Sunday, November 10, 2013

And this one says....

"Pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth..."

Thus spoke Shakespeare's Mark Anthony addressing the newly dead Julius Caesar of his need to negotiate with Caesar's murderers. I'm regretting my complicity in the economic system that made these trees "surplus to requirements".

The trees were planted in 1916 - in a paddock of thistles. Henry and Dolly and their six month old baby put their first energies into establishing the orchard - and it bore fruit in 1920. You can see the fine grain of the annual rings - but I know now how this one will go so I won't sand any more until the shape is ready.

More of the story in an interview with Aimee Volkofsky at

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fruit Wood - the start

a stick with cracks... but William pear wood
The wood looks pretty shattered - being felled by bulldozer is not the ideal way to start a sculpture. So I picked the smallest piece and figured I'd have a go and see how the pear wood responds to the tools.....

It's a bit softer than the Manchurian pear so I'll have to see what sort of polish it will take - when I get to that point... Still this piece has some grace and reminds me of my Nana.
and under the bark there really is some nice wood.

My maternal grandparents retired to Mornington just after the second war. They considered chickens at the start but Grandpa worked out it was cheaper to buy the eggs. By the time I came for summer holdays the fruit trees were well established. They had two sorts of peach, apricots and plums. I remember hot days - I just sat in the shade and ate the best fruit but Nana sat up in the hot west window of the kitchen bottling fruit as hard as she could go - "to save its life". On other days Nana was tall and elegant and dressed up to the nines and went shopping in town with her friend Mrs Murray.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Collecting Fruit Wood

There was a touch of panic after I decided to start this project - it was just forming as an idea when I heard that the trees being pulled out at Shepparton would be burned as soon as they had dried out - and before the fire season started. So with help from people in the fruit growers association I set off to Shepparton in a rented moving van - fortunately with a friend - and looked at the mountains of trees awaiting their fiery end.

remains of the William pear trees

Three great piles of William pear trees that were already planted and growing there when Marley's father bought the orchard in 1948 or 49. All around other trees were blooming - their fate sealed by being a different variety suitable for the fresh fruit market.

Packham pear blossoms
new apple trees leaning out of their double rows
apple blossoms
As it turned out the orchardists were flat out that day - there was a storm with rain coming and the trees had to be sprayed beforehand. All around you can see the different way the newer trees are trained - apple trees in double rows leaning out must yield their fruit more readily and likewise open to the sun as needed.

One thing I was glad to have was a strong Dutchman to cut, and roll and wrestle the big ones into submission:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Log from Lorne

Well it started as a lemon scented gum with a problem - then it was a felled log in the rain. We chose it to "clean up" because it had cool wrinkles on it. Then came the hard work of lifting it into Jamie's car and getting it to the studio.

And here it is with its spongy middle and wrinkly bark looking cool but heavy in the studio.

The next part was to make it stand up like a bridge and then take out the unsound wood from the middle. And for that I was working first with the arbortech wheel on the angle grinder and then with the old chisels..... and I dug and dug and dug... and found lots of ants and a huge witchety grub (which the chook enjoyed because I'm a wimp).

A moment of triumph came as I saw daylight through each end - then the fiddling to cut back to sound wood... a bit like dentistry - cut out the rotten, probe for good wood, cut some more..... wow I've got a bit of respect now!

And the space was too small for the angle grinder plus handle to get in there so a trip to Pop's Shed got me a mini grinder and onwards ever onwards.

 and then some more......

and well it's nearly there - so soon the grand oiled product ......

it's a very hollow log now - but mainly sound wood. Let's see how it looks finished and oiled....

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Week Already?

The final Friday at Lightning Ridge was spent in virtual combat with the camera. Sculpture demands more than having facility with the tools and materials.. there's the recording.... well I lacked the intimate knowledge of the time lapse camera but I have learned a lot now! So here is my three weeks work compressed into less than six minutes. If the clip doesn't run in your browser you can open it in You Tube

 And if you think there was a lot of hand sanding - well you are right! At some point in the future I'll get the full day images together - the sunrise was amazing coming up between the stones.

Well it was farewell to Lightning Ridge and working in a T shirt in the winter and a quick visit to Canberra on the way home.
The Wide Brown Land Sculpture - being explored
Hawthorn bonsai at the National Arboretum

The Cedar Forest - the National Arboretum at sunset

Then home and back to work in the studio. With some welcome greetings from my wonderful family.

Charlie was happy to have me home too
Welcome home

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Does it look any different?

After three weeks of prancing about in a black plastic bag wielding recalcitrant power tools and sanding mightily what have I got to show for it? The rocks are subtly different - smooth faces form the gestures supported on the untouched native rock. Not your standard sculpture where the forms are telling the story.

The work will be named and launched on Friday.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Looking Around

The full moon was spectacular but now the
Lady the wallaby is a bit camera shy.
early night sky is dark enough to see more stars than city people dream about. Afternoon and evening the local art critic drops in to check on progress.

