Category Archives: sculpture

Rueger Fold

Fold forming is a conceptual and physical approach to metalsmithing where the natural metal characteristics are used to form unique three dimensional forms.  

This example, by angelfunkstudios, incorporates natural heat patina on fine-gauge copper.

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Life in the Balance

The mysterious appearance of two dozen precariously balanced rock sculptures in the Humber River over the weekend was revealed to be the work of an artist simply looking to clear his head on a Sunday afternoon.

According to the artist, Peter Riedel, the sculptures took about four hours to create from flat rock he found in a shallow part of the river.

“I come, I do my thing, and I leave. I don’t leave any signature so to speak,” he said. “It’s kind of fun that it is mystery for people, and not about me so much in my own mind.”

Riedel, a self-taught artist inspired by Scottish environmental sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy, said he is happy people enjoy his work, but he makes sculptures solely to clear his head and has not sought any attention over the past five summers he’s been making them.

The sculptures, roughly about one-metre tall, were still standing in the river Tuesday afternoon, although Riedel said some of the top rocks have already fallen off. The rocks are balancing on thin edges, with some large slabs remarkably holding steady on tiny stones. The sculptures usually remain intact for about three days before they get knocked over by wind or vibrations.

“Like so many things in life, the balance isn’t always up to us. We think things are perfect and balanced, but sometimes life has surprises for us too.”

The Stone Gardener

Garden of Stones GoldsworthyOn a sultry morning in early August, sculptor Andy Goldsworthy stood in a quarry in Stony Creek, Connecticut, watching the heart being burned out of a ten-ton granite boulder. Eighteen of these tawny-gray brutes, varying between three and fifteen tons, are to be scattered around a space measuring a hundred and twenty feet by thirty-five on the second-story roof terrace of the new extension of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in Battery Park City. The hollowed rocks will then be filled with soil, and, on September 16th, Holocaust survivors will plant a dwarf chestnut-oak sapling in each one, creating a memorial Garden of Stones.

The rock surrenders to the fire, Goldsworthy said, because fire created it in the first place. But fire cleans as well as sculpts. Shooting flames at granite not only re-enacts primordial geology but converts the incinerations of genocide into the flames of sanctification.

During a break from the burning, we peered into the opened belly of the rock. The interior was speckled gray, with shreds of stone flaking away from the walls or pulverized into a granular silica, like sand on a beach, some of the grains glassily fused. John Ruskin’s feverishly beautiful passages on “Compact Crystallines,” in “Modern Painters,” came to mind, in which he describes the glitter of granite as looking “somewhat like that of a coarse piece of freshly broken loaf sugar.”

Garden of Stones Goldsworthy

The cavity is conical, a form that much preoccupies Goldsworthy, who often declares a debt to Brancusi. Monti was working from the opened base and down the narrowing funnel. Once hollowed, the rocks are inverted, so that the saplings can sit at the neck of the boulder, atop their bed of earth. The disproportion between the hefty stones and the tiny, six-inch plants may risk looking absurd, but it will at least preclude any possibility of the stones’ resembling the oversized planters commonplace in corporate atriums. Instead, a mysterious hatching will be inaugurated: the sprig from the rock.

The growth process of the sprouting menhirs, standing between the Hudson and Ground Zero, will not, however, be risk-free. Tom Whitlow, a Cornell plant ecologist whom Goldsworthy consulted, warned that if the growing tree should press against its unyielding stone girdle it could crush the living cambium immediately beneath the bark. In that case, the root system would atrophy and die. But unlike many contemporary artists, fretful about their posterity, Goldsworthy incorporates the indeterminate outcomes of natural processes into most of his work. Sculptures created from found materials like ice and thorns, driftwood, and even bleached kangaroo bones all presuppose that artistic design will yield to the cycles of time and climate, whether over an hour or a decade.

Goldsworthy relishes the embattled growth of his dwarf chestnut oaks, contending with the jackhammer shaking of downtown construction, the judder of helicopter rotors on the riverbank, sudden gusts of estuarine winds, and the murky air of lower Manhattan. The plants’ fight for survival against the odds is meant as an emblem of the Jewish experience they memorialize. “The trees I wanted couldn’t be decorative,” he says. “They needed to be tough little S.O.B.s.”

On August 22nd, three weeks before the inauguration of the Garden of Stones, the last boulders were hoisted into their positions on the museum roof, and it was already apparent that Goldsworthy’s sculpture would be one of the most powerful monuments in a city still struggling to find visual expressions for the tug between the perishable and the imperishable.

Full story at The New Yorker

Les Chevaliers Cathares

Stone knights for Linda Gordon, who taught me that there are too many haiku about cherry blossoms and too few about stone.

Les chevaliers Cathares
Pleurent doucement,
Au bord de l’autoroute
Quand le soir descend,
Comme une dernière insulte,
Comme un dernier tourment,
Au milieu du tumulte,
En robe de ciment.

From the A61 motorway at the Pech Loubat rest stop in France, you can see three giant stone Cathar knights brooding over their long lost homeland. Pulling into their often deserted, large last home, you may relax and explore this wild area, and stop off for a quiet pique-nique. You can even climb right up in the hollowed out bodies and look out through the helmets of the lonely giants, east over the vast valleys as they sweep down towards the Mediterranean.

The site seems almost as unloved as the Cathars were by the Church of Rome. But it allows the wildlife to flourish and provides an experience of quiet and the open skies from the rise above the everlasting tarmac ribbon.

“Christianity, without chapels, without statues, Christianity which always refused to encompass anything sacred within visible matter….the heart of man is the true church of God.”
~ Anne Brenon

The word Cathar comes from the Greek word Katheroi meaning pure ones. Cathars believed in a theological dualism with two divine principles, a good one who made all good, unmaterial, things (like the human soul) and a bad one who made the bad, material, things (like the human body). They also believed that the mainstream Catholicism had strayed away from, and had corrupted, the very early Christianist teachings.

