Pooch came over today and we spent the day putting each carving on the stand to be photographed in turn. This is a difficult job and we have to decide how best to present the work. A formal studio shot is wonderful but can be difficult for the viewer to understand the scale or imagine the sculpture in their house or garden. Tomorrow we shall take some sculptures into the landscape to try and get some good outdoor images too. Pooch is a brilliant photographer who lives nearby and, as I always say, makes my sculptures look 20% better than my photographs do!
Thursday, 23 January 2014
I have almost got to the end of this job. Sinking the sleeve into the marble and the drilling of all the holes takes longer than I had thought. I photographed a detail tonight for you to see the gluing of the sleeve. The messy glue seen here will be cleaned off once it has cured. The sleeve of stainless that sinks into the marble ensures that no damage comes to the marble when the sculpture is slid onto the stainless pin. Without the sleeve the likelihood of the sculpture cracking is considerably increased. I am excited by the sighting of a barn owl in the barn. We have a nesting box installed but to date it has attracted every life form but barn owls. There were kestrels one year and otherwise less exotic jackdaws and pigeons. A swarm of bees took up residence too one year. Could this be the year of the barn owl at last?
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
I have pulled out a block of marble from the field to split up for the two largest sculptures fro the John Martin Exhibition in March. The Matbro slithered its way into the field and made a bit of a mess. Still the spring will be here soon and everything will soon grow back. The photo shows me drilling a series of deep holes in a straight line across the block. Into these holes are then introduced long teardrop shaped pieces of steel that have been cut in half vertically. The two half tears are then lowered into the hole and a steel wedge is driven between them forcing the two halves apart and the stone to split. The closer the holes are together the more likely the stone will split where you want it to. This is a process I love. The sound of the wedges ringing before the block gives way is wonderful.
Monday, 20 January 2014
It has turned dryer and colder which is right and proper in January. I had a most frustrating day spending two hours looking for a misplaced core drill bit. Of course It might be a cunning band of international drill bit thieves, but I have to accept that it is more likely that I have put it down somewhere daft. In the end I went to town and bought another one certain in the knowledge that the mislaid one will surface to mock me on my return home. I am making progress on mounting the carvings and it is lovely to see them standing on their dark Kilkenny limestone bases. Bases are the subject of much consternation, wailing and gnashing of teeth to many sculptors. Let me try to explain why. They are necessary as a small sculpture would get tripped over on the ground, and yet they can easily look ostentatious. They can outshine the sculpture. The expression ‘to put someone on a pedestal’ is never far from mind. It seems to ostentatiously elevate a sculpture. How easy and straightforward it was when I first presented a sculpture large enough not to need a base.
Thursday, 16 January 2014
Now I don’t like to whinge about the weather but the incessant rain is beginning to get on my goat. The workstation has a constant stream of sludge underfoot. Reminds me of my days in the Somme. Trench foot is setting in. Still the temperature is warm. I am gradually working my way through the sculptures for the John Martin exhibition in mid March. Each one needs to stand on a base of some sort. Some sculptures will eventually be located outside and might need a further base to elevate them off the ground. I shall not do this before the exhibition however but will wait to see what is needed.
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Today I have been drilling holes in the bottom of the sculptures and into their respective bases. The sculptures have a pin stuck into them that slides into a stainless tube. The stainless tube ensures that the stresses put on the carving by the pin are spread out and generally minimised. Once the sculpture has a pin (or rod) that can be slid in and out, the pin is ready to be glued into the base. The hole drilled in the base is larger than it needs to be so that the sculpture can be made to stand upright before the glue sets. The bits of string that are seen in the picture are holding the sculpture vertical. The paper underneath the carving is stopping the excess glue sticking to the carving. Once the glue is set I will lift off the carving and clean the excess glue from the base.
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
A monster day, driving to London and back. I get home fizzing with the strange energy of the road. It takes me half an hour to feel even half normal. The Art Fair was busy with gallery staff bringing in their wares. My work looked different outside the dust and chaos of the workshop. I had a little anthropomorphic moment wondering if the sculptures felt quite right. We discussed whether the wall behind them should be grey instead of white. I thought they looked great with the white background although the grey did make them look very dramatic. We went for the grey as Art Fairs are no place for subtlety, with every stand trying to outshine the one next to it. I discussed pricing with John Martin the gallery owner. Over the years we have developed a simple system that seems to work for us.John suggests a price and I nudge it up or down. I have to bear in mind that he knows his market very well.
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
The wind is relentless since the start of the new year. I have a rope attached to the windward side of my shelter which loops across the yard to a tree. Without that rope the shelter would be miles away by now. I have spent several days gradually forming the ring into the shapes that I want. It seems to have taken ages, perhaps it is to do with re starting after the Christmas break. Still, today I could feel that the return for my continued efforts was slowing to a standstill and I agreed with myself to call the piece finished. I shall probably find plenty more problems however in the cool light of morning. Next week I am taking some carvings to London for an Art fair. I must get them ready tomorrow.