Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The beauty of glass

Fiona and I have been on the road for work-work. Travel took us to Canberra where we had a bit of spare time to take in some of the sights on Sunday. When in Canberra we try to drop into the Canberra Glassworks to check out the current exhibition.

Transition - A Captured Moment by Masahiro Asaka is just stunning. As you can see from the photos below he has produced such delicate but large pieces by controlling the melt and flow of the glass. So fine, so ice and crystal like, so beautiful. The pieces are cast and cold worked glass.

Barry Smith © Detail of Surge by Asaka 
Barry Smith © Detail of Surge by Asaka
Barry Smith © Detail of Surge by Asaka
Barry Smith © Surge 15 by Asaka
We also went to the National Library to check out the Handwritten exhibition - a great reminder of the fact that the written hand not only creates content but also imparts something of the author - some character, some uniqueness, some energy. But the visit also gave me the opportunity to re-visit the massive thick stain glass windows. The glass would be up to 25mm thick and the pieces appear to be bound together in a web of grey-black resin. Such colourful filtered light.

Barry Smith © Fragment 1 SG window
Barry Smith © Fragment 2 SG window 
Barry Smith © Fragment 3 SG window
And when one sees such beauty as the crystal glass it just encourages me to alter one or two photos. But it doesn't match the beauty of the original.

Barry Smith © Fragment of Surge by Asaka - altered
Barry Smith © Fragment of Surge by Asaka - altered
All photos taken with the trusty iPhone.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finding inner peace - mandalas

Those who read my blog know that much of my work is influenced by concepts of peace both inner and in the world. Many of my bowls, incense burners, personal shrines and even leaves could, in their own quite ways, be used as reminders or focal points for peace and meditation.

There are many fellow bloggers who share such sentiments and it influences their work including that of  Brian Sylvester.

In an earlier post I reported how fortunate Fiona and I were to catch up with Brian and Gabriella during our time in the US. But I did not report that Brian had painted a special mandala for Fiona and I as a welcoming gift. This piece of sacred art is now hanging in my 'clean studio' (as distinct from the studio that is really the garage) above some of my small collections and in front of me when I am finishing small works inside.

Barry Smith © Welcoming mandala in studio 
Barry Smith ˙© Mandala by Brian Sylvester
Though the jury is out on the original meaning of mandalas and there are a variety of explanations about them - it is agreed that they are sacred art, mostly based on circles or intersecting circles, usually unique in design, full of meaning and can be used as a focal point to mediate on or contemplate on life and its way and meaning.

Brian's work is quite amazing for its level of detail, unique designs and the absolute attention to quality of finish. And I know that as he does this work he gives each piece positive energy that is shared with the person who purchases the work or simply contemplates it. Brian thanks for this work that is now part of our lives. Check out Brian's blog for some inspiring works.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Of storms and sunsets

Nature is just so amazing - one day dark threatening storm clouds and rain; and the next more threatening clouds that become the canvas for a burning shimmering sunset.

Barry Smith © Stormy valley - stitched
Barry Smith © Storm clouds over the valley
Barry Smith © Fire and rain
Barry Smith © Fire on the mountains
Barry Smith © Clouds - nature's canvas
Barry Smith © Sweeping brush strokes
Fiona and I often look out our windows and glass doors and see these scenes unfolding and just know how fortunate we are to live where we live - perched on an escarpment looking across the valley and mountain ranges. All photos are taken with the iPhone and unaltered.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beaten metal in local library

In our town, Maleny, we have a fantastic local library (a branch library really). The Sunshine Coast Council and staff operate the library as a community hub. It not only has books, but provides internet access, meeting space, kids corner, hire of the latest releases.... and exhibition space for local artists on one of its walls and in glass display cabinets at the entrance.  Fiona and I have been invited to do a mini exhibition of our work for three weeks beginning 27 Febuary. But because someone had not taken up their exhibition opportunity I managed to sneak in an extra week - starting 20 Febuary.

On Monday morning Fiona and I set up the above mini exhibition of some of my beaten metal work in my cabinet.

Fiona Dempster © A cascade of Barry's foldformed bowls
 As you can see from the photo of the cabinet and the individual photos below I have included a bit of a variety of pieces. The glass shelves and good down lights are just perfect for showing small shiny works. Some of the works are oldish and some are having their first public outing.

