First there was a blank sheet of paper. Carte blanche.
Making art is an indescribable urge to create something, to see where it can lead. Art breaks the norm as it empowers me to bring to life an idea from within myself. This idea then manifests itself in a physical object which in turn has the potential to be shared with the world.
What I think I am touching on is something ancient. Something as old as humanity or even the human condition itself.
An average day in our contemporary social-connected society is filled with thousands of images, ideas, concepts. All secondhand info. All seen through filtered hand-held battery operated lenses.
It is that time of year again when one checks the mailbox more regularly. Problem is that you find all those bills first and then… with great anticipation the latest copy of New Glass Review is there!
Although Susie J. Silbert (curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass) sent me a congratulatory letter in January the excitement to have a hard copy in your hand is unprecedented. I didn’t know which work got selected.
Schiesheim Session made it! Thank you so much! It is an honor and privilege to be selected for such a prestigious publication which annually informs global trends in art and sculpture made with glass in its myriad forms, shapes, techniques and narrative.
It is also a proud moment to represent South Africa but also Africa on an international platform. I hope to see more voices participating and challenge global trends with our own flavor of glass.
A big thank you goes out to Samuel Weisenborn for allowing me to hammer, drill, cut, saw, grind and polish in his kick ass studio and workshop in Schiesheim, Germany to make this wonderful and fun sculpture!
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.
Current events shaping the future of creative glass practice in South Africa.
BYS aims to build a bridge between glass as an expressive medium and sculptors, fostering collaboration and exposing new ideas and approaches to the flexibility of the material.
Look around you. Grids are everywhere. Even in nature grids appear. The structural lines of the veins on your hand, the folds and lines on your palm, they are everywhere like intersecting pathways.
A grid gives structure to space. Consisting of lines it separates planes into blocks. Lines are fundamental to the existence of a grid, but they must cross another. Some lines are longer others broader but it is this crossing of the lines that constitutes a grid.
Some grids are structured, mathematically and perpendicular. Take a map of the city or place you live in, look at these forever connecting lines which make up the roads, streets and borders of your environment.
Others seem random and organic such as the neurones and synapses in our brains or the ebb and flow in a mangrove swamp.
Ultimately these lines, wherever they find themselves, are connected.
An ongoing theme in my work has been the large optical crystal Grid Sculptures. A grid pattern is cut into the base of these large and heavy blocks, adding a rigid, formal, almost quantifiable structure into the narrative. Thereafter the flat sided cube is carved up, often with impulsively determined facets or, quite recently, with an underlying geometric structure. I allow these variants to manifest themselves.
The grid already determines rigidity and mathematical quantifiable value. These straight lines conform to an imposed intervention, something that is not quite from nature.
Then the carving starts. First with lines drawn onto the cube then with a saw to remove larger chunks. A rough diamond cup-disk is used thereafter to shape and hew the sculpture into desired curves and facets. It is with my hands, eyes and tools that the sculpture takes shape.
During the process which takes several days of meticulous and repetitive labour, scouring the surface with ever finer gritts, the interior emerges.
It is this magic of the hard transparent material I am after. The initial matt and rough cuts don’t tell me much of what light will do but it is towards the end of the process when, after an almost meditative sojourn the spirit of my endeavour emerges.
I am attempting to impose an organic distortion on the rigid structural set of rules, this predetermined grid we deal and often conform with. I am trying to find another way of seeing things.
Air opened last Friday. After many weeks, days and hours everything in my head congealed into physicality. I am happy.
The exhibition was opened by Samuel Isaacs, with wise and positive incantations.
Now there seems to be a hiatus, a break in the process. And it is exactly this process which has become important to me. The process has been a personal journey to fulfil my desire of making, of creating that idea from merely a chemo-electrical impulse lingering inside the cranium into a tangible thing.
All spectators at the opening night were pleasantly engaged within the space. Several patrons said that they loved the interaction, being drawn in and experiencing the within and beyond offered by the contained landscapes and immediacy I created.
Apart from the photographs (which are intended as reference and focal points for the Portals to the subject, “Air”) the spectators themselves played with the Portals lenses, peering and giggling at each other. Another intended spinoff was photography, people taking shots with their digital phones of each other and themselves. Even the chosen format of the photographs and the Portals themselves echo the square shots on Instagram and other social media channels.
The difference though is a sense of immediacy and not the quick consumption of second hand experiences.
Before entering the room an eye peers into the show and sets the scene, to look and experience. A fan moves air which in turn starts moving all the elements inside the exhibition space – photos fluttering and sculptures swaying.
The theme is serious. Air is invisible. It is life sustaining. We forget about it.
Air influences our weather, our quality of life, we all breath it in and exhale, irrespective of our social standing, race, health or age. We even share its molecules with other species and without air nothing living would survive on this planet.
Then why? Why do we neglect to look after it?
My inspiration came during a trip to Dubai last year. I noticed the inside spaces within buildings having a cooler, more comfortable air than outside. My attention was drawn to feeling, experiencing the invisible. I started taking a very conscious interest in ducts and fans. Also the movement of air, inside artificial spaces, and when exiting, outside. I still do.
For those that can, please make a turn past Art Lovers 1932 in Pretoria#AirExhibition will run till 24 Marc 2016