Tag Archives: paper

on making art again

Thursday 24 November 2011

making art again…

with a fork…

most artists think a lot about what art is (and what isn’t art). most artists also think alot about what other people think about art, and how other people might understand or respond to art. making art is never just about making art.

some of this thinking about making art happens when actually making the art – starting a conversation about the making and meaning of art. artists sometimes call these conversations dialogues when they become more complex. dialogues may involve other artists or other things to do with the making of art.

i wonder if making art is still mostly understood (by most people) to be about the creation of an object or series of objects for visual or tactile consumption – and whether contemporary art which embraces other media such as music, film, installation or performance is adequately described with the single word, art. has the word art become ineffective in describing all of these varied creative outcomes? what do other people who don’t make art themselves think art is? why is art perceived differently to craft?

most artists want to make art that expresses or concretizes a personal feeling or opinion about something. most artists (but not all) also want to create art that lasts for a very long time. much work goes into the restoring & conserving of old works of art so that we can experience the artworks as the artist had originally created them (at least, we assume so). so, it’s very easy to think art is about the making of an object to express a meaning or concept which will last for a long time.

however, sometimes art is made to be ephemeral in intention or experience and a memory might be the only enduring record of it. for art that isn’t made to last, it is often documented by video or photographs a book, so that the art endures (or is at least remembered) in a more concrete form. sometimes the ritual of making art is a big part of the art and there is less concern for making an end object.

films are sometimes made as art and much like regular films they may be experienced once only. some people might watch films again (but rarely repeatedly, unless they have access to the film or it is permanently ‘installed’ in some way). sometimes art is also expressed through sound or music, and music is usually composed to be performed, listened to and experienced more than once.

similarly, writers or poets aim to publish their work so that lots of people will read their words for many years to come. a performance of words can also be art. all art needs a context and an audience to appreciate it, so art is perhaps more a desire to perpetuate a thought or opinion through whatever means are most appropriate and not so much about the making of an art object.

however, it would seem that most of the time art is created as a physical, tangible object of some kind, one which is made to be experienced by others and also made to last for a long time, but sometimes it isn’t. most people like art for the pleasure it gives in directly experiencing it, sometimes over and over again. this would require an object form of art, although film or performance give an objective expression of art, or a representation (or simulacrum) of a concept or an experience of art. art books are sometimes a substitute for such an experience, although a book as an object can also be art. it is the form or object of the art that brings the original concept into being as art.

the experience of art (or the art object) is an integral part of the art becoming art, which leads to appreciating why the artist made the art and then perhaps wanting to know more about how art is made.…

the real lends itself to unending exploration; it is inexhaustible.

maurice merleau-ponty


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Sunday 16 January 2011

this… it’s a very small papier mache bowl, the first one of a few that i have have been making. this paper bowl has a green-blue-grey stone-like patina with a tarnished gold interior…

paper mache bowl rustic distressed patina - papier mache wabi-sabi vessel

this paper bowl has been inspired by my interest in primitive & prehistoric art, raku ceramics & the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi – the beauty inherent in things that are unostentatious, simple, irregular, used or worn in appearance. finding birds’ nests in the garden probably had some influence in the process. birds will make their nests out of whatever is to hand – often the harmful plastics and manmade fibres littering the environment – a sign of the times. making homemade bread and soup had some relevance too. there is something so very comforting and nurturing about a simple cup shape…

paper wabi sabi art bowl - papier mache - surface texture patina

here, you can see the detail of the eroded edge of the vessel. this bowl is one of a very limited series of papier mache vessels that I have been making in the studio – it is signed and dated on the base. the distinctive patina on this bowl has been created using thin washes or glazes of water-based acrylic paint, which have been lightly ‘distressed’ to create a naturally, time-worn, aged surface – with the appearance of an ancient relic or artefact.

i suppose if one wanted to be ethically ‘green’ i would source and make my own pigments, but here i have used very small amounts of acrylic and it has the added benefit of being water resistant when dry… sometimes the wild harvesting of nature’s resources is more damaging to the environment than controlled, sustainable production (as seen in herbal medicine)… i am happy that i am reusing what i already have, rather than buying even more art materials…

paper wabi sabi bowl - papier mache vessel - textures surface

this paper bowl is about the size of a small teacup and it fits snugly in the hand  – the actual height is 4cm or 1.5” approx, diameter 9cm or 3.5” approx. i previously made some plaster casts of some of my most favourite things such an art deco teacup which became the primary mould for this particular bowl. during the drying stage the bowls warp ever so slightly, becoming more tactile and organic in character… i would like to give these an identity such as the amity bowl or verity vessel (meaning friendship and truth respectively)… the most interesting part of the process is because i have already created the ‘object’ the painting stage becomes quite intuitive…

five small papier mache wabi sabi bowls

papier-mâché is uniquely lightweight and yet surprisingly resilient as a material, made to my own special recipe of handmade paper pulp – mostly offcuts or trimmings of linen or cotton, both rag and paper, combined with recycled scraps of cellulose-based paper such as tissue, cartridge or copier paper. i also add a small amount of powdered chalk, marble or eggshells for additional strength & durability. the small amount of handmade paper that i can make mean that these very vessels are limited in their number. you can see an example of some of my handmade deckled paper here…

papier mache - handmade wabi sabi bowls with metallic patina

i have been working on making them in a range of sizes along with the possibility of creating other 3d forms, which is all mildly exciting stuff for a regular painter – watch this space over the coming weeks and months…

you can see a selection of my papier mache bowls here…

alongside the paper-making & moulding i have also created a new series of collagraph plates also using recycled materials, but i won’t be printing those for a while yet…

all photography © 2011 jazz green – please do not use, reuse or otherwise publish images of my artwork without my consent or permission, thank you…

not quite what you were looking for in the paper art department? why not try wikipedia instead…