a sound ceremony with a shaman friend who was coming to stay for a few days. We lit a fire, summoned and raised the energies with chanting, sound bowls, singing, incense, flower offerings and incantations. we took it in turns to take a ball of wet clay and to say out-loud what it was we wanted to make solid in our lives....what our desires and wishes were, one for each ball made. These balls were then placed on the open fire to symbolically solidify. The balls were taken from the ashes the next morning and wrapped in cloth until the beginning of term. One of the balls disintegrated being taken from the ashes but it held its own broken charm and was kept in the hope its magic was still inside and hadn't lost its potency. Randomly all of our wishes came true within 48 hours!!! including a new house and new job for each of us. Sorcery indeed! It was very freaky, the little orbs which now looked like strange bread rolls were extremely precious and now had a new sense of importance. Even our language towards them changed, we had fondly referred to them as "balls" up until that moment but now they were reverently referred to as Orbs. I loved the way they looked so small and unassuming and liked the idea of just presenting them in a studio space without any obvious clue to there deeper personal meaning, magical purposes or potency.
sMy initial plan this summer was to find a piece of twisted wood for the orbs to sit along. In my mind i had hoped to find an antler-like piece from a dead oak, the pagan tree of life. The only rule i set myself was that it had to be found and not bought and the wood had to be freely given by the tree so if i found a perfect bit of wood that was still attached to a tree i was not allowed to take it if it didn't come away with the gentlest of pulls. I found several beautiful pieces of wood that were still attached and they did not come away, it was very tempting to yank and fight, or even return with a saw or rope but i made myself stick to my original, nature friendly, approach. It had to be given to me......and it wasnt. When we returned to uni i bought the orbs in with me and pondered on how best to display for the crit show without some sort of stand for them to sit upon. I tried placing them on the floor, and contemplated using plinths, neither option felt right. In one of the studios was a stack of concrete blocks and there ridged, utilitarian vibe appealed to me as a contrast to the work. My orbs were man made also, but from raw clay, imbued with the elements of earth, air, fire and water with a spiritual intent, clear individuality and with separate personality and intent for each one, these blocks were machine made, quickly, dully, mindlessly, practically. The contrast was neat and effective. I decided to place the broken orbs pieces on an upright block and push it over, it broke in half, the effect was fluid, chaotic, and gave the collection a sense of momentum and drama.
So what next???
Successes: I feel the overall process and final visual work was successful. It had a depth and each stage of the making process had a meaning. I would hate to make random, meaningless pieces that didn't come from a personal process. I would like to make more ceremonial works using natural materials and rituals.
Failures: Although the process was documented in photos from my iphone i feel that this piece and perhaps other past pieces could be documented more artistically. The photographs and film documentation could be made into a projection of some kind for example, or used as a visual index to give clues and hints about how the objects were made, it is there process of creation which is the most interesting point and it would be a failure if the viewer wasn't made aware of this. Otherwise these could well be just random clay balls, and not Orbs. I wouldn't want the documentation to take the attention away from the works but i don't think viewers should have to read a load of printed blurb to understand what they are looking at.
Scale! I would love to make another much larger orb using this process. With a larger piece it would be possible to see the detailing of the cracked clay, the bits of root and vegetation embedded in them. Though i think you would still need several of them to see how different they all are, how the fire licks each one differently, or even how the different spells effects them,
if you believe in such things.