The address for The Black Queen is correct: red car door E, Simms Hill Track. I don't know where they find all the car doors  - maybe I'll find out next trip.

The Leopard wood trees are beautiful.
Apparently they grow on the higher ground away from frosts. How fantastic to be working here, and leaving behind a stone gift to add to the place.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Creating Rubble

The pile of stonechips grows and I think a sculpture is taking shape. We'll see what it looks like in the morning light.

As I was working today l looked up and saw a wallaby browsing - quite unconcerned in spite of the noise of the tools and the generator.

The start of the second week.

Oh Rock!

The rock by the light of the setting moon is white in contrast to the sleeping landscape. It isn't like the rocks in Ryoanji garden that rely on their untouched rock-ness  to make their statement. This rock has been wrested from its natural lie in the ground, stood upright, broken a couple of times and then I get to work on it.

As the worked faces emerge they stand in contrast and in compliment to the marks of the seasons that show where the rock was exposed.

I'm getting line and surface and interface. And the gesture of those things is starting to suggest a name.

The moon has set now and the darkness before dawn prevails. I dare not go for a walk until daylight in this place dotted with mine shafts. In fact driving has its risks too - coming back from the bore baths last night I saw a big grey kangaroo by the road. A collision would not be good for either of us!

The first colour of day is showing - time to watch.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Residency Progress and Hot Pool

A few days of sorting out a work pattern with a generator and a garden hose and my water feed tools are looking good. The pile of chips is growing courtesy of the slice and dice with the tile cutting saw and mallet.

All this cutting, chipping and grinding is slow to shape the work. The muscles ache a bit but the hot water in the artesian bore baths is really soothing.

On solstice morning the sun makes a line between the rocks.

Work in progress  23 June

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Residency-the start

Working so far from the studio is scary and fun! So first we decided to move the big rock to a better place and then we wanted to move a companion rock. Leon turned up with a huge yellow machine - steering on front and back wheels and legs that went down to support an extending bucket - and the skill in driving it was amazing! So there was the project - a complete redesign and food for thought.

So I began- setup the tools, establish the water and power supply and figure out how to make things safe when the performances are on.

Of course the first incident was that a piece feel off - oh dear! well what do you expect after dropping it into position. Such is life with sandstone.

Morning from the Black Queen

The start
Now to work! Establish the rhythm and off we go.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lightning Ridge Residency at the Black Queen

walls of bottles beautifully executed.
Gale and Roger Collins run the Black Queen Outback theatre. It is a performance about the complex of spaces, the lady who built it, why they bought it and culminates in the museum where we witness the story of light.

The museum at dusk before the lamps are lit
That museum is a magic space that compliments the performance. And the lamps themselves do indeed "light up the night"

I'm looking forward to working here on the sandstone of the Ridge.

Morning on the Ridge

Monday, May 20, 2013

Jasmine's Ent

Just a little branch off the Manchurian pear tree - but the Ent spirit wanted to stand there.

and is he happier now?

Friday, May 17, 2013

What Happened to those Horsemen?

Well they never got made in glass. And just as well too - the balancing of my first kinetic sculpture was a tricky business involving fishing weights and dome nuts - best hidden behind the cold cast aluminium. So it was shown at Herring Island - and whilst it didn't find a good home it had a few admirers. And such is life! The clip below may not read in your browser but you can see it on YouTube here

Thinking about the theme further - and reading Jenny Donovan's "Designing to Heal" the revelation for me is that acts of theft, violence and injustice break the network of community and the social contract upon which we all depend.

Life and Love that happen in between sculptures...

Rohan and Jennifer are married - it was very beautiful by the river. The cake was the ephemeral sculpture - that was the last of the warm days - just a prefect fairwell to autumn mildness.

It was just the way to celebrate love and life - with music and friends and the river.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Set up at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

 The well dressed sculptor will wear - plastic - garbage bags to be precise and the latest in rubber boots - but the wet grinder is pretty good. And the shaping came along quite nicely. However there is still quite a bit of equipment and material lacking... a big drill for stainless rods - a piece of granite - lots of little things that Andrew Bryant "just happened" to have lying around - and a generous nature to go with.

Andrew attacking the red gum/iron bark that used to be a railway sleeper
Having set it up there was a lot of finishing  - so back to the studio and sand, sand, sand - a bit of chisel, sand, sand again, water spray.... oh yes a meal or two and say hello.... will it ever be right?

And then to the various hard wares for sealer and oil for the wood... getting exciting - which day are we setting up? St Patrick's Day - the better the day, the better the deed!

And there we were at the show - most of the work was in - people had various shifts so we weren't all there at once. And Mark coped magnificently with getting the paperwork done and everyone in a good spot - more than 100 good spots in an exhibition - only Mark could do it!

And then fussing with the level - and is it quite right here? Can it tell the story of that moment in the Black Queen when Gale's lamp made me so present and aware - of the story of light as we humans love it.
A Moment in the Story of Light - Lightning Ridge sandstone, red gum, stainless steel, granite