In 2010 I developed a condition that took away my ability to speak, not being able to make sound and communicate with the outside world was the most isolating and devastating experience, which lead my obsession of researching other forms of communication, other than spoken word.
I have been a professional singer/ songwriter for 20 years, I have also developed and delivered music programs within the community with a focus on using music and creative arts as therapy. Through my research into sound, I have discovered papers and research programs showing scientific evidence of the effects that sound has on our brains, emotions, body and even our cellular structure.
I was brought up in the vibrant city of Cardiff and never really envisaged myself living any where else other than a cool city full of art, music and culture, but after having children I felt that the countryside seemed like a great place to bring up my little people, so as a result I live in an area where my neighbours and children’s friends own farms, horses, sheep and alpacas.
I cannot express to you how excited I was when I went to pick up my son from a play date to be met by 4 freshly cut and inquisitive alpacas. My sons friends mother was telling me how annoyed she was that the fur she had bagged up from the alpacas, the kids had decided to pull it all out to play with it. How idillic to be playing in a barn with hay and fluff, when I was young I used to play with the traffic.
I went home that night and started researching on alpaca fur to see what I could do with it, so I could take some of her hands. I came across felting, the most old fashioned textile still being used today. The principle of felting is that you shock the hair with hot water and tiny barbs in the hair fibre open up, when you begin putting a friction motion to the hair the barbs connect and begin to lock together.
I arrived in uni with one big foam swimming floaty, 3 meters of bubble wrap, washing up liquid, a sushi matt, a bag of untreated alpaca fur and rubber gloves. When it came to getting the fur out it dawned on me that it might have all kinds of disgusting things in it, like fleas, mud, mites arghhhh. Thankfully the only thing it had in it was hay, which came out really easy when I began the felting motion.
Having never really done any felting before, to the outside viewer I must have looked like a pro. I began to lay out the fur in a pattern and also a desired shape, wet the fur with hot water, sprayed with washing up liquid, closed the bubble wrap up, rolled it onto the water float and began rolling it. I rolled it around 100 times and then left to dry.
After the piece had dried it had locked together but it will need another felting process.
When I had finished the final piece it reminded me of an Ayala Serfaty piece.
I have never really appreciated the world of ceramics, clay, pottery and throwing etc. my feelings were, its messy, unpredictable, old-fashioned and the artistic snob inside says “it’s just not high brow enough “, but after numerous lectures by successful ceramicists, and a few sessions playing and sculpting in clay a new passion is arising. I was finally tipped over the edge by, the wonderful world of alchemy (the recipes of all the glazes), you choose a glaze and you only know what its going to turn out like when you finally open the kiln. The unpredictability seems exciting now. I am learning to be open-minded and that even a more mature mind can be changed. I really enjoy crossing over mediums, such as using a clay imprint as a starting piece for a painting, or taking a photo of a miss shaped pot and manipulate it in Photoshop to create a silk screen print. In foundation I particularly enjoyed printing, because you could repeat the same process a number of times, this is something that can be done in ceramics, you can create a mould and re-create that shape over and over in various forms of materials, such as creating a cast from a stone and re-creating it in porcelain.
At some point over the next 3 years I will want to make a latex head with a movable mouth for life-size puppet, so making a slip cast is defiantly something I need to get familiar with. I have to say it is far more difficult than I expected. Into the slip cast workshop I took a very simple heart-shaped stone, which ended up having to have 4 sides of a cast created. It’s a very messy procedure with all the cast mixing, but also very rewarding in the end result. Defiantly worth the time and effort.
Having spent a year on an art and design foundation course I was not impressed to hear that my 3 year degree course consists of workshops in the 1st year, that are mandatory, according to the tutor. “What will I learn ?” I ask myself. I have dabbled and played with just about every medium possible. In came our new metals tutor. He introduced himself and states he has no formal education and is completely self taught, so this is what I am paying £9000 a year for huh! Just when I was about to have an invisible hissy fit, out came the spot welder. Its genius, sparks fly of it and it pieces together bits of steel. The tutor was great, everything I needed to know he could answer, he explained all the various different metals and how they interact with each other. Where to buy best metals etc.
In these workshops I have made a wire 2d tree, which I am going to use as a template for fabric. Airbrush some fabric dye onto a t shirt and create a cool design:
I also got a bit carried away with the spot welder and made a full size metal top hat. It has no purpose as yet but I am sure throughout my year it will be used for something.
The copper mesh is an idea that I need to blog for future progress on this piece.
I am sure there will be more to come with the metal work, think I am addicted to the sparks.