Monday, August 22, 2011

The Kim Sacks Gallery; Recent Ceramics by Catherine Brennon, Heather Mills & Lisa Ringwood.

Arguably one of the most stunning galleries in South Africa is The Kim Sacks Gallery. The building, painted a rich terracotta, is similar to the colour of soil on the Highveld, and the structure is modeled on indigenous African clay dwellings. 
The building is in sharp contrast to its surroundings, located on Jan Smuts Avenue, one of the busiest roads in Johannesburg. However the exterior provides insight into an African experience, which welcomes you the moment you enter the gallery through the wrought-iron kraal gate. This is a truly African celebration that instantly transports you into a double volume cool space, that is indicative of an African dwelling, a safe haven from the scorching sun in arid landscapes in rural areas, be it Venda and or KwaZulu Natal. 

In recent years, the area on Jan Smuts Avenue has become an art precinct; home to the Linda Goodman Gallery, Art Space and further up the road, the Circa Gallery, to mention a few.

Inside the space however you experience the vibrancy of Africa, especially indigenous South Africa, in all forms, shapes and function. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for a tourist, especially from the Nordic countries, to step into this slice of Africa. The Fins and the Swedes have influenced the crafts and in particular good design for many years, but I am sure, nothing quite prepares them for this space. Its richness, vibrancy in colour and array of diverse African artifacts must be overwhelming to the point of exhaustion. 
Burnished Pots.

Each object handpicked and selected by one of the most discerning eyes in the business, Kim Sacks herself. Her own work inspired by the Nordic craft aesthetic conventions.  Every nook and cranny of this gallery draws you into art and craft forms; handcrafted to perfection, fine examples of their craft style and or tradition. Here you get what you pay for – a piece of South African authenticity.

Plates by Lisa Ringwood.
The gallery-shop also hosts one-person and group ceramic exhibitions. On display at the moment is the ceramic work of Three Women; Heather Mills, Catherine Brennon and Lisa Ringwood – recent ceramic works. Make your way to this gallery and feast your eyes on finely handcrafted ceramics that will inspire you and should you purchase a work, bring the heart of Africa into your home. 

Ceramics by Heather Mills

The exhibition runs for a few weeks only – make sure you don’t miss this one (closing date 27 August). Organise a group to visit the exhibition, and I am sure you will get to experience the hospitality of the gallery staff – tea at the fireplace. 
Catherine Brennon

Should you wish to see more Images and read the artist’s statements, follow the link to the gallery website. 

Catherine Brennon Plate.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ballpoint pen drawings, ring design II. Refinement of form, structure and decoration.

Refining your design concept through drawing is essential.
What follows is the final drawing, step by step, in black and white. Colour will now be added and featured in the next post, entered shortly.
The drawing was done using a ballpoint pen - a fine Big pen. Comparing the drawings of this post and the previous entry will indicate the subtle design changes. Brought about through valuable critique by colleagues and students at the Department of Jewellery Design and Manufacture, where I teach.

Refinement of the design and the drawing.  
Changes made to the flaming leaves, refining the symmetry of the forms and shapes of the leaves and the flowers (the composition) I also took into account the negative shapes created by the leaves and the flowers. Possible manufacturing techniques and methods were also considered in the drawing.

Paper choice
The final drawing was made on page from a Ashrad Sketch Pad, a cartridge paper 200gsm.  The previous drawings (previous post entry) were in a Moleskine sketchbook. The paper is very yellow, maybe faded, bought on a sale.  The texture of the paper is best suited for pencil.  Many of my previous sketchbooks are Daler-Rowney, 150g/ms, acid free paper.  This is the best paper as it has a very slight texture and can take serious crosshatching without bulging. The slight texture prevents the black-ink drawing from flattening out, due to excessive crosshatching. I believe that this enables the drawing to breath, the white shining through.  A certain amount of luminosity is achieved this way – a sheen is obtained. I wish to believe,  this look is specific to ballpoint pen drawings. Very satisfying indeed. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ballpoint pen drawings, ring design. Chinese Dragon.

Ballpoint pen drawing of jewellery piece.
Dragon based gold band, scales of fish. 

For the past four weeks I have been working on concepts for jewellery pieces. I am designing a range of jewellery pieces based on the ceramic installation with projected animation titled, and the ship sails on (follow link and or blog label for images and text on the ceramic work) I have been granted the opportunity for a one person exhibition at a leading Jewellery store, Elegance.
It is situated in an exclusive shopping complex in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. The exhibition is scheduled to take place early next year and coincides with the Chinese New Year Celebrations. Central to the exhibition will be my latest ceramic statement, a ceramic installation featuring a five-clawed dragon. As mentioned in a previous blog post entry, next year is the year of the dragon. All works exhibited will therefore embrace the theme in various forms including artist books with a CD of the projection inserted in the cover. 

I will also frame a number of my ballpoint pen drawings (a limited edition of printed drawings on acid free paper) The exhibition will also feature a number of ceramic works (painted decoy ducks) with surface development options, based on the projected animation of the five-clawed Chinese Dragon. The decoy ducks are the major products in the installation (image below.
Decoy duck with projected animation, peonies.

Ballpoint pen sketches of ideas and reference material.

Jewellery Pieces – Artist Intent.
The following drawings are initial sketches of design concepts and ideas, based on chosen reference material - the earliest known Chinese jewellery pieces, carved in Jade. See previous blog post for more information including photo documentation and relevant books. 
I want the jewellery pieces to have a strong Chinese historical reference, ensuring a certain amount of authenticity. However the concepts had to be innovative and creative with a strong contemporary design style. More importantly it had to be an extension of my latest ceramic statement – the central piece of attraction at the exhibition. The dragon therefore has to feature in the jewellery pieces.

I had a strong premonition that jade held an important clue to the origins of the dragon and I therefore did research on both. Needles to say that I was right, the earliest of Chinese Jade pieces incorporated mythical images of the evolving symbolism of the dragon. For a synopsis into my research and historically significant images, see my previous blog post – follow link or label.
White Jade, 4.5cm.
Collection Institute of Archeology,
Zhejiang Province, China.
 The first Jewellery concept is based on the following jade piece. It is from the Liangzhu culture and has close connections with early Chinese religion. The piece of white jade was found at the foot of a body in a tomb at Yaoshan, Liangzhu. It is now in the Institute of Archeology, Zhejiang Province. The jades function is unclear.