AngelaTait - projects
Angela Tait - University of SalfordRSS | |
Well, it's that time again. Manchester artists bonfire is almost upon us. Join us on Thursday 26th January at Islington Mill, James Street, Salford for some fun with fire.
‘Monday burn Millay,
burn ‘em to ashes, then burn the ashes’
Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury 1953)
There is a long history of ceremonial burning books for moral, religious or political reasons. Recently however, I have been having other, more personal concerns.
One of the smaller Taits wants a kindle for his birthday. He’ll be eleven and he reads all the time. At the moment I am constantly retrieving books from the stairs, the side of the bath and the dining table and returning them to the appropriate bedroom, bookcase or shelf.
What happens when the book as an object becomes obsolete? Is the value of those words somehow transformed when the format is altered? And can you dry the e-reader out on the radiator when you drop it in the bath?
I propose the burning of my artwork ‘Fahrenheit 451’ as a speculation on the death of paper literature
After the first couple of days on holiday I start to get a little twitchy. Sitting around soaking up sunshine and drinking coffee just seems so uneconomical....
Nice! Cant beat a bit of beach art. I had a go on the isle of man. We also took on the heart shaped stone challenge last week :)Reply to comment
Following the frantic week of the first Creative Hive exhibition, this week I have stolen a couple of hours for my hobby. If I'm honest I've a massive heap of paperwork to plough through along with an in-list (like a virtual in-tray) that adds two items to the bottom as I cross one off the top. This coupled with the school holidays, pottery was the very bottom of the priority pile underneath putting the washing machine on a boil wash to kill all the germs that Zach brought back from camp and vaccing the grass out of the tumble dryer.
I'm back working in the garage, although I'm still sharing with our joiner who appears to have moved in there. It's not unpleasant at this time of year. The big doors face more or less south and I can see the house and most of the garden from my seat at the wheel (potters, not automobile).
I've been playing with throwing two colours of clay at the same time. It's the kind of thing you read about in books but don't believe you'll be able to pull off. The first problem is that all clays contract by different amounts whilst drying and firing. Through some experiments (some with explosive consequences) I have found two clays that contract at roughly the same rate. A pure white earthenware and a lovely red terracotta. As luck would have it the colours are visually quite striking when put together too. The second problem comes with the throwing process. In the western world we throw using plenty of water. This makes the process, well, messy. As the pot is thrown the two clays merge together on the surface making the whole thing a kind of muddy pink colour.
After the pots have been cut off the wheel and dried for a couple of days they are put back on the wheel upside down and turned. This involves cutting a 'foot' into the base to neaten the bottom and enable it to sit straight on a flat surface. As these pots are turned, the pattern starts to emerge of the two colours of clay spiralled together during the throwing. Now I have pots with a muddy surface except for a lovely couple of inches on the outside bottom half. The pots then have to be dried completely for another couple of days. The last part of the process sees the full effect revealed. Using wire wool, the surfaces of the pots are sanded down until the spiral pattern emerges.
These pots are fired twice. The first time to 1100 degrees to mature the clay and the second time to 1000 degrees after the application of a clear glossy glaze.
I've got an idea about making coloured clay using some body stain. First thing in the morning I'm calling the gorgeous Claire at www.potclays.co.uk and ordering some smooth white earthenware for experiments.
I bet its nice to get back to this after all that paper sculpture at the CH exhibition! All this stuff is new to me, but fascinating. I love this style and hence why it takes pride of place on my mantlepiece next to a shell island shell and a statue of Ganesh. Hmm, mantlepiece photos :)Reply to comment
As my pyromaniacal tendencies are well know, here's the latest offering from the Team Tait garden.
This is a trial for a series of kilns made from paper that are going to be part of an intensive art project in Salford this month. The project involves students from the University of Salford and their partner institutions in Macerata, Italy and Cluj Napoka, Romania.
The fuel for this type of kiln is technically the wood, however the entire shell surrounding the structure is made from 20+ layers of newspaper, each covered in a thin layer of clay slip.
There is a space on one side to allow air into the fire and a chimney on top for exhaust fumes.
As the fire heats up the inside of the kiln, the clay slip starts to dry and then mature. This makes a rigid (and thermally efficient) shell that keeps the heat rising inside.
By the end of this firing the small clay pieces I'd put inside had exploded beyond recognition. I suspect this was because I'd lit the fire with a blowtorch and therefore heated the whole thing up too fast (I know from previous experience that heating raw clay up too fast can only end badly). There are two potential solutions to this problem. The first is to partly fire the clay pieces beforehand. This may seem a little pointless, but, the point of the kiln really boils down to the ritual making and firing. If there's an end result that useable then all the better.
