Slowly this piece is taking shape and the forms are getting tighter. Now that I have removed some of the weight it is easier to turn the sculpture and to reach everywhere. I have that delicate issue again trying to determine how thin I dare cut the marble between the forms. Thinness is enticing as it separates the forms. Too much removal of the marble and the weight from above will simply break the sculpture. How thin dare I go? Obviously I do not want to create a sculpture that is too delicate. This might seem like a funny thing to be concerned about but my sculptures have been becoming lighter for a few years now. More air in between the forms. I generally like this change but I must not let a light feel become absurd fragility.
Monday 16 December 2013
This piece is going to be very similar to one of the earlier sculptures but much larger. I am interested to see just how different it feels; that change in size. The other sculpture you could look through, this one you could climb through. I think it will feel quite different, and I like how it feels at present. I wonder if it would be worth trying on a bigger scale again?
Tuesday 10 December 2013
I have found a new block to work on in the field. It has been lying there for years and was completely covered in grass and green with moss. Once the greenery was cleaned off however there was some good marble underneath. I want to try a larger version of the circular sculptures that I carved a while back. The space in between is interesting, the negative space. How will it be with much more air than before? I actually cut it out twice as my first attempt left one side with not enough stone. The smaller version still has some chipped edges as you can see but they can be lost with the rounding of the form tomorrow.
Thursday 5 December 2013
The wind blew in great gusts today, so much so that I had to tie down the shelter under which I work. I have worked all day on those hard to reach spots. I used the chisel with great care so as to not put too much shock into the marble and break it. Mostly however I worked by hand with bits of old sandpaper. I also took the time to make myself a tool for reaching difficult spots by chopping up an old grinding disc and welding a handle on it.
Wednesday 4 December 2013
I knew this sculpture was going to run me into trouble as soon as I had started it. There are just too many places that I cannot reach. Perhaps it will not matter however and as the sculptor I tend to become over anxious about obtaining a complete finish. Perhaps the outer forms that are more visible are correspondingly more important. This sculpture is lighter in structure than the versions that have preceded it. I am quite enjoying these fish like segments. I might try a more irregular stack of them but have no clear idea yet. Today the temperature dropped to near freezing and my fingers were cold towards the end of the day.
Monday 25 November 2013
I turn my lights on at four these days as we approach the shortest day. The light is quite useful to unearth wobbles and irregularities. I have now stood the whole sculpture upright for the first time and am concentrating my efforts on those areas that will jump out. The parts in between the shapes are far from perfect and will always be a bit rough as they are so difficult to reach. Luckily they are also difficult to look into. Today was beautiful, still and clear; lovely.
Thursday 21 November 2013
The wildest weather we have had hit us yesterday. My shelter offered very little protection as the wind swirled the rain in any direction it fancied. At about 2pm a gust scattered a makeshift roof I had made over some timber. The four railway sleepers that were keeping the sheets in place were not sufficient. Some wind! Anyway despite the onset of trenchfoot I made some progress and the forms are getting more regular. I must be careful not to break this piece as I near its completion as the cutting away of the parts inaccessible to the grinder is done with a chisel. The shock can be enough to break the piece. I may have to grind with a very small tool instead to minimise the risk.
Monday 18 November 2013
A soggy day today but good progress bringing out the shapes. I should probably rounded the length before starting to develop the individual segments, rather than leaving it hexagonal. Silly to proceed in the wrong order but I do not suppose it will matter in the end. The spaces in between the forms will be very difficult in a few days time. Knuckle busting gaps; my favourite!
Thursday 14 November 2013
There is an interesting line of exploration going here. I like lots about the last piece. Those almond nut forms are very sharp and animated. I now want to try something similar with an extra twist on the thin end and to soften the segments down. Looking at the sculptures I have done I like some of the round segments multiplying more gently than the last piece. That is what I am thinking at the moment, I shall probably change my mind. For the moment however there is plenty of work to do chopping the overall shape out.
Today has been a day of sanding by hand. Cleaning up those areas where there are wobbling edges or hollows in a form that should be convex. These are the little things that sharpen up a piece and make it talk. Time spent ironing out these things is rarely wasted. I quite like to go over the sculpture with a pencil and make marks on all the problem spots. I can then address them one by one. I am hesitating about how to treat the bottom segment. I designed it to be a segment in the almond pip shape of the rest of the sculpture but I am now wondering if it would be better to leave it rectangular; more or less as it is.
