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.

 

Environmental architecture

All of our technology comes from nature. Not only did we creatures build it, but we would be silly to think we are inspired by something other than natural processes. The more we learn about how biology and biosphere work, the more our own advances look like an homage.

My challenge is to show this back and forth in a collection of silk wall quilts. I will borrow inspiration from Saint John architecture, and unlike some of my previous quilts, these will not just be the buildings. These buildings will be overwritten by their naturally occurring counterparts.

Saint John Industrial Landscape_10 architecture, waterfall, water, roof

I chose Saint John because of the breakdown, a sort of reversion to something less strict and geometric.

Saint John Industrial Landscape_8And then I thought, what about the other side of this coin? Don’t we transform nature into architecture?

New HampshireThese views of New Hampshire are begging to morph into buildings and cities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder where we draw the lines between technology and nature. At first glance it seems pretty easy to make the distinction between what is made and what simply occurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But does anything simply occur? Organisms evolve to adapt to niches put in place by other organisms, and all species have been forced to adapt to the overwhelming changes we’ve made to this planet. We make and change things because of evolved tendencies in our brains. So then maybe everything simply occurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The lines get blurry when you put your thinking goggles on. Where do you place the line?

Nesting

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_1_1

Nesting
Felt, reed, river stones, fibrefill, lightbulbs, Marimo moss, water.
24″ x 24″ x 30″ © Allison Green 2013.

The fourth piece in the Time Flies Collection, this is the insect with child. Her pregnant form contains eggs filled with a spark of life.

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

StonePlantTextile Process 3 010 Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_2_1

Extra, extra.

Just a couple little updates. To be honest, a couple little updates and one BIG update.

“The Crossing”, my train bridge quilt, is now up for auction at Isaac’s Way. You can see how it’s doing here, but have to stop in to the restaurant to bid. It will remain up until mid-September. A lot could happen between now and then, especially in the busy tourist season!

My quilted map shown in the previous post, “Here be monsters.”, is now up for sale for sale at the M&T Deli. For patient individuals, I am also available for custom map commissions. Feel free to contact me for more information.

In the next couple weeks I will be starting a commission from the maintenance gentleman at my work for a painted fish. He showed up at work the other day with this big piece of driftwood for me to use, I was delighted.

My woven lighting sculpture has found it’s home at Jeremiah’s Place, a brand new restaurant in Hartland, NB. I am going to visit sometime soon to take pictures and try out the menu.

And for my BIG NEWS, I was offered an internship for the Sculpture Saint John Symposium! With five other interns I will be learning from six international stone sculptors for a month and a half (I talked more about it here). I must say, I am all a-flutter! It is my hope that I will have time to thoroughly chronicle this experience here on my blog. Off I go to Saint John on August the 2nd!

Stone-faced.

