chamber music project: the mari lwyd work begins

My work on the music project includes producing a dark and mysterious painting of the various characters of the Mari Lwyd mumming tradition. In preparation I’m making a series of maquettes, which as regulars here will know is my usual method of exploring a new theme.

A mumming character known to have occasionally taken part in Mari Lwyd events, was the man dressed as a woman sometimes called the He/She or the ‘Judy’ (presumably from Punch & Judy), the reversal of sexual roles in mumming traditions being traceable back as far as the Roman feast of Saturnalia. My father recalled just such a fearsome ‘travesti’ barging into the parlour of  Oak House in Llanfrechfa and thrusting a besom up the chimney to swipe the sooty twigs across the whitewashed walls, a vandalism that enraged his mother.

I’ve a notion to put the ‘Judy’ in a crude cloth-mask topped with a countrywoman’s bonnet. A burly farmworker’s body in ill-fitting bodice and skirts, and a face daubed with rough-rouged cheeks and slatternly mouth. There is something darkly disturbing inherent in this paint-faced, hairy-legged, horny-toenailed variant of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Below: first-stage unpainted maquette.

mummers

My original reference for the ‘cloth’ mask, was this intriguing photograph.

the art log exhibition of maquettes: part five

Welcome to the final post of this Exhibition of Maquettes at the Artlog. The idea for it evolved out of the interest of regular visitors in my practice of making articulated paper maquettes for use as compositional aids.  A few of them felt encouraged to produce maquettes of their own, and thereafter everything just blossomed.

I’d like to thank all those who contributed work to the show. You’ve been enormously creative, and in so many ways. I hope for a few of you the making of articulated figures will become a regular part of your studio practice. I can see already how what started for some of the Maquetteers as a light-hearted game, evolved into a serious exploration of compositional form. Be sure to keep up the good work. Remember that the best work always comes when you allow yourself to be playful.

MAQUETTEERS

Shellie Byatt: hand maidens 

Pamela Jenkins: maori journey

Jacqui Hicks with Joe, Liam, William and Lucy: The Junior Maquetteers

Marja-Leena: owl woman resurrection

Clive Hicks-Jenkins: through play, discovery

Shellie Byatt: hand maidens: Shellie, a painter, has told me that she occasionally uses cut paper elements to try out different outcomes for works in progress, and so making the maquettes was something she felt completely natural about. These girls-in-their-finery stand so calmly facing the viewer, gazes direct and their arms crossed protectively like virgin saints about to be martyred. The maquettes have quiet presences that attract by virtue of the stillness and anticipation of what may happen next. At first I thought them to be purely and simply beautiful, in the formal sense of the word. But their shared gaze and hieratic pose of protection ultimately make them much more than that, and I’m drawn back to try to fathom the mystery.

See more of Shellie’s work HERE.

Pamela Jenkins: Maori journey. Pamela is my long-lost-cousin. We met once, when she was a child, but through geographic distance and the broken lines of communication consequent to when the elders of a family… in this case, my father… die, we had lost touch. Then from far away in New Zealand, at the click of a button she found me, thanks to Google. We corresponded, and last year were reunited here in West Wales.  My cousin’s cat, Jeffrey the Devon Rex, has won many admirers here in the recent past, and now Pamela herself has ventured onto the Artlog with these fearsomely-visaged Maori maquettes. Pamela is married to Steve, and has been immersing herself in his people’s culture in many artistic projects, of which these maquettes are but one.

Jacqui Hicks with Joe, Liam, William and Lucy: The Junior Maquetteers. My friend Jacqui kept a bunch of children in her care engrossed with a Maquetteering session, and the results are a delight. Jacqui’s own ‘Dancing Cat’ got the ball rolling, but thereafter the team were off like rockets. So let’s all raise a toast to Jacqui and the Junior Maquetteers. If this exhibition had been a competition, they would definitely have been the winners!

 Jacqui’s Cat

Joe’s Dragon

Liam’s Dragon

Joe’s Garbage Can Cat

Lucy drew this splendid caterpillar, and Liam helped her put it together.

William’s Dragon.

The Ace Team: Joe, Liam, William and Lucy, not forgetting their Captain, Jacqui.

Marja-Leena: owl woman resurrection. Artist/printmaker Marja Leena used the same technique as fellow-Maquetteer Janet, which was essentially to cannibalise a print as the source material. This was the last maquette submitted for the exhibition, and it was the one that nearly got away. I only knew about it because Marja-Leena posted at her blog about wanting to get something done in time for the exhibition, but fearing she’d missed the deadline. So I left a comment urging her to take heart and finish it, and promising I would lever it in by hook or by crook. Here Marja-Leena describes the process of making the maquette:

‘As a printmaker, I do a lot of trial proofs (tests) to assure the final image will be what I want for the edition. I save a lot of those proofs and sometimes use them for other work or play. As I was cleaning and re-organizing my studio recently, some collagraph proofs beckoned, and inspired also by Clive’s work with maquettes, I felt that sudden urge to play, to try out a maquette-like figure. I don’t believe it’s fully a maquette à la Clive because it lacks those wonderful articulated joints, yet I was delighted to be able to vary the ‘body language’ with just some subtle adjustments.’