The second idea I had was to vary the shape of the kiln to stop the clay heating up too quickly. If the kiln was to be built long and narrow (like a dragon lying down) with the fire lit at one end and the clay (and chimney) at the other, maybe, just maybe, it would heat up slowly enough to protect the fragile work inside.
Sounds like a plan......
Brilliant, can't wait to see the results. I dont think there's any shame in par-baking, but will be interesting to see if it's possible to do it without.May 06, 2011 : Angela Tait Says:
I think we'll do half and half. I like the idea of having at least something comeing out of the kiln even if it's broken and battered. Paul want them to explode into shrapnel and show the bits after....artistic differences = funMay 06, 2011 : Angela Tait Says:
Sorry about spelling mistake on there......urgh, I hate it when that happens!!!Reply to comment
Tiny house shapes moulded from a combination of shredded paper and red earthenware terracotta slip.
Fired to cone 06, glazed and refired to cone 04
Wow! Doff to the DOF also. Just got a new Macro lens for the DSLR which Im going to test out today before going on hols next week. Also-comments now go live automatically to make it easier to reply.Apr 21, 2011 : Angela Tait Says:
language there I can't translate but think it may have been a compliment...Thanks! I also got a new lens for my birthday for the Tait DSLR but it's only a replacement for the one Zach broke. A new 18-55. I've been using the 55-200 for months for everything...not ideal!Reply to comment
The final part of my MA in Contemporary Fine Art requires me to reflect on the exhibition and somehow express that reflection. The module brief requires an oral/seminar presentation. I never did care for following briefs.
Loving this idea and I hope they see the brilliance of it - I'm sure they'll pass you, they'd be daft not to, but ultimately its a winwin. Also, if it works, as you requested, comments should now come to you by email - see what you think.Reply to comment
Where did the time go?
I’m writing from a little table in the corner of the gallery space in Islington Mill in
The exhibition has been equal amounts work and fun but my overwhelming emotion at the moment is of relief that it’s almost over. There’s a years worth of work that’s culminated in just 80 handthrown pots and a couple of hundred ceramic butterflies.
The opening event was a triumph. A traditional gallery opening at The Chapman gallery followed by an event party with live bands at Islington Mill. I always find traditional opening a bit of an anticlimax. A couple of glasses of too sweet wine and then home too late for tea and going out but not early enough for bed. The event party gave all the artists involved a chance to relax with friends and each other and gave our work a completely different audience than we would usually attract.
The Chapman Gallery
I’ve always loved this place since I first showed here in 2006. It’s out of the way and gets little in the way of passing traffic. The windows are always a bit dirty and there’s a lift in the middle (and I mean RIGHT in the middle) of the gallery space that is virtually impossible to incorporate into any curatorial strategy.
Despite all its shortcomings and general state of repair there’s something appealing about the space. There’s an entire wall of floor to ceiling windows so the light is fabulous and they look out onto a little green oasis in the University grounds.
There are eight artists in The Bryans Suite collective so there was inevitably going to be the need for allocation of spaces. Thankfully there is a mix of two and three dimensional work being shown and (more by luck than good management) this made the negotiation of the space fairly straightforward.
I chose to show the handthrown pots in this, quite traditional, gallery space. The considerations for this were both contextual and aesthetic. The pots have an intentionally domestic reference. I wanted to place them in a very obviously Fine Art environment as the antithesis of the context in which they were made. Secondly, there are lot of them...and I mean lots.
Islington Mill, Salford
This is the second venue for The Bryans Suite to show simultaneously with the Chapman Gallery. Islington Mill http://www.islingtonmill.com/ is a less traditional art space in a fabulous converted mill in deepest Salford. We were delighted to secure this venue for the other half of our show as it gave us a chance to show outside of the white cube environment.
Just inside the main entrance, there's a beautiful red brick wall with all the history of a working building. If I'm honest I might have been a little forceful in request for this lovely space for my own use.
At this time I hadn't decided on the exact nature of the work I would show here. Apart from the hand thrown pots I had at least another three different sets of ceramics that I could've shown. Thankfully, as sometimes happens on these occasions, the space chose the work for me.
Three hundred tiny ceramic butterflies have been in residence for the last three weeks on this stunning old wall (and some naughty ones even crept on to the ceiling).
I thought long and hard about showing something with such decorative imagery. Butterflies AND craft, have I crossed the line this time?
