Tuesday, 27 October 2020

The giant balloon sculptures of Jason Hackenwerth

I was lucky enough to see New York artist Jason Hackenwerth's extraordinary Pisces at Edinburgh in 2013. I was there to speak at the science festival and caught the exhibition quite by chance. I'm so glad that I did. Who knew balloon 'animals' could be so impressive?

The piece was on display in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland and was the artist’s interpretation of the legend of Aphrodite and Eros. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and her son, Eros, escaped the fearsome monster Typhon by transforming into a tightly woven spiral of two fish, a figure which later became a constellation called Pisces. The spiralling organic form is made from 10,000 balloons which took three staff members nearly six days to blow up, after which Hackenwerth and his assistant Leah Blair wove carefully into this three dimensional structure. Pisces is just one of Hackenwerth's many extraordinary installations. Here are a few more.

His website is here.

Dukno Yoon's kinetic jewellery

Korean metal smith and jeweller Dukno Yoon studied Fine Arts in Korea and then in the USA. In 2011 he accepted a position as a visiting Assistant Professor at Kansas State University, USA. Yoon is one of the many young, contemporary Korean artists who are now experimenting with the traditional concepts of jewellery and metal craft. Inspired by machines and their movement and structure, he creates kinetic artworks in order to engage and interact with the wearer or viewer. 

Artist's statement: 'Being fascinated by the machines and intrigued by their movements, the mechanical structure is the most crucial but a formal language throughout my body of work. The structural form becomes complex and yet, remains simple and coherent because of the ingrained logic behind it. Additionally, the mechanical forms involve a movement that is not random, but rather is either designed or devised. Therefore, this is interactive. Creating kinetic jewellery and objects with the mechanical movement allows me to give vitality to objects, and I may use this to involve viewers more than what metal objects may usually do. In my second series of kinetic works Winged Ring, I have further explored and developed more intricate movements. Segmented by hinges, these wings bend in a curved line as they flap. When designing these pieces, I have minimised the forms to a basic framework and have achieve an elaborately engineered movements that simulate the bird wings. My kinetic pieces are intended to exist between the jewellery and the object. They are too intricate to be jewelleries, and too intimate to be sculptures. While I explore, study and challenge the mechanical movements and the structural forms, I create kinetic objects that firstly intrigue viewers with delicacy and precise craftsmanship, but also invite them to participate, interact and share an intimate relationship with these pieces.'

His website is here.

His YouTube channel is here.

#Inktober Day 27 - Music


Monday, 26 October 2020

Travel broadens the mind

Pierre Abraham Rochat's illustrations on my blogpost yesterday (here) reminded me of classic travel posters of the past. And it also reminded me of some 'travel' posters I created a few years ago as prints. As a bonus I thought I'd share them with you.

The kinetic sculptures of Bob Potts

Kinetic sculptor Bob Potts creates beautiful kinetic sculptures that mimic such things as flapping wings and the oars of boats. Despite their intricacy the pieces are surprisingly minimal, Potts seems to use only the essential components needed to convey each motion without much ornamentation or flourish. There is very little information online about the artist, however blogger Daniel Busby managed to get a brief interview with the artist. 

'I was raised in San Francisco', says Potts. 'I loved to work in my dad’s shop and was a hot rodder and motorcycle gear-head from an early age. Did the Navy, then a couple years at SF city collage, learned a little math and dropped out of the institutional thing. Pop got me into the carpenters union. My older brother Don Potts (AKA the artist Hada) was teaching a UC Berkley and asked me if I would help him with a long term project called My First Car which introduced me to the art world in Berkeley in the 60s. I stayed with carpentry, got married, had three kids, built a house, planted a garden - you know “back to the land’. It’s a good life. I got a job with a couple of brothers building a Corvette with rear wheel steering. To get the funds for that and another IMSA car we built automation machines for the computer industry. The money ran out for racing so I left. That’s when I met George Rhoads and built rolling ball sculptures for 20 years. In the meantime I realised that I had to create my own work. It is very rewarding to see a piece grow and evolve. I am looking for the gracefulness that surrounds us, I use the talents I have to try and bring it forth. I do sell my work and would consider a commission but am a little hesitant of restrictions and deadlines.  As for art, and being a fish out of water. I would say yes, and many say the fish came out and walked. well that’s what you are doing I think your work is great. Is not Art the reflection of the evolution of the artist. My brother Hada told me once when I asked what is art, he said “Thou Art.”'