‘I call this my “Owl-Woman”, a name that emerged in a blog post about the print with this head and wings which I first used in ARKEO # 4. The many responses from readers were a surprise, a delight and an inspiration because so many saw this figure as a mythical one from their own background culture, just as I saw it as Louhi in the Finnish epic Kalevala as well as something from the roots of the First Nations peoples of Northwest Coast of Canada.’ 

‘Here now is a newly revived Owl-Woman in a joyful dance.’

Clive Hicks-Jenkins: through play, discovery.

Maquette of the Dragon for ‘Green George’

 Maquette of a Lion  for ‘The Grave Dug by Beasts’ 

Maquette of Saint Hervé for ‘Sleep Fall’

Maquette of a bird for ‘The Prophet Fed by a Raven’

Maquette for ‘Equus’

Unused Maquette for Equus

 …

Maquette of the Devil for ‘L’Histoire du Soldat’

It’s been a blast. My thanks to you all for your energy and enthusiasm. We must do it again.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins, May 2012

the art log exhibition of maquettes: part four

Welcome to the first exhibition at the Artlog. It evolved out of the interest of regular visitors in my practice of making articulated paper maquettes for use as compositional aids.  A few of them felt encouraged to produce maquettes of their own, and thereafter everything just blossomed.

 MAQUETTEERS
Anita Mills: flatpack geometries
Bev Wigney: dog dancing
Natalie d’Arbeloff: making me
Laura Foulkes: unlikely companions
Janet Kershaw: Pinocchio redux
Philip Cooper: green man
Anita Mills: flatpack geometries. Anita Mills almost defies any attempt at description. She is a practising ceramicist, a jeweller, wood-turner, painter, teacher, art historian, writer and film producer. That she is also my friend makes me deeply content. She is a frequent visitor to our home in West Wales, and we have holidayed with her and her family in Corsica. Anita wrote the chapter on ‘Drawing’ for the monograph about my work published by Lund Humphries. I am always astounded by her insights and analysis. She really nails it when she’s on the scent of an idea.
Anita lives in N. Carolina, USA,  a distance that makes popping around for morning coffee a fantasy we like to pretend may become reality when someone invents a matter-transporting beam. If it happens, Anita and I will be at the top of the queue to trial the technology! ‘Anita, get that coffee pot on!’
Here are Anita’s maquettes for personal adornment.
Lichen and Moss Necklace
Detail
Necklace: configuration one
Necklace: configuration two
Bracelet folded
Bracelet unfolded
Brooch: configuration one
Brooch: configuration two
Brooch: configuration three
Brooch as necklace
The Maquette as adornment.
Buggy Necklace: configuration one
Buggy Necklace: configuration two
Petal Necklace: green and purple
Petal Necklace: orange, red and purple
Explore Anita’s work, HERE.
Bev Wigney: dog dancing. Bev and I have corresponded for a couple of years. We enjoy and leave comments on each others blogs. I admire the way she lives her life, and have watched with disbelief as she’s single-handedly restored the run-down historic property she acquired, into a thing of integrity and beauty. Follow her HERE.
Quite a few Maquetteers have explored their relationships with animals, and dogs in particular. Yet I’m consistently surprised by how different the approaches are, and I love the warmth and affection that shines through the various maquette canines that have appeared here.  Bev has added a fiddle-player to the mix, and I can see the dog is responding with an ecstatic jig!
 Natalie d’Arbeloff: making me. Natalie was an early Artlog maquette enthusiast. She quickly sent images of  a self-portrait in her blogger guise of  ‘Augustine.’ Moreover she compiled some animated sequences too. That she is indefatigable in matters of creativity is evident in the way she has thrown herself into another project we’re both taking part in, Folding Books, a touring exhibition for which artist Mary Husted approached practioners, suggesting they work in Chinese folding-sketchbooks to see what interesting things might come about. Natalie has been charting the progress of her folding-book on her blog, and it looks to be a marvellous thing. But it’s also robbed her of time, and so it’s all down to me… because I recommended her to Mary for this project… that she hasn’t had the time to present more than just the one maquette for the Artlog exhibition. However if you click HERE, you can also see this little figure in feisty action in Natalie’s perceptive animated take on the nature of celebrity.
Augustine
Laura Foulkes: unlikely companions. Laura is another Maquetteer who arrived at my inbox out of the blue, offering some delightful maquettes that she’d felt inspired to make for the exhibition. Laura lives in the USA, but she’s dropped a hint or two that like me she’s Welsh, though I’m not sure whether she meant in the sense of being an ex-pat or with an ancestry dating back to the Pilgrim Fathers. Whichever it is, to honour the connection she made a Welsh dragon (albeit a baby one) and for some reason unknown to me, a putti. I like the anachronism of these wildly unlikely companions, and indefatigable painter of Annunciations that I am, it’s got me thinking about how I could work a Welsh dragon into my next one.
Janet Kershaw: Pinocchio redux. Here’s an intriguing idea. Some time ago Janet Kershaw made a print of some marionettes. When she spotted the Artlog maquette project, she took it into her head to cut up a copy of the print and to effectively sever the strings of the puppets to bring them to life. Pinocchio would approve. Among all the submissions  for this project I think this is the one that haunts me most. I love the notion that these have been released from the paper, springing to dynamic, anarchic existence.
Before liberation.
Free at last.
This was the only submission for which I suggested changes be made. When Janet sent the first images, she’d arranged the maquettes to match the poses in the original print. I wrote back suggesting that she try again, and really let rip with inventing expressive movement for them. She more than fulfilled that brief, and the result is what you see.
I guess I’m not supposed to have favourites in this exhibition. It’s simply not what I want to do, compare one artist’s work with another’s. But when it comes to sheer brio, these images are hard to beat. They’re touching and yet seriously sinister. The fact that you only see the back of one puppet’s head renders it disturbing. The way Janet has flung the little limbs about, and the manner in which the puppets tear around, slump, pair up, canoodle and cavort,  really makes them come alive for me. They’re full of mystery. They have a heartrendingly manic energy, and yet there’s a sense too of the fleeting, as though they know that life is short. I find them inspirational. These little creatures are the real thing. Well done Janet.
 …
Phil Copper: green man. Phil sent this image of a foliate head maquette, a piece he said had been inspired by drawings I’d posted made for the page decorations of Marly Youmans’ forthcoming book, The Foliate Head. I’d never thought of making foliate head maquettes, but this has got me wondering!
More Maquettes in Part Five, soon.

