Balance and Tension – a visit to the Glynn Vivian.

Last year I managed a rare trip to a gallery (a snatched moment between lockdowns!) primarily to see the fabulous Pansy – Roy Efrat and Catrin Webster’s collaborative exhibition in the Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea. While there I was chuffed to spot an old piece of mine displayed in the Swansea Collection gallery.

This is a very old piece and very different from my more recent work. So much so that I have been pondering these differences in order to find the parallels and convergences as well as the more obvious divergences. The linkages are largely based on balance and tension. This early form, above, is finely balanced, a vessel poised to the point of creating tension through a sense of its precariousness. The geometry of the fine lines of inlaid stained clay reiterating that sense of a poised moment in time. 

In contrast this more recent piece, made during my Masters course at UWTSD Swansea College of Art, eschews the clean lines of form and surface pattern and texture. It is no longer even a vessel, a container, in the traditional sense. But still there is that same wrestling with balance and tension, only now that poise is gone; the piece is actually beginning to tip and is in fact balancing, precariously, on warped and layered clay walls. The surface pattern and texture, created by imprinting the clay with plastic mesh, contains areas where the mesh is bunching up and areas of space where the mesh is stretched or torn echoing the warped and torn clay walls.

Candlewick Journeys and Spinning Yarns

Back in October 2017 the MA began with a series of interconnected projects, the most significant being the Thought Experiment. We were each given an envelope at random containing a word or phrase followed by a short brief – the idea being we produced a presentation – video or performance – lasting exactly 6 minutes 40 seconds based upon this word or phrase. Mine was Return to your room after a journey.

My thoughts moved back in time to my childhood and tracing my index finger through the furrows of an old candlewick bedspread. I’ve always suffered with insomnia from infancy and this was something comforting I would do when I couldn’t sleep. I would trace a small journey from home to school for example, or to my grandparent’s home or a friend’s house perhaps. My finger making a path through the furrows of wicks, sometimes pulling a thread or two from the candlewick to create an opening, allowing me to cross a road or turn a corner in my journey.

I spent some time trying to arrive at a way of producing a presentation using a candlewick bedspread but struggled to find a way I felt comfortable with lasting 6 minutes 40 seconds. I went back to the brief and thought about how a room could be exactly the same yet not the same over time and arrived very quickly at spiders and their webs. At the same time thoughts of spiders spinning webs led quickly to stories, myths of Ariadne’s thread – a link back to my candlewick journeys – and how stories accumulate while travelling.

Coincidentally my daughter was teaching herself to spin wool; initially drop spindle spinning that resembles spiders dropping on their threads, and then on a spinning wheel. This is remarkably hypnotic to watch – calming and meditative, playing tricks with the passage of time – creating a sense of time slowing and a gathering, processing of memories, stories, anecdotes.

MA – Final Show

MA exhibition

It’s been a very long time since I wrote a blog post! In autumn 2017 I began an MA in Fine Art – Contemporary Dialogues at UWTSD Swansea. I wanted to do this particular course as I liked the crossover and openness between different practices.

This will be the start of some updates and as usual I’m doing things out of sync by starting with my final show before going back to the beginning, more or less, of the journey of the MA.

Most of my work has been based on time – both linear and cyclical, chance, narrative and materiality. My final show From Path to Poultice comprised an installation of raw clay, logs of wood and other natural materials and a video piece that was made over the space of a year. Path was a repetitive journey along the garden path to record the changes in smashed clay over a period of a year or more. The repetitive nature of the work became ritual and as time went on I made more ritualistic pieces such as Poultice in response to this.

You can watch the Path video in full here.

Poultice MA installation

MA Installation/exhibition
From Path to Poultice