Saturday, November 06, 2010

DIARY 132 - Put an aura on it

I've been occupied, whenever the times been available, with a number of projects at work that I've been making slow but painstaking progress with. Rather than get frustrated by this snail like pace, or lack of substantial stretches of work time, I've been utilising to the full whatever time emerges, however short. I've found that I enjoy everything I do, to a greater degree because I'm no longer seeing my other work as obstacles to doing 'what I really want to be doing'. I see life is a sequence of moments, and what to do with them arises directly from the conditions surrounding me. Any moment has its own momentum, its necessity and prime purpose, I have to learn to listen to, and most of all respond to it.

I've recently made a lectern. Now that may not sound ground breaking to you, but it is for me. As the son of a joiner,I've got an inbuilt familial inferiority complex,a view that my dexterity is cack-handed when it comes to constructing things from solid matter. I've a tendency to be hyper critical of my own efforts in this area. But frankly, I think I'll have to drop this aspect of my poor self-view. The result actually impressed even me, was quite well made, and garnered more than a few positive compliments. I'm becoming more and more aware of a tendency to raise my own criticisms of my work, in response to other people's praise. Yes, its my theme for 2010 raising its head once more, that old praise and blame stuff. As the critical words trip off the tongue to flatten the praise with deadening ease, I'm hearing myself internally groaning and screaming, STOP, SAY NO MORE !!! But alas tis always too late by then.

One of my aims with all my project work is to try raising the spiritual bar, by improving the aesthetics of shrine spaces, to uplift and, yes, amaze people with how differently they could see their work environment. During the Summer I took one rather dull corner of a corridor, where a standing rupa stood rather neglected in the shadows. After re-painting the walls a lighter colour, I improvised a plinth, that,spurred on by my triumph as a lectern maker, I might produce a better mark 2 version of. After that I drew a large circle on the wall to be the guiding outer edge for an aura. This aura was formed from a circle of thin strips cut from silver mirror card. These were stuck on the wall with double-sided tape. In the middle I placed a large convex mirror, adapted from a disused shop security mirror. The rupa originally a dark metal standing Shakyamuni, I swapped for a wood carved Kuan Yin, that has always been meant to be looking down on you with kindness. Kuan Yin bears a bit of a Virgin Mary archetype, so it did inevitable ruffle a few sensitive Ex-Catholic feathers. But, once again I've had very appreciative feedback.

This has rather emboldened me to attempt larger wall drawing/painting projects around my
workplace. I posted a feature earlier in the year about the wall paintings of Sol Le Witt, and my ambitions certainly want to head in that direction. Each time I do a wall decoration I learn more about what the work process entails. I have to be constantly on the look out for potential pitfalls ahead. However, my own small scale artwork has given me the experience and the confidence in my own creative process, plus the execution skills for these larger works. I've just never drawn or painted on walls before, so I don't, as yet, know what to beware of, the short cuts or techniques that solve particular problems. I'm very much learning on the job. I'm beginning also to appreciate that my previous artwork is ideal to be executed on a much larger canvas than I've normally attempted.

This week I finished another aura. This time around a wooden standing figure of Shakyamuni from Bali. The preparation for this, the careful detailed drawing out particularly utilised my technical drawing skills. Deciding with what sort of paint or pen to draw it out with, and knowing when to stop embellishing it, are all things I've encountered in my own work. My ideas have always to be held provisionally, waiting to see what the completion of each stage suggests to me. Sometimes I need to change tack, drop one idea, adapt another. The geometry of the final piece has its own suggestion of depth to it, so an idea to stick bronze metallic beads looked wrong once I started applying them. It confused,not enhanced, the simple illusion of depth. So I dropped that idea.

The design of the warehouse office spaces has always been
minimalistic,about large expanses of unadorned colour. It's sparseness has always felt to me a bit forced and unnecessary. Introducing designs into this needs to be done carefully, and with a degree of decorative restraint. Something too baroque would just look incongruous and out of keeping. So far I think I've been able to tread this line OK.

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