Round and Round

Bicycle Wheel II

Last week I was talking to a friend who is also an artist. She had an interesting problem in that the work she had created over a lifetime had become expensive to store any longer. A few years ago I had helped her place all the work which is two and three dimensional on paper and board as well as ceramics from her studio and into a commercial storage space. I think the hope was that in a short while good homes could be found for the works.

Meanwhile, galleries seemed uninterested in expanding their collections as their storage spaces were also full and resources stretched. No private collector stepped forward even though her work is included in public and private, national and international collections. I wondered how many other artists are wrestling the same dilemma when she commented that perhaps too many artists were being trained and a glut of work existed in a market supported by too few buyers.  I'm not sure that too many people could receive training in the arts, there may even be an argument for increased arts education and as for buyers I guess the sale price is determined by buyers and sellers alike on any given day.

She also commented on another artist who had died a few years ago whose work now languished in storage under the weight of valuation and legal positions. The very same artist had lived a very frugal life in order to create the work for which she received very little monetary return during her lifetime.

So work sits in storage, crows circle and nobody benefits.

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Travel Trunk

When our children were small we introduced them to stories. One of the stories "The Blind Men and the Elephant" came to us in an anthology of children's literature and told the tale as you might imagine of blind men visiting an elephant. It is an ancient story. I had heard the story many years earlier. 

At a time when I had just finished a very physical course in lithographic printmaking in which hands had played a very big part that connections were made. I was considering art making and my relationship within it when the idea of seeing with our hands really set in my mind.

As an artist I use my hands everyday, but was I seeing with them? Also, the idea that each person approaching an object or problem was able to make a completely different conclusion or that one object could make different images all at the same time resonated for me. I wondered how something as large and well defined as an elephant could be seen in so many ways.

Working with these ideas I decided to lay loose canvas over an object and roll over the surfaces with a common house painters fuzzy roller. I was aware of the process of rubbing to record surface textures on flat objects but not to render all sides of an object on one surface  and then return the canvas to flat. I think my time spent in drafting offices working with the orthographic drawing process also helped in making these leaps possible. I decided to modify the tone of the colour slightly at each surface and see what would happen. The record was shown at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax.

You can also see my entry called Spaceman which illustrates the same process but uses crayons and paper for finer objects.  Spaceman .