42 sand and crushed rock samples displayed in a stand made from reclaimed wood. All the samples were collected during August this year, many of them from the building site at Temple Gate.
This piece is going to be on display in Centrespace Gallery from 12-16 October as part of the Centrespace Open Studios. Please come along and say ‘hello’, I will be in studio 27 on Friday evening and all day Saturday.
Subtle colours collected on my walk from Eastbourne Pier to Holywell.
The bottom of this flask is filled with chalk that was collected as either small rounded chalk pebbles, or chunks of chalk that had broken off much larger boulders. I crushed the pieces in a pestle and mortar to make the powdered chalk. Some pieces crumbled almost instantly, others put up an almighty fight.
From left to right – Eastbourne sand from the middle of the beach, and then near the shore line, different coloured chalks from the cliffs, and shell sand from just past Holywell.
My sand collection, started in Australia last year (Collecting Colour) continues to grow whenever I visit the great outdoors, but I hadn’t really considered the fact that I could add to my collection whilst I was in the city. I have been reading ‘Origins’ by Lewis Dartnell and the following sentence made me think – ‘the story of civilisation is the story of humanity digging up the fabric of the planet beneath our feet and piling it up to build our cities. Everyday my walk to my studio takes me through the building works of Temple Gate – a huge road improvement scheme that had meant for the last two years you are never quite sure which way you will end up going to get past Temple Meads and into the city.
As I wander past in my morning or late afternoon daydream, I have seen
constantly changing piles of sand, aggregate, concrete etc. as great
holes and trenches have been dug , had mysterious things happen within
their depths, and then been filled in again . But because these sands
were building materials, they didn’t fit with my idea of collecting
colours specific to place. Reading the text by Dartnell made me realise
that these imported sand would become the colours of Bristol.
So, on a slightly soggy Tuesday at the end of August, I
could be found in the company of Becky, the site Quantity Surveyor, in full fluorescent
gear, searching the site for sand. We
found 24 different sands (including a lovely soft grey that Becky went out of
her way to track down for me, remembering that it had been one of the first
sands to be delivered to site), gravels, and rock fragments that I was able to
crush into powder. I am amazed at the
variety, if asked beforehand I think I would have expected to find just one or
two different types of sand on building site.
As well as adding to my test tube collection, I had enough
to make this tower of sand – I feel a trip to Alum bay in the Isle of Wight
might be needed…
Thank you very much to all at Eurovia for letting me visit
I had been to Western Australia before in 2011, and the thing that really stuck in my mind was the colour. When we were preparing to visit again in 2018, I wanted a way of physically bringing that memory back with me. I had just finished my MA design project ‘Shifting Sands‘ where friends had been collecting sand from around the UK for me to turn into concrete pebbles. As a result, I had a house full of left over pots of sand – the perfect inspiration for a holiday project to collect colour.
Over the two months we travelled round Western Australia, I filled 119 tiny test tubes with sand, gravel, ochre, ore, and if I am very lucky, one test tube might even have tiny bits of fossilised stromatolite in it. None of my samples were taken from sacred Aboriginal sites. I found more colour, and more variety, than I could have dreamed of.
I started being restrained and collecting only one sample a day. That went out of the window on the day we found this extrodinary place by the side of the road. I think I collected 10 colours in under an hour.
I have samples from places that are contradictory – such as this iron mine that was wondrous and horrendous at the same time.
My favourite is dark metallic sand collected with a magnet from a perfect circle of sand around the top of an ant hole found behind Dales camp site in Karijini National Park. Just steps away, in one of the most beautiful, magical place I have places I have ever been to, we saw this graffiti – you do have to wonder.
Every time I look at this collection, I am back in Australia.
I spent July and August 2018 travelling around Western
Australia in a camper van with my husband Laurence. I went to indulge my love of rocks and to
revisit the layers and colours I have had stuck in my mind since our last visit
nine years ago. I left feeling saturated
Since we got back I have been struggling to find a way to make work about the landscape we travelled through. The photos I took don’t do justice to the vastness of the landscapes, so how could a print? I didn’t want to make representational work as my brain doesn’t work that way, but more abstract ideas refused to resolve themselves. Several false starts left me disheartened.
In this print I think I have finally found a way to explore my
memories of Australia. By focusing in on
a specific circle within a photo, I am containing part of that vast landscape,
selecting an area to analyse in detail, rather than being overwhelmed by the
whole. The colour of the place becomes
the all-important subject of the print. I
have found a visual language that works to express what I want to say, as well
as being challenging to me as a print maker. I hope this is the start of a
whole new body of work.
Syntax of a Circle
My starting point is a photo taken just before sunset from
the top of a small hill, at Cheela Plains Station camp site, on
the way to Karijini National Park.
I chose a circular section of the photo, and a focal point
within it (the yellow flowers above right of centre). As this had the potential to be a highly
complicated print, I did something I don’t often do, which is to try a mock up
on the computer first, just to check it wasn’t going to be another false start.
To create the computer version, I looked carefully at the colours
within the photo, and in particular, at the colours that touched the circumference
of the circle. I choose the colours that
covered the largest areas of circumference, drew a point where they first and
last touched on the circle, and used the focal point as the third point to draw
a wedge shape. As some of the colours
mixed and intermingled within the photo, I ended up with some wedges overlapping. As my inks would be translucent, these would
create additional colours.
I received positive reactions; I decided to try it in print. I could have started with a simpler image, but where would be the fun in that?
More precise analysing and planning of my layers followed. What amazes me is that I could look as this photo one day and plan one set of colours, then come back the next day and think that I needed something totally different.
Two afternoons of colour mixing and three days of printing later…
The dots down the side show the 24 different ink colours that I used (some were printed more than once).
The only problem now is that because I had no faith in myself or my idea, I only printed five prints, and everyone has a mistake or flaw of some kind. So if I want to have a edition of this print, it means I have to print it all over again. But actually I think this is no bad thing. I was quite seduced by how the print looked when I had printed about 5 colours. It was very calm and quite minimal, the temptation was to leave it as it was, but then I wouldn’t have known if my idea was worth pursuing. So the fact that the prints had flaws from the very beginning meant that I was less precious about them, I felt that it was OK to keep going to the very end, that if I ruined them by putting a bad colour on it would be justified as they were only a proof of concept. And it worked, and I am happy, and it is OK to print 30 layers all over again, I just hope I don’t run out of any of my colours.
I’ve been working on a new way of creating images in response to landscape. These smaller circle prints are created in a similar way to my big geological circles in that I use a single circle stencil and mask off areas to create the different shapes. I have placed each section of colour in a different position on each print, so although each one in the series is created from the same shapes and colours, each one is unique rather than being part of an edition.
The forms and colours in these prints come from a memory of a walk along the coast near Minehead. I find it very difficult to hold an image of place in my mind, but colours seem to stay put.