The Cathars believed that their soul became trapped in the world, reincarnating over and over until they were once again free from identification with this dimension and could return home to pure Spirit. They saw how our attention becomes easily trapped in this dualistic universe. Snared by the temptations of the outer life, the mind creates an inner thought-based world to match, and by these very thoughts, reinforces the outer world of matter and the senses. Seeing how thoughts and matter became intertwined, creating a net nearly impossible to break, the Cathar Perfects labored to save themselves.

Catharism was a “heresy” that was introduced to the Languedoc in about 1150 and was widespread in this region of France for several centuries. Catharism was so popular that even priests were leaving the Catholic orthodoxy to follow it. The popularity of the Cathars reached it height at the beginning of the 14th century.

In 1209, Pope Innocent III declared a crusade against the Cathars, when the Catholic Church came down extremely heavily on the heretics, aided by the King of France, keen to grab more land for his idle, spare knights. The eradication of Catharism included the complete slaughter of the town of Toulouse. In all, about half a million people of all ages and rank were killed.

The crusade against Catharism eventually led to the dramatic last stand at the Cathar castle on Montsegur. Here, after an as yet to be explained surrender and terms, the remaining Perfects were burned, ending an era and starting a legend. Stories still abound of the last night of this final siege, and the supposed escape of four Cathars with a treasure, reputed to be anything from gold, to the Holy Grail itself.

The Cathars left us with not just another story of strength in the face of persecution, but also an inspiring call to our intuition that things might not be as they seem. They struggled to escape the bonds of earthly existence and find Heaven and God within.

Lyrics:  Francis Cabrel

Loren Eiseley on the Miraculous

Linda Gordon Skystones

I know that the world “miraculous” is regarded dubiously in scientific circles because of past quarrels with theologians. The word has been defined, however, as an event transcending the known laws of nature. Since, as we have seen, the laws of nature have a way of being altered from one generation of scientists to the next, a little taste of the miraculous in this broad sense will do us no harm. We forget that nature itself is one vast miracle transcending the reality of night and nothingness. We forget that each one of us in his personal life repeats that miracle.

Whatever may be the power behind those dancing motes to which the physicist has penetrated, it makes the light of the muskrat’s world as it makes the world of the great poet. It makes, in fact, all of the innumerable and private worlds which exist in the heads of men. There is a sense in which we can say that the planet, with its strange freight of life, is always just passing from the unnatural to the natural, from that Unseen which man has always reverenced to the small reality of the day. If all life were to be swept from the world, leaving only its chemical constituents, no visitor from another star would be able to establish the reality of such a phantom. The dust would lie without visible protest, as it does now in the moon’s airless craters, or in the road before our door.

Yet this is the same dust which, dead, quiescent, and unmoving, when taken up in the process known as life, hears music and responds to it, weeps bitterly over time and loss, or is oppressed by the looming future that is, on any materialist terms, the veriest shadow of nothing. How natural was man, we may ask, until he came? What forces dictated that a walking ape should watch the red shift of light beyond the island universes or listen by carefully devised antennae to the pulse of unseen stars? Who, whimsically, conceived that the plot of the world should begin in a mud puddle and end – where, and with whom? Men argue learnedly over whether life is chemical chance or antichance, but they seem to forget that the life in chemicals may be the greatest chance of all, the most mysterious and unexplainable property of matter.

Excerpted from Loren Eiseley, How Natural is “Natural”?
Image, Linda Gordon, Skystones
Lapis ex coelis – The Stone from the Stars

The Slow Lives of Stones

Andy Goldsworthy Stone RiverI suppose that nothing living had moved among those great stones for centuries.

They lay toppled against each other like fallen dolmens.

The huge stones were beasts, I used to think, of a kind that man ordinarily lived too fast to understand.

They seemed inanimate because the tempo of the life in them was slow.

They lived ages in one place and moved only when man was not looking.

Sometimes at night I would hear a low rumble as one drew itself into a new position and subsided again.

Sometimes I found their tracks ground deeply into the hillsides.

Loren Eiseley, How Natural is “Natural”?
Image, Andy Goldsworthy, Stone River
Andy Goldsworthy at Red Star Café.

This necklace incorporates a focal lampwork bead by Dwyn Tomlinson, agate swirls and Kambaba jasper rondelles from BeadFX, chain from AD Adornments, and Atlantis polymer beads and earrings by StoriesTheyTell.

Andy Goldsworthy Goes to the Office

Andy GoldsworthySome time ago, we blogged about the environmental art of Andy Goldsworthy (and some other earth artists well worth visiting).

Over at Museumgeeks, Suzanne, another Goldsworthy fan, challenged some Facebook friends to theorize (including faux artistic rationale) what Andy might do with “natural” office resources:

A silver screen of paper clips across the elevator door which forces office staff to fight their way through to their cubicles. Perhaps an email that automatically replies to itself, creating an endless looping message that gets longer and longer until it eats up all the bandwidth in the universe. Pillars of post-its with phone messages.

Another maven of office art is Larissa Brown. Here is Spew, an ominous fabrication of stapler and wire that will haunt this blogger’s dreams before the inevitable alarm to haul oneself off to the veal fattening pen.

Larissa Brown Spew

And, speaking of spew, this frightening piece, entitled Continuum Incident Report, is reminiscent of cell phone hell on public transit, where we are forced to endure the banal babbling of our Kafkaesque fellow travellers who need to assure everyone that they’re on the bus.

Continuum Incident Report Larissa Brown

Over to you, Andy.