Clearly, it's perfectly OK to use butterflies in your work if you're a (not so) Young British Artist with an extensive back catalogue and a personal fortune of £100 million. But a Mum, working from the family garage in the North West, how would that translate?
Drawing on the validity provided by Mr Hirst, I decided to take the risky course of action and was surprised by the results. I expected a rather theatrical display ('not you Angela, surely?', I hear you say in astonishment). What actually resulted was a piece with a subtlety that made it almost unnoticeable at first glance, but with a presence that slowly drew in the viewers.
I've just spent some time starting to take them down. There's been more than a little resistance from some of the residents of the Mill. In fact I had to part with a fair few in order to appease the objectors.
How much people 'like' your work is not always a good barometer of good art. More meaningful is the numerous times people stood (sometimes for long periods) looking, asking questions and engaging with the work. This brings me to my next challenge, the final part of my Masters degree.
In a nutshell I am required to ‘verbalise’ what the work is about.
Now I have a fairly strong idea what I think the work is about. I’ve spent five years building a body of research that identifies the place of this work within a fine art and wider cultural context. I’m immersed in (and more than a little bit opinionated about) the discourses surrounding craft as art, maternity, feminism and transient sculpture. I’ll gladly talk until your ears are numb about where this work sits in relation to Meirle Ukeles Laderman’s ‘Maintenance art manifesto’ and whether it sits on, or crosses the abstract no mans land that divides Fine Art from folk art. I could bore you beyond tears about these subjects (just ask my children and long suffering husband) however, it all feels just a bit uncomfortable. I have spent a good couple of years in an ongoing negotiation into the amount of information I divulge about my work. I have intentionally used recognisable figurative references in order to make the work accessible on all levels and to start to over contextualise at this stage seems to negate that idea.
My overriding personal priority in my practice is the process and context of making. With this in mind I propose a demonstration of both of these.
My overriding personal priority in my practice is the process and context of making. With this in mind I propose a demonstration of both of these.
I have a plan...........more to follow.
Photographs from The Chapman gallery with the kind permission of the very lovely Ian Clegg http://www.ianclegg.com/
Fascinating stuff. Gutted I've missed the islington mill stuff, but the chapman launch will live long in my memory as an inspiration.Reply to comment
This broadcast is brought to you all from the bitterly cold village of Wardle. It's just gone nine AM and I've already got one child at home as the school's boiler is broken, as it was last year and the year before. Is it only me that thinks a boiler is a priority in a school and sticking it together each year with gaffer tape and string just won't suffice? Anyway, all this means I am again writing surrounded by a poorly husband, an over excitable nine year old and a European washing mountain.
Back to the weekend of the long anticipated kiln firing (see previous projects called pyromaniacal tendencies and test firing). I couldn't have wished for clearer weather. The sky was blue and cloudless all day, perfect for kiln building.
I got a little overexcited when the sculptural shape started to emerge from the landscape. I (well technically, We) managed to build the kilns without disturbing the surrounding ground too much. They appeared to belong there. I wanted to keep them forever, but we only had a precious couple of hours before our guests started to arrive and the destruction of the work was inevitable.
Painfully aware of the months of time invested in the making process I lit the kilns.
Please, PLEASE can I have a blow torch for Christmas? I've been ever so good.
The First couple of hours were fairly uneventful. The fire did what fire does and slowly ate away at the bricks. My family and friends did what they do, drinking beer and eating everything in sight.
Now I'm not one for social gatherings, but this was starting to look suspiciously like a party.
It was always vital that the work had to be shown at home. The familial context firmly grounding the art in that abstract space between high art and domestic (very nearly folk) craft. Since working more from home than from a studio my art has become a further step removed from its Fine Art grounding. To call it insular wouldn't be an exaggeration. Everything I have made for the last twelve months has been painfully autobiographical. Currently I'm only partially aware of the external context of this project. I wanted to make something that would need a couple of years worth of reflective thought. I have yet to find a reference to any previous kiln made using this method, so this is my starting point.
As the evening progressed and the visitors slipped away, a small group was left to experience the degeneration of the kilns. There had been wholly appropriate funereal references during the evening but the mood was now of excitement and anticipation. We witnessed collapse accompanied by the devastating sound of breaking ceramic. The handthrown bowls were spilled to the ground amongst smoldering paper and sawdust. we could see that the smoking process had started to take place in most of the kilns. The one that held together the most (lovingly known as number four) was burning so hot at this stage that the ceramics inside were pure white.
