My fascination with beach-combed objects stems from the fact that man-made items enter the sea at a place and time unknown. At this stage, they are often useful, in good condition and are similar to many many other such times. By the time, I retrieve them from the shoreline they are no longer of any use, they are worn and distressed by time and tide, and they are unique. It is the alteration that occurs during this unspecified time period that interests me – it raises so many unanswerable questions: When did it enter the sea, why and how? How long has it been in the sea? How far has it travelled?
One particular fascination is brushes. I find many plastic brush handles but more interesting are the bone or wooden ones. These sometimes present with bristles, whole or partly intact, but the really interesting ones no longer have bristles, just the holes where bristles once were.
I like the contrast between the worn finish and the precision of the holes. I am starting to explore this idea further, combining the found with the made; the old with the new; the perfect with the imperfect.
These three pieces combine hand made paper with found elements. I’d love your feedback!
I recently attended a course with Jane Ponsford and learnt the basics of hand made paper making. We used cotton rag and in some cases, I combined this with found clay to add colour.
Khaki cotton rag
Deckle, mould and paper
Grinding the found clay
I wanted to combine the hand made paper with some of my found objects and went with some ideas in mind as to how this might work.
Rust dyed made paper on charred wood
Paper dyed with oak gall ink with found staples and fishing net
Paper with found wire
Paper dyed with oak gall ink and combined with weaving
A row of hand made paper on found wood
Hand made paper combined with found metal and wire
Having kitted myself out with the appropriate gear, I am looking forward to experimenting more with the combination of made and found to produce a series of work. The images above are all starting points rather than finished works but I have thoroughly enjoyed learning this new process. Another course beckons in the Autumn looking at sculpting, folding and moulding with paper – can’t wait!
I now feel settled within my niche of working with found objects. But how did I get to this point? An early influence was Cas Holmes who creates wonderful textiles using found and recycled materials either directly or as tools (I well remember her printing with a malted milk biscuit!) and it seemed to make sense to me to re-use as much as possible in one’s creation. Later I came across the beautiful work of Alice Fox and very much enjoyed a course with her at Studio 11 in Eastbourne. We started each day with a walk along the shoreline collecting items that we could use – in this instance we were particularly looking for items with which we could rust-dye. Before the class started, I was away walking along the beach each morning – there was something about the absorbing way I searched which allowed my eyes to see but my mind to wander in a creative meander. I have never stopped!
Alice suggested that we lay out our finds so that we could take in what we had and how the pieces might work. She also introduced us to the work of a silversmith by the name of Stuart Cairns. Whilst I do not have the ability to make the beautiful objects that Stuart makes, he inspired me to continue to work with the found. I do not seek to copy his work (I do not have the skill!) but I greatly admire it and so jumped at the chance to see his current exhibition which runs at “Make”, Hauser at Wirth in Bruton, Somerset until Saturday.
If I had to sum up Stuart’s work in three words they would be: beautiful, delicate, fragile. Each piece is so perfectly judged – just the right amount of detail, just the right balance between found and made. Do have a look at his website but the objects really do need to be seen to be appreciated in full.
I would also just like to mention the work of ceramicist Elaine Bolt. Elaine also appreciates Stuart’s work and has been supportive of me in the past. I think you will see that same sense of balance in her pieces and the apparent simplicity of the work. I say apparent because of course none of these artists produce their work with ease or without a great deal of hard work and study. I tried working with porcelain with Elaine once – an unmitigated disaster!
So, I will continue to work in my own way but always admiring these various artists and makers. They continue to inspire me and hope that you will gain something from looking at their work too.
Studio 21’s current exhibition ‘Colour Notes’, celebrates the group’s 21st anniversary and explores how each artist expresses and interprets their own response to colour through narratives and memories.
Launched at the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition in October 2018 (where the majority of these shots were taken) to great acclaim, Colour Notes comprises a broad range of hues and tones in a varied imagery of texture, light and shadow. All of the pieces represent searching and thought provoking responses to the effect of colour on each artist’s life and practice.
Instead of a riot of colour, the exhibition comprises a broad range of hues and tones in a varied imagery of space, light and shadow. All of the pieces represent searching and thought-provoking responses. With a wide range of responses including: material colour in and of the landscape; colour created by the changing light of day or season; and capturing a…
After three weeks at the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester, the time came last Sunday to take down our work. I thoroughly enjoyed the run, meeting lots of new people, chatting to other artists, and of course handing over five pieces of my work to their new homes. Nicola Hancock did a great job of curating the exhibition, displaying her own work along with four other artists who each came from different walks of life, offering up different methodologies and outcomes, but whose work all reflected on how creativity offered release to those suffering mental anguish in some form – here the title “Creative Redemption.” Several visitors told me how good it was to see some contemporary work displayed in this gallery in a new and exciting way.
I sold two collages and three pieces of sculpture …
“Porcelain in orbit”
… and, just as importantly, received lots of positive feedback and encouragement from visitors. Several said that they were off to the beach to see what they could find and I would love to hear from them – as long as they took a bag to pick up the rubbish at the same time, that is all fine with me! Others related to the theme of the exhibition and chatted about the restorative power of stitch or other forms of creativity.
So, I am now thinking about my next project. I will certainly exhibit at this venue again and am thinking in terms of combining my found objects with recycled everyday items to create a new body of work.