Do I still remember how to do this? It’s hard to say why I don’t keep posting with the regularity I once did. Sometimes I have little to say and sometimes so much but it’s more personal than I wish to share yet both ends of that continuum are important to my work. But now I need to write an update, to let you know of my exhibition around the coast in Opunake at From Out of the Blue Studio Gallery.
In setting up the exhibition this week I can see how my work has changed in the past 6 or 7 years to have more meaning, more of a narrative. I notice I often comment on issues facing society, my personal insights, or simply find meaning as I work with materials and new techniques. I’ve gathered old work and new to form a retrospective of sorts. Some is work I wasn’t ready to part with before and of course some I never will as it’s deeply personal.
There is also some samples of the work of two friends, Bobby Duncan and Finola Chamberlain with whom I meet monthly for support and encouragement. We set ourselves some challenges to respond to, and with the same brief came up with very different responses.
I hope those nearby will make the trip to Opunake, nestled there next to Taranaki which, often shrouded by cloud is a magnificent live volcano. Many of you will only be able to view the work online of course and I will endeavour to post images on Instagram.
This about as big as they can go at 24 inches or 60 centimetres. I’d like to make them significantly bigger but that would mean using a heavier gauge or more rigid wire which would complicate the initial construction. What if I twisted 2 pieces together? That’s a possibility but perhaps too hard on my hands. What if I secured the ends and rigged up the drill on a slow speed to twine them together? Worth exploring? It would make the tip and stem really tricky. What if I had that step done for me? I tend to dismiss this idea because I want to take the raw materials and make it myself. I’m not asking for idea, simply musing.
Some explorations, experiments, some new shapes, less pod-like, more sculptural. What could be better that sitting outside in the spring sunshine playing with wire, fabric, my mother’s old linen thread.
I was rudely awakened in the early hours of yesterday morning by an earthquake. The epicentre was some way off but here on the sand and with a house built on a concrete slab, it was noticeable. It reminded me once again how, despite our best efforts to build a secure home life, everything can change in an instant. It brings into perspective that most of what we think are disasters are merely annoying and that nothing we do can withstand the forces of nature . . . wind and rain will triumph.
Recently I created some maṇḍala out of shells, raised a tepee of flax/harakeke stalks weighted down in the centre with a net-covered stone that weighs about 7 kg or 15.5 pound. I thought it would be strong enough to withstand the wind and rain until the flax stalks gave in to time.
Local stones, triangle shells/kaikaikaroro, horse mussels/hoemoana and flax/harakeke flower stalks.
One night the winds came in from the sea and moved the lot . . . again! Some of the horse mussel/hoemoana shells and feather have since blown away as well.
So what do I do now? Plan C, it’s idiocy to repeat plan A or B. I need to splay the ‘legs’ out further, secure them to the ground (tent pegs perhaps) and bring the apex of the structure closer to the ground and replace the hoemoana shells with stones.
Hardly an earth-shattering disaster, nothing of that magnitude (puns intended), just annoying because I expected it to last the summer . . . when it gets here.
There are times after heavy rain in the mountains or a storm at sea when there is a lot of drift wood on the beach. Last weekend was one of those times – the mouth of the stream, with its patient whitebaiters in attendance, had changed yet again, and the beach had rich pickings of beach treasure. Never go to the beach without a bag for collecting treasure – or a camera. If my son hadn’t had his iPhone . . . .Adam started to poke sticks into a receptive piece of wood and before we knew it . . . there was a line of wonderfully weird, balancing sculptures installed along the high tide mark creating interesting shadows.We built a boat to journey to faraway lands just as we had done in childhood . . . surrounded ourselves with a palisade of sticks . . . and ended the afternoon completely tuckered out but still not wanting to go home.All of this was free . . . all of this was priceless.