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:

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.

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.

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:


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