Bob's YouTube channel is here.

And, if you liked this, also check the work of Dukno Yoon tomorrow.

Meanwhile, other kinetic artists who have been featured on the artblog include Theo Jansen, Paul Spooner, Scott Weaver, Cesar Manrique, and the late, great Ron Fuller.

#Inktober Day 26 - Hide


Sunday, 25 October 2020

The graphic landscapes of Pierre-Abraham Rochat

Our first featured Swiss artist is illustrator Pierre-Abraham Rochat. He studied Media and Interaction Design at ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne) from 2001 to 2005 and now works in the areas of interactive design, web design and illustration.

I really like his clean lines and graphic compositions. It reminds me greatly of those classic railway and travel posters of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Beautiful work.

His website is here.

Walk-Through: I've still got it, Son!

Just recently, as another lockdown arts project (see my previous models/sculptures here, here and here), I've been experimenting with sculpting in polymer clay. And here's my first effort, standing on my office shelf. It's a disco geriatric!

It began life (as these things so often do) with me looking back through old sketchbooks and finding a picture I once drew of a disco-dancing grandad proudly proclaiming to his family, 'I've still got it, son!' while dressed in his 1970s finery (my #Inktober day 25 'Buddy' doodle (see here) was inspired by this guy too - it's how he looked back in the 70s!).

And, as I now am a grandad who undoubtedly embarrasses his offspring on the dance floor, it seemed like a good subject for a sculpt. It started with an armature made from uncoated garden wire. Yes, I know it looks like the figure has three-toed feet but the photo was taken before I'd twisted them into a human foot shape. I then bulked out the body with tin foil.

It's worth pointing out before we go any further that polymer clay gets baked in the oven in order to go hard and permanent. Therefore you can't use plastic coated wire as the casing may melt. You also can't use some glues because some (like hot glue) have a low melting point, while others give off offensive fumes that (a) could be dangerous and/or (b) will make your oven stink. 

Because this was my first attempt, I didn't want to spend too much money so, instead of investing in an expensive (but excellent quality) branded polymer clay like Fimo or DAS or Sculpey, I sourced a cheap alternative on Amazon that cost half the price. 

However, I soon began to wish that I'd spent the extra money because sculpting a figure in patchwork multi-coloured clays makes it pretty difficult to tackle detail. What I should have done was mix all of the clays together to make a single colour. But we live and learn, and this was my first attempt after all. So I began work on the body.

Hands are tremendously difficult and I made them far too big. And that sheepskin waistcoat was a nightmare! But I persevered and, once everything was sculpted, I baked the figure and then spray-painted it with a matt white primer. This showed up all of the flaws I wouldn't have missed if I'd used a single colour! I then fixed as many as I could with Milliput ( a two-part epoxy modelling paste). 

I him a hearing aid from Milliput and some old cable wire. Then I created a walking frame from thick aluminium wire decorated with polymer clay handles and feet and dusted with PVA and glitter. A disco ball Christmas tree decoration completed the look. Then, it was simply a case of painting the figure with acrylics and gluing him to a cheap wooden base. Voila!

One interesting piece of serendipity: The size of the figure was dictated by how much clay I had and it ended up being around 10" tall (to the tip of his upraised forefinger). But this scale meant that I could use dolls house-sized shop-bought props - which is where the old time radio set came from that he's holding. And, as most of these are made in China, they're very cheap - you just have to wait a while for them to arrive.

So, there he is. On the whole I'm not too unhappy with it. For a first attempt, that is. I'm already working on a second figure (which, if I'm honest, I started before this one but gave up on) so I'll post photos of that one when finished.

Meanwhile, I'm learning a lot by watching YouTube channels run by some very talented polymer clay artists. I recommend ClaymakesSeotini, T J Cha, Lovely 4U and particularly Ace of Clay

None of them make work that is similar to mine but I learned a lot about techniques and materials. 

Roll on sculpture #2!