A peek into four months of an artist’s life

November 23, 2009

Beads Denmark 1

Just over a year ago I was working long hours seven days a week on the sculpture ‘King Neptune’s Beads’; a process that was to consume four months as there was a time deadline to meet. The sculpture had to arrive in Denmark in time for the opening of an outdoor exhibition of 60 international artists.

Beads Denmark 2Needless to say, the effort required to shape a two ton log into a one ton sculpture was intense. To paraphrase Rodin, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his/her own creation. True enough, but during these particular months of hard slog, I had several fires burning simultaneously and only one concerned an artistic creation.

Beads Denmark 3In these pages I have often written about the importance of art in healing the human disconnect from nature. This held true for the Beads in that its physical shape was abstracted from a Tasmanian sea grass — Neptune’s necklace — found here at Roaring Beach and I wanted people, when viewing the grander of the sculpture, to know that its beauty was reliant upon a natural form. Also, as Princess Mary of Denmark was born in Tasmania, it seemed fitting that some connection be made between her human royalty and the botanic royalty of the sea grass from her place of birth. (Mary, by the way, along with husband Prince Frederick, were the patrons of Denmark’s Aarhus Sculpture-by-the-Sea exhibition.)

Beads Denmark 5Believing, as I do, in the interconnectedness of all things, if the people of Denmark, who love Princess Mary, also admired the beauty of the sculpture, they would unconsciously or otherwise connect with the natural beauty of Tasmania’s Neptune’s Necklace and, thereby, move that little bit closer to understanding how humans are but one species of leaf on the great tree of life.

In a more figurative manner, however, by directly hand carving such a large trunk of a tree (three foot diameter, 22 feet long) and all the while holding onto the image of a large chain of sea grass fit for a king, this physical and mental connect with nature helped heal me. For, in the midst of all this carving, my emotional life was a mess. Sally, my partner of three years had just left our relationship and my heart was daily being ripped open as aggressively as I whacked the chisels into the shaping of the log. Good therapy, in the end. At times I would just lay on top of the log belly down and let my grief flow into its massive whale like presence.

I write some of my personal trauma at this time because this is the reality behind the creation of most art. Artists do not live in vacuums of isolated, equanimous existence. Our lives are as fueled by the vagaries of life as any other person. The model of the artist sitting idly contemplating his/her subject matter, even if passionately absorbed, is not the whole truth. We always bring with us into our studios either the light or the dark that fills our soul at that particular moment. And let me assure everyone, my artistic inner life can be as messy as my studio.

On the other end of the spectrum, one of the aspects about creating art that doesn’t get much airplay is the amount of mundane activity that goes into its creation. For the Denmark exhibition, how much time and energy was spent preparing just the proposal that may or may not have been accepted for exhibition? How does a two ton log get located and then brought to Windgrove? How does one physically manipulate it to manifest the image in the mind’s eye? How many separate unforeseen challenges arise and dealt with? Finally, how does one get it from the studio in the far south east corner of Tasmania over over to the other side of the world?

Beads Denmark 7

Beads Denmark 4

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Marko Järvela January 12, 2010 at 7:24 am

Peter,
IMPRESSIVE!
King Neptune’s Beads look powerful and fragile, like whispering a compelling prayer – –

Greetings from the cold Estonia abounding in snow. Let this year be generous to you, to Windgrove and the Roaring Beach, let it bring love and peace!

Marko : )

Sherri January 2, 2010 at 3:22 am

It has been some years ago since I was at Windgrove. I was visiting my friend Kate that was finishing up her PhD in Hobart. If you recall, there were four of us that play old time music. We decided to be the 4 – leaf Clovis for that trip and we spent a delightful time visiting. It was a wonderful time and space to be in. With the exception of one, we are all back in our separate places in Alaska. Life is good.

Pino Daddi December 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

greetings and salutations compadre !!!!
great to finally hear from you again ! it was pretty amazing visiting with you and Bill on this end of the globe ! you are looking great !
Cheers , PINO !

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