Sunday 10 July 2016

Down the River...

Right, well I haven't got round to sorting all the in-depth stuff on Jabberwock due to general business and work, so in the meantime, a mini-project which evolved in about 48 hours.

Cupola Contemporary Art in Sheffield (with whom I've shown work a number of times in the last few years) announced an open call exhibition, but at somewhat short notice, based off the quote "The Beautiful is Always Bizarre".  After an evening of going through lots of books for inspiration, I stumbled on some pics in a compilation book from Joel Sternfield's "Walk the High Line", an excellent photo-essay of a (then) abandoned elevated freight railway in New York which is now a public park, but which at the time was a rather tranquil overgrown railway line running between skyscrapers.  Look it up, the pics are great, and if you can find the expensive out-of-print book with all the images, I'd be very jealous.
  I liked the contrast between the 'beauty' of nature and the severe buildings, and wondered if I could do something on a similar theme in miniature.  After trying ideas like building models of brutalist architectural designs and shooting forced-perspective shots in rural locations, I decided to do instead miniature riverscapes which could be shot against industrial and suburban settings.

However I wasn't convinced if it was right for the call or not, so reckoned I ought to knock-up a quick trial piece to test the concept.  This being Friday afternoon, and with a deadline of Sunday evening to hit, it damned well would have to be quick.

Happily I work in the DT department of a large secondary school, so there was plenty of scrap material to choose from, and being as I was stuck at work for an hour after the end of my shift, not being paid whilst I waited for a lift, I thought I'd get started on it.  So a large piece of scrap wood was salvaged from the bin, some tatty mirrored card, and some packing foam, and a rough winding shape of a river was cut. 

The packing material was hacked with a saw then glue-gunned down.  I then made up a bucket of filler using PVA glue and sawdust, ready for the next stage...

Back home that evening, and the contours were smoothed out a bit with plaster bandage, which didn't work too well, given it was quite old, so the filler went on next.

The rushed nature of it meant the bandage hadn't dried particularly well which rather affected the drying of the filler.

By the careful application of a hair-drier, the process was sped up, then out came the acrylic paints.  Now it was time to leave it to dry overnight. 

Saturday, out came the modelling flock and PVA for a very quick application to give it a bit of texture.

With rain forecast for Sunday, and an unwillingness to hang about too long in urban and industrial areas, it was quickly out to Keighley to find somewhere suitably oppressive and built-up.  You'd think Keighley would have this in spades, but it turns out it only feels like a post-apocalyptic dystopia, actually when you start looking, everywhere has tons of greenery...

A suitable industrial road was found, free of drug dealers or ne'erdowells, and out came the set...

The trees were a late addition, and borrowed from my brother-in-laws dismantled scalextric set (without his knowledge, so technically borrowed should read stolen I suppose).  A lack of glue and an excess of breeze meant they were tilting at a rakish angle, but there wasn't time to fix that.  In any case this was just meant to be test to look at the general concept.

Also, the breeze kept blowing the excess flock and things onto the 'water' too, which was a little annoying.

So shoot done, and I realised it was actually a weaker idea for this brief than the 'backup idea', a hopefully tantalising glimpse of which is shown below, and more of which in a later post.

I might still return to the river concept and do it properly, and its a little annoying after such a rush to get the rough test piece done, but better to realise that now than the night before the exhibition...

Hopefully some posts on that blasted Jabberwock next...

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