Sunday, January 30, 2011

A font for rust lovers?

Over the last little while in the main my art practice has taken the form of, doing temporary placemaking art at the Festuri festival (see art4place's blog post); launching my new website; and doing ephemeral placemaking art at Bunya Dreaming (see Fiona's blog post).

On Friday I did get a little time to finish one of my fonts for our March exhibition at Studio 4 Gallery.

Barry Smith © Font for rust lovers

Barry Smith © Font for rust lovers
I bought together two separate pieces for this work: a beaten bowl made from recycled brass (backpack pump spray unit); and a rusted cube (rusted iron over blackbutt timber) originally created for an earlier COMA exhibition. The bowl needed a base to lift it and turn it into a font. The fingers holding the bowl off the cube were made from rusted 6mm iron rod.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fantastic Friday

My morning word for today was 'fun'. Whilst the morning was taken up with work-work the day as a whole has been and will be filled with fun and other fantastic stuff.

As Fiona has indicated on her blog today is the day when we launched our art websites. This has been a pretty big task for us; and I must say the praise etc needs to go to Fiona as she has carried the load on this both from a organisational, design and also technical sense.

Barry Smith © Hot Light - Light Catcher assemblage
You can check out the new website by doing one of two things: either by clicking on My Website on the righthand panel; or by going to the Website tab at the top of the page. Hope you enjoy.

Our websites are part of our identity makeover. Over the last few months we have had art 'business' cards designed and printed; redesigned our blogs; and now our websites are out there. This is all part of our effort to get our art out there a bit more in a slightly more professional way. Next of course is to do the online sales thing. That will come - but one step at a time does it.

It has been quite a journey for us art wise. As Fiona indicates we gave up secure well paid public sector jobs five years ago today and moved to our country town 4.5 years ago to pursue a quieter life with a focus on creating. And we are really pleased that we made that move. Still a way to travel on the journey yet but smiles are the go.

So there will be more fun on Friday as we break out the bubbles to celebrate: 5 years art journey, the launch of the website, our wedding anniversary, life and dinner out tonight.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Variety is the spice of life???

Since Saturday we seemed to have been on a bit of a roller-coaster - lots of work-work and community work - not a lot of time for personal art - or at least that is how it seems - still managing to get the 15-30 minutes in each day in some form or other.

When I look back I have managed to complete my first four letters for the ALaW 2011 challenge.

Barry Smith © ALAW3
I have cut and sanded a cube of Huon Pine in preparation for putting a font together. Sometimes so much time can go into the preparation.

And I spent time finishing the body of the dragon for the Festuri placemaking art event. And as part of the art4place team we spent 4 hours yesterday (Australia Day) doing temporary placemaking art with a focus on Chinese sister cities; and engaging children and parents in that art.

And hey tomorrow is Friday!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A flurry of leaves?

I have always liked this photo I took of a piece of sculpture in a park. I loved the flurry of leaves around the simple wording in the grass.

Barry Smith © Leaves in the grass
On our walks recently Fiona and I have seen many flurries of leaves blown off the trees with our heavy wind and rain. On Friday I decided to create a significant number of metal leaves to reflect a flurry or litter of leaves. I decided to use anodised aluminium - cheap, easy to cut, easy to fold, soft to beat, relatively easy unfold with out annealing and a joy to polish. The anodised aluminium I used came from an old drink tray (gold), several cake 'tins' (copper) and a couple of storage canisters (green).

My reference point was a bunch of leaves I collected our walks.

After much cutting  I made 27 leaf shapes; and then proceeded to beat and polish them.

I did another cutting and beating session this afternoon which meant I had 27 individually crafted leaves. The end product is pretty good. Twenty-seven leaves reflecting the flurry of leaves collected on our walk.

Barry Smith © A flurry of leaves

Barry Smith A flurry of leaves - detail

Barry Smith © A flurry of leaves - detail
I said to Fiona I am still looking for some reddish and lime greenish anodised stuff to finish the Flurry of Leaves.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fungi on Friday

It has been a good art day today. I managed to get town, work-work and community grants stuff done by late morning so even made it to the studio (garage) before lunch.

