Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sculpture I am working on

Next step                                                                 

How can I make sphere, from components? Clay sphere, of course. I happened to be on 16 hour flight...lots of thinking and drawing time, no distractions:

I have to research Geodesic domes!

I chanced upon this inspirational web site that got me playing with skewers:

Except I wanted something more permanent than lollies.

Here is my version:

It took a few days to make, but it was invaluable exercise in order to fully understand principals, components and sizes. Making a 3D model and having it in front of me is totally different than looking at the drawings.
To get a better idea of size of this dome, here it is on my table:

It is quite large, but awesome. I want to keep it, but it takes so much space....
Now I have to figure out how to translate it into clay.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Sculpture I am working on

Concepts development                                                                 

We are rapidly moving to the present time with this blog. From now on, we are live on air, figuratively speaking.
I am intrigued by making larger objects – always difficult in clay – from smaller components.

As I look through my inspirational images collections on computer and in books, I am particularly drawn to spherical objects.
I want to make spherical form reminiscent of seeds, pollen,  planktons. 
Form that evokes ideas of genesis, growth, evolution, potential for change.



of course, Ernst Haeckel drawings:
The 1st plate from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur (1904), depicting radiolarians, classified as Phaeodaria (credit:

and miscellaneous plant structures:

where will it take me?

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Here it is, at Gomboc Gallery and Sculpture Park: 

At the opening:

And this is my favourite image; in the courtyard at Central institute of Technology ceramic department ( where I work), with all the kiln chimneys reflected in the glass:


In order to make forms sturdier,safer and easier to install I have filled them with aerated concrete and inserted the plastic tube in the middle. I intend to hammer a steal rod into the ground and slide the form on top.  It is really important to consider and design installation systems while making forms, as it saves lots of hustle and retro-fitting later.  
When they are ready for permanent installation  I can glue the rod in the form, and concrete it under the ground level.                

This is the first time I am  putting them all together ( on my driveway) and I'm a bit anxious. At the moment it doesn't look the way I have imagined it...

I have given each form a bit more space and it looks much better. I can see the left and right spirals - and I like it. Rhythm is very important for this work. As I circle around it, spirals move with me and I am happy with the effect. I wander what will it look like on the grass. My driveway is similar colours to the sculpture so it blends in rather than stands out. Is that a good thing?

This is a half way point. Unfortunately photo is not the best due to the wet driveway, but I like the movement and tension in the form. It almost becomes Yin without Yang.It also looks like it occupies less than half a circle. Note to self: after the exhibition, I need to play with positioning and rhythm of these forms and see if there is potential for further development.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

I figured out I had to make 12 “pyramids” each in 6 sizes. 72 pieces all together. Will there be enough time? When I assemble them will the sculpture look the way I imagine it in my mind?
There is only one way to find out... so I started making.
 I used relatively coarse handbuilding clay and covered it with porcelain slip, for whiteness and texture. I love using slip that way, although the process is quite messy.
My first impulse was to leave them white, but as I was making them I decided to glaze them in colours of local rocks - iron reds and ochre.

Friday, 20 September 2013


early stages 


How do you start working on a new project? Does it follow as an extension of the previous one like a variation on a theme, or is it a new beginning? A bit of both?
As soon as work for the Stations of the Cross was finished I had to refocus and start considering work for 30th Sculpture Survey at Gomboc Gallery. Outdoor work in public space. How do I create clay work that is large and sturdy enough to stand in the environment, meaningful and engaging - in very little time left after the full timetable of teaching? Timelines and deadlines are words my students hear often when planning exhibition work. We clayworkers know that some processes like drying and firing can’t be hurried and take days and weeks...and results are not always what we hope for.
When I start thinking about new project (I call it germination stage) I flood my mind with images and ideas from all sources. I am in alert and aware state of mind and open to visual stimuli. Everything becomes potential source of inspiration.
I was thinking of creating a work which emerges from the ground, when I stumbled upon a small book of patterns called Kaleidometrics by Sheilah Shaw.

This particular image caught my interest as it reminded me of pinecones:

and it soon become this:

Yes!! Fractals!! ( and Fibonacci numbers)
As I started measuring and enlarging the squares to figure out how big to make them I soon noticed the rule:
diagonal measurement of each square = side of next square.
Then I had to work out the sizes of triangles that would form each "pyramid".
Here are measurements of all bases and 2 largest "pyramids":

This is interesting, Look at those babies I saw in the pond in Saigon, Vietnam recently ( 4 month after Vortex was completed and exhibited). Looks like I'm stealing ideas from mother nature again:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

This Easter I was invited to make a work for The Stations of the Cross exhibition held at Wesley Uniting Church in Perth. I have accepted after a serious consideration and soul search. To tell the truth, I didn't even know the meaning of The Stations of the Cross until I did some research. I accepted without any idea how to approach the theme, but knowing that it will be a spiritual challenge as well as artistic one.
Catherine Czerw, curator of the exhibition asked participating artists to nominate 3 favourite stations in order to allocate each station to an artist.

