Before starting this exercise I did my research into different artist as I have never worked with concrete before. Concrete is not a material that has ever attracted me. I have looked at works by Rebeca Fairley and admired it but never really appreciated it before. I have found a new love for concrete. I seem to be drawn at the repetitive scares or rectangular shapes with a hint of texture. I enjoy it when an artist place them together to create a surface pattern. One of my favourites was Christine Pils and Werner Shedler curtain made of cushion shaped concrete, I like the aesthetics of it and the fact that it is a moving wall or partition. I do wonder how they have managed to link every cushion together in such a perfect and uniform way, now that I have experimented with concrete I realised this level of perfection is hard to achieve.
Another of my favourite was Jerome Apers (an architect who made bricks with zips. I again like the precision and industrial look of the concrete with the added touch of the metal shiny zip. I also enjoyed an abstract 3D art assemblage with found objects by Mantaga Bay: he has used a mixture of plates of metals on concrete which apear to be hammered. He has also used stitching and paint creating a wall patchwork of squares of concrete, very effective visually!
After arming myself with some valuable research I reflected on what it is that I didn’t like about concrete and I think it was my misconception that concrete can be cold and masculine. How could I make concrete look softer or even frágil?
I experimented with inserting flowers inside the concrete inspired by a quote that has always resonated in my mind and that guides me at times.
you must allow yourself
To grow in all the places
You never would’
I was a bit disappointed when I corner of my sample just cracked and broke. I thought concrete was strong! Not so much I discovered.
It turned out that this was a happy accident. Of course it would break; as inserting the dandelion had weakened the concrete. I found what I was aiming for, I managed to make concrete look strong and at the same time frágil and gentle. I enjoy the contrast of materials a flower trying to push through the concrete inspires me so much. I also enjoy the stems of my red robin tree pocking on the surface of the sample as if it was roots. This sample is frágil simply because the flower will eventually disintegrate unless protected but is this fragile state that I am interested in. I am also curious of what will remain, the indentation looks almost like the remains of a fossil.
I experimented with different foliage and making the concrete look like it had been around for years, broken, uneven, surviving (makes for a good metaphor)
I experimented using a circular bowl this time, I tried to hold it in lace to see if I could peel the lace once dried but the plaster seeped through the lace, still I cut the lace and it looked like it had been there for years. The red robin flowers almost look like seeds in a citrus fruit. I struggled with this plaster as it is so soft and easy to crumble.
More experiments pouring plaster in a sandwich bag. I enjoy the random folds of the plaster but feel frustrated at the luck of control.
Above: I used the top of a circular box (nothing goes to waste in my house) feathers from my budgies give a soft and almost nostalgic look compared to the stiffness of the plaster- reminders of what was once there. I enjoy the random accent’s of colour of a dandelion and the red piece of cloth.
Above: I experimented with manipulating folded paper and then pouring the clay on top. I realised I needed more clay than I actually poured so this sample didn’t turn out as good as I hoped, still looking at it closely I enjoy the folds on the concrete these have come out really clearly.
‘She made broken look beautiful and strong look invisible’
That is exactly what I was trying to do and I think I achieved it. I finally got a bit more familiar with making with concrete and learned that to make a surface pattern I should wait until the concrete dries up a little and then put the lace/fabric on top. The flower is a blossom from my cherry tree symbolising hope and beauty. No matter how hard the exteria looks one can be broken but still remain beautiful.
I experimented with moss and plaster, I am curious to see if the moss will continue to grow, curiouser and curiouser! Could I use moss as a form of texture?
Above: I was still fascinated by cracks and light or rather hope. I experimented with glittery sequins (can’t stay away from them for to long) I enjoy the bright yellow thread creating doddle lines and a hint of shine coming from beneath the cracks, still working on the theme that seems to be growing.