Barry Smith © A cabinet of bright metal
Barry Smith © Bowls, leaves, feathers and bling
Fiona Dempster © Barry's foldformed ring and cuff
Barry Smith © Woven bowl
Fiona Dempster © A litter of metal leaves
Fiona Dempster © 12 Leaf bowl - seems to be suspended in air
The works are not for sale but we made a few postcards and I have left my art-business card in case folk might want to contact me.

Barry Smith © Promotional material
Barry Smith © EPNS leaf postcard
What a great opportunity - book lovers who might also be art lovers get to see what I do. Photos taken with iPhone - bit of reflected blue coming through.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Time to play with a prototype

On Saturday and Sunday both Fiona and I managed to intersperse a bit of art amidst the work-work (preparing for a couple of conference related events in Melbourne this coming week); and the ordinary things faced by all of us  - maintaing the block and house cleaning etc.

On the trip to NY I sketched a cuff bracelet that was hinged in three places to make it easier to take on and off and form to the wrist a bit more. I managed to complete a prototype - still a bit rough around the edges. Fiona kindly modelled it (see below) and said it had a comfortable feel.

Barry Smith © Hinged brass and EPNS bracelet - top
Barry Smith © Hinged brass and EPNS bracelet - bottom
In the finished piece the side hinge pins would be heated to form balls. At the moment it is held together with wire from used pop rivets The top hinge would have a pin with a ball on one end so that the hinge and pin become part of the design. At the moment the top hinge is held together with a brass plated nail. The band that goes under the wrist would be in one piece so that it would not pinch. The EPNS bits are held with copper rivets.

Barry Smith © Hinged brass and EPNS bracelet - opened top view
Barry Smith © Hinged brass and EPNS bracelet
Barry Smith © Hinged brass and EPNS bracelet - opened - inside view
Barry Smith © Hinged brass and EPNS bracelet - open
I was pleased with the prototype - so when I get a little more time I will make another but with a little more finessing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Forty finished on Friday

Well the title sounds a bit impressive but it simply means that after a morning at the computer I got down and dirty in the garage-studio. As you can see from the photo below I finished forming and unfolding a few more tiny leaves and then drilled, sanded the edges of them and polished the lot. They look gorgeous on the rust in the afternoon sunlight. All the leaves were made from metal recycled from the base of a salvaged jardiniere. Can you see the wee 1cm leaf on the right?

Barry Smith © A Litter of Tiny Leaves on Rust
I formed etc a few other slightly bigger leaves and gave them a polish as well. They are drilled and ready to become earrings. The more slender silver pair are silver over copper - lovely to work with cold. I wonder if JM can recognise her pair of leaf forms in brass on the left?

Barry Smith © Leaf forms for earrings
Since I was in polishing mode I gave the two small bowls I beat before going to NYC a polish - but left the worn lustre on the the inside - polished a bit to show the hammer-marks and underlying brass. I have been offered space in the exhibition cabinet at the local library for the next few weeks so I think these little bowls will make their way into the display.

Barry Smith © Small beaten EPNS bowls on rust in the setting sunlight
The 12 leaf bowl also got a bit of a polish. It still needs a bit more work to form a slightly deeper bowl. I bought a raising peg in NYC - am still awaiting it to arrive via US post.

Barry Smith © Twelve leaf bowl gets closer to completion.
And to end the day another photo of the forty leaves on greyed wood just to let the tiny ones shine.

Barry Smith © Tiny foldformed leaves reflect the setting sun
It is a good feeling to be getting back into a pattern - the Friday art is a real injection to the soul.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A tiny commission that feeds the soul

Not a lot of time for hands on creative art at the moment. I'm still catching up with things (particularly weeds) about the block; and doing computer (paperless) work of both a work-work and community nature. But one little respite and way to feed the art soul has been to grab bits of time and beat metal such as this handful of tiny foldformed brass leaves.

Barry Smith © A stash of tiny brass leaves
I have a commission to make about 25 tiny leaves (3/4-1 inch long) that the client wants to use to create a unique piece for a ceremony. Whilst I have not got thinking space and time for bigger art pieces, it has been good to have this set task so I can duck downstairs into the garage studio and hammer a little litter of leaves on the anvil from time to time.

