What to do with what I’ve found

We recently had a long holiday in wonderful Northumbria.  Such a beautiful County – the least populated in England – we met many friendly locals and were blown away (almost literally in a gale that took my husband’s prescription specs into the North Sea!) by the stunning beaches … and by the almost total lack of tourist litter on them.  One day we came across a party of schoolchildren who regularly beachcomb for rubbish – a marvellous initiative.

I did go to two locations (given to me by friends on a Beachcombing Facebook page) where I found some of my sort of treasure.  One of these was Seaham in County Durham – a shrine to sea glass collections from all over the world.  Glass is not “my thing” however – my tastes are altogether less pretty ….

Having now washed and catalogued my finds, the more difficult task is to decide what happens to them next.  As you will see above, one item suggested a face straight away but, as I do not usually work in a representational way, I shall have to see what else comes to mind!

Feeling Bookish

I was recently looking at my various finds and decided that a piece of old number plate reminded me of a book cover.  I rubbed it down and set about making a paper book to go inside.

 

The bound book had covers made from prints and I added a fishing line and weight in colours to match.  However, I was not happy with this – I felt the interior needed to be made from found objects to match the cover.  I had a rummage and found some suitable fibreglass pieces.

My next book project will be to make a mini book using part of this found mobile phone part as the cover ….

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This is rubbish ….

As you know, I like to collect “rubbish” from the beach.  They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and, for me, beauty comprises colour, texture, and composition that appeals to the eye.  Most definitions of art include the need for human intervention.  In the example below, fire and water have done the intervening.

This is the found item on the beach.  It is about 10″ x 7″, weighs 270g and is quite fragile.  I first saw the dark surface and then turned it over:

I was immediately drawn to this item.  I love the complexity of texture that has been formed quite randomly by the bonfire.  I could keep looking at it for ages and keep seeing different areas of interest. There are layers upon layers and whilst it has clearly been burned, there are areas of colour in addition to the expected black and white.  It is very much in tune with my colour palette.

I have recently bought a book by the American collage artist Crystal Neubauer called “The art of Expressive Collage”.  This extract is from the Introduction:  The intuitive artist is the artist who trusts what her eye tells her is good.  She allows for the fact that she has a story to tell through art, but lets go of the notion that the story will be known before she starts working.”  And, in Chapter 1, “Do not stop to question why something has caught your eye.  If it has your attention there is a reason for it.”  This exactly echoes how I feel about my found pieces.  But what next?  First of all, here are the pieces again:

How much better they look without the visual distraction of the stones!  My constant dilemma is to ask myself “Is that enough?” and whilst I consider this found item to be a thing of beauty, going back to the definitions of art such as “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” (OE) it does not fulfil these parameters because, as yet, there has been no human intervention (or at least none taken with an intention of creating art).

The two sides of the piece are, of course, different and I cannot choose one over the other. The darker side is reminiscent of bark with some lichen growing in places.  The other side includes a bit of seaweed, some metal, a twig, and plastic, foam and melted surfaces can be discerned – it reminds me of lava and also termite nests.

I would like to display this so that both sides can be seen – perhaps mounting it in a perspex box.    The question is – how, if at all, to add my intervention?  Assuming that the piece is displayed in a box, any background pattern would be too distracting unless it was very lightly done.  Perhaps a subtle pale distressed finish would be appropriate but it would have to be done in such a way as to leave the object unobscured from both sides.   Then there is the question of securing it within a box format – I can imagine it suspended but how to get anything through the structure would be a challenge.  Maybe having it on a stand would be a safer option – it cannot stand on its own as it is and I would not want to push one end into a support as it would no longer be seen.

This is puzzle to ponder over a while longer.  I may decide to stick with displaying just one face of the item and that would make the presentation a much easier process.  Any thoughts gratefully received!

I’ll let you know what I decide.  I’ll be seeing our framer next week and he may well have some ideas too.

Going Abstract

There is no doubt that my taste is changing – I am drawn to more abstract and semi abstract work than I was when I was younger.  I wonder why?  I see marks and patterns that attract me in the strangest of places, even in rubbish.  As you know, one of my hobbies is beach combing.  I like to collect objects that are weathered and distressed by the sea – these are nearly always man made items – whilst I appreciate the beauty of stones and shells I do not feel the need to collect them.

It is unusual to find paper on the beach as it is easily broken up by the waves – not so, sadly, the plastic.  These are some bits collected recently:

 

A crisp bag, a sandwich wrapper and other plastic.  I like the way the colours and text have been eroded and altered by the action of the sea.

But, the big question of course, is how can these be used in “Art”.  Well, as a start, I played around with composition, decided I needed a bit more texture and added some found duct tape.  So the next stage could be to reinterpret these shapes and colours in mixed media …. a project for the New Year.

Abstract from rubbish

Why you should draw more and photograph less

One of my co-students from West Dean College kindly shared this link:

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dk1eHm0PNnjo%26feature%3Dshare&h=ATMIYXo4Gx08CoBaEpszFkoafhf2DDwHTw_LAa0iXDe51qmIPpG2ZnYu9WjeLvu5fOQ8W1u8n-5yNJQa0mighIK0gyEZpf_LX_bzN8-RsTQT0aGMPi-QxltJ7plLB5DvaC4IQlclBcwxGMommw24-IB4uwTLpLIYSBv1Ygfq43N5VA-TY8geZHB-txfuZxbsCJ-JplQvWvv3FlMeZNaeEcd3Sear6FPpbSfacS7ymthQEvog8gEn4DchoIF4MB2iRbq0j4_5eaQuH1w

which I think follows on so well from what I spoke about last time, in that it is about REALLY LOOKING when you are out and about in everyday life.  I would argue that being a photographer can also make you look but it depends what type of photographs you take.  My husband is an excellent photographer but tends to see the big picture of a beautiful landscape or interior

Sun and shadow on the reed beds, Fishbourne
I took this photograph of Reeds and burner at Fishbourne

whereas I will always notice the small things.

 

Found on the beach - Coffee Jar close up 2

The image above is actually a close up of a jar of coffee that had been abandoned on the beach.  I dare say most people would have just seen it as rubbish, but I was immediately drawn to the colour texture and marks made by the random seepage of water into the grounds.  It reminds me of the rust on the burner in the reeds above.