Eventually, several beers and a few hundred degrees later, we retired to bed. The outdoor temperature was well into negative degrees by this time so I was fairly sure the whole thing would be stone cold by the morning. As it turns out there was little but ceramic and hot ash left at 7.30 Am. We could see there had been casualties but at this stage didn't know the extent of our losses.
In the -6 degrees of the morning as we collected the 80+ bowls from the ash it started to become clear that we had sustained more losses than we previously thought. Approximately ten of the pots were clearly smashed in the collapse of the kilns. This is completely my fault. I was fully aware when I built them that I was employing a risky strategy building them tall and thin and packing them quite densely with pots. Was the temporary sculptural presence worth the loss of a few good pots? Absolutely!!!!
Much more devastating was the forty or so bowls with hairline cracks. Now I'm not a scientist but this is my theory. There's always a risk of thermal shock when firing ceramic. I'm speculating that one side of the pot resting in hot ash and the other side being exposed to the extreme cold contributed to all this damage.
For about 24 hours I found this soul destroying. Months of work, throwing, turning, altering, firing and glazing, damaged beyond repair. Slowly I'm starting to accept the consequences. Something happened that night. The kiln was transformed from a means to smoke pots to a happening, an event, an artwork in its own right. The contents are merely legacy, the remenants of an occasion. That said, I can't quite bring myself to inspect, wash and complete them all quite yet. They're destined for The Bryans Suite exhibition in January http://thebryanssuite.co.uk/ so I'll have to tend to them by then.
Meanwhile, there's the rest of life to tackle..............
Amazing stuff Angela, and what a great write up. Just a pity I couldnt be there, but Cornwall treated us well. Can't wait to hear and see more about this and how the ceramics came out!Dec 03, 2010 : mummytait Says:
Morning Alex It was a really successful evening and the kiln behaved beautifully. Shame you couldn't be there but there'll be a video available soon!! Glad you had a nice holiday. Angela xDec 07, 2010 : emma knowles Says:
The imagery, both live and photographical, has a strong, historical feel.It is also beautiful in how the kilns look totally 'at home' in the landscape which is rural but domesticated, sitting in the fabulas grounds of your home. I am left (being extreemly nosey by nature) wanting to know more about the 'cause' and the referance to your mum and especially the 'make up' extract. Will all be revealed or do I instinctively know being also a daughter, mother and wife?Dec 07, 2010 : mummytait Says:
Hi Emma I think there's a fair chance you'll be subjected to the full and vivid analysis of the project before too long. I've made tentitive arrangements to present a whole session on the firing to the BAVA students in the new year. Thanks for coming. It wouldn't have been the same without you all.Reply to comment
I've had an idea
I want to make a kiln entirely from paper where the paper is both the fuel, the structure and a temporary sculptural presence. This isn't a new idea. Potters have been using all kinds of materials to make kilns forever. I've never seen one done like this though.
The kiln will be constructed from paper bricks. The kind of bricks your Grandad used to make from old copies of the Daily Mirror and dry out to burn on the fire in the winter. I've been making these kind of bricks for a couple of months. The original idea was to save them and use them to fuel the log burner at home this winter....but they looked so nice just sitting in lines drying out, I just couldn't resist. So now we're having a ceremonial firing sometime around November and we'll all just have to wear extra sweaters from then until next May.
It is possible to create very high temperatures from a simple but robust paper structure. Temperatures have been recorded inside paper kilns as high as 1200 degrees C which is plenty high enough to vitrify most clays. For the purposes of experimentation I have made and fired a small version of the kiln I intend to construct later in the year. Due to the size there is no way I'd be able to reach those kinds of temperatures and so I have biscuit fired the pieces in advance and I am using the test kiln as a means of sawdust firing to create a decorative finish.
Harry drew me a really lovely drawing of how he thought the kiln should look. It was a pentagon shape and ended up looking like a beehive. Unfortunately it kept falling over because the bricks are different sizes so we compromised and built a roughly square construction based on traditional bricklaying principles of half overlapping. We filled the kiln with layers of sawdust and ceramic pieces (not unlike a lasagne) and set fire to it just as the rain started. The dampness caused problems, but with the help of some firelighters we managed a fairly impressive show that burned for hours.
Update...20th October 2010
The ceramics in the test kiln have had variable results. The pots that alread have some glaze added look great. The smoke gets into the cracks in the glaze creating fabulous effects. The raw ceramics are not so successful and need some more thought.