Barry Smith © Cut pieces of annealed recycled brass.
Barry Smith © Folded and cut to shape
Barry Smith © Formed and ready for second annealing
Barry Smith © An anvil full of opened foldformed leaves
As you can see from the photos above I have gone from small pieces of annealed brass to about 30 tiny leaves; and this time just to challenge myself I did make one 1/2 leaf. These leaves are in the rough (but some of like them like that - some beautiful colours); and will get a polish - maybe on Friday. When you look at the stash of leaves in the palm of my hands it hardly looks like 30 pieces of beaten brass.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some ephemeral art from Bunya Dreaming; and bounty from the block

Yesterday I spent the day at Bunya Dreaming with other art4place artists running the 'art challenge'. The Bunya Dreaming gathering art challenge encourages registered 'artists' (children and adults) to create ephemeral olacemaking art according to a theme and/or to reflect the totems of the Aboriginal people of the area (Gubbi Gubbi people). The theme this year was mother as a mark of respect to Beverly Hand's mother who died last year. Beverley is a Gubbi Gubbi elder and driving force behind the Bunya Dreaming gathering - and application and only event. Bunya Dreaming is held on the shores of Baroon Pocket Dam  - the traditional spot for the original Bunya gatherings and feasts.

Though about 40-50 pieces of art were created I want to share the following two adult works. Other works by both child/youth and adult 'artists' and the fuller story of art4place's involvement in the day can be found HERE.

Barry Smith © Goanna Team (women art team) - about the birth of Bunya Dreaming and the Bunya Dreaming place
Barry Smith © Detail of Goanna Team's work
Barry Smith © Infinite black hole - detail Goanna Team's work
Barry Smith © Women out Front - Diamond python - view 1
Barry Smith © WoF - Diamond Python - view 2 (someone stepped on the tail)
The circular work that represents the birth place of Bunya Dreaming has an Andy Goldsworthy influence - the work was about 1.5m in diameter. The work was created by a team of 4 women - a lot of thought and detail in the worked. It had an engaging energy about it. It was created around a hole dug into the earth (about 250mm wide and 400mm deep). The soil is black so the hole had a real infinity look about it. The grass and soil were replaced at the end of the day. Great use of Bunya nuts and husks.

The Diamond Carpet Python is about 6m long - beautiful sinuous lines and made a great use of the discarded Bunya cone segments and sand found on site. The artists, Women out Front group (3 artists plus children and others who wanted to contribute) even found some discarded feathers to indicate that the python had just finished a meal.

And of course life goes on 'on the block'. Fiona and I were out this morning tackling the abundant weeds.
Barry Smith © Fiona's harvest
Barry Smith © Heathy and hot little numbers?
Fiona was restoring order to the veggie garden and came up with the above harvest of onions, rhubarb and bell peppers. Iphone photos.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Soft light and unfinished pieces

We are home after a great sojourn in NYC and Vermont US.  I awoke this morning at 5am to soft light in the valley below - quiet and calm; and then nature found its voice - the cacaphony of Kookaburra family chorus, the soft lowing of cattle and a mosaic of other bird calls.  Can there be such a thing as quiet noise?
Barry Smith © Soft morning light - 'our valley' (10/2/12)
Today has been spent catching up with people and our lives. Tomorrow the postponed Bunya Dreaming event is to take place - weather permitting; and art4place will coordinate and judge the ephemeral art 'competition'. So I caught up with a few folk to see that we were ready to go in the morning.

art4place is also progressing plans for a placemaking art event called Sunshine Coast Hinterland Creative Spaces to be held in Sept-Oct 2012. So planning and an application for funding has to continue to keep unfolding.

But there was time to have a coffee with Noela and Ken to share the highlights of the trip and to catch up on the art news of the town. Great to be welcomed home by the mountains and friends.

There was not time for hands on art today but I did photograph a few bowls I completed to rough stage but didn't photograph before we went away. As you can see below I took the challenge of the 8 leaf bowl up a notch and have foldformed a 12 leaf bowl. The bowl, including leaves, is about 150mm in diameter; and was made from an old copper plate.

Barry Smith © Twelve leaf bowl - in the rough
Barry Smith © Twelve leaf bowl - in the rough
I also beat these two EPNS small bowls (about 75mm in diameter). I love the fact that you can still see the sharp edges of the brass under the silver coating and the hammer marks in the silver-plate.

Barry Smith © Small sacred bowls.
I hope over the next couple of days I will get  time to complete these pieces - including giving them a polish. Whilst I was good to travel- it is great to be at home, to be calmed by the valley and have the chance to get into the studio-garage.