This collective memory is mainly made up of zeros and ones, little switches and electrical mini-currents which are pretty much intangible, impossible to perceive without an intermediary device such as an LED screen which converts these abstract blips into pixels, letters and images of cute kittens.
This time last year I was frantically busy completing work for my upcoming solo, Air, at Longstreet Art Lovers.
The year past was filled to the brim with experiences, events and new shores. I hope to use these new notations on my life-map to travers the proverbial waters of the coming year.
Making art has always been a journey for me. Although sketches are made, plans scribbled on paper and maps drawn up with inklings of the destination, it is the problem solving and decisions taken on the way that give meaning to my endeavor.
Then the destination is reached…
This is the moment where the sculpture starts to converse on its own, the birth of an idea in a universal language.
I love imagination and finding the familiar in odd places. As a youngster I used to look up at the clouds and see all kinds of different things in them. What really amazed me was when your gaze left the clouds and returned a few seconds later how much of the previous illusion has changed, that the old man’s face now resembles a grinning crocodile…
Taking stock on my current trajectory I’m noticing myself still exploring these imaginative avenues. Is this not a truly human trait? The pure arrogance! To identify yourself in the detritus of the universe? Even on Mars we have found faces resembling our human identity and given nebulas names such as “Crab” and “Horse Head”. Are these not the places where we identify our gods, within the planets, the sun and the moon?
This must be a sign that we are conscious beings, that we have an imagination and are different to the “other animals” on this pale blue dot. Is this not the fertile ground which birthed our spiritual sensibilities?
Could this trait also be responsible for the basic narrative we call art? Seeing a likeliness of ourselves in a large rock or a tree must have given rise to spirituality, to religion. We are not separate but part of the larger picture. We are part of the universe!
Perception! The pinprick hole of our pupil sucks up all this electromagnetic radiation of the “visible” spectrum. These illusive particles and waves radiate from everything around us. How can this tiny hole in our eye reveal so much if only a tiny fragment of this radiated energy stimulates our perceptive nerves?
There is so much visual information and each individual has their own perspective. My sculptures are an attempt to discern this diversity of views. I am searching for a way to articulate through experience and immediacy that moment which gave rise to the origins of the inquisitive and conscious woman, child and man.
The lens metaphor has and still is the main prerogative to explore this notion of immediacy and individual perspectives of whom we are and our affinity to the world around us.
My sculptural exploits are reaching back to the dawn of man and how this narrative still affects us today, our human nature… with a glassy twist.
The Glass Art Society conference took place in Corning this year. I was fortunate to attend, met many old friends and made many new ones. From the moment I arrived there was an invisible energy permeating through the air. Everywhere one found yourself there was bound to be somebody connected to creative glass ready to share some friendly words on where you’re from, what you do and more.
Day one started as a pre-conference event, a round table discussion on education and the roll history of glass plays in current curricula. Former board members, critics, historians, curators, department heads, educators, professors, artists, schools, students, experts and even collectors joined in the discussion. Afterwards we got a behind the scenes tour of the Rakow Research Library. I would wager that most answers to glass related questions can be found here!
I forgot to mention, earlier on day one Lino Tagliapietra was making glass at the Museum hot shop amphitheatre. The Maestro was hands-on throughout, constantly keeping his glass under control, from choosing the canes laid out to pulling and twisting of the dinosaur’s neck. Amazing!
As the round table discussion was a pre-conference event, day two was actually the first day of the conference. The welcoming reception took place at The Rockwell Museum with a beautiful setting overlooking the town of Corning from the top floor balcony. The conference started with a bang!
The days were filled to the brim fromThursday till Saturday. There were talks and demos, in the hot shops, cold shops, lamp working studios, and even lec-mos (hybrid for lecture-demos) in the town’s movie theatres. Panel discussions at Corning Headquarters and the Corning High School auditorium. Evening events in town with the Crystal City Stroll where public light sculptures were exhibited all around town and galleries showed cutting edge contemporary art. Silent and live auctions with works donated by artists help fund GAS.
On Saturday the closing party highlight event, the Glass Fashion Show curated by Lorna Doneffer got everybody fired up and shaking bootie on the dance floor. It was almost sad to say goodbye that night.
Sunday was my first opportunity to walk through the museum, slowly. I spent two days traversing the expansive display of where glass came from, how it got here and where it might take us next.
Monday evening was laundry night and Tuesday morning it was off to New York City…
Today is April Fools day, the first quarter of the year done and dusted. With the new day dawns a new future. I am invigorated and feel strong, for that is what’s needed to set off, on the next leg of our journey – hope.