The bricks are coming along. I'm up to about 200 now, some are bone dry and some are wet through. It's a laborious process but that's much of the point. I see it as a reflection of the domesticity, all the thing we do every day that inevitably need doing again the following day. We make the bricks together sometimes, the whole family joining in. The paper is all recycled and the bricks are wrapped in old school exercise books and other important pieces of paper. I'm having to dry them out in the kitchen and store them in the loft now as the greenhouse is no longer warm enough. There's bits of paper shreddings all over the house and it's driving us all crazy.
The working title for the show is 'all the things I watched my mother do'. It's based on an extremely short poem I wrote of the same name. There will be at least 50 handthrown bowls (paradoxically something I would never in the world have watched my Mother do). Each one will be different and a refection of the the ideas I have about motherhood. Some messages are clear (as with the above blanket stitch bowl) but most are abstracted by taking the thinking a stage beyond the obvious. I'm also making a series of jigsaw pieces that don't fit together. This will become a wall piece that can be displayed inside or outside. There might also be one of my butterfly sets. So far I've made about twenty pots and about 10 jigsaw pieces, that leaves a very busy November to make the rest...
if only my other life wouldn't keep interfering.
Update 19th November 2010
Spent the entire morning counting, lining up and recounting the pots I've made for the final firing a week tomorrow. Including the ones currently at about 450 degrees c in the kiln I've got 70 and they're all more or less round.
Some have little additions. There's lots of text, an odd item of clothing and a little humour. There's also lots of plain ones made simply for the process of repetition.
As it's only a week from the firing I've been thinking long and hard about the 'sculptural presence' of the kiln(s). I'm keen to exploit the architectural qualities of the bricks I've made. They're all up in the loft as the greenhouse became too cold and damp so I've had the chance to be a little playful. There's about 175 bricks (about three months work on and off). This means I can make six small kilns of 28 bricks each. There are a number of reasons for coming to this decision. Firstly, I'm reluctant to let the fires become too hot as they will burn off all the smoke effect that I'm trying to achieve. Secondly, my practice revolves around repetition and its sculptural qualities, but, more importantly, six fires have got to be better than one!!!
I have to admit to being slightly neglectful of the other pieces that are going in the kilns. This week I'll definitely be making my own body weight in butterflies and jigsaw pieces. I set them all out this morning in the garage and there were suprisingly FEW. After a mild panic I've committed the weekend to making as many as I can.
I'm also being filmed on Sunday for a vidoe to be played to my guests at the firing next weekend.
All good fun
More to follow
Exciting project! Keep us posted.Reply to comment
I've been making little Christmas treats for my friends for a few years. Last year, thanks to an early pressie of a kiln from my lovely family they were made from ceramic. By the time Valentines day came along I had orders for a few personalised ones and by Mothers day they were selling by the dozen.
This was all rather unintentional. In the Fine Art world pretty, crafty, commercial items are all a bit twee and distasteful...but I'm doing it anyway, If I'm telling the truth, it makes an change for people to understand what i'm doing and want to own it and not analyse it to within an inch of its life. I've also got another two years of tuition fees to pay and the extra cash will seriously help!
So this is where I'm up to. It's become a bit of a beast that is hard to control sometimes. We had some busy times at the end of the school year making 'thank you teacher' ceramics and now of course it's wedding season and I'm making bridesmaid gifts hand over fist.
My gifts are being stocked at The Butterfly Rooms in Saltaire http://www.thebutterflyrooms.co.uk/ and you can see some more of my ideas at my online shop http://www.folksy.com/shops/taitgallery. I've also writen a short description of how they're all made http://www.folksy.com/makes/545-Ceramic-Wedding-favours/showall
I'm afraid this might look a bit like shameless self promotion. Clearly this is the case, but we're all friends on here right?
Yes we are, and why not Angela? Ultimately, unless we are one of the 0.0000001% of people, we have to try and earn a living in order to live and to persue the things we're interested in. If you can do that by making stuff or applying your creativity, then all the better I say. These look brilliant indeed - thanks for posting :)Aug 08, 2010 : mummytait Says:
Thanks Alex. We'll never be rich being artists, why is it that everyone expects us to work for free?Aug 17, 2010 : alexf Says:
I suppose it's slightly easier for me as a creative as opposed to an artist to make a living using my creative design/technical skills to make websites. But what I find more interesting is using these skills for other things (like the Hive :)Aug 17, 2010 : alexf Says:
"Living at either end of the spectrum-spending your energy exclusively on all personal projects or all professional projects-will make you either poor or jaded" Ji Lee - Director of Googles creative labReply to comment
I've been reading 'Mother Reader: essential writings on motherhood'. It's not widely available in this country so my copy is second hand and cost me a big chunk of cash in postage from the US. Is it worth it? The jury's still out. It's a collection of texts on the subject of maternity. The contributers are all mothers (some grandmothers as well). They are creative types, mostly writers and poets with the odd Fine Artist thrown in for balance. Although the emphasis seems to be the same in each chapter, (a reflection of the editors point of view perhaps?) the writing is beautiful and sensitive.