I worked on my letters for ALaW 2011; and was beating up a storm on a 'litter' of leaves. But also I had noticed that the recent heavy rain had resulted in lots of different fungi on the block; and even my book stacks have got mould and fungi.

Barry Smith © Friday Fungi
The photo below shows the mould and fungi on the book stacks.

Barry Smith © Stack Fungi

And the other photos are of fungi in the garden and on some of my wood blocks (tree trunks).

Barry Smith © Stump fungi
Barry Smith © Stump Fungi 2
Barry Smith © Stump fungi 3
Barry Smith © Stump fungi 4
Barry Smith © Stump fungi 5

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wire Whimsy

Today seemed quite long - I spent a lot of time at the computer. By the time I reached the end of the day I almost felt too jaded to do the rejuvenating 15-30 minutes in the studio. However in her comment on my strap bowl Velma had given me a link to a couple of silversmiths Pat and Butch Bramhall who do exquisite woven metal work; and this encouraged me to head down under and just play with woven wire.

I set myself the challenge of seeing what I could do by way of creating a small bowl with woven wire in less than an hour. The end product is quite a whimsical thing - the whole piece is about 120-140mm across including the copper wires that stick out.

Barry Smith © Wire whimsy bowl
The task started by cutting a square of brass out of the side of what used to be a cylinder for a camping stove.

I cut a 60-70mm circle out of the square and then beat it into a shallow bowl. After drilling and bending the holes I laced the copper wire through and started the task of weaving it together with various wire I had to hand.

It isn't the most finished piece but it was fun and a good way to unwind. Looks a bit like an unfinished bird's nest ?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Metal strap bowl

For some time I have entertained the idea of weaving metal packing strap into the form of a bowl. I had tried out my weaving skills on my skeletal leaf which turned out ok and is curing (rusting more) in the yard.

Well I gave it a try in my 30 minutes in the studio yesterday and today. I riveted eight lengths of strap together in a star shape and bent them into a general bowl shape. Then the lesson started - 15mm wide metal strap will not go around curves and be plaited through the straps that are forming the bowl; nor will 12mm strap; and nor will 5mm copper straps. So the options were - string or ribbons - not really my mediums. So I tried copper wire. It worked reasonably well. And if I took the time it could look better.

Still I did manage to create this prototype and test the idea - I think it will be worth giving another go when I approach the task with a little more time.

Barry Smith © Metal strap bowl

Barry Smith © Metal strap bowl
After weaving with wire I did beat the whole thing with a metal hammer to shape the form into a better bowl shape and also flatten the wire and so harden it. The copper wire has now been treated with a bit of patina solution to give it an aged look to match the rusted strap.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Creating personal shrines

Yesterday and today Fiona has been at a print making course where she has been learning to etch plates without using the usual acids. I have used the time each day to do some work-work (still writing a workbook for grant makers); doing catch-up maintenance in the yard after the rain (while the sun shines); and doing some work on my pieces for our March exhibition.

I have all but completed two additional personal shrines. The first I recycled a wedge of rose gum hardwood timber I had used in an earlier piece of work; and the second was using a couple of books.

I like how the rose gum shrine has turned out. As you can see from the photo below it has very simple lines. I cut a fine groove into it and set a thin brass shelf into the wedge. It is embellished with brass rod and copper domed tacks.  It is about 800mm high and the base is 200mm square.

Barry Smith © Rose gum shrine

Barry Smith © Rose gum shrine
As you can see from the next couple of photos I used a side grinder with a fibre cutoff disk to cut a groove into one book and cut a third off the other. The pieces have been glued together as one would two pieces of wood.

After cutting a couple of windows I have stamped and polished brass panels and nailed them into the windows. I used a brass decorative edge off an old tray to embellish the piece and to cover the screws I had put through the books into the backing ply (12mm). Looks a bit like a piano? Still needs a bit of 'finishing'. This shrine is about 350mm high and 220mm wide.
Barry Smith © Life shrine

Barry Smith © Life shrine 
The words in the panels are: life; create; and moments to take my breath away.

Barry Smith © Detail Life shrine

Friday, January 14, 2011

On the razor's edge?

