North Lands Creative with Alan Horsley.
It began in a room with a view. As my friend and housemate stated ‘Summer is green in colour’. I consider this over a cup of tea and a bowl of cereal at the end of our first exhausting, exhilarating day at North Lands Creative.
Alan Horsley is our specialist tutor for the week. These intense days are packed with challenge and laughter and are the result of our successful proposals through a partnership between North Lands Creative and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Knowledge is everywhere in this glass sculpting idyll. Books, papers, journals and wonderment.
Life drawing is not my favourite pass time but with a very good model and a relaxed environment, I remember my way around a piece of paper. With 1 minute, 10 minute, 20 minute and 40 minute sketches, we build on form with each sketch.
Drawing from my usual approaches to developing artwork, I focus on the qualities and behaviour of form to sketch our life model. This sketching allowed for a deeper connection with contour, gesture, mass and modelling for advancing on to casting techniques.
Beyond sketching is 3d work. Using very fresh, soft clay is both rewarding and trauma inducing. Beginning with blocks of clay we produce two maquettes: one where the maquette is built up slowly and incrementally and one where clay is removed from a large block to reveal the ‘hidden’ form within; both challenging in their own way.
Waste mould casting. A messy but necessary process.
This method of casting with clay and pottery plaster allows ideas to be expressed quickly as well as providing a deeper understanding of how 2D drawings can be reproduced in a 3D mould. (Pictured is a very basic waste mould that Alan used to demonstrate the technique before we began to cast our clay models)
From waste moulds we went on to piece moulds and silicone moulds; all with different applications in terms of accuracy for reproducing forms in glass.
With each process there are issues around precision and perspective. Used to photographing surface texture and responding to the emotional, spiritual and cultural aspects of people and place, this master class requires a very different approach to my usual one. As an emerging artist it is a good reminder that the underlying methodology for any process is the same: to explore the symbolism behind the work and to find a form of expression for a given theme.
Armature made, stone marked out to allow for undercuts with piece mould made and most of the preparations done for the silicone mould, day 4 is a whirlwind of activity. There are successes and failures when learning where the limits of a process are. Waste mould casting is not meant for detailed work and I abandoned my finished piece with a broken limb and some of the pink cast still in place. I am not being as patient with this as I could be!
A day of revelations, considerations and celebrations.
Emma Baker, A Tale of Three Knots is inspired by witchcraft and the local fishermen of Lybster, Caithness.
Having worked with rope making and rescue knots in my own art, I was really excited to find that Emma Baker also uses a narrative in her sometimes conceptual and sometimes literal glass pieces.
(The piece below is one of my Wayfaring Knots)
Support from initiatives such as this partnership between North Lands Creative and the University of the Highlands & Islands has enabled me to have access to a highly skilled tutor and fantastic facilities. To say that I am grateful for this opportunity is an understatement. My art practice is sculptural and process based using predominantly natural materials with some metal working thrown in for good measure. Learning some casting techniques has given me some exciting ideas to go forward with and I will most certainly be aiming to visit North Lands Creative again in the future.