This exercise made me think back to a visit to Leeds Art Gallery earlier this year when I met up with some other OCA students to see a solo exhibition by Australian artist Nike Savvas. Her colourful sculptures were made from wool laced across wooden frames. I wished I'd understood why the show was called Liberty and Anarchy (I've been unable to find a statement of explanation) because for me the collection evoked feelings of fun, innocence and childhood. It reminded me of climbing ropes in playgrounds, the Spirograph drawing toy I used to play with, toy musical instruments and the geometric shapes and bright colours of children's building blocks. Isn't anarchy about disruption and a lack of control? These shapes are simple and ordered and when I came to stringing up my frame, it became clear that Savvas must have needed a great deal of planning and complex mathematical calculations to create these.
|Nike Savvas SLIDING LADDER: Truncated icosahedron #1 2010|
Wood, wool and steel
|Nike Savvas SLIDING LADDER: Pyramid #2, Octagonal prism #1, Dihexagonal #1, Cube #1|
2010 Wood, wood and steel
I like how concentrated areas of colour build up as the yarn overlaps. This is something I wanted to achieve, and I like how new frames, views and shapes are created within the original, like these star shapes in the hexagons.
Although the purple yarn below is on one plane, the interlacing has the effect of drawing your eye in to the centre of the shape as if it's a tunnel. I also like the layering of colour and the variation in opacity.
Interesting shadows were directed upon the white surfaces of the gallery floor and walls. I wondered which other fibres Savvas had considered. I would have liked to see colour cast on the surfaces too and imagined these shapes looking amazing strung with light emitting fibres in a dark room. Maybe wool was chosen because of its strength and the pleasure of handling it, like I've described in the previous exercise, or maybe it's integral to the ideas behind them, which I've yet to fathom?
|Nike Savvas SLIDING LADDER: Yellow with blue hexagon|
2012 Wood, Wool and Steel
I decided that I'd begin my exercise by trying to understand more about how Savvas constructs her sculptures. I constructed a simple wooden rectangle with nails hammered in to wind yarn around - an idea that I'd been reading about this week in a magazine my Mum used to buy: 'Golden Hands Encyclopaedia of Crafts', Part 52 (circa 1979!). String art, like Savvas's exhibition, is something else that reminded me of childhood as my Grandma used to have a picture on her wall back then - a Singaporean temple picture made from glittery threads laced onto pins hammered into a black velour background.)
I quickly realised that creating geometric shapes is more complicated than it appears. For instance, how many nails on each side, how far apart should I space them and where exactly should I position the end nails? The options for ways to lace are endless.
I concluded it was best to begin in a corner and tied on yarn to the bottom right nail. For the first round I took the yarn over to the bottom nail on the left hand bar and wound it round, then around the top left nail, then the top nail of the right hand bar and finally back down to the nail to the left of where I began. I continued by winding round the nail to the left of the one on the round below. Every now and again I'd lose tension and the yarn would pop off and I'd have to work out where I'd got to. As I continued a rounded diamond shape began to appear and once I'd covered every nail and tied the end, this is how it looked.
The yarn I chose was from a collection I've been putting together for my 'rust' theme. I selected yarns with a fairly regular diameter to fully appreciate the shapes and patterns created. I noticed that my nails were beginning to rust and thought that I could maybe accelerate the process, using vinegar or tea with salt solution, similar to how I've been making rust prints recently. I imagined having the rust marks leaking onto, and staining, the wooden frame eventually.
Next I attempted make contrasting patterns and increase the sense of depth by lacing layers of progressively lighter yarn. With the second yarn I kept returning to the same corner nails and the third yellow yarn I zig-zagged across and this generated quadrilateral shapes against the layer below.
By the time I began the final lightest layer, I realised that I probably could have increased the sense of depth by considering the thickness of the yarns as well as the brightness, so I wrapped the yarn around the nail several times. Here I was also attempting to generate a sense of perspective.
Next I'll spray the frame with a vinegar and salt solution and leave it in the greenhouse inside a clear plastic wallet for a few weeks to see what will happen. This has also given me an idea to hammer nails with heads of different thicknesses into a board in a pattern and lay fabric soaked on the solution over the top. Perhaps I'll end up with a pointillism rust print?