Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Return of Spiky

Tomorrow I should finally be able to finish my Frankenstein’s Orifice Box sculpture when I install the internal Stilted Nail Cube piece. Even though I completed the main, outer shell some time ago, it has been sat in the workshop at the Victoria and Albert Museum (where I’ve been working and where I also collected the scraps of old wood to construct the sculpture) waiting for me to complete the internal structure. So now that both sections are complete I’ll have the outer shell delivered to my studio and hopefully they should fit together – fingers crossed.

The inner section is inspired by my earlier Nail Box sculpture which in-turn is heavily influenced by the Minkisi totems of the Congo (and possibly by an image I once saw of one of Eduardo Paolozzi’s early sculptures in an old catalogue – but I might have just dreamed that bit because I haven’t since been able to find any reference to it).
Although you can’t clearly see it from this image, the front and the back of the cube have windows of splintered wood ‘exploding’ outwards (so that you can look straight through the box). When I was constructing the piece I wanted the splintering to look quite spontaneous and not too contrived but in order to get the exact random quality that I was looking for I had to do quite a few controlled experiments first. This involved me sandwiching pieces of old wood between two thick pieces of plywood with holes cut out of the middles of them and clamping the lot firmly to a sturdy vice. I would then run at the vice, swinging a claw hammer like a maniac, and try and hit the sandwich dead in the centre of the cut-out holes (needless to say, there were a few near misses). At first I just tried hitting the centre of the holes from a non-maniacal, standing position but for some reason the screaming nutter approach achieved the best results.

As is the way with most of my projects – as soon as I start making one thing I get loads of ideas for similar or spin-off pieces. And when I was making the inner cube section of the Frankenstein Orifice Box I began to wonder what a whole cluster of stilted cube sculptures would look like if I lengthened the stilts so that the cubes were viewable at head height. Needless to say – I now want to make a cluster of long stilted cube sculptures (oh, where will I find the time?).
Incidentally, this sketch was made during a practice shoot for a filmed, 24 hour drawing project that I’m thinking of doing along with film makers, Oliver Goodrich and Mike Taylor at Big Face Art. The project will involve me sitting at desk and trying to draw solidly for 24 hours. I know that 24 hours doesn’t sound like a mammoth amount of time to do anything as an endurance task but it’s amazing how mentally tiring it can be if you just sit for six or seven hours and try to fill sketchbooks with drawings from the top of your head. Anyway – we’ll see how it goes.

While I was going through some of my old sketchbooks I came across this one from 2008 which also plays with the idea of raising up small box structures to head height via the use of spindly stick structures. So I must have these little themes running through my head and they just resurface every now and again when they spot a project that suits them. A lot of these drawings tend to be nothing more than thumbnail sketches accompanied by lots of scrawled instructions (normally about construction methods or suggested materials) to my future self - although this one doesn't seem too scribbly.

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