The challenge with researching Motherhood in a fine art context is the lack of available material. I got very excited one day when I discovered a whole issue of n.paradoxa (a feminist fine art journal) dedicated to the subject. The excitement turned quickly to frustration when I started to read the contents page. What I had found was a concentration on the 'trendy' cultural subjects of the moment (displacement being my current bugbear) from the point of view of a Mother (or the idea of a Mother in some cases, not even the real thing). This brings me back to my point about the Mother Reader. I have had to look outside of the regular context for my practice. There are hundreds of people doing what I do but virtually nothing writen about it. Despite all the valient efforts of the last 40 years of feminism, the realm of domesticity is still marginalised.
Which reminds me, I have to go to the post office and book a hair appointment before I pick up the boys at 3.30 and it's already fourteen minutes past.
two hours later..
Where was I? Oh yes marginalised. Well I'm definately in the margin. I mean, who makes art from the washing?
A good few months ago now I was having another of those days. It must have been a Monday because there was a European washing mountain on the floor in the Utility room. On the basis that I would be spending much of the day praying to the washing machine and would have little time for art that day I decided to count the washing. By the evening I had a list of 149 separate items categorised into types. the list looked something like 26 pairs of underpants, 7 school jumpers, one pillow case, 24 pairs of socks (plus two odd ones)...and so on, you get the idea.
This list hung around in my sketch book for a couple of months, minding its own business until a few weeks ago. I was hanging out approximately a million white school shirts (must have been a dry Monday) when I saw the first butterfly of the year. My mind made the (somewhat tenuous) link between the butterfly and the washing and the rest of the day was spent making ceramic butterflies. There were 149 plus a few extras to allow for breakages. My immediate intention was to make a butterfly tree, hence the holes in the corner. The butterfly tree did happen but it quickly became clear that the logistics of stringing 149 different pieces on separate threads in a very Northern spring was unrealistic. I took the pieces inside and tried to rationalise the collection into a sculptural form. I tried a grid format which was beautiful but rather predictable. This was followed by a more random approach which was similarly unsuccessful.
I had been using dressmaking pins as the support for the tiny ceramics. They reminded me of the specimens in the natural history museum. Drawers full of butterlies, moths and (my particular favourite) dragonflies. I never really understood who would be interested in the tiny details that made one different from another, but I loved the way they were displayed. It made me wonder if the collection needed to be displayed at all. I am an object maker after all. Is it enough to have made this collection to keep, just like the original list still resides in the sketch book? I think of my box of butterflies in the same way as I do the books of prints I make. Each one a new page with its own narrative. I did make a book from the same list but that story's for another day.
Dear Angela, It was interesting to read about your work. I have been so busy trying to put images and text on my site that I didn't have time to look before. I was under the impression that your work was about sculpture, but it makes sense that your focus is motherhood. Have you looked at Mary Kelly's Post Partum Document? There should be a copy in the uni library. Ps. thanks for your lovely comments re: Colin x AliJun 18, 2010 : mummytait Says:
Alison. I tend to call myself a sculptor but my work is generally a reaction to things that go on around me (i.e. motherhood, domesiticity etc) It's the only way I can fit art into my life by making some of what I do into art. Angela XJun 18, 2010 : mummytait Says:
P.S. I have a copy of the post partum document at home. I wrote my dissertation on an analysis of the comparison between that and Marc Quinns baby head made from frozen placenta. It's a bit heavy going as you can imagine. xReply to comment
Zach loves fire. He's eleven and a Scout. They go out everyweek making fires and he keeps a tin full of tumble dryer fluff as kindling in his secret place in his bedroom.
For my birthday a few years ago I got a dustbin with holes in, the kind you burn leaves in in the autumn. I am aware that most girls get perfume and jewellery and things but as I am not most girls I
prefer a bag of cement or a swiss army knife. I use the dustbin to smoke fire ceramics, I haven't done it for ages... until today.
