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.

 

Good news post.

The daily mail has left the notice of the young generation. Myself included, I never gave it much thought and really only checked it when the box it overfloweth’d. But those were in the earlier days of stagnation and flyer-boredom. Now I check it daily and with gusto. For when you are an actively submitting artist, so much of your good news comes in the daily post.

(That, and my Mom sends me notes and goodies sometimes. Recently she sent a shoebox full of easter candy in the mail. It arrived at 8 in the morning when I was trying my best to be a grumpysaurus. Thanks for ruining my bad mood, Mom.)

This week I received notice that they’ve accepted one of my pieces for the Mindscapes exhibit in Bathurst. They’ve picked “Bit by bit”:

Very excited. They’ve even offered to pay some of my travel expenses to the opening reception. Might even be able to get a little for accommodations, which would be nice since it’s 3 hours away. The boy and I could make an evening of it. Not ’til September 28th so I still have plenty of time to look forward to it.

I am now waiting for word on my next application. This is for an internship for the Saint John Sculpture Symposium. I got in just under the wire for this one. I had forgotten about it but when I checked back they had extended their deadline so it all worked out. Thankfully my teachers were able to help me out at a moments notice with reference letters.

The more applications/proposals/submissions I write, the easier it gets. The first ones were SO painful and thoroughly procrastinated but now they are actually sort of fun. That is my advice to anyone considering application to anything. Just do it, over and over and over. It gets better.

The idea is that they choose six interns with visual arts background to help these six artists who are going to Saint John to carve giant pieces of granite. The artists are really amazing, and from all over. And just how cool would it be to learn stone carving? Especially outdoors and right on the waterfront.

It is for a month and a half, and over an hour from my house. I wouldn’t like being so far from the boy. The prospect scares me a little. But I figured I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply. It would be a wonderful way to cap off the summer, and they provide meals, accommodations, and a one thousand dollar honorarium, so it wouldn’t cost me anything.

Check out the artists:

Hiroyuki Asano, from Japan

James Boyd, from Canada

Jhon Gogaberishvili, from Georgia

Jo Kley, from Germany

Agnessa Petrova, from Bulgaria

Radoslav Sultov, from Bulgaria

Judging by the proficiency of the artists, I expect the competition for internship to be fierce. It would be such an interesting experience to go from drapey cloth to a medium with a little more resistance. Wish me luck!