Wednesday 30 August 2017

Picasso Museum Antibes

A visit to Antibes usually affords me the luxury of a walk through the old town to Chateau Grimaldi, the home of the Musée Picasso. It is a beautiful building, sufficiently small enough to allow for a visit in less than half a day, sufficiently large enough to be satisfied with that visit.

I have been to the museum often enough to know whose work in the permanent collection I want to make a beeline for. The first floor rooms contain the work of husband and wife artists Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman. I pay my respects to Hartung's abstractions, but it is Bergman's work that I muse over. I love her use of gold and other metal leaf in her works.

Before having a detailed look at the current exhibition of Picasso photographs by Irish photographer Edward Quinn (a quick google search will provide plenty of images), I visit my ultimate favourite painting in the museum. I have featured Nicolas de Stael's Le Concert in a previous blog, but it is always worth looking at again. Unlike de Stael's other large painting in the museum, Le Concert is not a heavily impastoed painting and I actually came across a reference to it being unfinished. It may have been his last large painting and I think it is gorgeous. I love it.

On the opposite wall to Le Concert, was a smaller de Stael painting that I had not taken particular note of in previous years. The painting is of Fort Carré and as I passed de Stael's former residence on the coast on my way to the museum, I know it is a view from his Antibes home. I have never seen the fort on a grey day, so I have the feeling it was painted in winter. (Though my first visit to Antibes many years ago was at the end of December and it was quite sunny and warm!)

On the outdoor terrace overlooking the Mediterranean a number of large sculptures are installed. I particularly love the bronze La Grande Spirale by Germaine Richier. There are a number of Richier's familiar figure sculptures on the wall of the terrace, but it is this piece, reminiscent of a broken seashell that attracts me.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Ceramic workshop

As previously mentioned, I have been participating in a ceramics workshop at Signal Arts Centre. The workshops are held in periods of six weeks, and during the second round of workshops I was working on the book covers but also brushing up on the coil hand-building technique. I decided to make a set of four round coasters and since I had a bag of coloured glass blobs, I thought I would incorporate them into the design.

After making the coil coasters I scooped out their centres creating a divet to hold a glass blob each. I decided on the colours: blue, red, mauve and yellow. I glazed each coaster with "burnt sugar" glaze, which I then used a damp sponge to wipe. The red and the blue blobs melted perfectly on their coasters, but the mauve seemed harder to melt and has a cracked glass appearance. I imagine that the yellow blob must have reacted to the glaze as it appears more red (it is the one at the top) and it didn't melt evenly. 

I also made a coil cylinder, most likely to be used as a pencil holder. I glazed the outside with "burnt sugar" and again used a sponge to wipe it. The inside was glazed with a clear glaze.

Some years ago I was commissioned to do a stained glass piece for Enniscorthy Community Hospital, and I had some beautiful coloured glass left over. I brought a small compartmentalised storage box of glass bits to the ceramics workshop to use and share with the others in the group. Though the picture below shows only four compartments, there are actually 21 in the box, each containing a different colour or type of glass.

I added a few pieces of an irridescent green to the bottom of the coil pencil holder and it melted quite nicely! 

Wednesday 9 August 2017

The Key - bound

As I said in last week's post, I have been taking a ceramics workshop on Thursday afternoons at Signal Arts Centre, and had the idea to test the possibility of a ceramic book cover. I made these two piecces as back and front covers of a book with a "stick book" binding.

I decided to make a personal, unique book of key images on handmade paper. so prepared the individual pages for the book before starting any drawings.

On the back inside cover I used PVA glue to affix a strip of paper as an information page.

This shows the covers' relationship to each other prior to inserting the pages.

I wrapped a thinner piece of acid-free rag paper around the pages, holding them together with lion clips before using an awl to create holes.

The covers and pages are ready to put together.

Quite thin garden wire, which is covered with PVA, is threaded through the holes to bind the book.

The book is a sturdy little thing! My name is stamped on the back cover: this was done prior to firing when I first created the cover in clay.

My hand shows the intimate scale of The Key.

The inside back cover gives information details: title, materials, edition, date and signature.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

The Key

I have been attending a ceramics workshop at Signal Arts Centre on Thursday afternoons for a few months now. Prior to this, I had not worked in clay for nearly 30 years! How did it get away from me? I love working with clay and find it incredibly therapeutic. I wanted to test the possibility of making ceramic book covers for some of my handmade books. I thought of a simple "stick" book, and realised since the front cover could not bend, I would have to make a front half cover for the book binding. The back cover is about 9 cm square - it was only slightly larger before firing. I used a rubber stamp to add my name to the back cover after I rolled out a bit of lace to put texture on the book covers.

I had the idea for a book of images of a key and prepared pages from handmade Khadi paper, an Indian 100% cotton rag paper.

I did some test rubbings of two different house keys and preferred the one from my childhood home in Toronto.

Page one is a rubbing using black wax.

Page two was made using a Chinese ink wash and a Stabilo superfine pen.

 Page three was created by making a rubbing with graphite and erasing areas with a kneadable eraser.

 Page four is a watercolour pencil drawing.

Page five is a copper wax rubbing.

 Page six is a 3B pencil drawing.

Page seven is a watercolour pencil drawing of the negative space around the key.

Page eight, the final page, is an embossing of the key.

I will detail the final book in the next post.