clay heaven: kéramos
Go, follow, lead, grasp : live
challenge, adventure, fun, learning, physical aesthetics, bodily exertions, emotion’s very highs and painful lows, imaginative growth, dense insight, fortunate friendships, companionship with mud, hard thought: a life form all of its own in the merging of human and stuff (kéramos)…
Shift: angles, perspectives, time slips into gear
close-ups: various obelisks, whacked porcelain, stoneware, etc.
How old are the earth’s mountains?1 Is clay in the ground and on the earth’s surfaces an ancient outcome of transforming mountains?2 How old is clay? What is the life-time of a human being?
This piece, and others in the same vein, are simple physical metaphors. During the time I was working with this process, I had fantastic learning adventures: physical energy, rampant imagination, emotional/visual feedback without language or forward-looking ideas but still a sense of direction. Broad daylight, clear days, dense mist — all at once.. Each undertaking started with a bung of clay, about 10 kg. I extended it by pulling it across canvas, I whacked it at all angles, randomly at first, with a sharp edged 2 inch by 2 inch piece of wood; then I pulled it and stretched it, then plunked it on its end to compress it; then gently twisted and curved it to show the inherent bend-pull in human aging and an embryonic memory. Super slow drying — it is a solid, quite thick chunk of clay. Super slow firing to cone 6.
1 https://www.britannica.com/video/143172/mountains-slopes-Old : 2 Pottery Analysis, 2nd Edition, Prudence M. Rice, 2015
2. coral mountain
This piece is a simple physical metaphor: super slow firing. This particular piece started with a bung of clay, about 10 kg. I extended it by pulling across canvas, I whacked it at all angles, randomly at first, with a sharp edged 2″X2″ piece of wood; then I pulled it and rolled it into a cone-like structure, then dropped it on its end to compress it. Drying — it is a solid, quite thick chunk of clay. Extremely slow firing.
In the 21st century, we live with the idea that life appeared on earth partway through earth’s natural history — from the non-life state which preceded it. We boldly assert that all of nature is fundamentally physical. It is matter and therewith has mass, constituted it seems, by energy which does not travel at the speed of light (more slowly by quite a bit it seems). Deep down, our advanced physicists tell us, mass is all basically the same structure (go have fun with what is called ‘the standard model’). Life and non-life, the same? Puzzle number Zn; Z to the power of n. Maybe, Nz : conventions, all!
tall fat: solid piece of mid-range porcelain (silica sand grog), 75 cm high, once-fired, slow cone 6 oxidation
This piece started with a bung of mid-range porcelain, about 10 kg. I extended it by dramatically stretching it as a longish rectangular bung, teasing it across canvas; then I whacked it at all angles, with a sharp edged 2″X2″ piece of wood; then I rolled it into a roundish tube and slightly thinner at one end; then set it firmly on one end to compress and slightly distort it. Super slow drying — it is a solid, quite thick chunk of clay. Very slow firing.
trinity: 65 cm high 3 bonded clays, hint of fine washed wood ash, sprinkled on one side, once-fired, cone 6 oxidation
Not the divine trinity of course, but one brought to be from the mud residue of earth’s ancient mountains, refined and processed by human intervention: grogged porcelain, beige stoneware and iron-laden stoneware. Melded together by simple, forceful, layering. Same stretching, whacking, bending, plunking process as already noted above.
5. mesa: holding on for dear life
6. nest: is the mountain a volcano — do we want a path to its crest?
7. stress: is there ever not?
8. garden lava: creative drift
When we walk into the backyard garden (it’s actually Ursula’s creation), there is what I call a lava extrusion, a white-ish, pale structure on the left: I call it a small facet of life’s creative drift. Opposite, on the right, its counterpart is dark, undulating and squeezed out of the funnel by the earth’s heat. This piece also is of the earth’s creative drift.
The structures are of course kéramos – the fired stuff.
The pale one is unglazed; the dark one glazed with stains and a black and a satiny finish: all applied by hand, sponge and brush.
The pieces are solid which means they are 7-9 inches thick at the base (20-24 cm). They weigh about 10- 12 kilos each.
These two are part of several series I made. I had a great deal of fun. My main shaping tool was a sharp edged 2 x 4. My hands, the second device. These are my “whacked” pieces, a very intense, physical, slightly agitating process — I had a wonderful time.
Vulcan I and Vulcan II are nests for granite and marble eggs.
9. surface’s perspectives: the one and the many
10. paths, moments, pushes and pulls…
Typically, I wander, even when clearly on a straight path. For much of this life, this wandering experience has been perplexing and disorienting because the ‘angling off’ seemed like a loss of plan and purpose. Obviously, plans and purposes orient and shine lights, superficially lessen stumbles, and strengthen our grasp of the passing moments of life. Equally frequently, they bind us to a feeling and a notion. Perchance that helps; perchance it chains.
My wandering has not been, and still is not, what Iwould call a planned undertaking. The pushes and pulls of spirit are often subtle, and enter our human realm circuitously and on their own: very little in life or the universe, happens ‘on its own’. We remember well, move forward with faltering uncertainty because we remember inadequately; simultaneously, we proceed with the inner certainty, the certainty (if that it is what it is) of deeply and chance-felt drive and intimate directional commitment. As if the push and pull come with their own vectors! Occasional gasp and holding of breath — step forward.
Take care in, and of, minute awarenesses, for a slightest slip is a loss and, a soul may misstep into the nether region! So much unknown! What is a real future and not simply an imagined one?
the road taken1
Too often, when we imagine a path, a way, a route, an itinerary, or a road which is taken or about to be taken, we envision something like a simple line that allows us to see the route that someone has followed, namely myself.
Ask Google maps how to get somewhere and it presents a clear line and direction and if you follow those instructions, this is of course, the road taken – and no other. As an image, the simple line often does the trick as we say.
The road of life itself, however, is not a line drawing on paper. Neither is it artistically sketched to give us insight into some sort of linear movement, or a representation of the chasm-like depth that the soul entered. Entering, often in excitement and equally often in fear and trembling, to imagine and pursue the search for calm, peace, happiness, and the inherent power of life. You’re right: it’s not clear and it certainly ain’t easy. So? We’re discussing the road of life as lived. What did you expect?
The wispy linear image does not show us the bits of stuff, the detritus of our lives, lived in its fullness, or engaged with the interfering energies which affect the life on the road. Life on the road of life is other than a google line.
Being alive on the road taken, is actually what we are about. This is our life, not the road, but the sensing, living movement as we move on in the complexity of being alive.
This little visual representation is what I call a photonic grasp of some of the energy movements that illustrate, allude to, hint, point to and attempt to ensnare the movement of me, my soul, my energy, my being, as it drifts and plans and executes and suffers on the road taken.
1 The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost: with great thanks.
While I was working on these “whacked” pieces i was having a terrific amount of fun, physical energy, image flashes, and an undercurrent of urgent ‘more’, ‘more’, more’…So i just kept at it and was trying to catch up to myself. Exhilaratingly uplifting, tiring and perplexing all rolled into one! Just fine, thank you.
Defence: life’s turbulences and fringes are sometimes subtle cousins to scylla and charybdis.