Sunday, June 5, 2011

Art in Jars

I ran a workshop on assemblage art at the Mapua Art Group, which is a local art group that I joined 4 years ago, last month. We meet every Thursday morning in the local hall, and once a month we have a workshop. I've always been interested in making assemblages out of found objects, and collect "interesting" bits and pieces all the time as the piles and boxes full in my studio are testimony to. So I thought if I ran a workshop it would make me "make " something first. So I was only one step ahead of everyone else!

I've been following Kirsty Hall and her 365 Jars project since January, so she inspired me to restrict our workshop to art in jars. Thinking that this would make it easier! Well it did and it didn't. It's actually quite hard to fit things into jars, as I discovered. Especially as the neck of the jar is almost always narrower than the main body of the jar. Anyhoo I managed to created four jars before taking the workshop.

The first was created from a heart shaped cookie cutter and 25m of yellow embroidery thread that I found at the recycling centre. It's called "Pike 29" in memory of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the Pike River mine disaster in November. We lived in Greymouth for almost 4 years, so it all felt quite "close to home". After wrapping the heart in the thread, I cut out 29 numbers from a calendar, and glued them onto a West Coast beach pebble. I didn't want the stone to rattle around in the bottom of the jar, I wanted to cocoon it, so put some pillow stuffing in the bottom of the jar.
Pike 29

The next jar I made is called "Jar for Japan". It is based on three pages from a wee Japanese calendar that I had, I stitched some details onto the figures then stitched the three pieces together. Then because I didn't like looking at the back of the calendar inside the jar I collaged over it with a picture from a magazine of cranes flying at sunset. The next issue to resolve was that I didn't want it all to sit on the bottom of the jar, so I made a wee pincushion for the bottom of the jar. Lastly I wanted an origami crane hanging from the lid, hubby is very good at making them, but didn't have time to rope him in, so instead it's a plastic Japanese bow, again out of the depths of the studio. This jar is hard to take in with one photo, there are lots of elements, probably too many!
Jar for Japan

For the third jar I wanted to do some collaging, as quite a bit of my art practice is centred around ripping up images from magazines. It took me a while to find some small wooden blocks, many trips to the recycling centre in fact! The ones I found had holes drilled through them, so after collaging the image on the blocks I worked out which way up I wanted them, and then glued three blocks together with an old pencil through the centre of the holes. The half round one I added to the lid, as it couldn't fit into the jar. I called this one "Grid Lock". I especially like the knob, with the light reflecting off the car windscreen which adds some "zap" to the whole assemblage.
Grid Lock
The final jar, is based on a poem written by my great great grandfather John Liddell Kelly, who emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland in 1881. He was a journalist who expressed his creativity with poetry. In 1902 he published a book of poetry called "Heather and Fern: Songs of Scotland and Maoriland". I have inherited my great grandmother's copy from my father, which has a lovely inscription on the cover from him. I was actually a bit shocked to discover that you can buy a nasty looking scanned version of his book on Amazon I particularly hate the cover! It doesn't look like either New Zealand or Scotland the image they have used. It's also available as an e-book, which looks more authentic.
Heather and Fern

I wrote each verse of the poem Heather and Fern onto a strip of video tape. So they can be taken out of the jar and read. During the workshop a friend read it out and it was very moving, especially for a woman who emigrated from Scotland 9 months ago. The words are just as relevant now, except now emigrants can quite easily hop onto a plane and return "home", whereas g,g, grandfather never saw the land of his birth again.

Click on the last photo to enlarge so you can read words written 124 years ago.

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