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.

 

Scrappy neck cuffs

Scrappy Woven Neck Cuffs- Allison Green_19


Scrappy Neck
Cuffs

Silk, cotton, and wool. Collection of three.
© Allison Green 2012

Strips of various fabrics were dyed with natural indigo and handwoven with wool. The colours bring to mind the durable denim of the working class. Scrappy has a double meaning, both for the scraps of fabric and the protective nature of the cloth. The vulnerable throat is protected no matter what scraps you get into.
Scrappy Woven Neck Cuffs- Allison Green_22

Scrappy Woven Neck Cuffs- Allison Green_14

Scrappy Woven Neck Cuffs- Allison Green_7Scrappy Woven Neck Cuffs- Allison Green_11

Here be monsters

Here be monsters

Here Be Monsters
Cotton, gouache, textile medium. 48″ x 36″. © Allison Green 2012

Painted quilt featuring trapunto, appliqué, and free motion stitching. Inspired by a map of an area in Cape Breton where much of my family’s history played out.

Created and sold at M&T Deli in Fredericton, NB.

Here be monsters detail

Praying to the rust fairy.

Today I discovered that ferrous sulphate is nowhere to be found in Fredericton. Garden stores, hardware stores, grocery stores, pharmacies; all came up empty. My only hit was in the “online only” section of Home Depot website. No time to be ordering away, the bridge piece needs finishing in the next week.

So for experiment #1 I settled for a big ol’ piece of chain, which unfortunately is galvanized. I put in the fabric, weighed it down with the chain, and poured in about 2 L of vinegar.

It immediately began to fizz. I suspect it is the zinc coating coming off. At any rate, I took it out to the shed for safety’s sake. Who knows what all is toxic these days. Don’t want to be breathing anything in.

When I was at the pharmacy I looked for iron sulphate but found only iron bisglycinate. I bought a bottle anyhow.

So for experiment #2, I followed the instructions here but with the whole bottle of iron supplement. It really seemed to have no effect at all (fabric was already cream-tinted). However you are supposed to let it dry before washing out so maybe if will oxidize overnight.

For Experiment #3, I grabbed the bucket of iron tablets/4 L of water that I had used above and threw in about a cup of vinegar. I put some fabric in, weighed it down with a wine bottle, and put it in the shed.

This was maybe an hour after Experiment #1 got started, and check out the foaming action now! Neato!

It looks like most of the shiny coating has come off the chain, so hopefully the next step is rust. Or it could all go horribly wrong and I’ll have to suck it up and use synthetics.

Cross your fingers for me!

When nature overtakes architecture

Today was an extended and entirely pleasant day in the surface design studio. Many people around, some sort of open house to publicize the school and they were all very inquisitive. I was working away on some screen printing, texture samples, and a cityscape while the lady at the table across made encaustic board games. I spent the whole day intoxicated by the smell of beeswax. Could there be a more sticky drug? Teehee.

Here are the beginnings of my salt crystal cityscape. I left it at the school to grow (far too fragile for frolicking) and am chomping at the bit to go check on it. I suspect it will be half way to full-grown by the time I wake up. Probably make some coffee related excuse to go downtown and see it first thing.

Step One: Fabricate a cardboard city. Massacre it (and your hands) with food colouring, everyone`s favourite multi-medium.

Step Two: Flood your city with a foul-smelling blue concoction (recipe courtesy Mik3 at Instructables).

Step Three: Wait for the magic! I made this tester in advance so the suspense wouldn’t kill me. It makes me think of what skyscrapers might look like if all the people left and nature reclaimed its territory.

Also, I couldn’t be more satisfied with my dinosaur prints. Hooray for discharge paste! Here are the first couple bags. Need a little embellishment yet. Maybe some zigzag stitching and a button or two.

Time for sleep, more projects tomorrow :)

– Allison Green