Mine was: Station 4: Jesus Meets His Mother
I decided to approach the theme from mother’s perspective and examine and depict the emotions mother would feel watching her son carrying a cross. The subject is extremely personal and emotional to me as my daughter suffers chronic pain. The turmoil of emotions felt when you watch your child suffer is hard to put into words. There is helplessness and sorrow, hopelessness, inadequacy, love, vulnerability, emptiness and silence.
So here it is.

Mother is represented by the larger bowl / vessel / womb that contains / embraces / encircles the smaller bowl (son) at a tilted angle. She contains and embraces her child and his cross. Cross is etched, cut and pierced deep into the surface. Shape of the vessel is reminiscent of holy water font.

In many cultures there is association of a clay pot with a human body. Potter is a primal artisan who takes a lump of earth and creates beautiful forms. Vessels.
Body is a vessel that contains life, emotions, breath, thoughts...
In my studio I have images by Delhi based photographer Bandeep Singh. His Antarghata series explores avid interest in the relationship between human body and earthen pots, and I find them beautiful and inspirational.

 It is interesting to note that Sanskrit word for pot also means body.

Image for the cross that is etched, cut and pierced deep into the surface of the inner bowl is inspired by the image (appropriately) from the tattoo web site. Unfortunately I did not write the artists name at the time. I would like to acknowledge the artist, so if anybody knows who it is, please let me know.

I like this image as it is complex,multidimensional,formal,architectural and at the same time sketchy, open, unfinished and not totally defined. I did not want the cross to be heavy, overbearing and funerary. I wanted it to hold the gaze and become mandala like, focus for meditative thought.
It is actually mathematical background for a highly decorative celtic cross.

I wanted the bowl to be at the certain height, but definitely not on a plinth, so I made a metal stand.This image is from the opening of the exhibition. The person in the middle is Rev. Don Dowling - now owner of the artwork.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Self portrait                                                  

I was invited to participate in Mine Own Executioner 2012
an annual exhibition of self portraiture by invited Western Australian artists presented by the Mundaring Art Centre.

It was an intriguing and challenging proposition for me as I am not a figurative artist, and portraiture is very far from my usual way of expression.
Self portrait requires lots of self examination. How do I perceive myself? How do I want to depict myself? How do I find and express the essence of my being? What do I identify with?
And that is how Trees came into the picture. I have huge emotional attachment to trees, and appreciation for their beauty. They have calming effect on me, and I often call forests and trees natures (and my) cathedrals.

Trees symbolize life, growth, reaching down to the ground and up to the sky at the same time. Their branches meander through space as a metaphor for the thinking process, thoughts and ideas growing and taking shape. That is kind of how I perceive myself from the inside. I am more aware of my thoughts, ideas and emotions than of my physical image. And that is how I decided to portray myself: as a shadow, glimpse, spectre, idea of the tree. I hope you see it:

To bring this idea to realization I started with a simple profile drawing of my torso. Then I put a transparent sheet over and drew a tree. Over the top I put another transparent sheet and drew another tree filling empty spots ...and so on until most of the profile was filled in. This is the image of all transparencies together:

and separate:

Next step was to figure out the sizes of the trees I need to make. Trees closer to the source of light have to be progressively smaller than the trees further from the light in order to cast the same size shadow and create the image.
That is where the maths comes in, and saved scrap of paper with some working out:

reducing the sizes of the trees was easy on the photocopier:

Here is the close up of one porcelain tree:

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Gateway 21


First step was to dig 2 holes for the foundations. I made couple of steel rod frames (same system as inside the ceramic blocks) to be concreted under ground level.

They had to be level and perfectly positioned, or the arch would not connect at the top. Big board you see in the foreground of the photo is a template, assuring that perfect fit.   

This part we practiced before and it worked really well.

This is another template, to make sure the top part of the arch will fit - before we start maneuvering it in place.

There are no photos of the next part - we were too busy with all hands holding the heavy frame supporting the ceramic blocks threaded on the metal frame.
The top fitted perfectly and the only thing left to do was to unscrew the MDF frame supporting it.
That is when we realized that the screwdriver head on the battery drill does not fit the screws.
No matter how much we tried, we still did not prepare for everything. The rest of that story is part of a legend now.
Finally, done:

And my favorite photos with my son Robert: