Going North in Spring

This year we missed our usual trip north to Scotland and the other day I overheard the sound of Oystercatchers on one of my StillWalks videos playing in the background. It emphasised the loss of not getting to where they had been recorded.

At least I have the StillWalk to watch and listen to. Here are a couple of images from it. The video can be viewed on the Spring Walks page.

The images are available to buy at PhotoShelter

Oystercatchers

Oystercatchers

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

That Old Freezer – why I like it?

So, back to the canvas, or at least, the place from which that “Metallic Canvas” came – the old burnt out freezer that provided me with so much colour and texture for my camera and sound for my recorder. I said that I would try and explain my interest in metal and my weird liking for the sounds it can make and these are the clues.

Over this last week I have shown something of the ways in which I have used metal in my work but perhaps I have not explained why I use and like it.

Synesthesia – This is not how I would describe my visual, aural or linguistic experience of the world. However, from the moment I started tapestry weaving at college many years ago, I was excited by the touch and texture of the materials I handled.

Old Freezer

It took many years of weaving to reach a level of expertise with which I was happy and confident. A part of this development was my deepening understanding of how my body, my fingers, interacted with the structure of warp and weft. For many years I used strong bold colours and blends in my tapestries and this too helped me to gain a clearer understanding of how colour interacts in different ways in different circumstances. Tapestry weaving is unique in its absorption and reflection of light – hence its generosity with colour.

These things are key to my approach to photography, sound recording, StillWalks and my “Interventions”. I have carried out workshops in the past where I have asked people to close their eyes and listen to the sound of an instrument or an everyday kitchen object and think about what colour the sound might be or what it would feel like if they could touch the sound as it travels through the air around them. Music, too, is often described in terms of colour, texture and form. This is not synesthesia, I do not see numbers as colours or whatever the crossover of senses might be for an individual experiencing synesthesia.

I find the relationship of one sense to another exciting and I am thinking more and more these days in terms of how everything in this world is interconnected in one way or another. The texture and colour of an old burnt out freezer relates precisely to what has happened (or been done) to it. The sounds it makes in this state are unique to its condition and the circumstances of the space that it occupies.

Sounds are very important to me and whilst it may just be a matter of personal taste in the end, the fact that I like those (some would say harsh) sounds that metal can make, is relevant to StillWalks. I specifically do not like the soft, ethereal music that is so often used on meditation disks and it is this fact that led me to explore field recording and its use in StillWalks. The sounds in StillWalks are unique to the time and place of the walk, and the photography, and therefore, what you hear in each walk is entirely the result of the conditions at the time.

I find it fascinating how little these conditions need to change in order to create a different sound – it may be wind strength and direction or simply atmospheric pressure, time of day or year or how many people, birds and other creatures are around . . . and those thing too, only exist as they do because of the conditions and circumstances at any given time and place.

Everything is interconnected and it is this that I try to impart to project participants when out in the field. How we interact with our surroundings has an influence on everything that is a part of those surroundings and as a species that is in the privileged position of being able to make conscious choices about what we do and how we act in relation to everything (and everyone) around us, we have a responsibility to consider the effect we have on all those things to which we are connected directly or indirectly.

Oh dear, now I’m getting preachy – sorry about that folks 🙂 Comments welcome!

Suffice it to say that it is the colours and textures both visually and aurally that attracts me to metal. This says nothing of the symbolism that it can have in different forms and conditions, but that is something that perhaps should be left to the audience to interpret.

 

Interactivity, Interventions and Sound Recording

Along the thematic timeline of my work with metal (see previous posts this week), “Conflict”, at this stage, is still playing its part in my move towards StillWalks. The Story of StillWalks refers to this and the first pieces I produced using still photography and sound were about presenting my internal conflict issues.

Through my interactive digital media work on school and community projects, my interest in sound and sound recording grew. Like all means of communication, literacy in the form used – speech (language), sight (visual), sound (aural) – comes with experience (and teaching).

I have been sound recording for some time now. My project work required mainly voice recording but with StillWalks the focus is on field recording. Over the past few years I have developed my aural literacy in this area and found that there is so much more to hear out there if you only learn to listen.

I guess my interest in the sounds made by metal stems from my work over the years actually handling the stuff!

The images below are available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

Trees

“Trees”

Click below to hear a sound clip from one of my first video walks which incorporates field recording from a forest and . . . other sounds! This is a very early piece of work and it and others can be seen here.

 

Over the Edge

“Over the Edge”

The image above uses a screen shot of the spectral display (manipulated) from an audio file of flowing water.

Digital Barbs

Working in digital print was, perhaps, a natural outcome of the fact that during the design and weave projects I ran with schools, I discovered that I was able to help teachers with some of the problems they had with their PCs when ICT (Information Communication Technology) was being pushed in the curriculum.

I bought a second hand Apple LC III computer in the early 1990’s and a new and exciting world opened up to me. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t long before I was running interactive digital media projects in combination with design and weave. These included communal large scale digital prints. This was something I had built up some skill with over a period of time and training as well as through liaison with printers.