The past few weeks have been a blurred dance, keeping pace with the constant rhythm of setting things into motion, future projects and exciting travels.
The first is coming on strong! Africa Burn. Packing details are already swirling in my head. Before we know it the road is under our butts, flitting like a black ribbon behind us.
Before then there is still much to do, as always is the case. Standing still allows moss to grow on your heels. Keep moving…
As I was saying last night at an exhibition opening to a friend, the process, the movement, motion and action of making, keeping the momentum has become integral to my creative journey. The actual object or artwork is merely the full-stop to the paragraph of doing. In a way my artistic aspirations have become part of my everyday actions.
Take this writing; I am formulating my thoughts, thoughts about my actions. Conversely these writings feed back into the loop of making, understanding my process. I’m building a feedback loop. Resonating abstract thoughts into physical pixilated words.
Lots of big words and garbled sentence structures don’t necessarily make good art.
This administrative side, of writing and editing, organising and conversing with institutions and people sometimes frustrates me. As soon as I get a gap I run to the studio to commence making. Through this madness and limited time the moments of reflection are short, focused and force me to just make, to use all I have learned before and jump, almost without really knowing how far or deep the waters are from this precipice of the now.
So many positive things have happened during the past few weeks. This uplifting wave has opened up new possibilities and opportunities.
Looking back, this year has flown past. Is this due to me getting older? I guess the days are filled with more tasks that need completion and that is exactly what I am doing – getting shit done!
Business has been slow and sales few and far between. This absence of “distractions”, such as orders, has forced me to use my skills and what is at hand. Old projects were dusted off and tackled with new vigour. Using bits and pieces literally lying around, such as rocks and steel, my creative process and the resulting narrative has become focused and confident.
It actually frightens me how these energies are flowing, almost effortlessly. Drawings are becoming real objects and real objects are reflecting my inner thoughts. Mostly positive…, considering the reality we have to deal with daily.
I guess I have always been on the “glass is half full” side, optimistic but yet realistic that any positive change and progress takes a lot of effort. You’ll only climb a mountain by taking the first step and going forward. Not all decisions will be right and some paths lead you astray. As long as you are aware of this and keep going…
And this brings me to the opening statement. The last few weeks have given me returns on my investments. My time, sweat and blood have resulted in appreciation and sales of my sculptural work.
I thank all of my family, friends, supporters and believers for nudging me up this huge rock on my journey. I hope to give you a hand along the way too so that we can keep on celebrating life together.
In 2013 I experienced my first Afrika Burn. There are no words that could possibly describe the experience. You drive through the last outpost of civilization on the West side of South Africa (sorry Calvinia) and then turn down an unforgiving tire chewing dirt road to the end of the world.
Obviously I read a lot about AB before this trip. What to take with and what to expect. One word caught my eye and stuck – “participation“. In the guidelines and well stocked informative website it states:
“We call it the “DO-ocracy”. Forget standing at the sidelines. Jump in with both feet and get busy.”
Well, I prepared and packed my little suitcase of mirrors and tested the waters with a theoretical project. If one could focus sunlight with enough mirrors on a combustible target we should get fire? Fire from the sky… right?
This initial test was a failure but the idea was a success. All the participants (I packed 100 mirrors and got at least 25 people to hold two mirrors each) believed in the theory!
So, back to the drawing board… I started preparing and mulling over ideas to make this project a success.
AB 2014 was fast approaching and with the help of great friends – Thomas König & Samuel Weisenborn – we built the sculpture and fine-tuned the details with contingency plans. Anything that could possibly go wrong was though off and sorted. Then Thomas slipped of the first rung of the stepladder whilst we were busy with the final coat of paint, one week before lift off, and broke his ankle. Disaster!!
Thomas, being who he is, kept the spirits high. He helped direct the packing as we needed his Land Rover to get down, flailing his crutches as we tied down the steel to the roof rack. We needed a four-man crew. Billy, Sam’s 20 year old son and Inglin, my son, made up the final crew. (b.t.w. Sam and Billy flew in especially from Germany, helped with the construction and made this project possible.)
“Cosmic Ignition” refers to bringing fire from the sky. It is a participatory art project that enables the spirit of participation and collective focus to achieve a common goal. The basic outline is to have volunteers help reflect sunlight from the sky on a “target”, igniting the combustible materials (newspaper and pine cones) and bring the Mother Flame to Earth.
The gods smiled on us and send fire from the sky. Guiding the light we ignited Cosmic Ignition and lit the Mother Flame.
Thank you to all you beautiful people who helped prove the theory right last year! Keep on giving and never stop participating!!