Sunday 10 November 2013
It was lovely to stand this piece up for the first time. Fairly easy now that most of the weight has been removed. I am still excited about where this sculpture is headed. A painter friend, Peter Stiles came by and came to look at my recent works. He immediately talked of stacking and how Picasso had done a lot of painting where angular forms would seem to stack upon one another. Braque too comes to mind. I had not thought of any of this. The stacking that I am doing is arrived at in a quite different way, the forms have always been repetitions of each other and the changes incremental. It is interesting however to have this reference in my mind, thanks Peter. I recommend that you check out his paintings.
Thursday 7 November 2013
This is a bit of a brain teaser. The almond shapes twist round and fan out like a deck of cards. I have begun to uncover the forms carrying out one cut on each form and then repeating it until all the forms have received the same treatment. Reaching inside the hole will be most awkward but can be left until most of the outer more accessible forms are well advanced. This sculpture is more figurative than most of the sculptures in this series. By this I mean it is closer to a natural form rather than actually looking like a figure. I generally do not like to come too close to representing something in the natural world. I prefer the sculptures to stand a little more apart.
Wednesday 6 November 2013
I am all excited as a new block is underway and feeling as if it should work really well. After a couple of hours this morning cleaning up the last traces of yesterdays mistake I moved straight on to a new smaller block. I had to drive the Matbro up into the field to get it making a colossal muddy mess in the process. Putting a new block on the work table can bring on terrible jitters, indecision, and; on the edge of a cold pool nerves. It has done so to me before a hundred times. I have noticed that things tend to work out better when I am less fearful but it is far easier to say than do. Like telling yourself not to be nervous on a blind date. Today however a new idea emerged and has evolved into what you see today. A couple of months back I carved a circular sculpture divided into segments that radiated outwards but at an angle. I am going to try a wobbling vertical version that bends round on itself.
Tuesday 5 November 2013
A wild day today with the wind whirling around the yard making it hard to get out of the way of the dust. I made excellent progress on the fourth side until disaster struck half way through the afternoon with the sander snatching at a corner and breaking of a chip. My heart sank as at first sight it looked pretty disastrous, but after consideration I was able to re-work one section and carve the break out. You have to be very careful when working close to an edge as it is easy to come a little too close to that edge and for the sander to ‘grab’ as it did today. You can just about make out the remains of my mistake at the left hand end of the fourth row from the bottom. Tomorrow I shall sand out the error completely. No one will ever know ( except you and me).
Mmm, turning this piece around is very challenging. Why do I do this to myself? The problem is that when I roll the marble over all the weight is in a couple of little points for a moment. Once the sculpture is complete however I will no longer have to roll it. How the nights are drawing in. I have to get my light into action at about three o’clock as the gloom is getting too much. Although it was a wonderful sunny day today, the temperature plummeted as soon as the sun disappeared.
Thursday 24 October 2013
This larger sculpture is beginning to take shape as I cut out the forms on the first face. I am using the sanding and polishing sandpaper at this stage in order to avoid turning the sculpture too many times. Turning a sculpture this heavy and delicate will be tricky and run the risk of damaging it. I will probably have to make a special frame in order to transport this piece safely. It will be fine once it is standing, the risk is in the moving.
Tuesday 22 October 2013
I am on a bigger version now with the diminishing column wobbling upwards from both side to side and front to back. I toyed with the idea of round forms like mushrooms, or almond shapes but am a little nervous of losing too much strength when working on this larger scale. This carving is quite large at about seven feet. I am not sure this one will fit in the gallery… I am enjoying these forms built of units however and will continue whilst there is room to explore the idea further.
Thursday 17 October 2013
I have spent the day working over the surface of the carving with sandpapers. I start with a really rough ‘Tarmac’ grade which removes lots of material enabling one to make small alterations to the forms. Once I have worked the whole surface over with this I progress through ever finer papers. Each step up in grade removes less material but improves the quality of the finish. I did not quite have time to stand it up today. Moving this sculpture is going to be tricky as there are lots of delicate points everywhere. I might have to build a special frame to transport it.
