08 Sep 21 by justatest
A final blending of the yellow with white and ochre eased the passers-by´ complaints that the full-on primary yellow was too loud. I had envisaged that the colour would wear off over time with the ravages of sun, wind, and rain, then bleach on one side and darken on the other so I decided to simulate this with paint. It quelled the voices of dissent and I left it at that (the reverse side does remain primary yellow however).
Compromise had to be reached after winter storm winds had bent it face down and almost snapped it in two. I dragged it back into the studio and reinforced the lower joints, fused the bottom curve with the start of the spiral, and increased the leaning angle in an effort to resist the incessant blasting by gusts of high winds. Let's see how it performs this wintertime. Fingers crossed I won't be reporting anymore on further remedial works with this one.
Also it lost it's swan-like whiteness and became primary yellow, much to the objection of passers-by now familiar with the progression of change as it neared completion. However I'm told that it's a flower, so you just can't win in this game.
One Side Surfaced
One side of the sculpture´s first layer of plastic is complete. I had been looking forward to this to get a clear idea of how the form would turn out. In the end, two 'skins' of plastic strips would be added to each side in order to give the surface a more solid aspect.
Passers-by by this time were beginning to comment saying that it looked to them to be an abstract image of a swan (on any given year, the lake being home to from tens to hundreds of those birds). I wasn't too happy with that as I thought a swan likeness would lend the piece an elegance and gravity it was unworthy of.
Neither am I a fan of searching for likenesses like this in non-figurative artworks - to my mind it's an act that betrays and mistranslates a visual language which is striving to free itself of association. I believe that it's a misguided form of anthropomorphism and I'd say to the viewer that there's no need to work so hard and urge them to just respond (positively or negatively) to what's in front of them without the need to find links or analogies which are outside the purview of the object's intention [end of rant].
Weaving A Surface
Next up was to wrap the thatching wire which was used on the roof of the studio around the curve sections for strength and as a base for the surface. I cut up plastic bottle milk containers of the local creamery and wove the strips between the wire. This turned out to be another tedious job and continued for many weeks during the winter months. Litres and litres of milk were consumed by myself and the wild cats in the making of this - so much so that I was completely sick of the stuff and ceased to buy and drink it after the project ended. Furthermore, I was beginning to get thoroughly frustrated with working so much on a minor project that I had originally expected to be completed within 3-4 weeks.
Young branches from the willow and alder trees around were used to form the curves of the sides. It looks like I'm employing ever more often natural elements from this place. They're free, widely available, grow back stronger each year, and with the addition of weather-proofing look to be quite long-lasting so no surprises I suppose that with these outdoor works I'm looking to the outdoors for materials too.
Something more solid
I figured I´d need to start with a more robust structure (unfortunately even this failed to withstand the following winter´s gale force winds and so months afterwards I had to take it back into the studio for reworking). I sawed an old rock-hard piece of mahogany I found to make a clamp as the sculpture support.
I spent a day trying to put a thing together with thatching wire and willow that turned out to be a complete waste of time.
My 3 year old niece could do better
Almost immediately an idea for a caricature of a ¨modern art¨ sculpture came to mind. I was thinking of when someone says to me that their 3 year old niece could do better than the stuff I make, or that kind of thing you´d see in a animated cartoon. I figured I´d do something silly and complete it quickly in a few weeks. Little did I know that I´d still be fighting with it six months later.
After hauling the remains of the pole out of the ground, I rammed it upright into the stone-filled drainage trench. Then I hammered an ancient iron nail into it´s crown. I wanted the nail to be the only point of support for whatever was eventually to go on top.