the artlog exhibition of maquettes: part three

Welcome to the first exhibition at the Artlog. It evolved out of the interest of regular visitors in my practice of making articulated paper maquettes for use as compositional aids.  A few of them felt encouraged to produce maquettes of their own, and thereafter everything just blossomed.

MAQUETTEERS

Rima Staines: out of the woods

Peter Stevenson: magic lantern man

Lucy Kempton: beasts of Bremen

Steph Redfern: tongue-lashing

Rima Staines: out of the woods.  Rima is known to many from her inspirational blog, The Hermitage. At her home on the edge of Dartmoor she conjures the Celtic twilight in her meticulously-drafted creations, and the maquettes she made for this exhibition carry with them the unmistakeable whiff of woodsmoke and green places. Her partner Tom Hirons is a mask-maker (among many other things) and as a one-time mask-maker myself I feel a great deal of warmth toward this couple who have a wealth of making-skills flowing abundantly from their fingertips! Rima is no stranger to maquette-making, and if you visit her site be sure to view the animations she’s produced. Films of the most delicate artistry and sensibility.
 …
Bell-Dancer

In the above image Rima’s bell-dancer maquette shares a stage with an intriguing array of companion objects. Note the drying paintbrushes at bottom left. In our house too there are windowsills at every turn littered with  paintbrush-stuffed jam jars. It’s clearly the defining visual motif of those who paint!  Rima’s second maquette (see below) has been left in separate pieces (no brads holding it together) because she feels she may in the future use the figure to make an animation.

Wayfarer

Peter Stevenson: magic lantern man. Peter is an illustrator and story-teller. A couple of years ago he acquired a magic lantern, and now he combines both his skills in story-telling magic lantern performances featuring his drawings and paintings. Peter calls his lantern-slide The Magical Illuminarium. The following maquettes will be viewed as projections in a forthcoming Magical Illuminarium show. I love the scale of the girl next to such a massive beast.

….

Lucy Kempton: beasts of  Bremen. Lucy is better known here as both a friend to the Artlog and for her heart-warming blog Box Elder. But today we present her as a Maquetteer, with wonderful creations of her dog Molly and a set of charming beasts devised  on the theme of The Musicians of Bremen. Molly regularly features at Box Elder, and although I’ve never met her… she lives in France… it seems to me from all I have read and seen on the blog, that she has been most charmingly captured in this maquette.

The lovely Molly

The Musicians of Bremen

Steph Redfern: tongue lashing. Steph is an artist and the mother of Chloe Redfern, whose horse and hare maquettes were in Part Two of this exhibition. Like mother, like daughter, it would seem, as both have produced animal maquettes. Steph’s delightful chameleon is seen here on the prowl for a meal.