Wednesday 16 October 2013
This piece is coming on well and I am looking forward to standing it up. It has been several days since my last post as I have been attending an exhibition Out of Nature in Herefordshire. All sorts of sculpture on display in the gardens of the magnificent Newport house. I was asked to give a talk about my working practices. I followed Satish Kumar in talking as he opened the exhibition; always a hard act to follow. He speaks brilliantly! Mine was ok although there is certainly room to improve, I find that standing in front of lots of people makes me a little nervous and as a consequence muddle all that I want to say. Carving this new piece is easier for me than public speaking. I must consider what kind of base to put it on.
Saturday 5 October 2013
I liked the last piece with the square mushrooms wobbling upwards, so I am trying a new version. The top forms will be twisted 45% from the bottom. I am taking a good deal of trouble to get the shape of the sculpture as I want it before getting involved with the individual forms. I am of course itching to reveal those forms and have to hold myself back to some extent. The Matbro is back and working thanks to my wonderful neighbour Rich. I was alarmed however to find that it was not where I parked it last night. The handbrake obviously needs some further adjustment as the machine had rolled out of the shed in the night. Luckily the wheels were not aligned and it turned away from the huge hole that I have dug for the compost. Had the wheels been turned the other way, it would have rolled straight in!
Wednesday 25 September 2013
This new piece is looking stronger. The neater the shapes are the better it reads. I do not want to see too much of the underside of the forms and I therefore need to undercut each individual ‘mushroom’ as much as I can without the corners becoming too fragile. Slow and patient work but a good day in the late summer sun. The bees whose hives can be seen from where I work are flying less and seem to be spending much of their days fighting off the wasps who are determined to rob them of their winter stores.
Tuesday 24 September 2013
The day happened. Western power provided a generator; eventually. The first one ran but gave no power. The filmmakers filmed me all day and I nattered on about my work. All was going well ( and I was beginning to fancy myself on the stage) until the director asked me to do a scene again as I had not said it as well as when we had been talking casually. I had omitted a crucial part. By the time we had done three ‘takes’ I was feeling rather hot and very self conscious.Yes the acting world can sleep easy. Chatting away about my work is easy enough but having to remember what to say, what to omit and where to stand whilst you say it is too clever for me.I shall look upon actors with newfound admiration. I got a few hours done on my carving which progresses well.
Monday 23 September 2013
I have a new block started following an idea that I carved earlier in the series. The stack of symmetrical forms bringing to mind a stack of books or an oriental temple with multiple diminishing roofs. I plan to stack the forms once more but differently. I have a film crew coming tomorrow to start making a short film about my work. My gallery in London (John Martin) are using them for promoting their artists. As bad timing has it Western Power have decided to do ‘essential’ work on our supply tomorrow and we shall have no power all day. To their credit however they have agreed to lend me a generator for the day. I only need enough power to feed my power tools and the film crews lighting rig. Perhaps they will not need the lights if the sun shines as it did today.
Tuesday 3 September 2013
I just cannot let this one go. I work on an area and then working my way through the various grades of abrasive bring the worked on area up to a smooth finish in order to reflect upon the whole once more. Somehow the whole day was taken up in this manner. A few spoonful's of dust and little changes here and there. I shall look at it once more, with fresh eyes in the morning. I hear from Rich at the farm that the Matbro is ready for collection. I need it to load the trailer with work to go to the Joze Show in Sussex. Apparently the seals on the replacement ram are damaged so that the boom drops slowly. We shall have to get a new seal kit fitted to the ram but hopefully I can manage to load the trailer even with the dropping arm.
Monday 2 September 2013
Very slowly I have been thinning down the figure. Of course in carving, a figure always gets ‘thinner’ as you can only take material away. I do find it a fascinating business trying to make a female figure look fairly light on her feet when in reality she makes the Incredible Hulk look like a lightweight. I don’t really feel that I have developed a strong ‘language’ in figurative carving as it has only ever been an occasional thing for me. I might perhaps do a whole series sometime to see what develops.