I enjoy listening to ACDC's music when I am working in the yard or in the garage. It seems right when I am doing heavy stuff. Seems to make moving gravel or beating metal that bit easier. The title of one of their tracks refers to living on the razor's edge. That title came to mind when I saw the blade of an old rusted wheat scythe in a junk shop. The blade is about 800mm long. I always wanted to create a stark simple piece using the blade. To me living on the razor's edge can, amongst other things, refer to being at a turning point in one's life - on the edge - able to go one way or another.

I reforged the blade's handle attachments so that they were at right angles to the blade. As you can see from the photos below I have attached the modified blade to a block of Huon Pine (850mm high,160mm square).
Barry Smith © Razor's edge

Barry Smith © Razor's edge 
Barry Smith © Razor's edge

Barry Smith © Razor's edge
As usual on a Friday my art work tends to be done after lunch and therefore photos of pieces are often taken outside towards dusk. Today the sky was quite menacing with low dark clouds. Unusual light - almost makes the shots look black and white. And whilst I have said it reminds me of the ACDC track the blade also reminds me of half a feather or a crinkled leaf.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stolen minutes in the studio

It has been a bit of a full on day today. We have done such a mix of things the day just seemed topsy-turvy.  We have had over 700mm in 4 days; have done the library lift; and now many of the buildings along the OBI Obi , including the library, have been sand-bagged. We were making calls to see that family and friends were Ok in the flood; getting calls to see we were OK; buying extra rations as the town was already isolated; dehumidifying moist rooms; hanging up a bucket to catch the drips of water going in on my computer (it worked a treat); and doing a repair job in the storage area under the stairs where water was seeping in. And of course there was the work-work to be done. I'm already feeling tired just writing about it all. But honestly we are only inconvenienced in comparison to the people in Toowoomba and surrounding area - so many deaths and so many missing.

However Fiona and I decided that we would still try to do our bit of time in the studio.   I have started another small personal shrine (270mm high & 210mm wide). As the photo below shows this will be a very simple but classic shrine filled with historical energy and human connections.  The centre piece will be a rectangular crystal with an inspirational word under it - I experimented with the 'openness' to test how the crystal would fracture the word.

Barry Smith © Ages past shrine

Barry Smith © Fractured word
The shrine is based on the leather cover  (over board) of a destroyed 1888 photo album - pretty special given the age and so many memories that have been carried in the album but are now gone.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The threat of flooding

The rain over the last two days has been torrential and relentless. We have had 250mm (10inches) from 9am-6pm alone today.

The house is dry and to this point the terraces and retaining walls are working. But as you can see from the photos there is a lot of water. We have never before had water flowing down our rock river but we have today: and the water is literally spraying out of the retaining wall in front of our house.

The local river, the Obi Obi, is now rising fast and pushing up against the bridge that crosses the river near our library. Fiona and I were called out tonight to join a bunch of other people (about 20) to get all the lower books,  furniture, computer etc onto tables out of harms way.

The dark photos show the water pushing against the sides on the bridge and submerging a sign that is normally beside a walkway under the bridge (2m high); and also over the small trees that are on the banks of the river.
Fiona's phone shots -tree
Fiona's phone shots bridge and sign
The water is lapping the bottom of the walkway outside the library. Hoping the rain eases tonight and the library gets a reprieve. Of course we are not suffering the flooding that so many are experiencing in our State. An area the size of France and Germany combined is now badly flooded. Very strange weather pattern.

Leaves to hold

In the world I'm sure there are other people like myself who like to hold and touch the texture and energy of things. On my desk I have quite an array of bits including slumped glass, small clay tablets, carved bone, small saki cups etc to hold and generally fiddle with.

I thought that some people might relate to foldformed leaves that also enfold some focus or inspirational words. I had done a prototype in the past but wanted to do a series. Well I tried that on Friday and the silver plated brass just collapsed. So on Saturday I tried it again with a different piece of silver plate and some brass from a reclaimed jardiniere.

As you can see from the above it worked reasonably well - but the question is would people want to hold such pieces and use them as energy or focal pieces.

I also experimented with a longer (150mm) romero fold leaf but added to the design by retaining some of the centre fold to create a leaf stem.

And you can't do chopping and cutting of metal without thinking Bazola. So some pieces are silver plate and some are zinc coated brass. You might note that one of the broken leaves from Friday has resurfaced as Bazola bits - maybe a set of earrings?