sensitivity to materials is fundamental both to Tony Cragg’s approach to his sculpture and to our appreciation of it.Materials have an emotional resonance as much as a necessary presence: they can be seen as the necessary mother of invention.Often craggs works can be arranged by themes that reflect how the choice of material has determined the form of the sculpture.
cragg expresses a view of aesthetics as a dialogue, an exchange of meanings: the material receives meaning for the intervention of the artist; the artist gains meaning from the response of the material.
Craggs works invites a strong visceral response. not only is the concrete, tangible nature of the object/material inescapable, but there is an overtly sensual appreciation of texture, surface and colour. the initial impact is made in terms of the senses, or ‘ first order experience’. from a sensory response to sensual thought to abstract speculation seems almost an inevitable sequence of steps. by identifying an underlying order, and by revealing something of the connections between the laws governing the man-made world and those attributed to the organic world, Cragg attempts to indicate to contemporary man routes that start from a very elementary, almost primal level of direct and immediate response to simply presented matter.
Craggs work seems to be mainly of a primary order- pertaining to the infantile or preverbal phase of learning and experience – they retain a ‘rawness’. they allow to supersede habitual and jaded reactions and to let sensory delight flood in.
For the end of the 1st term a selection of the third year fine artists across multiple disciplines, myself included decided to put on an exhibition in the centre of cardiff at the Abacus. The exhibition composed of a 3 day residency allowing the public to come in and talk to us about the work we are and were producing down in the centre of the city.
for the exhibition i decided to create and present some of the ‘conduit’ sculptures i have been working on, pushing the boundaries of my abilities in ceramics and particularly slab building.What was particularly important to me was the location in which i exhibited my sculptures and that they were presented together, this was inspired by the Morison’s sight specific sculpture I previously looked into . I decided to exhibit my sculptures within the back of an old bank vault. I thought this worked incredibly well due to the raw brutality of the space, the fact the bank vault was un-useable was particularly interesting to me, the vaults main purpose of protection is penetrated, rendering it obsolete. This idea of ‘fragility’ for me is incredibly fascinating, and is further why I wanted my sculptures together to stand strong in the fragility of the vault. Much like the inside of a termite mound is riddled with conduits and tunnels so now was the vault, unlike the mounds the vault was”exposed” .
The space was surrounded by rubble and i used this to my advantage having the sculptures submerged within and around it as if the sculptures were rising from the rocks – primitive in nature, the vault stands as a rendition for the modern ruin.
To view my work you had to peer through a dry wall hole, this was particularly important due to the lack of light and echoing it created, the lack of light for me added to the atmosphere of the installation creating an eery allure of the unknown, yet honest representation.
The fact you had to peer down to look into the hole and at my sculptures fitted perfectly with my concept of the ‘inside out’, the idea that the work was hidden yet open in plain sight, further extended the concepts that allude my bamana boli series, an ongoing theme.
The general installation itself was very sight specific and this is something i want to continue to explore further next term, refining and defining my conduits and further the concepts that allude the primal experience and identity. how I can use the space around the sculptures to cohere to my concepts? And how can I really represent myself through these objects ?.
Two site specific artists who i have recently discovered and fallen in love with are Heather & Ivan Morison. The colossus sculptures of the coupled artists are simply staggering, in particular a sculpture i find both relevant and incredibly breathtaking is there site specific sculpture –
‘How to survive the coming bad years – 2008’
The sculpture consists of a hive or mound like structure spiralling out of the woods and into the sky with a ring of geometric light orbiting it. Although i know very little about the concepts surrounding the piece I really enjoy the general aesthetics and I feel that the sculpture coheres incredibly well to the forest, and forest to the sculpture – blending into its surroundings as if this structure has always been there.
The sculpture itself has also made me consider taking a chance with my own site specific work over the christmas period – and my current exhibition that is coming up ‘exposure’, seeing how I may interact with a specific space or room. I also think it would be incredibly interesting that when I go home I go into the woods to create my very own Morison and personally inspired sculptures.
Continuing on from the more naturally aesthetic constructions i have recently been building or ‘monoliths’ i have decided to expand, make them bigger and challenge myself further in the field of ceramics and slab building.
I have decided to use Raku clay to form the sculptures not just because of the general wear of the clay and toughness but because eventually, and most likely in the new year now i want to Raku fire and glaze the vessels.
I have also been challenging myself with the face or ‘opening’ of the objects playing with shape and size, pushing towards a more industrial themed conduit, particularly with the sculpture on the left – feeding through ideas that I began looking into within the Bamana Boli series.
Could we perceive these conduits as shells ?, and by shells homes ? – do these sculptures invite the viewer to possess, To inhabit or conquer ? by there being an opening these questions arise, they bring about possibilities of experience – what does these sculptures mean to someone ? And by someone myself ?.
From looking at the organic forms that have surrounded and alluded me for a large portion of my life I decided to explore organic forms of experience that i have come across in my travels .
What i find incredibly interesting when related to the context of my sculptures is the spheroidal aestheticism, the idea of the ‘inside out and outside in’ how from the outside the structures look like unusually shaped rocks still beautiful in nature but essentially mounds of dirt, on the inside the mounds are made up of beautiful and extensive conduits and tunnels, a self-evident representation of experience over time and further the raw interaction of the termites themselves. Can we call this raw art ?
From the moment we move into our homes We build memories and experiences within it, we hold these experiences and attachments to the house for those personally involved i.e my current student house, but ultimately the house acts as a vessel or a shell for those experiences much like the mound. Its this concept, concept of the shell or the vessel that i find particularly interesting. Because isn’t everything in our life’s essentially borrowed until reclaimed, taken or conquered ?.
Monolith – a large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument.
Adapting on from the Bamana Bali I decided to adapt the shape to that of a more natural yet brutish form, one that is more familiar yet still coheres to the Bauhaus and thus my heritage through the feet – an extension from the object (myself) to my heritage ( the feet). The shape itself is cohering to more personal experiences, right outside my door in the forest of dean and the organic shapes that map out the landscape and the shapes that elude the forest. Although I have been arguing that the primitive is a state of mind and is a product of experience thus heritage I have begun to believe it is more than that, not just of memories but where our key memories happen within that of the home, the house, further through primitive adaptation the house – cave.
We build our memory’s within our houses, the past, present and future are formed and moulded within them yet ultimately they act as a shell a ‘vessel’. what I find interesting about the vessel is that unlike a cave it is open yet you cannot see what is inside, it is exposed yet unexposed.
the celestial buildings embody the phases of a story that can never take place in the present, but which moves towards the past and future,the buildings/ sculptures overlap past and present, experience and memory. they are like cement skeletons, tall and desolate like certain industrial architecture : structures to grind gravel, water towers or other uninhabitable buildings that we catch a glimpse of in the distant outskirts of metropolises in the east and west.
Not only is Kiefer’s Merkaba relevant aesthetically but conceptually as well. Kiefer’s Merkaba plays with the stability of the house the home and further experience, the overlapping structures imitate that of the leaning tower of Pisa, a solid structure that with time has sunk due to the foundations of the earth. Kiefer uses materials such as concrete and plaster to create his containers materials that are heavily relevant in his work due to what i would coin as his’ primal experiences’.