School of Saatchi…

New to BBC2, you could be forgiven for seeing this as a highbrow X Factor for art. But what a refreshing, and enlightening, change the series promises to be. First major point of interest?

Kate Bush

Head of Art: Barbican

“art is an expression of the intention of an artist. And the expression is what constitutes the art”

Well I guess that answers one of our perennial questions.

Another was answered almost by default…in that even keeping the above statement in mind, the artist is still not the arbiter.

Another interesting thing was just how incapable the applicants were of answering the question, “why is this art?”  All “artists” by virtue, presumably, of application in the first instance, art school education, practice, or, in one case, working as a successful commercial artist, one might imagine that this is not a new question, and perhaps one which might reasonably be expected to be asked at some point. And yet the inability to answer the question was almost unanimous. Almost. So why were they not prepared and able to answer with wall-smashing clarity?

Could it be that if one thinks of oneself as an artist, behaves as an artist, makes things like an artist, and feels that the work created constitutes art then it is? And that the inability to define its qualification is simply because prior to being asked to, they simply felt it was?

That’s the impression I was left with, anyway.

I don’t wish to re-open the shush-you-know-what debate again…but these are interesting questions, and undoubtably an interesting premise for a programme. Already I noted a couple of “works” which I’d be glad to own, or at least view close up.

Tracey Emin was the most interesting judge for me. I like Emin’s work very much, and have enjoyed it for a long time. I  was surprised a number of times by her brusqueness, and at others by her willingness to stand alone in a strident opinion. A throwaway comment she made about an applicant “not having the jargon” was especially telling when replayed over the voices of some applicants spouting what, to my ear at least, always sounds precisely like jargon. And that sits poorly with me, because I still believe that a reasonably intelligent individual could learn the jargon, talk-the-talk, create the back story, and within the program there seemed a point when a couple of the judges were actually wondering if this was happening with one particular applicant. Was there an intellectual coup being played out?

The program is especially fascinating for those following the shush-you-know-what debate, as it at least promises some answers to some of the underlying questions.  One thing already clear, is that if you claim a work is art, you will be called to defend the claim…at some point.

Missed the program? See on BBC iPLAYER until next Monday.

I shouldn’t have been doing this…

But last night we went along to our annual visit to Sotterly Mill and I bought some lovely burr oak. Kiln dried too, so ready to work. And today, when I should have been doing other things, I couldn’t resist turning a lump. This piece is 19″ in diameter at the widest point. The burr is lovely and I can imagine the cries when they see it coloured…but that’s fine…you do what you do with yours, and I’ll do what I do with mine…

 

 

 

 

 

unfinished underside

What do you do when it doesn’t go right…?

I’ve had a wall plaque on the go for a couple of weeks now, but I couldn’t get it right no matter what. I couldn’t even say what was wrong with it (although it was probably me that was wrong, and not the plaque), I just didn’t like it. The wood is burr maple, and is a lovely piece of wood. What I wanted was to include some of my usual features but show the burr well. Nothing was working and off onto the floor it went. Today I put it back.

I re-coloured it. No. Re-textured it. No. I used some new colouring techniques I’ve been playing with. No. By now it was looking like it had suffered at the hands of a madman with access to all sorts of finishes and materials. So I re-cut the whole thing and played safe. Cowardly I know, but there has to be a limit, and I was in danger of turning the entire block of burr away!

The result is this…

 

And a close up…

I have (almost) decided that it will be mounted on a base with a swivel post, but that means working the back now…and god knows what mess I’ll get into then! Is it really worth the trouble? When should you give up and burn a piece that isn’t working?

What do you do when you’re bored…?

When I have time to kill and I get bored, the usual thing to do is turn a quick bowl. It’s a quick hit and works well, and even if you don’t intend to keep it as stock it’s a productive process and often serves to crush the boredom…

Yesterday I turned a quick bowl and for some reason thought to make a video of it using my Nokia mobile phone camera. The film wasn’t too hot – as might be expected for a spur of the moment thing – but I thought it would be interesting to make another and see just how quickly a 6″ blank of green sycamore could be turned into a bowl.

So here’s the format: 6″ blank of sycamore, turned to a clean finish, no sanding whatsoever, tennon removed by reverse chucking…bowl left to dry and warp.

This isn’t the fastest so far, but the best video so far…

Please note that this is NOT an instructional video, and the short-cuts taken to produce a “quick” bowl should not be taken by the inexperienced turner…and probably not even otherwise. This is just for fun!

 

Bone idle thieving scum…

If there’s one thing (in fact there are many) that makes my blood boil it’s when a person has the tools of their trade stolen by feckless, witless, lazy, good-for-nothing-but-whipping scum…

It’s a long shot, but if you live in the area and are offered anything off the list, you know what to do…

http://www.cravenherald.co.uk/news/4733861.Craftsman_issues_plea_for_return_of_stolen_tools/

List here: http://flyingshavings.wordpress.com/

So many looking and not a comment…

A web surfer from ukworkshops, a forum I don’t use, read the previous post and placed in link there which resulted in over forty ukworkshop visits yesterday, and a few, oddly, through the night. Not one comment or opinion expressed here…although on the ukworkshop forum it was suggested that I should a guinea pig and continue using the Yew mug.

No repsonse yet from the toxicologist, either. I’m too busy today and this evening, but tomorrow I’ll send out a raft of emails to every toxicologist I can find an email address for. Round-robin research. That’s the way forward.