Friday 30 August 2013
With the Matbro in the process of being repaired I cannot easily move heavy blocks around. I have been working on a small figure that can be lifted without the need for heavy machinery. Such a change from the sculptures I have been working on for my exhibition at John Martin gallery. The change however is refreshing and requires different thought processes than more abstract sculptures, and stimulates different senses accordingly. Making a complete figure in marble demands massive legs or it would break. It is interesting working with this sort of constraint. I have had the whole of the John Martin collection photographed by Pooch and sent the images off to the gallery in London. They seem to like what I have done so far.
Monday 12 August 2013
Cutting into the inside of this piece will take a while as it is all tricky to reach. I cannot yet see if the sculpture will work as it is. I am proceeding quite well but have my reservations about it. Will it work well with flowing square sections? I suspect not. I am ready to change it as soon as I can see the whole clearly enough.
I have begun making enquiries about parts for my stricken telehandler. I am waiting for my wonderful neighbours to help me get it out of the field where it broke down. Still kicking myself for not having checked the main ram was secure, allowing it to work itself free and do such considerable damage. What a fool am I.
Thursday 8 August 2013
I have begun to put the twists into the new carving. It is no easy matter trying to plan how much twist should go into each section and which way it should turn. I decided that where the parts cross each other they should be exactly diagonal so as to present the best access. At the top and bottom the sections should be square and parallel to the floor to allow best contact for the base pin. Having decided these criteria the rest fell into place. The other news is that I have badly damaged the telehandler. The main hydraulic ram wobbled itself free and then broke from its end. I then, unaware of the problem but wondering why the boom was not lifting pushed the ram end straight into the gearbox. The power of the ram is so huge that it smashed its way through the gearbox housing and bent all the surrounding metal. What a fool I feel not to notice the pin wobbling free.
Wednesday 7 August 2013
There are still a few wobbles in the tricky points of the last sculpture but I have put it aside and started another with a double twist. I can leave the cleaning up till later when the creative flow of this series dies off as it is bound to do at some point. Although the crossing was very tricky to achieve I have started a piece with not one but two crossing points. I am not yet sure if I will split this second crossing piece into segments or not. I might simply put a twist on the already twisting forms. The problem of losing too much strength will be amplified with the addition of the second crossing and to try and further weaken the whole by splitting it into segments might be foolhardy. The feeling of the sculpture without segments will of course be radically different. We shall see if it works out well.
Tuesday 6 August 2013
The two parts of the sculpture have been separated. The segments nearest the crossing point are still not very well finished but getting any kind of tool into those confined spaces is difficult and in the end a great deal of the work needs to be done by hand with knuckles knocking against the opposite segments. Awkward and knuckle busting but I am happy with the way it looks. Perhaps I might try another piece along these lines. More twists perhaps which would bring double helix associations I suppose.
Tuesday 30 July 2013
This is certainly a challenge to make. Before carving the individual segments I resolved to carve the form circular in section.The inside sections are very difficult to reach and for the moment the two halves touch in the middle. I would hope to be able to separate them at the end but will leave the material in between whilst working on the rest of the carving so as to provide a little extra strength. This will end up as being quite delicate and I must take care not to leave the joints between the segments too thin. I have been considering having the sculpture lying on its side with two points touching the base, but in the end decided on standing the piece vertically as originally proposed.
Monday 29 July 2013
I have a new piece started. I am a little uncertain about this sculptural direction and dithered too long at that awful sculptural crossroads. I am planning to sculpt another segmented piece but in a figure of eight form where the crossing parts do not touch. This is technically difficult, but more problematically is taking the current series off in a new direction which I am by no means sure of. Whilst carving my 100 day series, I found myself relaxing about these decisions. I told myself that it was only a day of my life and it was after all a response to a legitimate impulse. Why not? Perhaps the decision is a little like trying on an article of clothing. You never really know for sure if it is for you or not until you have tried it on. With these thoughts in mind I sallied forth into unknown territory today.
Tuesday 23 July 2013
Someone asked me recently if my work was about Fibonacci? Perhaps they were thinking of Peter Randall page who uses him as a major source of inspiration. I dismissed the question outright as he has never been in my thoughts. Then on thinking about it further, the current series is involving the repetition of the same shaped forms. I don’t think this is quite Fibonacci related but there is something none the less. Perhaps he had an uncle who repeated natural shapes but was no good at maths? I have set aside the last of the circular shapes and begun a new wobbling upwards form. The sculpture itself does not yet make very interesting viewing so here is a photo of ideas on a block. Ideas that all relate to Fibonacci’s uncle.
