Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 &one for Velma

So much has happened in 2010 and we have all experienced so much in our life journey - not all good but we are here and we have hope. So may we all depart 2010 with a sense of survival and achievement; and enter 2011 with hope and expectation.

Fiona and I don't do Christmas cards but we do New Year cards so we have designed our cards to reach out to our friends.

But today is Friday right!!! So there had to be some creative work going on.

I tested out my diamond drills today and made a small offering bowl - not an incense bowl - this one is in honour of Velma - a small bowl to collect the dew or to make offerings in. It is small  - 110mm high and the bowl is 90mm wide.  The bowl is made from a failed tri-fold bowl - so this piece has had three lives already. And of course you are stuck with the mountains in the background

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't try this at home

I had a meeting with one of our leading local sculptors (Craig Medson) today to discuss the possibility of him doing a piece of placemaking sculptural art in the footpath between our local IGA store and our local community credit union.

We are proposing to have a Bunya Nut (about 1.5 m high) carved in to faced sand stone set into the path. The Bunya Nut is sacred to our local Indigenous people and one of the symbols of our town. The sand stone has been recycled from a local gutter that was laid down in 1902 but was recently ripped up as part of the redevelopment of our main street.

Anyway I wanted to take a small sample of the sandstone to our meeting.

However it was soaking wet after being out in the rain. Solution dry it in the oven - can't use conventional oven as I don't have enough time. Well do it in the microwave - place on old pillow case and set at high for 5 mins. The good news is the rock dried.  The bad news is it became so hot the pillow case was scorched.

When I took it outside it started smouldering and threatened to catch fire - fortunately it was still raining and was doused.  So the lesson learnt. Don't dry your rocks in a microwave - hence the saying don't try this at home.

The good news is Craig said he would do the piece of work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rain, Rain, Rain

What a crazy weather world we live in. When I check out Velma, Suzi and Tammie's blog photos all I see is white, white and more white - and I think cold. At the moment our corner of the world is caught in an ongoing rain depression.

The outside has just been filled with greys and whites and wind and water.

So as you can imagine there is not a lot of outside work going on at our place. We have knuckled down and done work-work today - but slipped a little art work in. I managed to finish my last letters for ALAW 2010 today and posted them. I will create my Flight of Letters sculpture over the next couple of days.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

First roast

Hoping all have enjoyed Christmas; and are now relaxing and recuperating on Boxing Day and regaining energy for the journey ahead - I know that is what we are mainly doing. Still I have to tell a coffee story that relates to our good friend Jeff.

Barry Smith © MVR coffee
In past posts Fiona and I have shared the fact that we have grown a small plantation of 30 coffee bushes on our block.

We harvested the cherries.

Pulped them to get the beans out. Soaked the beans to remove the slimy outer cover. Dried them in our dehydrator. Took the husks off to get the green coffee beans out.

We have now roasted our green beans in this fully automated roaster that Jeff gave us as a gift for helping him sort some of his stuff out.

We ended up with great roasted beans; and ground them ready for brewing.

Brewed the coffee in our espresso pot.
Barry Smith © Brewing MVR coffee
And made coffee that we shared with Jeff. And amazingly it tastes really good.

 Great coffee that has only travelled 50m.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace and relaxation

Barry Smith © Weathered peace carving
It has been a bit of a tiring time over the last couple of weeks. So much to do: getting work jobs finished; attending pre-Christmas events and parties; catching up with friends; having visitors; doing maintenance jobs on the house and block; and just preparing to celebrate Christmas and to have a wee break.

But it is now just time to pause. So I'd like to send vibes of peace, joy, creativity and rest to all. I know that not all will do the Christmas thing but it is one of those times of the year that there can be a bit off effort put into collective goodwill.

Blogging has demonstrated to me just how small and connected the world can be. So I would also just like to say it is grand to share the art, peace and beauty of nature journey with others. Go well.

