Wednesday 23 October 2019

Thinking big!

Or maybe installations!
I wonder how some of the shapes would look if they were enlarged enough to walk around and in and out of them. I've selected a few examples from my photo gallery and then tried to imagine how this would look, using pin figures to suggest scale.The shadows would become dramatic additions to the installation.

To give an idea of scale, this piece of work has been de-constructed from a small plastic drinks bottle.

Figures have been drawn into the enlarged image below to suggest the change of scale.
It's fascinating to view the small hand-sized shapes as if they were larger than a figure.

To give you an idea of scale, these black shapes have been constructed by wrapping strips of black bin liner plastic around a hand sized pebble and then cut open to remove the pebble.

A figure and lines to suggest the edges of a room have been drawn into the image below to suggest the impact of a change of scale.

To give an idea of scale, these forms have been cut from a small plastic drinks bottle.

Figures have been drawn into the enlarged image below to suggest the impact of a change of scale.

'Tidal Pool 1', a wall-hung piece, could be installed as a wall-leaning piece, taking up a whole room space in a gallery if constructed on a much larger scale.

A figure and lines to suggest the edge of a room has been drawn into the two images below to suggest the impact of a change of scale.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Shadows and reflections

The curled paper shapes gave an exciting sense of movement before attaching to a sketchbook page. Although the flattened shapes work well, I'd love to be able to make a 3D sketchbook.

Strong sunshine often appears on my work table during the mornings, highlighting some unexpected delights when using translucent material. The thread becomes a solid line, the scratchmarks become fine marks and the melted holes become rows of rings along the shape edges.

 Shadows become a necessary and important added extra to 3D strips of plastic wrapped lo
sley around bundles of painted cane in 'Loss 3'. 

Strong light doubles up the lines and shapes in these shadows made by holding the cane structure, 'Tidal Pool 3' away from the table surface. 

This happened spontaneously in the gallery when the sun created shadows on the wall cast by a suspended 'Tidal Pool 3'  that overlapped its sister piece 'Tidal Pool 1' - below right.

 'Extinction' was hung from the underside of a shelf where the suspended bottle forms cast shadows from the gallery ceiling spot lights'.
 So many angles from which to photograph these shadows.....


 ....shadows that seemed to combine with the plastic forms to create new forms.

Noticing the unintended shadows led to thoughts  of creating intentional shadows from the forms I'd produced.
 Shadows were made to elongate dramatically
 Different angles of the camera and rotating the plastic form gave a range of different shadows as these hollow plastic pebble forms show. A slight change of angle gave a variety of shapes that seemed to extend the actual form sometimes suggesting intriguing creature-like forms.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Opening at the gallery

It's always a bit frantic getting ready for an exhibition even though you've allowed enough time. Did I make the right decision about the frames? are they all labelled correctly on the reverse? are all the wall labels printed out? Are they all packed well enough to survive the journey and handling? have I packed the emergency kit of screw driver, hammer, measuring tape, masking tape, small step ladder? Enough worries, off we go.

The Town Mill gallery in Lyme Regis is a beautiful open white space, newly decorated with an efficient hanging system. Once I'd got the hang of this system, I could space and level all the pieces well. I had the run of one long wall so all my work co-ordinated and carried the story line of plastic pollution effectively. 

Our large banner which heralded the exhibition title fitted onto the large open door and read well. The three artists celebrated with a coffee and home grown and baked pumpkin pie.

Smaller pieces were grouped onto larger boards.  

'Blue fish', 'Unknown species' and 'Bottle fish'

The row of plastic bottles ('Extinction') were hung from underneath a shelf, giving them an apt domestic setting. The spot lights created some wonderful shadows on the wall behind.

A good crowd attended the Preview on the second day with 2 and 4 legged friends.


Several sales were made so all started off on a good footing. Much relief all round

Monday 14 October 2019

Melting across a void

Attaching plastic shapes across voided areas created by the curvaceous structure formed by bent willow and cane. Stitching held the plastic material secure while the heat gun started to shrink it. I loved the way the edges of the plastic shapes started to tighten as it shrunk and formed undulating edges: lines that seem to reflect edges of a coastline.

Printed text on the plastic appeared in places, reminding us of the origin of the material.

Initially I found plastic an unfriendly material - non compliant and hard - not the usual qualities when handling traditional textiles which appeal to emotional feelings of warmth and softness. 

The materials we use in our artwork effect the way we work with them and the way they are viewed by others so their symbolism is very important to me.

When starting to handle plastic materials I experienced an association with its ugliness, maybe also due to a dislike of the damage that discarded plastics are having on our planet.
As I continued working with plastic materials I felt a slightly more intimate connection with it's strength, impermeability and translucency that gives it such a stronghold in modern life.

