Making in Isolation
When lockdown started in March 2020 I felt disorientated in rural Devon. Gradually, through experimentation; by stretching and pulling at ideas, I uncovered a new strand of work knotting nets to catch fish, reminded of the exquisite woven bamboo and grass traps I’d seen in the Pitt Rivers ethnological museum in Oxford. Entwining rusty wire into handheld ‘containers’ for porcelain pipefish, soon grew into huggable sizes to contain larger objects. The process of weaving became a meditative act as new ways of making emerged from isolation.
As a legacy to this weird year, and with some very rudimentary video editing skills I began to start making audio-visual stories exploring why I make, what I make, enabling me to reach out to others who were similarly restricted and unable to meet.
Walk in the Wood-sputniks? video
Along with twisting wire and rolling out porcelain for hundreds of clay fish were the daily dog walks in the nearby bluebell wood. The restorative power of exercise is well known, so when I came across the fallen ‘spider’ tree while out with our lurcher, Lola, I knew I had to make a site-specific piece and record a moment in time. Walk in the Wood – Sputniks? features the wire and porcelain sculpture Birth of Sputniks? Dreamy specks floating in the breeze, mossy limbed branches, Louise Bourgeois’ Maman in the woods? something unidentifiable gently sways beneath protective legs. Is this where sputniks are made? First video made in July 2020.
Leaving Our Imprint
Telling stories about the crafted object.
With galleries and shows cancelled in 2020 there had to be a sea-change in how we interacted with others. Using my artwork to make short videos helped describe and bring to life sculpture which is best seen and handled.
Using the earth’s resources thoughtlessly is our personal catastrophe. As artists we need to be mindful of material and process, seeking an art practice with an ethical voice that is thoughtful, considerate and sustainable. Highlighting the message behind the making through video stories is one way in which we can bring making-by-hand to the fore, treasuring the bespoke hand-crafted object, one-off art pieces which celebrate life and the ingenuity we humans have to invent and make beautiful. Mark Making video made December 2020.
This is a new project for 2021 – Trapper Baskets – small wire woven containers to amble with. Walking has been part of my daily routine over the years for both mental and physical health, and has been essential over the past year during the pandemic. This video is a record of a recent wintry local walk in January that had become humdrum, yet when I started to look properly I discovered so much more … bright red fungi sitting on just one lonely branch, startling pink and orange berry seeds scattered over gravel, bunny fluff from an early buzzard’s breakfast, maybe? Composing new stories, focusing on our immediate environment, walking then returning to the studio invites online viewers to inhabit my world, hearing what inspires me and seeing where I make.
This is part of a collaborative invitation to friends and family who I am unable to spend time with during Lockdown3, to walk and look more closely at the every day, collect what piques interest, to later be included in their own Trapper Basket – New Ways of Sharing.