We took off on our second trip to another of the NB Nature Preserves on Saturday morning. We had made a number of attempts to reach Sugar Island, but couldn’t seem to find the road that was supposed to lead us there. In fact, at the end of the road where we expected to find the turn-off, we instead found the driveway of a very disgruntled homeowner. And so we quit chasing after that one.
Instead, we set off to the Minister’s Face Preserve,  just outside Saint John, NB. This trip was arranged by my school and the NB Nature Trust, so there were a number of us that went. I’d say around twenty, counting the Trust volunteers and guides and their children. We were also accompanied by a musician and what I guess I would call his producer. They filmed a takeaway show at the preserve.
This place was really cool. You can only reach the island by boat, and it is quite sizeable once you get there. It is not entirely owned by the Trust. There were several little cabins along its coast, which made me drool over the woodsman lifestyle. What is part of the Preserve has marked trails which made it a little easier to dig our way around.
We started off by piling into an old fishing boat. It was about an hour’s ride to the island. The view was pretty intense, between the little wooded mountains and the glassy water.
It took about an hour before we were approaching the island. We came around the corner and suddenly the preserve’s namesake was in view. A massive sheer rock wall, granite rising straight up out of the water. It had a massive crack right through the middle of it, and a whole host of intrepid hover-trees.
We came around to this beached area where we were supposed to dock. Unfortunately the dock was gone or never there at all (it was a matter of some contention), so we had to continue on in search of a way to shore.
A little further on we met a private dock outside a little cabin. Desperate, we set down. They didn’t appear to be home, so we ducked ashore with all our gear and set out into the woods to try and meet up with our trails. On the way we ran into a vast array of moss and other plant life.
At the main trail we split into groups and went off in search of art, music, and new trails, respectively. The hike was probably one the most difficult I’ve been on, very steep in spots and wetlandish in others. Most of where we put our feet was sopping wood.
Really enthralling actually, you had to always be paying mind to your next step. The first trail we took led us to a little grove, perfect for chowing our sandwiches. There I saw my first lady slipper. And it was a white one, which I didn’t even know existed. Very solitary and beautiful.
We headed back down and took a side path which was to lead us to the very top of the island. On the way we met some pitcher plants. They were quite violently purple on the inside.
Just past that area we came to a stand of what I believe we were told was brush maple. They only had leaves right up at the top. Really haunting in comparison to the lush greenery right beside.
At the bottom of this hill was the first and only stream we saw, cut right into the valley. We headed straight up from there, I nearly fell out of my boots it was such steep going. Huffing and puffing we reached the top and met up with the trailblazer group.
While I had been hoping to reach closer to the outer cliff’s edge, this was certainly a sight. So high up, and right next to us was a massive drop off. We amused ourselves while we rested by throwing off rocks and waiting for the thump.
Then we trucked back through the paths, taking in a number of sights we had missed on the first go ’round, including man-sized ferns and gorgeous stumps. We ended up back on the dock, this time meeting the homeowner. He seemed not too perturbed, I think we’re probably a pretty wholesome-looking bunch. He simply sat on his porch and kept an eye out.
While we dipped our feet and waited for the boat, I snapped some pictures of this rust-eaten chain. Possibly my favourite capture of the bunch. As you may or may not have noticed I have a thing for oxidizing metal.
The boat was quite late. When it arrived it had been gunning its engines to try and make up the time and was steaming to high heavens. We heard him call in a rescue request, but eventually with much pouring of water they got it in forward motion. I was frankly shocked that we got off the island judging by the worried face on the captain. For all its faults, at least the boat was neat to look at.
After working the night before and the four-hour hike, I was mostly comatose at this point. The boat ride and drive home was sort of a blur. It was a really beautiful day, perfect weather, a healthy amount of exertion, good company, and great sights. My only regret was the efficiency with which we traversed the trails. I am one for slow-poking through nature, and I would love to spend a couple days in that place. I think that was a one-time trip though, it’s so secluded. So glad that we decided to go, I judge harshly all the kids at my school who chose to miss out.

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!

Journey of the river rocks.

I am taking part in an interesting project on one of my favourite blogs, Spirit Cloth by Jude Hill. With intentions of making one (or several) collaborative textiles, she has been collecting “magic feathers”. These feathers were to be embroidered and mailed to her. She received 713 before she stopped collecting, from all over the world. You’ll be glad if you check them out, she has posted each and every one, and they are all so different and beautiful. What an amazing ressource is the internet community.

Now she is collecting appliqué stones to go with the feathers. To ground them, as she says. Yesterday I spent the day under a tree in O’dell park making little tiny stones. They take nearly no time and are very relaxing, no worries about making a perfect circle or having untarnished cloth. The more rock-like the better. She has a how-to video on the site for anyone interested.

I was especially inspired by the river rocks which fill the streams in the park, many of which are coated in the greenest of mosses this time of year. Today I put them all in an envelope to head off on their journey to New York. It will be the first time that my work has left the country.

Collaboration has a really healthy feeling about it.