I recently attended the last of three “Alumni” days at West Dean College. There were 13 students all working on their own projects and two tutors were on hand to guide and support us in our work. My passion is for found objects but I struggle with how to move them on in an artistic way when I consider them to be beautiful in their own right.
A year or so ago, I found a strip of seaworn rubber on the beach:
Last week I did a second course with Debbie Lyddon. I have long admired Debbie’s work and when I spotted a course with her, I jumped at the chance – twice! I blogged earlier about the Winchester course so here is a little more about the course at Studio 11 (an excellent place run by Christine Chester right near the railway station in the town. I would heartily recommend all concerned – Debbie was very generous in sharing her knowledge and Christine provided excellent lunches and all day drinks and biscuits and the studio has just about everything there for you to make use of if you have not managed to bring the kitchen sink with you to the course!
The first thing we did was to take a trip to Birling Gap.
We took 10 minutes just to sit and take in the view, the atmosphere, and to look around at the cliffs, the shore and the sea. We then spent an hour walking and collecting things that caught our interest. I am always one for found man-made objects so was delighted to find a “rock-hopper” on the shore, and a special one at that! I also collected an Evian rubber stopper and a couple of stones of particular merit, together with some dried seaweed, a piece of twine, a piece of fossilised wood and a lump of chalk. These items were to form the basis of the course.
Back at the studio, we made sketchbooks and drew our chosen items first thinking about texture and then form. From our drawings, we then made a paper model of our favourite drawing.
Rock Hopper exterior
Layers of rubber
The next step was to render the model in fabric. I have yet to complete my Rock Hopper work but watch this space.
Debbie also taught us how to make vessels from fabric, rendering them firm enough to stand alone using home made gesso (from the chalk we had collected) and wax. On the last afternoon, we returned to Birling Gap to photograph our makes in the place of their birth!