I have been saving a batch of thrown earthenware pots for exactly this purpose. They have been fired to maturing temperature (approx 1100 degrees C). Some have small decorations on so I can see how the smoke affects these. Todays firing medium is sawdust that I've liberated from the University workishop. I've used leaves and paper in the past but prefer the way sawdust smoulders rather than burns. I (sorry we) lined the kiln.. err dustbin, with paper to leave just enough holes to provide oxygen for the fire. The pots are layered with the sawdust, a bit like a lasagne??? At this point Zach is in charge of anything combustable like fire lighters and matches. He made a couple of fuses from tightly wound newspaper and the whole thing is a ball of flames in no time. When the paper fuses have burnt away (after more poking with a stick than was strictly necessary), the lid was replaced and the whole thing left to burn itself out. The process takes about six or seven hours. By teatime the smoke has stopped coming out of the chimney and inside is a great deal of hot ash and some very tempting looking bits of ceramic peeping through. Now the clever thing to do is leave the whole thing to cool overnight, settling the clay and therefore avoiding the devastating consequences of thermal shock. Of course this is not what actually happened. The actual course of events involves a (mostly) heatproof pair of gloves and a fair amount of digging around in the embers.
The result of my eagerness to unveil the results is I've lost a couple of pots. I could hear them crack as they started to cool down too quickly... will I never learn? Nevertheless I'm so excited by the results. They've done just what I wanted, and in the world of ceramics that so rarely happens. I have every shade from a really dark oily black, through greys and browns to a more or less untouched white. The marks made on the ceramic are deep into the clay. I know this from the cross sections of the broken ones. The 'burning' doesn't wash off and can only be removed by firing again in the kiln. I know that I can make the pots more finished by the addition of some natural bees wax. I'm reluctant to do this as I like the effect as it is.
As you can probably tell I get a little overexcited about my ceramics practice. One of my favourite books is Ian Gregorys 'Alternative Kilns' http://www.ian-gregory.co.uk/books.html. In the past I've made paper kilns and burried them in the garden (for heat insulation) and fired them on bonfire night to the cry, 'why can't we have fireworks like everyone else?'
And I've been wondering where Zachs pyromanical tendencies come from???
Little boys are born with it I reckon Angela - and it doesnt stop there either - I am still the first one to jump up and light the bbq or camp fire!Jun 18, 2010 : artyalice Says:
Hi Angela, Robert did a similar thing after a week at the Scottish Sculpture workshops near Aberdeen. He dug a hole in the ground and filled it with sawdust, set fire to it, but everything crumbled. I'm glad most of yours turned out well! xReply to comment
I read an article recently about the nature of time from a gender perspective. I can't attach a link for you as it's one of those academic things that you have to have a password for and I'll get in trouble if I tell you mine. Anyway, the crux of the argument was that time moves in a linear way for the male and cyclically for the female. Now this appeared to support most of the feminist theory that I immerse myself in. Basically the male is dominant and therefore responsible for advancement which means he leaves life having contributed another block for humanity to build on (sorry girls we still live in a patriarchy). The Female however is present at births (clearly) and deaths. She raises children, in the process remembering her childhood, Mother, Grandmother etc. She also underpins the advancement of society by performing the repetitive tasks that allow the Male to do his 'I'm contributing' bit.
In 1969 Mierle Laderman Ukeles wrote her 'Manifesto for Maintainence art' and this is where it gets interesting for me: http://www.feldmangallery.com/media/pdfs/Ukeles_MANIFESTO.pdf
In a nutshell, she was trying to integrate the separate roles of Artist, Mother and wife.
If you bear all this in mind you might have a clearer understanding of why I've spent days of my life pouring clay slip into old socks. I once counted and listed how many items of washing I did in one day. There were 147. It was a Monday and I was working in the garage (pottery...ish) I set the alarm on my phone so that I could keep coming back to the house to pray to the washing machine and dryer. I might come back to what happened to that list another day but for now socks...
They're currently in the kiln. Bone dry (if not they explode with tragic consequences) and stacked to economise on space. I've used White earthenware clay slip, mostly because it's the only colour I have sufficient to cast the socks. It fires pure white and of course the actual sock will burn away fairly early in the firing. You can tell when the fabric is burning because smoke comes out of the kiln. It's not too bad with material but we once fired Harrys ham sandwich soaked in slip and had to evacuate the building.
The resulting casts will be fragile so I'm going to fire to cone 02 (over 1100 degrees) to mature the clay ask much as I can. This should give it some strength to the casts... we'll see. I recently fired a vest and some pants using a similar method. The vest broke fairly quickly because of the fragility of the structure but was stunning whilst it lasted.
