Photo gallery for next sample. Many many words to come. Updated 10.4.16
I was wondering what the core of me would be. All I could think of was a grain of rice. So, I found a grain of rice. Not yet cooked – I wrapped it in clay. It felt right. There are many obvious symbols of clay. You can take from it what you will.
Julie has been working inspirationally with vessels in her work. They are powerful symbols and stunning pieces of art. I’ve been admiring from the sidelines and wondered… what vessel would I would need for this grain. I was thinking of how rice is used, as well as my sense of invisibility and translucence. I thought of Chinese rice grain porcelain as a decorative method that produces translucence. It is still very difficult to mechanically produce this tableware and trained artisans are still valued. I liked these images. Some more clay to wrap protectively around the glassware. This ten felt like a flower, so I had some tulips fading after Easter, their petals shedding. These formed the next layer.
It all looked a bit cheesy at this point and I was about to abandon the piece and start on something less considered. Since I felt it was finished with as a sample I stopped being precious with it and threw caution to the wind.
I took some green embroidery thread as I felt it made the colours in the petals sing and held springtime. I used this to wrap the petals around the bottle. It was only as I looked at the base of the piece did I finally find something that pleased me. I liked the layering and criss-crossing of the thread. I loved how the colours overlapped and everything that had gone before was hidden and secret. My tutor and I had talked about how not everything has to be revealed. Discussing her own work Lizzy said that things just revealed, or hinted at can be as powerful. All the layers below can be known to you the artist but do not have to be shared with the audience. It is enough to know they are there. For the purpose of the course it is necessary to document the steps taken, but not for the purpose of the piece. Looking at the base of this sample I understood what she was saying. No-one needs to know there is a grain of rice hidden inside a pea of clay, or a glass bottle. One only needs to know something precious is hidden inside. In the same way that a seed germinates, if yous tripped the layers to see the inside of it, then it would be killed and unable to grow into a plant. Some things have to be left alone and trusted to reside inside. That potential for new life and growth can only be nurtured by the right conditions, it cannot be cut apart and examined – to do so would be to kill it. Do we always put ourselves in the right conditions for our potential to grow?
This sample then seemed so precious I wanted to keep it safe from harm and bandaged it in some tubular finger bandage. I liked the idea of wrapping from a tube rather than enfolding – it had a different quality – a bit like the way you dress a newborn child, you wrinkle the clothes into a tiny fold so it can be slipped speedily and with as little fuss over the head atop the scrawniest neck that seems inadequate to support such precious life. This image in my mind made the sample even more fragile – the glass bottle inside seemed strong in comparison to what I felt I was actually holding – there is a strange blur between the tangible object and the mental image.
I felt I needed to cushion and protect the sample and wrapped cotton wool and gauze. I had no idea at what point I’d stop, I just trusted to feeling when it was right. With all the medical wrapping it seemed logical to layer a sticky Elastoplast layer to hold it all together and keep the water from getting in and stopping the healing from happening. This layer was a wrap keeping harm out.
Finally, I’d been directed by Inger to look at the work of Margarita Sampson which I’ve detailed in my sketch book and here.
Psychic antenna to help the grain of potential connect with life out there, and also to act as a filter so not everything gets in and under the skin and as an early warning system.
And orange grass to cover it all because – I wanted to know what it would look and feel like!
And I am still moved by an allegorical poem I read as a teenager written in Middle English called ‘The Pearl’ – which can be read on various levels (religious, secular etc) including the mourning of a child:
‘Allas! I leste hyr in on erbere;
Þur3 gresse to ground hit fro me yot,
I dewyne, fordolked of luf-daungere
Of þat pryvy perle wythouten spot.‘
(I lost her in the garden where
grass she fell to an earthen plot
Wounded by love, beyond repair
I mourn that pearl with a spot.)
There is much written in Middle English that concerns grass mounds and what might lie within: think the Green Chapel in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, studied and written on in detail by J.R. Tolkein; the mound at Sutton Hoo and the treasures it hid for centuries, Silbury Hill built layer by layer as part of a ‘continuous story-telling ritual’ .. and here’s the next tangent growing…
In the end I settled with sequined tiles to make a home and final wrap of tiles that gives nothing away of inner contents but reflects the light back so an onlooker is dazzled by the surface decoration and may not choose to look beneath. Those circular Anglo -Saxon shields gently nodded at, those lines of shields decorating the edges of ancient boats…