Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Plait

Accumulation of raw shapes...

Layering and sanding

Plait is a series of drawing/sculpture works very much in progress. New series often begin with a meeting point between an idea and some kind of material resource (or limitation). In this case, the desire to make drawings on solid panels (rather than the fabric and/or paper of the last few years) was met with the chance encounter of a construction company which provides scraps of high-quality plywood for the taking. I had in mind an image of stacks of strips, layers upon layers. The odd sizes and damaged corners of this source wood provoked the accumulative shape building. Pieces of found glass provided the opportunity for transparency and depth.

These individual "puzzle pieces" are cut, sanded and primed, and then layers of lines are built up through successive applications of earth pigment and gesso, and subtracted or exposed through sanding and rubbing. A continuing "play" with these pieces leads to arrangement of larger forms.

Plait follows a long-standing fascination with the merging of horizontal and vertical time, which has been strengthened by reading Jared Diamond's descriptions of archeological sleuthing in Guns, Germs & Steel and Collapse. Plait is a landscape made up of layers. There is a potential for meaning to arise from fragments and cross-sections of layered material. Information is buried - hidden in accumulation, waiting to be discovered and decoded. It asks for a reading of the ground, finding an alphabet in the dirt, grass and stars, coaxing words from objects - a reconstruction of history from artifacts.

Occasionally when working on these drawings, I think of Mrs Cunningham's 3rd grade class, which had an exciting new kind of organization. The classroom was set up in a series of stations, at which students would find projects to complete before moving on to the next station. At least, it seemed exciting and new, at first but quickly became tiresome, a daily repetition. The first station every morning consisted of hand tracing, and then filling in the hand with parallel lines - across the fingers and palm of the hand shape, as even, close and neat as possible. The intention of the exercise was to strengthen hand-eye coordination. I remember being both fascinated and annoyed with this activity. I disliked the repetition, but enjoyed the loosening of time which occurred when I focused on the meditative, simple drawing of parallel lines. When I explained this activity at home, my father traced his hand and we spent an evening filling it with spirals, stars, swirls and other shapes, a response which felt like a slightly dangerous breaking of the rules. Both the meditative process and the rebellion found their way deep into my conception of drawing as activity...

2 comments:

ghosting said...

I love this project, and would really like to see the final product. I know a good source for beautiful laid tiles if you're interested, by the way. This tile company throws out lots of scraps every day. I've been doing a text collage with some of them.

Kerry said...

That's a shnazzy jacket you got there.