Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Conservation or compost

The combination of clay (earth ) and grass (plant) in artworks is ancient, perhaps even basketry predated the firing proess of clay.
From time to time one sees examples of makers combining the two materials. To do so and create a harmony and balance without being contrived is elusive.
To marry the mediums so that the clay gives birth to the grass and the grass therefore grows out of the clay sensitively is important. The outcome should speak of growth not construction.This bird alighting from a waterhole combines clay, fodder coiled with silk and cotton and a found wood fragment.
The women from Jigalong made a series of baskets combing meat pie tins and fodder stitched with coloured wools.The distinct form of the pie tins easily linked with the bold coiled stitches.They were clearly construction but suceeded because of their visual strength.
The nature of fibre construction using fodder is so adaptable to form that the women making nanduti would find it easy to make their flower forms.
Perhaps they may read Fodder and be encouraged to experiment.
The type of stitching more or less controls the form and surface. The more informal the process the more ability to shape quite faithfully to form.
The idea of grass flowers is quite intrigueing.
Being able to handle clay and fibre more or less in the same breath is very liberating.
For the most part they are kept quite separate as mediums, which would not have always been the case of course and in many cultures still is not. The most obvious is dwellings combining straw and mud.
This is where conservation or compost arrives. Fired clay can be washed but grass cannot.
However most fibre providing it is kept dry and not stressed will last for many years. If it functions as a container then definitely it has a life span.
It is the stitching threads which give way rather than the fibre breaking down. For example Seven sisters grass figures have an array of fibres holding all that grass together and will need to be checked from time to time.
Probably 99.9% of fibre construction simply becomes compost, its that .1% that we must care for.

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