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materials

I collected a mass of fallen lichen, from the recent storms on a long walk along the river at Ivybridge on Saturday – I have a fascination with this material – it was too wet to do anything with on the walk so I brought it home and it is now drying out in the studio – I will try some prints with it and maybe use it in a new collograph plate.

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I picked the dullest of the 3 good days we had a couple of weeks ago unfortunately – it was cold but dry and the sun did struggle out around lunchtime when I ate my sandwiches on the beach (alone!) I don’t set out with any clear idea of how I am going to document my walk and this time I left my camera at home so I couldn’t take a photo of the place where I gathered the material for my latest ‘ball’ It was from a massive bindweed (I think but am not sure) bush covered in seedheads, not unlike the dandelion. I wished I had taken my camera – if only as a way of identifying the plant for certain – but I often walk this path so I will collect some leaves next time to aid identification.

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I often carry small copper etching plates (5cm square) which I have been testing with various grounds – these are the three I carried on this walk – The middle one was placed in my bra near to my heart,  and left me with a tattoo for several days

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3 copper etching plates

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Heart tattoo

And I have been making paper from natural materials collected from the path. Where this is taking me I’m not sure at the moment but I’m enjoying the process! This is my favorite piece as it is more 3D so I am going to try a more sculptural form next time

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Last week I visited Green Hill Arts to see the exhibition ‘Gathering Silence’ – the work of 4 artists who have made work from walking on Dartmoor. Steve Thorpe had collected rocks which he had ground to make pigments – the colours were really beautiful and I felt it was a shame that more attention had not been given to the presentation – It reinforced the importance of presentation to me especially with minimal work where every mistake/smudge is highly visible – it can really make or break a work.

My next walk is on Saturday and I have a tutorial on Friday this week so I will be able to talk through some of these ideas and how I can develop them further

After the Hamish Fulton weekend it took a little while to settle my thoughts and reflect on the experience back in the studio. Some of the images below indicate what I have been doing, drawing, reviewing previously collected material from September walks and most recently making handmade paper.

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Found material, matted hair  – here and in the image below  I am thinking about documenting a walk back in the studio by drawing  a found object  that seemed significant of the walk

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Found tree bark, drawing

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Found material, chestnut pods

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Found materials – pine needles

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Pine needle cairn – here I was thinking about the small masses of stones etc that you come across while walking that ‘mark the way’ 

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Handmade paper from found path material and paper pulp

Not sure where any of this is taking me at the moment but I am enjoying ‘making’ again. I’m also reading several related books to support my practice. I gave a presentation to my MA peer group a couple of weeks ago based on this years module proposal following on from work I made on walking last year. Last week I had a tutorial which gave me the opportunity to further discuss the direction to take this year. Talking to Karen, my tutor made me realise how crucial the walking weekend with HF had been to my own walking practice.  How much my walking is about ‘being in the world’ and finding a poetic way of engaging with the landscape.  In view of this, Karen has suggested looking at the writings of Jane Rendell, professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture. I feel there are 2 distinctive paths to my practice, the making of structures that relate to the walk (use and limitations of materials) and the  documentation (including making artist books). It has left me wondering about how much of my work is about walking and how much is about ‘bsing’ in the world, a sensory engagement – being present? Is it really about the walking? If it is about walking then where are the walks going to be and how does that matter? What are the logistics? Is it about duration?

A recent highlight has been visiting the Whitechapel Gallery and not only seeing but touching the Guiseppe Penone installation ‘Spazio de luce’. I was completely knocked out by the exquisiteness of it! One of the attendants explained how it had been made which only added to it’s wonder. I was allowed to touch the outside (not the inside – the gold leaf is extemely fragile). It was a whole new ‘tree hugging’ (more, a gentle embrace) experience!  There is a video of him in his studio in Italy talking about the work HERE. Well worth a listen.

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My next post will be about my paper making.

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3 more balls made – 2 lichen and 1 of sheep’s wool collected along the way from hedges and fences and rolled in my hands while walking – a very meditative experience and totally phenomenological.
I now have 6 balls and am not sure how to display them for my assessment next week. My tutor commented negatively on my display of them at my crit – I had 3 arranged on a narrow shelf – I’m wondering now about using a plinth or does that carry the same message as the shelf? I can possibly make one more by next week giving me 7 for display – ‘a week of quiet walking’

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