The cocked head of a Jack Russell has a hilarious almost bewitching affect on me. To the extent that I’ve entered it into google to see if perhaps others are similarly entranced. To my surprise and further amusement the yield returned to me by request was multitudinous.
The tilt of the head the angle and the way the ears sit up it just gets to me. I freaking love it!
We had a few Jack Russells growing up. I have magical memories of them all. One as a tiny pup tucked inside my dad’s jacket on the bike out in Skerries. They agreed with us Jack Russells. They understood the family ways and rolled right in giving as good as they got.
Podge was a stalwart. A bright spark too. Hearing the reports about a serial killer in Milwaukee on the news signalled it was time for his evening stroll. He’d start wagging and looking up excitedly for his lead as he did when we called walkies to him and who were we to refuse.
Most of all I loved the experience of coming home from school each day, getting off the number thirty at the entrance to Baymount Park and seeing him fly out the gate darting rapidly dart down to meet me his back leg out a fetching idiosyncrasy that only added to the delightful welcome.
This is my almost life size sculpture of a female torso in its finished pre fired state. I was feeling ambitious at the time and had the desire to work in a large scale. I worked from a model and from photographs. I found it satisfying physically to work on a piece this size. The sense of wrestling with the material and with the form which that was achieved was wholly engrossing.
The clay changed its substance over the course of the modelling. From a firm and moist state at the initial stages it gradually hardened into a firm leathery material through the drying process. I particularly enjoyed slapping the surface to create structure. The material was tough and allowed me to test it with vigour.
The piece took a couple of months to sculpt a relationship between me and the work an external embodiment of myself in which I could channel my experiences into. This too was deeply gratifying.
My lounging lady is a survivor. Due to there being trapped air inside the piece it was badly damaged during firing. It split into several pieces but I salvaged two main portions which I put back together and for glazing and final firing. Due to the fine nature of the piece the risk of damage in firing was highly possible.
I am glad I restored what I could of the figure. The crack through the middle has done little to diminish the overall result. The edges where the legs were blown away provide an interesting textural contrast to the smooth curves plus the final dimensions appeal visually to me more than did the original complete figure.
Perhaps it was fate as I was excessively attached to what I saw as my beautiful flawless creation.
My mother and and chick penguin in glazed ceramic.
The inspiration for this piece came from a photograph which I then made a drawing of. I was struck by the tenderness of the relationship between the pair. Making the drawing first helped me to get a sense of what I wanted to evoke in sculpting the birds.
The formation lended itself well to working in clay as the simple forms are free standing due to their being larger at the base and so also hollowed out easily. The glazing was experimental as I had really no idea what the colours I was using would turn out like. I was most surprised and pleased at how well the finished fired colours worked.
The chick with his head back under the mother’s beak is so touching. The innocence and trust of the young and the stoic determination of the mature adult female to protect and nurture her chick is absolute.
My chick is larger than I intended. He is more adolescent in size but he is a baby.
One of my treasures is this fellow. I feel a great affinity and empathy for this particular object. It is almost as if it were a living creature. I sense it has feelings and whats more I sense it feels mine.
That may seem bizarre to most people but bizarre is highly subjective.
It is a found object. I picked it up off the street. It spoke to me. The form, its readiness the art of chance all came together in its presentation before me and I continued its manifestation by taking it into my home and into myself.
I attribute significance to items largely due to how I came by them. The circumstances and the story of how things and I meet greatly adds to their import. It fuels the memory and fuses an attachment especially there is an element of spheres colliding.
People speak this way about romantic love planets being aligned and other cosmic metaphors. In applying such notions to material things I am extending the concept of romantic love into more of my life. Thats partly how I see it or perhaps not exactly.
Creation is a mysterious process. The making or coming into being of all things involves magic and an element of the unknown. Matter and anti-matter. We play our part and the the rest is done. Both forces are equally valuable and without either there is nothing.
My seated figure lounging by the kitchen window. She looks well by the light.
This piece is more experimental than my other ceramic works. It is the product of two methods. I started out with by carving from without into a somewhat hardened lump of clay. The way stone sculptors work. Envisioning the piece inside the rock or marble and in my case lump of solid clay.
It was a fresh approach once again I found a new method that helped to distance myself from the end result and I was able to immerse myself fully in discovering what I could do and what the clay would allow me to do.
At a certain point I had to change tactic as the material was not firm enough to allow carving at the outer and finer parts e.g. the limbs. But the new method of working resulted in a totally different type of figure and form than I would have created by building in the conventional way.
The piece has a pleasing abstract quality to it an there is a good jagged muscularity to the pose.
The following is a short piece I wrote after making this drawing.
I have been giving some thought to this idea of the word being made flesh. I first read of it in Henry Miller’s essay on Balzac and just recently again it came up in Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as young man.
Slowly I am starting to experience its meaning through my living. How an idea, a thought becomes something else something greater through a process of synthesis.
Through action an idea gains a life, it takes hold and becomes in itself a force of life. This morning for example my reading and thought lines of the past few days led me to make a drawing from a photograph in Jung’s Book Man and his symbols. A photo of a medieval sculpture of the twins Romylus and Remus suckling the wolf. It had affected me strongly when I first saw it and it occurred to me that I might make a sculpture of it. Today that thought was moved into action and in fusing with the action a great many other thoughts were born and notions that had been forming in my subconscious broke forth into my conscious mind.
The action, the living movement of making the drawing at that precise time is along the lines of what word becomes flesh mean for me.
It brought to life memories of the day I watched an American Werewolf in London and of the transfiguring effect that it had on me. I remember it clearly as a sacred personal encounter with art and its extraordinary power. It was raining that day and I was home from work with a massive chest infection.
The film in many ways mirrored a huge personal transformation I was in the grip of at the time. The night prior to watching the film I had been in a profoundly altered state from fever and in that state I experienced myself as a wolf.