Monday 15 July 2013
The sculpture is beginning to take shape. The same sort of petal forms but laying on top of one another. I just need to work systematically to ensure that the petals remain roughly equal to one another. From here on the forms will become more rounded and softer. A second swarm of bees has arrived much to my delight although it could be the first lot relocating for some reason known only to themselves. There are still bees buzzing at the first hive but much less energetically.
Friday 12 July 2013
The whole yard and greenhouse is turning white as there has been no rain for weeks to wash it away. Greenhouses are often painted white in summer to stop too much light entering so perhaps that does not work out too badly. I prepared the fourth and final disc today feeling sure that they will make a really strong group. I have an idea for the last one to go back to the more rounded organic forms but to stack them in a slant. Difficult to explain but hopefully all will become clear over the next few days.
Thursday 11 July 2013
This sculpture came on well today with the forms gradually being shaped and sharpened. I will have to think carefully as to how I will mount these works. There will be a pin into the base of the sculpture, but coming out of what? On the right of the picture below you can see the segment that has a flattened bottom to receive the pin. I have enjoyed the difference between this piece and the one before. This sculpture is square in section and the previous one round. What a difference this makes. The square forms give points which demonstrate the shape really well and making the whole thing feel more mechanical and manmade. Further from a natural organic form.
Wednesday 10 July 2013
The carving with many smaller thinner segments is coming on well. I had to spend a good deal of the day re working the disc in order to get rid of some bits of stone that were missing and cracked stone that had to be removed. After this work the whole thing was naturally thinner and smaller than at the start of the day. Better to remove any suspect material at this stage of course. The sun continues to shine!
Tuesday 9 July 2013
The heat wave continues and I have cleaned up the sculpture fairly well. As with the last one (feeling slightly guilty like a child who has left its peas) I have put it aside to get on with the next. The first part of the ‘next’ is exactly as with this one. 1: Creating a circular slab. 2: Cutting a circular hole in the middle. I have not decided what to do with it yet and will ponder on it over the night. I think the multiple thin segments together might be worth exploring in this circular format. This piece looks very dramatic in the slanting evening sunshine.
Monday 8 July 2013
I felt rather wilted today as the sun beat down again. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the sculpture in order to stand it upright. I then set about getting the forms to be the right shape. I shall have a good look at it tomorrow morning to decide if I need to slim down the joints further. I think they are probably going to be about right once they have been tidied up. On a domestic note, a swarm of bees has taken up residence in an empty hive which is a joy. I love to see and hear their industry. I have also caught the naughty chicken who has been eating our eggs. In the hutch with yolk on her beak!
Sunday 7 July 2013
A Mediterranean sun beat down hard all day with scarcely a breath of wind to cool me or blow away the dust. This is not a complaint you understand, I had a brilliant day. I think I have settled the number of segments question about right and the forms are beginning to take shape. As with the last piece I must get the amount of material connecting the forms right. I want to reduce the amount connecting one to another to a minimum in order to give the feeling of individual elements, but not remove so much material that it breaks. The good weather is set to remain and I shall try and take full advantage. A baby swallow fell out of a nest and landed on the car. We put it back and hope it survived the adventure.
Friday 5 July 2013
The dust has been flying as I have chopped out the rough form of the second of these circular sculptures. It is worthwhile taking care over this part of the process as it is too easy to end up with a great lump or dip. I have a tendency to rush through this part to get to the exciting part but must hold myself back or risk lessening the strength of the end result. I have been wondering how many segments to make and will probably get the best idea when I can draw on the sculpture itself.
Wednesday 3 July 2013
I spent today shaping the individual forms into the shapes that I want. I have had to be careful not to cut away too much of the marble holding the segments together or the whole thing will become too fragile or worse; break. I want the segments to look like separate entities touching rather than something more solid. There is quite a good deal more work to sharpen the junctions between the forms but I might put this aside and crack on with another piece along this vein. This sculpture was carved from a slab which I have split into four and might therefore make a mini series within this series, of circular sculptures.
