Sunday, January 1, 2017

Looking back over 2016

Fiona and I find it useful to pause at this time of the year to review our life in the year past and plan for the year ahead. We look at different facets of our lives including: work-work, life on the block, our community and our art.  In looking at our art it is a bit intriguing to see what one identifies as highlights or significant things. They are not always the big things or the big events. Below I share ten of my significant art things for 2016 - not in any order of priority.

Peace Books in the Landscape: Fiona and I finally got around to creating our set (3) of large freestanding aluminium sculptural peace books. This was a true collaboration - that involved calligraphy, etching and metal work. They reside on our block.

©2016 Barry Smith
Pendants of love and healing: I love the fact that I can create small personal things that can bring a little calm and peace to others. Whilst I make my Daily Leaf Words sets and many leaves of love and peace; this year I was moved myself when I was asked for the second to make a 4 page book pendant of love and healing to be given from one friend to a another very ill friend. I love how so many of us can embed positive energy into simple things.

©2016 Barry Smith
Bending 5: I was commissioned to make Bending 5 as a gift to Tatebayashi Council from the Sunshine Coast Council. This is the fifth of this leaf and stalk sculptural installation - each varies slightly. I enjoy the gentle bending way that this work can sit in the landscape. We have Bending 4 at the entrance to our house.

©2016 Barry Smith
Solid silver Stemless Saki vessel: In October we visited Tatebayashi as part of a Sister City culture-art exchange. I knew I was going to catch up with Hariu Sensi - a Japanese Master Metal Worker. I wanted to be able to thank him for taking the time to share his time, his house, studio and knowledge with me by making him a solid saki vessel.

©2016 Barry Smith
Metal Women or women of the metal: One of the great features of 2016 has been the number of women who have wanted to do metal work in the garage-studio. This has been something, in the main, I have done with visitors and friends - though I did do a full day with a group of 8 women. I love that not only that these women went outside their comfort zone - they created great stuff.

©2016 Barry Smith
Peace Doves: Fiona and I celebrate International Peace Day on 21 September each year by hanging peace stuff in the tree at the front of our block. The peace pieces are usually installed around 14 September and stay in the tree until nature decides to blow them out of the tree. This year I made 21 peace doves (really just peace birds) and hung them in the tree - Fiona made peace tags-weathergrams. Seeing them in the tree makes us smile and reminds us to imagine peace. Folk passing on foot often stop to check the installation out - sharing peace.

©2016 Barry Smith
Prints from the anvil: Making drypoint prints from my anvil has for sometime been a thing that intrigued me. So this year I asked Fiona to assist me to ink up and make prints from the hammer marked anvil face. In all I managed to make an edition of 3 plus a number of artist's proofs. Bit of a hoot and I loved that we were crazy enough to try it.

©2016 Barry Smith
Timber and aluminium sculptural monolith: I was commissioned to create a timber and aluminium sculpture to mark an environmental award that was given to Unity Water. The piece combines etched aluminium panels with salvaged Rose Gum timber (about 30cm square and about 1.6m high). The motifs celebrate clean water and the role of community nurturing the environment. The sculpture was in two pies  - there is also a horizontal piece folk can sit on and appreciate the wetlands created by Unity Water.

©2016 Fiona Dempster
Fire Within: Throughout the year I have continued to enjoy melting small silver-plated offcuts of metal in my electric furnace. Usually I can melt about 2-2.5kg of metal at a time. I love the transformation of the scrap into small forms that have a sculptural dimension. I did a melt with a friend (Garry) and managed to create a series of pieces I call Fire Within. We did a quick double pour into the moulds and the heat of one pour on top of the other resulted in fire colour on the base of the second pour - just gorgeous.

©2016 Barry Smith
Treasure transitions: I have had a number of commissions this year where I have been asked to turn family 'treasures' into art pieces that can be shared or simply enjoyed in a new form. I have made Artisan Lamps from: blowtorches, scales and candle sticks. I have made jewellery from silver-plated EPNS. I have made leaves and bowls from silver-plated ENPNS. And I have made functional objects like silver-plated ladles with soldering iron handles, leaf spoons and pate knives from silver-plated EPNS. It gives me joy to see the smile on folks faces when the pick up the treasures in their new forms. Metal working skills - bringing together art and the personal.

©2016 Barry Smith

It has been a grand year in our art life at 601 mvr studio-gallery. Fiona and I look forward to creating more in 2017 and sharing our art life with others. May all create well, be well and seek and enjoy peace in 2017.


  1. Wishing you a most Happy New Year - may your life and work be filled with peace and love!

    1. Hi R - thanks your good wishes for the year. Wishing you good health and creativity. I still miss your cats. Go well. B


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.