Barry Smith © Peace symbol

Monday, December 20, 2010

Placemaking public art on library wall

Some time ago I posted on the fact that I had been selected to work with the Beerwah Resource Centre to design a piece of art work for a 12x4m wall at the entrance to the Beerwah Library. The work was to be constructed by the Beerwah Resource Centre out of recycled material (mainly corrugated iron); and to be installed by the Sunshine Coast Council. Well the work is finished and installed.
Beerwah library Christmas art 2010 - designed by Barry Smith

Beerwah library Christmas art 2010 - designed by Barry Smith

It is quite big and colourful - Christmassy without being OTT. The mountains represent the local Glasshouse Mountains; the children are filled with joy; the stars both represent the stars of Christmas but also connect the piece; and the book has cut out words such as celebrate, family etc.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday is for friends and fungi

Today has not provided the opportunity for art as such. Contact with and support of friends and neighbours have dominated the day - but then if one can't take the time for friendship them what are we. 

Barry Smith © Fungi vessel

Barry Smith © Fungi vessel
However on our morning walk we came across these magnificent fungi vessels complete with crystal clear water. As you are aware we have been having lots of rain lately and so the weeds and fungi are just thriving. I just love the way other vessels are unfurling - gentle fluted edges. We had a huge thunderstorm this afternoon so I guess we will see these little characters for sometime on the fringes of a rotting stump.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Woven vessel

It really is difficult to upstage nature.I found this little nest (about 120mm across and 90mm deep)  late this afternoon whilst mowing the greenery (grass and weeds) between the mulberry and  grapefruit trees. I'm not sure who it was made by and I'm not sure as to why it was abandoned on the ground.

Fiona Dempster © Nest 1
But as you can see it is just such a beautiful creation I could not leave it to rot amongst the weeds. So it has joined a number of other nests we have found by the wayside as we walk that live in Fiona's studio. Fiona took the photos.

Fiona Dempster © Nest 2
 Beautiful bright greens of woven moss.

Fiona Dempster © Nest Detail
The husk of insects embedded in the soft downy lining.

Fiona Dempster © Nest Detail
Intricate weaving of so many different fibres.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bazola and Bowl for a font

The bowl I started as a way of testing my new stump form got completed this afternoon.

As you can see from the photo it is in fact a double bowl. A brass bowl formed to fit inside a zinc coated brass bowl. Both are made from recycled found metal. They are riveted together with copper handset rivets.

Barry Smith © Double bowl font
The bowl is just under 300mm wide and about 50-75 mm deep. I intend to use it as part of an outside garden water font - a piece for a quiet place. I am really pleased with the contrast between the straight brass and the zinc coated brass - when polished it lets a lovely lustre show through. And Velma - yes the stump form also works well as a font in its own right - it collected quite a bit of rain water today.

As there are always off cuts from bowl making I did make a few Bazola pieces; and a few leaves.

Barry Smith © Bazola bits
Barry Smith © Foldformed zinc & brass leaves
If you check out Noela's blog you will see that the Small Treasures and Pleasures exhibition (including Bazola  jewellery) is fully set up on its own for the next two months.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bowl Beating Block

Fridays seem to becoming a day where there is a mix of things to do on the block with the reward of doing creative stuff in the afternoon. Can't complain really - Fiona and I start Friday with a juice, a walk, a coffee in town and then breakfast and the paper before really starting the day. And the start to the day was gentle - I delivered the Shrine for Book Lovers to our local bookshop Rosetta's for them to use as a promotional display - I think it will lead to a bit of promotion for me as well and maybe a commission or two.

Anyway after spending the morning doing more construction work in the shed I decided to use the afternoon to make a bowl forming block; and test it by beating out a bowl.

Well the photo (bit blurry - art shot really) below shows a couple of bowls beaten in the form - when finished they will become an outdoor font.

I made the form by using a rotary chainsaw carving tool I bought in Portland Oregon when we were over there in June. I had never used one of these before but intended to carve out a bowl form into a stump of Bunya Pine that I salvaged when the power folk were removing trees.

As you can see the carving job went well; and showed off some good grain in the pine.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Creating Terraces

Our house sits on 1.25acres of land that in part has slopes that are greater than 25 degrees.  When we built we found our house was sited over an ancient landslip - so not only did we have to put in deep pile foundations to bedrock but also had to terrace about half to two thirds of the block.

The terraces had to slope gently in towards a 'stone river' we had to create. So Fiona and I decided we would capitalise on this requirement and gravel all the terraces and create walk ways across the stone river. We wanted this area of the landscaping to have a bit of a Japanese garden feel about it without actually creating a Japanese garden.