Tuesday 2 July 2013
I always knew that this piece would look floral but I confess I wish that it was more enigmatic. I would like the work to avoid such obvious associations as it pulls the abstract out of it. I always like it when people say they have seen things in my work that I have not seen myself. With this sculpture it is hard to envisage people seeing beyond the flower.Not that I have any problem with flowers but only with their domination of this form in our collective conscious. I have not set out to represent a flower but simply played with stacking the segments and have ended up here. In a Garden!
Monday 1 July 2013
I know this does not look much like a circular tower yet, but I have a long way to go. I shall shape both sides of the piece before cutting into the middle. I hope that in the end the almond shaped segments will join together quite delicately. I want lots of air through the centre. I am really enjoying this new series and feeling very positive about this new direction that has emerged. I never know where I am heading and only ever plan one sculpture in advance. Ideas on paper do not always translate to marble and three dimensions. This makes planning the future difficult as I do not know where the work will lead me. In the past I have thought of this like walking through a wood on a little path. The path wanders on but you cannot see far ahead, far into the future.
Tuesday 25 June 2013
We have just been sent a picture of my sculpture Orbit at an exhibition in Sweden. How strange to see it so far away and against that vast granite wall. I recommend having a look at the other sculpture there as there are some nice things and the setting is spectacular. Actually having said that I see that they have not yet got their 2013 website up and running. The show is at Udden Hunnehostrand and I am sad that I am too busy to make it over as I have never been to Sweden and it looks beautiful.
Monday 24 June 2013
I am enjoying this piece. The work is repetitive, and as a result laborious, but…. I like what I see. I am reminded of Japanese temples as well as stacked pillows. The sculpture is looking more architectural which is interesting and unexpected. The question that is waiting for an answer is: to soften or not to soften. The individual forms are quite hard edged at present. This possibly pulls the feeling towards the mechanical and architectural. The changes of light happen in accentuated steps and helps the viewer notice the changes and twist. The more organic softer forms could work well too with the forms resembling pillows more. As I write I can feel my inclination turn towards the first of these two options. I shall make up my mind tomorrow.
This will be quite different although still connected. I took a long time to get the twist even on the sculpture, and as you can see the forms are beginning to take shape. The slithers are getting steadily thinner as they rise as well as getting smaller from side to side and back to front. I shall have to lay the sculpture back on it’s side at some point to finish the work on all the grooves lying between the segments.
Thursday 20 June 2013
I have a new block started and have begun to put a twist in it. The two previous sculptures have started with a twist but this one is much more formalised. The twist gets thinner as it rises.The block was a fairly neat shape to start with and this at least in part led me to make the twist very neat. I have not quite decided where the sculpture will go from here but will stand the ‘twist’ up tomorrow and see. The previous carvings have all been fairly ‘soft’ looking; this sculpture might retain the square section of the twist making it a departure in a ‘harder’ direction. I normally understand pretty clearly what I am going to do with a block by the time I start carving. It is therefore unusual to proceed like this, but I like the elements that I have so far. A vertical work. A twist. Getting thinner as it rises. With these elements in place I am confident that a good way forward will reveal itself tomorrow.
Tuesday 18 June 2013
The sun shone today and I have made good progress. The forms are coming together well and I am doing my best to slim down each segment without letting the area connecting them get too skinny or the whole thing risks getting too fragile. I drilled a hole underneath and then welded together a stand so that I could work on the marble in an upright position. Although this does not always allow one easy access to all aspects of the carving it has the advantage of the sculpture being the way up that it will end up. The new welded stand is on a revolving table that I made a few years ago from a giant bearing off a mini digger. It worked well for a few years but must be rather clogged as it is now very stiff to turn. Time it had a service.
Monday 17 June 2013
The new piece is taking shape as you can see. The marble has been trimmed on all sides and, as before, given a twist. I removed several pieces of marble that were splitting and feeble and reduced the whole block considerably before it was solid. I am being quite methodical with this sculpture as you can see in the picture and cutting out the profile that is drawn on the marble. I will be this direct on all four facets before standing the sculpture up to see just how to proceed. Although it may end up simply being a seven segment version of the last piece I would like to progress the idea a little if I can. As mentioned before, the separation of the segments is interesting but perhaps I might thin the almond shapes down still further. I am getting ahead of myself however and will wait until I have the piece stood up to decide how it shall be.