Biostrata Residency Week Two: Undersea Adventure

This past week at Biostrata: Cutaway Ecologies, Mr. Shark got his coat of many colours. One of the many wonderful things about working at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre is that they have day camps, so this week little dancers came out to visit and learn on their lunch breaks.

I started off by finishing up my form with cotton:
Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone_3

The pieces are all ripped instead of cut so they have a frayed edge. That is one of my favourite attributes of this method, it gives it topology. This is really important when it comes time to paint. Blank canvas has never been my thing, better to have landmarks to work within.

spider, squirrel, shark_wm

When I dug out my paints (I’ve really missed painting with gouache) I discovered this dried up old tub had turned into these beautiful cell patterns. I think I will use it to model the painting on the inside.

Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone_1

So the patterns were loosely drawn, and colours chosen. Mixing and matching colour chips (like you get for house paint) is a great way to figure it out. That way you know what you’re looking for before you start trying to mix, and you can check the combinations ahead of time.

Shark Painting WM

Funny thing I noticed, when I am paint mixing, and arrive at the colour I’m looking for, it takes on a sort of velvety look like melted chocolate. That’s how I know when to stop. I’m sure it’s just an illusion my brain uses to let me know. Same thing happens when I get the right amount of water in there.

This week there was plentiful rainwater to work with, which made it extra lovely. Working in a rain storm even made me feel a little like a shark.

Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone

The octopus carving was also refined. Here it is wet by the rain to show you the colour it will be when polished. I learned from a visitor that he looks like an infant from this angle. I can certainly see that now, and it adds a different dimension to these nested sculptures.

Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone_2
So I have a little left to do on this piece this coming week, which is okay because he will be the largest one.

Also exciting on Monday, I had my first live radio interview. It gives a good overview of the project and it’s motivations, I will leave you guys a link when it’s up as a podcast. Thank you to Mark Kilfoil @ CHSR 97.9!

Shark painting_1 copy

Looking forward to finishing the first sculpture up this week, and starting the silk painting workshops. Last chance to sign up, it’s going to be a really fun month of Thursdays!

Biostrata Residency Week One: Sharktopus

This was the first week of my Biostrata: Cutaway Ecologies artist residency. I am so thankful to be working outside in the Culture Garden at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. Every summer I feel so justified in shirking my work, because, well it’s summertime, and the outside calls to me. This year it’s different because I get to exercise both of my passions, art and nature, all at the same time. I think I’m onto something here.
Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_2

This project is all about connection between organisms. I’ll be making three nesting sculptures, each showing a different biome. So, naturally, I started the week off by researching biomes, which are areas of similar climate which house similar animals and vegetation.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_3

Fun fact: an increase in altitude acts the same as distance from the equator, in terms of which biome you find yourself in.

Tuesday is not only research day, but also design day. I started by choosing the different animals that would be represented throughout the residency, and then made little polymer clay models to get an idea of form.

Fimo maquettes for biostrata sculptures Wm

When I say nesting sculptures, I mean that in the sense of nesting dolls. These will be sculptures within sculptures. The first ecosystem I’m working with is the marine biome, and the first piece represents an apex shark.

The innermost layer will be an aquatic terrarium like you have seen in some of my previous work. It contains a Marimo moss (actually a form of algae) and shows the base of the food chain.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture

Around this is a stone sculpture which shows an octopus or squid type creature, something tentacley that would be delicious to a friendly neighbourhood shark. This acts as skeleton to the skin.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_1

The skin layer is flexible textile and plastic. When finished, it will be painted with the habitat of the shark: water and those neato underwater rock formations and hydrothermal vents.

He is made up entirely of other creatures and his environment. Without them he would have no substance, and could not go on holding the shape of a shark. We humans are not exempt from this rule either, we are all made of what we eat and live with.

Shark Cotton

This week you can stop by Tuesday-Saturday from 9-5 and see the skin painted, the stone refined and polished, and the whole thing put together. To find out how you can follow along and participate, visit here.

 

What a mouse has to do with visualizing space.

I find it hard to visualize three-dimensional space. When designing quilts, and other 2D creations, I rely heavily on digital software to help me see what is coming next. This allows me to easily test out composition and colour scheme before I start working in cloth. Without a similar aid, I felt at a bit of a deficit when I began working in sculpture.

Over the past term I’ve been dealing with this issue. I’ve just finished a course in 3D printing, which has taught me how to use digital modelling software, mainly Lightwave. I was amazed how easily you can place a sketch into the program as a backdrop and build out from it. I first tested this theory with a spaceship design my partner had drawn. I love collaboration.

Warren Steeves Spaceship 3D Model - A Green Artist

It really seems to be a matter of getting into the zone and thinking about the screen as an open environment where you are actually manipulating 3D objects. Then you don’t have to worry about remembering sets of rules.

Warren Steeves Spaceship 3D Model Action - A Green Artist

I started applying this to sculptures I was planning almost right away. The following three will be created in cloth and plant over the next month.

Tree Sculpture -  A Green Artist Tree Shelving Sculpture 3D Model Full -  A Green Artist

I’ve found it really helpful to be able to tweak composition ahead of time, and see it from all angles. I am interested to see what impact this has on the finished creations.

Fungal Islands A Green Artist Fungal Islands 3D Model Bright - A Green Artist

We learned a little animation too, and though I don’t find it as applicable to my work, I can see definite possibilities for working out kinetic sculpture, internal and external lighting, and design proposals.

The funnest part is that I got to 3D print one of my objects! I can’t really describe what it is like to build something in the computer, and then have it in your hand. The difference between working digitally or in reality seems almost negligible.

Lily Centerpiece A Green Artist Waterlily Centerpiece Cutaway - A Green ArtistWaterlily Centerpiece Cutaway 3D Print Sculpture - A Green Artist

 

Nesting.