The barbs kept coming back and in these two giclée prints on canvas, I was aiming to bring together a number of different thematic strands I have worked with over the years. Interpretation of the image and its different elements is entirely open.

These works are available for sale. There is only one other print of “Waves” and “Waves 2” is entirely unique. Anyone interested should contact me.

You can find further information on school projects and much more at Design Fibre ICT

Waves

“Waves” 95 x 125 cms Giclee print on canvas

Waves detail

“Waves” detail

"Waves 2"  100 x 130 cms  giclee print on canvas

“Waves 2” 100 x 130 cms giclee print on canvas

Now and Then – looking back on my work.

Sticking with the theme of conflict, this piece has, perhaps, become more personal again (see previous posts this week for context). The patterns from printed DNA are still there but the barbed wire is also becoming more personal. StillWalks development is not far off!

Woven from the back – as a tapestry artist, I have usually woven my designs from the front. Design development continues, for me, throughout the weaving process and working from the front obviously facilitated this. However, “Now and Then” had to be woven from behind and I think the reason is obvious – perhaps this piece, more than others, has indeed got my personal DNA within it!

This work is available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

"Now and Then" - 78 x 69 x 20 cms

“Now and Then” – 78 x 69 x 20 cms

Now and Then - detail

“Now and Then” – detail

Conflicting Arguments

The theme of “Conflict” in my work began to broaden over the years. My two previous posts (Dialogue and The Conflict of Working with Metal) illustrated my work as it related to a specific situation, that of the troubles and peace talks in Northern Ireland at the turn of the  century.

The conflict in this piece is more personal and more general. The barbs still represent conflict but relate more now to the world stage rather than just Northern Ireland.

By now I have also become more interested in the physically contrasting  textures of the two materials, metal and wool, and how they interact. The pattern in the weave relates to the paper prints you sometimes see of DNA and it is this that relates to the personal element of conflict.

People often ask whether the barbs were inserted during the process of weaving or pushed through afterwards . . . it was the former. The barbs would significantly have damaged the weave if they had been inserted afterwards and, yes, there is blood as well as “sweat and tears” in this as well as other tapestries I have made. Don’t be concerned though, they were only minor scratches (for the most part) and a few rips in clothing!

This work is available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

Conflicting Arguments

“Conflicting Arguments” 85 x 120 x 10 cms

Conflicting Arguments

“Conflicting Arguments” 85 x 120 x 10 cms

Conflicting Arguments

“Conflicting Arguments” – detail

Dialogue

Dialogue is essential – no argument an ever be resolved without it. No matter how much fighting goes on, the argument will always be resolved through dialogue.

The peace talks in Northern Ireland 14 or 15 years ago were the original inspiration for my work with barbed wire in weave (see yesterday’s post).

“Dialogue” is another piece of work I made using the contrasting textures of wool and steel. The rods on which the weaving and barbs are suspended, wobble and waver if touched, and represented for me, the delicate, no, precarious nature of the situation in Northern Ireland at the time. It could be said that that precarious situation has continued to exist there, albeit to a lesser extent.

This work is available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

Dialogue

“Dialogue” 215 x 211 x 45 cms

Dialogue detail 1

“Dialogue” detail 1

Dialogue - detail 2

“Dialogue” – detail 2

The Conflict of Working with Metal

A couple of days ago I said in one of my blog posts, that I would try and explain my interest in working with metal. So over this week I am going to use some examples of my work in tapestry weaving, digital print and photography to illustrate the development of this interest. My work in interactive media has also played an important part in this.

I developed StillWalks in response to a situation with stress and internal conflict. The starting point of my work on the theme of conflict was during the peace process talks in Northern Ireland where I grew up during the 1960s and ’70s.

Combining barbed wire with weave was my way of representing many different feelings about the troubles in Northern Ireland. The pieces shown here are from that time.

These works are available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

Tapestry Weaving and barbed wire

“Tenses 3”  25 x 25 x 3 cms.  Photography – David wibberly

Tapestry Weaving and barbed wire

“Tenses 4”  25 x 25 x 3 cms.  Photography – David Wibberly

Tangled and Mangled

The effects of yesterdays dreich morning can be seen in that old freezer I have been photographing recently. The wet metal reflects the weather we had at the start of the day which created new colours and patterns only seen in these conditions.

And the sounds this can make? I continued working with them and here are a couple of experimental mixes. Next week I will try to explain some of my use of metal . . . watch this space!

You can click the mp3 files below or play the SoundCloud files which only appear on the blog page, not in an email. Ideally you would listen to these through headphone but it’s no big deal.

Old Freezer

Old Freezer

Old Freezer

Old Freezer

IMG_8637

Same environment, different viewpoint

Things are brightening up!

But it was a dreich day when I came down the garden to my studio this morning. So, to stay in keeping with the brightening day, I have decided to put up a few more of those colourful metallic “canvases” I have snapped recently.

Today I will work some more with the sounds I have been recording from this material but here, in the meantime, is a snippet. What does it sound like to you?

rusty metalrusty metal

rusty metal

metal