Saturday, January 09, 2021

Elora Sculpture Project - 2021

(from my submission for 2021)

‘An Undiscovered Plant - with a cure for cancer’

‘My. how peculiar! Just what is this? It’s not like any plant I’ve seen before. It’s so BIG. - and so strange looking…’
This sculpture is in the form of a huge jungle (?) plant. A cluster of arching stems each hold individual frosted glass ‘flowers’. Towering above these are a group of huge and complex ’seed pods’. Bundled at the base are long blade shaped leaves.
For the Elora Sculpture Project 2021, I wanted to to return to something more illustrating hand forging methods, and more subtle in theme. Those familiar with my past work have seen my use of re-shaped structural steel, the closest parallel would be the 2014 contribution ‘Spears of Summer.
In truth it is the title that conveys the meaning to the piece, beyond creation of the fantastic. I also wanted to be less obvious that last year’s ‘Last to Sea’, and ‘Legacy’ in 2018. The starting point here was suggested by the 1992 film ‘Medicine Man’, about an isolated scientist in the Amazon, pursuing a plant based cure for cancer, and battling the destruction of the same rain forest where the rare plant can be found.

This will be a physically large piece, the three ‘seed pods’ standing about 6 feet tall (about 1.75 m) and extending to roughly 3 feet total diameter (about 1 m). The ‘flower’ elements will be at roughly five feet (1.5 m). The ‘leaves’ will extend up about 1 1/2 - 2 feet (about 50 - 60 cm) from the base.

The inspiration for the seed pod elements came directly from 'Art Forms in the Plant World' by Karl Blossfeldt, an amazing collection of highly detailed black and white photographs from the early 1900’s. This specific form is based on the image 'Common Chili-nettle. Seminal capsules' - which in real life are only about 5 cm long. In preparation for this submission, I undertook a prototyping session, with the final forged element here about 12 - 14 inches long and about 3 inches wide (30 - 35 x 8 cm). The outer covers are spiral wraps of flattened  3/4 inch angle, so the width each of the three pieces used is roughly 4 cm. In the image of the prototype, the core is formed of a bundle of twisted angle. I was not entirely happy with the result (and it proved technically difficult to control). So in the final sculpture I will be using a bundle of twisted round rods as the cores.  

Image Inspiration

Initial Prototype

The the interior core will be highlighted by use of bright orange - red paint, the exterior coloured a dark green to match the other surfaces.

Each of the ‘flowers’ is formed by a matching frosted dark blue glass ‘bell jar’. These are each 15 cm long, and 12 cm in diameter on the open rim. Each is held in place via a tendril ‘basket’ forged from six pieces of 1/ 4 inch diameter round rod.

All the ‘stems’ will be forged from structural channel, collapsed into a distorted tube like profile. The base leaves will be forged from flattened wide angle. All the individual elements will be welded together at the base. The main stems will be attached first, with some smaller pieces added to ensure significant strength. These pieces will be hidden by the spray of leaves around the base that are welded in place after. As mentioned, the whole piece will be painted with a dark green industrial enamel.
The exact shape at the base may need to be a bit wider in proportion than indicated in the drawing - to accommodate the usual bolt pattern. ( I may chose to mount the sculpture to an irregular stone slab - and idea still under consideration).

I think the final sculpture will be striking and have significant presence. For that reason the committee may chose to place it at one of the peripherial locations. It remains my hope that the title alone will prove though provoking enough to the viewer.

Bio :
Darrell Markewitz has been working as an Artisan Blacksmith since a student at Ontario College of Art in the late 1970’s. He established the Wareham Forge in 1992, creating forged metal objects in his distinctive ‘Rivendale’ style. He is known for his work researching and replicating objects and techniques from the Viking Age. He has contributed work for the ESP every year since 2013.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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