Drawing : Hybrid sculptures: The next stage


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This is the second post of the year devoted to future plans, (my new year’s resolutions) and it is focused on my thoughts in relation to more sculptural concerns. As well as working small, I make objects that could be considered as ‘furniture’ for the mind. I think of them as furniture, as these are objects made to have a similar size relationship with people and are designed to play out roles within a space in a similar way to how I remember the furniture in our family house when I was a boy. Like actual household furniture, they can support *’tranculments’; objects put in drawers or niches or placed upon the sculptures as if they were shelving units or tables. This secondary display works to enable second order ideas to interact with the main formal construction. I have continued to collect thrown away items from my local streets, and to build constructions around them that shift between animal, vegetable and mineral realities; often using cardboard as the main building material, (a response to the ubiquitous Amazon deliveries and consequential need to dispose of many cardboard boxes). I have now decided that I need to begin varying the surface qualities of the objects I’m making, whilst at the same time preserving my constructions’ abilities to have embedded within them or placed upon them, those odd items I find discarded by others, as well as objects that I make myself. (I think I will buy a robust blender to explore making my own paper, as Wangechi Mutu suggests.)

Making forms from cardboard and tape

Hybrid objects with found and made objects placed on them

Drawings of possibilities for ‘furniture’ sculpture

As I was drawing these forms it occurred to me that I could embed screens into the surfaces and make animations to play on them. I was in particular reminded of a radiogram with TV setup that my father once had. 


Idea for an animation insert

I was drawing the furniture/sculpture ideas on brown paper to echo the cardboard aesthetic that I had been dealing with, so I decided to use the same paper to draw a simple animation on, then I could test out how a moving image might sit within the forms I was thinking about, whilst keeping some sort of material connection. The radiogram wasn’t the only item of furniture I was thinking about. 
A table with its crisp folded tablecloth, always sat ready for action in my grandparents’ dining room and I wanted to make something that echoed this. The table was also a place where you could play and dream of alternative realities, so I have been making components to set out my own version of my grandparents’ table. 

Table thoughts

The remembered table objects of my youth animate themselves in drawing

These are in their own ways all imaginary tables

Some of the objects that have been made have forms sitting nicely between animal/human/inorganic ways of being. This ambiguity feels right and as I move on with this area of work, I would like to add in other ideas such as having some items being electroplated whilst also being component parts of larger forms, an idea I was thinking about a few months ago, but which I had to shelve because I was unable to stand to make sculpture due to suffering a severe case of plantar fasciitis.

An object with inserts

Realised objects exhibited

I’ve written about the animist world view several times, but it is in the making of objects that perhaps it is at its most succinct. A material can talk to you. As you work with it a common language develops that comes from a symbiosis between your own materiality and the demands of whatever material you are working with. It is this ‘voice’ that speaks with a tongue beyond myself, and that has a wisdom beyond the mind; a material knowledge. 

Cardboard form with chair

Objects talk to each other and develop narratives as soon as they are conjoined. In the case above the chair and the cardboard form evoke a missing human and yet within their own realities move on beyond the human, intimating a post-human world, where wood and cardboard will find their own way. 

Object built in response to a plastic chair

The ‘creature’ above evolved from a plastic chair, the arms of which became ‘insect legs’, another type of hybrid, that eventually had a cascade of plastic artificial ivy emerging from a hole in its carapace. 

Sometimes a surface evolves that requires a different type of approach. The construction below began with a push along toy and parts of a Barbie House, both found in my street. The black and white drawings used to cover the surface and respond formally to the discarded toys, came from Steve Carrick’s studio, and he brought them to me to use in any way I wanted. A collaboration with another artist, is not that dissimilar to a collaboration with a new material. 

An idea begins

The idea evolves 

The idea sparks off related ideas

Forms begin to merge

Back in Steve Carrick’s studio the process continues

These objects have their own language, one that evolves as they come into being. In this case I realised that the surface had to have its own ‘say’ and once I allowed this to happen, a totally new (to myself) aesthetic began to emerge and this is why I have decided to explore surfaces far more during this new year.

I am still using clay, and this allows me to have a conversation with the earth. It in effect grounds me and provides me with casts of my fingers, as well as allows me to make objects that can act as inserts or additional forms, that can be implanted or embedded into the ‘furniture’ as it comes into being. I also use clay to tap into my unconscious. As I squeeze it and pull it, forms suggest themselves and this is another way to find what you were not looking for. 

Because this body of work sits to one side of the research I’m doing in relation to the visualisation of interoceptual experiences, I have also decided to collect some of the documentation together and make a small artist’s book. In particular, because I use recycled materials and am keen to promote this, I recycle these sculptures once they have been exhibited. Their shelf life is very short, but the ideas live on in the sculpture’s documentation. By in one way signalling to myself that this run of thinking has come to a sort of conclusion, it hopefully allows me to take a slightly different tack. 

As an artist embedded within a local community, I have also been having conversations and making drawn responses to what I believe are animist modes of thinking; types of behaviour that I particularly find in the ways that people engage with the objects and furniture in their homes. I also want to compare my findings with how people think about possessions who have been totally dispossessed of all their worldly goods and who have had to seek new homes in often strange new environments.  These conversations are being made alongside the making of ‘objective’ drawings of people’s ‘significant objects’ in order to come to some sort of ‘understanding’ of what is happening, conversations that when returned to inform the direction in which I take the drawings. The resulting images are then used to help formulate what could be described as imagery for secular myths. The second stage of this work is to merge the ideas emerging from this work into the implications that I think are coming out of the existing three dimensional aspects of my practice. In particular I am hoping that this area of research will effect the types of objects that act as inserts or additional forms, that I will use to engage with the furniture sized ‘sentinel‘ constructions planned. All of which comes under a heading of ‘home is a belief’, something I’m going to have to write a separate post about. 

*Tranculments:  a Black Country word meaning ‘ornaments and decorative objects typically found on mantlepieces, window ledges and other places around the house where mementoes can be displayed. 

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