I've cheated slightly and left a lot of slip inside the socks for reasons of stability. It also means they took an eternity to dry out (even with some sneaky help from the Aga).
Skip forward a couple of days and...
Everything has survived, always a relief when you crack the kiln and there aren't bits of shattered pots everywhere. My problem now is what to do with them? They're lovely objects. The method of production leaves incredible detail in a fragile shell. I was sorely tempted to throw them all in the sawdust kiln (see project on pyromaniacal tendencies) just to see what happened. My gut feeling is they could take the firing. I might just risk it...nothing ventured and all that.
Hi Alex. That's a great link, There can be a lack of decent research material if I limit myself to the world of pure fine art. I'm always looking for different creative media to experience. ThanksMay 17, 2010 : alexf Says:
Interesting stuff. The role of the M/F over time eminded me of this piece of game art by Jason Rohrer - it's really good - http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/passage/statement.htmlReply to comment
This is a peek inside my personal space (no, not the fridge). I am allowing you the (dubious) privilige of a peek inside my working space. The fact is it's also my home and consequently I have to share it with my very tolerant husband, a couple of lively growing boys and a grumpy rabbit rather uninspiringly named Roger.
Amongst the general trivialities of family life, my boys have come to expect an element of what they call 'family art'. This can be anything from making our own kites and snowmen to casting body parts or decorating cakes. Occasionally one of these activities triggers an idea for something more refined but more often it just melts or gets eaten.
Team Tait imortalised in snow. January 2010
There's a couple of spaces in our home that come under my domain. There's the spare bedroom that I laughingly call my 'studio'. Basically it's a storeroom for artistic ephemera. There's everything from ribbons and paper to mod roc and ciment fondu. It's also where we keep the christmas pressies (don't tell anyone) and most of a European paperwork mountain that hasn't quite been filed. My favourite two things in the room are my 1960s typewriter and my 1950s trumpet, actually there's all my art books as well...better make that three things.
Then there's the pottery. I share it with Ians car, some bicycles, a fair amount of garden detritus, a cheeky squirrel and some spiders as big a babies hands. It's nicest in the summer. the big garage doors are south facing, so the sun streams in all afternoon and there's vitually no wind as we live in a dip (rubbish for drying washing!).
The storage is old bedroom furniture and some of the tools resemble kitchen utensils, apart from that, most things are authentic. My prize possessions in here are the kiln (Ebay - secondhand from a divorcee in Liverpool) and the wheel which was a Christmas pressie. The kiln is an old hobbytech with a kiln sitter. This is a manual gadget that uses pyrometric cones set into a simple switch to control the temperature. It's fairly reliable (if you remember that the top gets hotter than the bottom and compensate for it when stacking) but will only fire to about 1150 degrees. This limits the clay types and glazes I can use, but on the plus side makes me seek more creative outlets for decoration.
The kiln is currently packed to the rafters.
It contains (roughly):
13 odd socks cast in white earthenware slip
a school shirt similarly cast
12 wedding favours.
approx 100 butterflies, stars, hearts and baby carriages (for commercial and charity use)
two thrown bowls
To follow a ceramics project from start to finish see 'sock monster' in my projects space.
For a couple of years now I've been collecting lost gloves. You know the ones, you see them in the street when they have been separated from both their partners and their owners. I collect them, take them home and wash them and then label with the date and place they were found. Now there's a surprising amount of interest in the subject of the lost glove. Feelings on the subject range from sadness and amusement, through nostalgia to outright cold hands.
I stumbled upon THREE last week in the same street. This was very exciting as it's well outside of the usual season for glove collecting. This brings my collection to well over 50 single gloves. As an artist who generally thinks in three dimension I have tried and tried to rationalise the collection into a sculptural form. These efforts can be described as unsuccessful at best. Drawing on the precedents of such as Susan Hiller and Mark Dion I am starting to think of the gloves in a different way. More in terms of a collection than an artwork. I question if it's enough to simply collect and deny myself the urge to display.
During some internet research recently I happened across a fair few people who are exploring this in their own way. The most exciting was Kenny Deane and his Unloved Glove project http://www.unlovedglove.com/ he deals with the subject in a different but equally sensitive way. Check him out. He's a nice guy too and more than willing to be drawn into conversation about our subject.
Update January 2011
If you're interested in the subject, pop accross to my facebook page and join me.
This sounds really interesting. I lost one of my gloves in Feb and walked round for weeks with one glove on hoping I might catch sight of it's brother. I'm sure it's gone on to a better place (in to your project with any luck!)Reply to comment