This piece is the last in the series for now. It is the insect with child. Inspired by the transparent eggs of insects and fish, as well as universal shapes of motherhood.

Insect Lifecycle Design Nesting - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus - Copy - Copy
The pregnant form was wet-felted, then dyed.

Nesting Process Allison Green

It was then stuffed to add dimension and softness.
StonePlantTextile Sculpture Process 017 copy

A collection of lightbulbs were hollowed out. This is the best part: they were filled with water and a single living Marimo moss, the spark of life inside the egg.
Nesting Process Allison Green_4

Placed inside a protective woven sphere, along with round stones, the eggs now peek out from within their mother’s belly.
StonePlantTextile Process 3 010

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_2_1

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_1_1

Nymph.

Dragonfly Larva Scan_2

I have to say this one is my favourite. It went along swimmingly at every stage. My first step was to draw the dress design, then create a life-size paper mock-up. You can see them side by side:

Nymph Process Allison Green_8

The next step was to make this into a pattern. I chopped up the mock-up and recreated it with layers of cotton and interfacing.

Nymph Process Allison Green_2

But I didn’t use just any cotton. These patterns I digitally designed using close-up scans of leaves. The day they arrived from Spoonflower and I opened up the package: magical.

Nymph Process Allison Green_3

The next piece in the collection is Nymph, the juvenile insect. It is very closely inspired by the stunning patterns of the dragonfly larva, as seen in the charming book “Zoom in on Nature”:

Each piece of the carapace is separate and self-contained, so that they overlap like armour. Once they were all machine stitched into plates I pinned them on the dressform using my meticulous photo-records:

Nymph Process Allison Green_4
Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_55_1

I hand sewed them all to each other. It was at this point I realized two things: I am really glad I didn’t make this out of stiffer cloth, and I really really need to buy a thimble. Stabbed fingers aside, I love the control of hand sewing, and it went along a lot quicker than I had imagined. I wouldn’t begin to know how to accomplish this on a machine.

If you didn’t get to see this lovely lady in Saint John, she will be making an appearance in Fredericton! I have the luck of taking part in the bi-annual show for the Textile Dept. at the NB College of Craft and Design. A lot of really incredible designers come out of there every year, you don’t want to miss it. Check out the last one if you don’t believe me!

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_10_1

See you at the opening in The Gallery at NBCCD tomorrow evening (Feb 6) at 4:30 – 6pm.

Nascent.

Moving back in time now to my last exhibition, “Foundation” at the Saint John Arts Centre. It was so exciting to share space again with the interns I spent so much time with at Sculpture Saint John. They had a lot of excellent work. One lovely artist, Alison Gayton, brought sculptures she created on a learning vacation Italy. You can check out the amazing story over at I Love Saint John Pottery.Others Foundation Panorama_2

As promised, I’d like to take you through the story of my work in the show. I am intrigued by lifecycles. I think it’s incredible the commonalities between different organisms when you really get looking close. These works explore the insect lifecycle, as it relates to us. You can read more about the concept in this post.Panorama in Situ my side_2

The first piece is Nascent, inspired by insect eggs. The idea came to me staring up at a tree in Odell Park one night. In the dark each leaf cluster looked like a cluster of eggs.
Insect Lifecycle Design Nascent - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus_0001

It started with a tree, and then went horribly awry.
Nascent Process Allison Green_3

As you can see, the bowl shattered under the weight. But it was a good thing after all because then I found this bowl:
Nascent Process Allison Green

But then, of course, my tree died. I was sad, I get attached. That is okay too though, as I still had a canopy of my own to add:
Nascent Process Allison Green_2

My teacher commented that the geometric shapes give it a logical, human element, and I like that. Without the leaves the form became simplified, and the more I look at it, the more I am happy about that too.
Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_13_1

Time Flies

The beginning of November marked the opening of “Foundation”, a show I am taking part in at the Saint John Arts Centre. Our special group comes together as a result of shared experience, the Sculpture Saint John symposium of 2012. We spent six weeks with six international artists, constructing six granite sculptures. We lived together and worked together and learned to communicate together. It was the most immersive experience I’ve come across.

That summer set me off on a mission to unite my chosen medium of textile, with my new-found love of stone, with my ever-growing passion for plants. From a personal standpoint, these three mediums activate different sides of my self. Textile for flexibility and colour, stone for strength and endurance, plants for energy and nurturing. I think of them as my prescription for well-roundedness.

From a conceptual standpoint, they make even more sense. Stone. The unyielding machinery which drives our planet. Plants. Lush and pulsing, they hold the very present moment. Textile. Almost impossible malleable, cloth is what makes us human. By combining these three primal disciplines I will evoke the kinship between man and biosphere.

I have begun through exploration, testing different ways of uniting these three. See below the initial designs, collectively entitled “Time Flies”. The final piece, “Necros”, is still in progress. In the coming days I will take you through the huge learning process of creating the first four. You can see the finished works at the historic Saint John Arts Centre until January 10th.

Page 18 - Insect Lifecycle Collection (1) - CopyPage 19 - Insect Lifecycle Collection (2-3) - CopyPage 20 - Insect Lifecycle Collection (4-5)

Nymph

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_10_1

Nymph
Original digitally printed cotton from leaf photographs, cotton, corduroy, interfacing, reed.
Size small dress © Allison Green 2013.

The second piece in the Time Flies Collection, this dress shows the burgeoning juvenile insect. It is designed after the dragonfly nymph.

See how it was constructed, and the other items in the series: Nascent, Nubile, and Nesting.
Exhibited with Foundation at the Saint John Arts Centre, Saint John, NB.
Pricing available upon request.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_55_1