Sunday 13 October 2019


'Borrowing' a few pebbles from Kilve Beach on the north Somerset coast gave the most wonderful rounded forms around which to wrap and melt strips of found plastic materials - a collection of coloured plastic bags gathered over the months and not found on this treasured stretch of rocky coastline.

Making the plastics 'special' by sanding, perforating  with machine stitching and rubbing with gold crayons to make more interesting surfaces.

Strips of plastic were loosely wrapped around the pebbles and with careful melting with a hot gun, the plastic shrunk and gripped the pebble shapes. Judging the timing allows you to control the amount of 'shrinkage'.The plastic looked as if it was gripping the pebbles so tightly as if to strangle - which I found a very appropriate symbolism as you might imagine.


The pebble that 'escaped'. The pebble used to form this shape was gently slipped out from its strangulating plastic: an idea from nowhere and an exciting discovery that meant that several pebble shapes could be made from the same pebble and without stealing it permanently from its home on Kilve beach.
The hollow form added very apt symbolic connections with 'disappearance', 'skeleton', faded existence - perhaps alluding to the disappearance of the planet or, more hopefully, the disappearance of discarded plastic materials.

Friday 11 October 2019


Ideas circle, disappear and return. Successful thoughts come together, disperse and often re-assemble in a different form. I find it very difficult to identify where a successful idea actually comes from and when the realisation that something is going in the right direction.  Although thoughts that wonder can also be useful in looking around a theme, I try to discipline myself to write down words that help me to focus and not to drift away too far on a tangent. This continually brings me back to the raw elements I wish to focus on and question whether my story or 'angle' is still evident.

Noticing that my fragmented and distorted plastic bottle shapes have evolved from a functional item that was originally designed to hold water into a mutilated bottle form that could be said to resemble sea creatures from the deep - perhaps quite fanciful but the idea caught my imagination.

A dip into Charles Darwin's books - 'The Origin of Species' carried this thought of evolution into the world of how plastic packaging and bottles where this material lasts forever, perhaps modified in some way as it insinuates itself into the environment in unwelcome forms; perhaps an optimistic idea of how the natural world could make slight effective changes.

Ironically I felt that the distorted forms created by fragmenting and re-forming the plastic bottle shapes could take on a slightly organic form. The linking threads add a sort of tentacle element to its character.

Using only portions of a bottle with lines to complete the shape suggested a sense of disintegration giving a surreal link to wishful thoughts of disintegration and gradual disappearance.

Thursday 10 October 2019

Story development

I'm continuing to experiment with my chosen materials to test ways in which I can use them to make a whole variety of fascinating sculptural configurations. It's a challenge to persuade myself to notice new things that happen as I work - to allow a fresh thought to emerge - as if for the first time.

It is important to me to give my art pieces a connection with an idea, thought or story. I hope this suggests a thought or idea that engages the viewer beyond the visual presence of the art work.

I have been very aware of the polluting effect of the mass of discarded plastic thrown out in the seas that have been damaging life in the oceans and coastlines. So I was keen to make this current work with plastic materials reach out further to the viewer than the immediate physical fascination with my use of plastic materials.

I tried different ways of transforming the plastic surface by sanding down the shiny surface to a matt effect that was then receptive to to marks made with inks such as made in the sketchbook with a feather dipped into inks.

Cutting up the plastic bottles in different ways gives numerous pieces that could be stitched or laced together. I hoped this element would add an element to an underlying message related to a shape that was broken down, fragmented, discarded, cracked, dismembered, dissolved and disintegrating: maybe a list of words that could relate to how the ecological system was breaking down.

Playing with the fragments of plastic bottle gave me the chance to look at ways of re-joining these shapes into the original form with associated meanings of 'mending' or 'making better' perhaps. I'm intrigued by ways of suggesting the idea of 'change', forming a gradual movement of one state to another. 

This ecological project seems to ask the question of how changes will occur and so I am keen to try to make my materials show changes by adding or subtracting, modifying sizes, intensifying colour. I need to observe what is happening in my hands - not wanting to miss the accidental, unpredictable and probably the most intriguing part to the process. I find this a more rewarding and creative way of discovery than to anticipate and guess what I think should happen.

Making rows of small holes around the edges of the cut shapes allowed me to thread or lace together with the debate of whether to make perfect or whether to allow spaces and gaps to form distorted or corrupted versions of the original.

It was very revealing to see what happened when twisting and making the shapes distort from the bottle shape and exciting to find shadows on my sunny working table.......

..... and dramatic lighting through the translucent materials showing the sanded and scratched surface of the plastic surface.