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.
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.
Most days I walk along the beach – I call it “Beachcombing” but it is just noticing what is around me and picking up any items that “speak” to me (as well as litter and marine debris). I don’t necessarily know how I will use the pieces that I collect but there will be something about the colour, shape and most often, texture, that draws my attention. The object might be metal, wood, plastic, cloth, rubber or any manner of material but there is usually a common thread. This is that the item will have started out as useful – mass produced, neat and tidy. By the time I find out, when the sea has done it’s work, the once pristine, utilitarian thing has become a unique piece – worn and tattered and no longer of any use to anyone – except me and others who appreciate this kind of thing. Here are some items from this morning’s walk from Climping to Littlehampton.
Back home, my finds are all “filed” according to material but only after I have photographed them and added them to the appropriate folder on the computer. Thus I have two ways of looking for items that I think will work together although I am pretty good at remembering what I have.
Earlier this year, my husband and I had a wonderful two weeks in beautiful Northumbria. It was our first visit and won’t be our last. Three things summed it up for us – glorious unspoilt beaches, warm and friendly people, and excellent well priced food! What more could you want? The weather was fantastic and, apart from the day that Storm Ali came and blew my husband’s prescription glasses into the North Sea, but that’s another story!
Due to the kindness of a couple of folk on my favourite Facebook Page – “Beachcombing, British Coastline), I found my way to a great spot near Seahouses and also to Seaham in County Durham. Here I found not the plentiful sea glass, pottery or limpets in plentiful supply elsewhere, but my sort of found objects:
Conveyor belt parts
Rubber on textile
Old boat nails
Light bulb parts
When I got home, I had a lovely time putting together mini assemblages from these and other bits and pieces