The rain let up a bit this afternoon so I did what I do when I not doing work work and can't really disappear and do art - I went out and worked on the terraces for a few hours. I often think of the terraces and other landscaping as sculpture on a grand scale. As you can see from the photos below, after almost three years of carting about 80 cubic metres of  20mm gravel, in the main by hand in buckets and a small cart, the stone mulching of the terraces is almost done and the trees and shrubs are bursting forth.Good contrast of the green and reds of the camellias and maples with the grey-blue of the gravel.

The aim is to locate some of my bigger pieces of sculpture on the terraces; and set up posts and fonts. But at the moment all there is is the 'happy budda' below (given to me by my brother Neil) sitting amidst the dwarf agapanthus blossoms.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coffee and pumpkins

Saturday and Sunday have been construction days for us. Yesterday we helped Fiona's brother to rebuild his front stairs; and today Fiona's folks helped us to sheet the ceiling of the mezzanine in the shed. Whilst we worked nature has been doing its creative thing outside.

We have masses of delicate white flowers on our coffee bushes - that means lots more beans next year - we have 30 coffee bushes in all.

And you can see from the photo below the pumpkin vines have gone ballistic again with all the rain we are having. Mind you when I think that talented artist and farmer  Ronnie has planted at least 3 acres of pumpkins we aren't even really trying. Still we are happy with the gift of produce the block gives us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Influenced by the aesthetic of Japanese gardens?

I managed to get a couple of hours in the garage-studio today. I wanted to do a test for a new series. I want to combine stone with my beaten metal bowls to create small incense burners that reflect a little of the stone in Japanese gardens. I was also testing out how tile drills would work on stone.

Well I managed to make a couple of prototypes - and in the process discovered that I would really need to buy myself a couple of diamond drills as the tunsten-carbide drills just fell apart when drilling anything harder than mudstone.

So below are the two test pieces.

Barry Smith © Stone and metal incense burner

Barry Smith © Stone and metal incense burner
Barry Smith © Stone and metal incense burner 2

The stones don't really match up - they came from the 'stone river' beside our driveway - but with better matched stones and a diamond drill I think this will work out. Why the drilling? I want to drill through the stones and attached the bowl with a bolt that goes right through the whole piece.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Inspired by fellow artists

Checking the studios and works in progress of friends and fellow artists often gives me another burst of creative energy. Fiona and I visited KimSchoenberger today - a talented assemblage sculptor and ceramicist - often combining the two sets of skills in her work.

 Kim has a very organised studio - photo shows her in working mode in her studio.

But also like many of us she populates her yard, house and garden with all manner of great works including series of ceramic poles.

And of course she is also a collector of useful and mainly rusty stuff - she has a number of stashes such as the one in this photo - but she is also very organised and tidy when it comes to her bank of rusty bits - I must take lessons on that at some stage.

She is in the thick of preparing for an exhibition that opens on 16 Dec at the Studio 4 Gallery - but also takes time to muse over pieces such as her wheels within wheels piece that is a work in progress.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Shrine for Artist Blogging

Robyn made a comment on my last post that maybe she should have a shrine for blogging. Well of course I had to accept that as an opportunity to create. So I have assembled the Shrine for Artist Blogging below In my mind it is heavily laden with symbolism.

Barry Smith © Shrine for Artist Blogging
The circle on the square represents the globe and the 'four corners of the world'; in the top corners there are a piece of stamped intricately patterned silver plate with art action words  such as: assembled, beaten weave, form, fire, carve etc; in the bottom corners are plain silver plate with art material words such as: clay, wood, metal, paper; the 8 radiating wires with computer screws on the end suggest computers and the Internet; the crystal represents clarity of shared knowledge; and the clock gear in the offering bowl suggests the time we consume blogging etc.

Barry Smith © Detail Shrine for Artist Blogging

Barry Smith © Detail Shrine for Artist Blogging
Barry Smith © Detail Shrine for Artist Blogging
The piece is not quite finished but it is as far a I got on this wet day on the mountain when I was taking breaks from writing a workbook for grant makers.