More Maquettes in Part Four, soon.

the artlog exhibition of maquettes: part two

Welcome to the first exhibition at the Artlog. It evolved out of the interest of regular visitors in my practice of making articulated paper maquettes for use as compositional aids.  A few of them felt encouraged to produce maquettes of their own, and thereafter everything just blossomed.

 MAQUETTEEERS

Jodi le Bigre: metamorphosis

Leonard Greco: raising the dead

Chloe Refern: all the pretty little horses

Sally Wakelin: unfolding forms

Jodi le Bigre: metamorphosis. I’m interested in the way Jodi le Bigre’s meticulous draftsmanship extends even to the laying out of the beautifully drawn elements of her maquette on a single sheet. It seems almost an act of  vandalism to cut up such a lovely and intriguing thing, but since it’s the artist doing so, we must accept her choice. Some might be inclined to make a scan of the original intact sheet and cut up the copy, but Jodi’s finished maquette is of course even more precious for being constructed from the original painting. The artist has had some unexpected upheavals in her life recently, and this inventive and moving maquette has emerged from what must have been a difficult time for her, both personally and creatively. She wrote to me of  the experience of making the maquette:

‘Actually, I was happy to work on this, it was a good project to concentrate on through everything. I decided to use this as an opportunity to invent something that would bring me through hard times, something from a harsh and airy place that could pierce through any difficulty. It was lovely to have the changeability that a maquette affords.’

See more of Jodi’s work at her blog, HERE.
Leonard Greco: raising the dead. Leonard’s astonishing outpouring of maquettes has been a revelation. Every day at his blog new figures appear, and as this repertory company of maquette actors has grown, he’s assembled increasingly elaborate arrangements of them as his compositional blueprints for planned paintings. Leonard’s explorations draw on the Maya resurrection myth of the Maize God and his post-dismemberment fathering of the Hero Twins on a passing princess. There’s grand guignol and snaky priapism aplenty here, and so those of a nervous disposition may wish to avert their eyes.
See more of Leonard’s work at his blog, HERE.
Chloe Redfern: all the pretty little horses. More connections here, as it was Chloe who I turned to last year for the Christmas gifts Peter and I gave to our friends Liz and Graham Sangster when we visited them for the holiday. Chloe has been making beautiful horse maquettes and charting the process on her blog at Slightly Triangle. When she’s not making paper maquettes she produces delightful painted and stitched hanging decorations that you can find HERE, though she will make horse maquettes to order if you have a mind to ask her.
At the last moment Chloe sent images of this spirited hare, and he’s just too good to miss out.
Sally Wakelin: unfolding  forms. Sally is a jewellery maker and artist. She’s also a talented website designer, producing sites for a good many artists, mine included. You can see her silverwork HERE.
Just one of the aspects I’ve always loved about Sally’s jewellery is her skill at making jointed collars and bracelets of silver in which the interplay of individual elements is invariably beautiful and ingenious. She has the engineer’s gift of being able to envisage her creations at their earliest stages in three dimensions, an inheritance perhaps from her sculptor/architect  father, Dick. Her silver works are objects that ask to be touched and explored. The clasps are always cleverly hidden, and I once tried on a Sally Wakelin bracelet only to find I couldn’t get it off again until she showed me where the connection point was.
For this exhibition Sally has produced a paper maquette for a linked collar/bracelet that is as much a piece of sculpture as an item of personal adornment. This is something that my fingers would itch to play with were it to be lying on a table in front of me.
More Maquettes in Part Three, soon.

the artlog exhibition of maquettes: part one

Welcome to the first exhibition at the Artlog. It evolved out of the interest of regular visitors in my practice of making articulated paper maquettes for use as compositional aids.  A few of them felt encouraged to produce maquettes of their own, and thereafter everything just blossomed. Some contributors have submitted a single maquette, and others many. Limited room has meant that I’ve had to be selective, and I apologise for the maquettes that didn’t make it online. Enjoy the posts. (There are going to be quite a few!)

MAQUETTEEERS

Zoe Blue: cat dances

Liz Sangster: sleeps, eats, plays, sleeps

James Hood: beastly tales

Philippa Robbins: deconstructing Velasquez

Zoe Blue: cat dances. Zoe was the first to write asking my advice on the making of maquettes, and her enthusiasm suggested that others too, if invited, might give the idea a spin. She produced these wonderfully versatile tango dancers and lithe blue cat. The lively constructions have since figured prominently in her paintings, two of which are illustrated below. These are everything one might wish for as examples of maquettes as stepping-stones to easel-work. Something that strikes me forcibly is the foregrounded and dynamically leaping cat of the first painting, because I have a feeling Zoe wouldn’t have come to that particular pictorial arrangement without the preliminary work that produced such an interesting maquette of a feline.

Liz Sangster: sleeps, eats, plays, sleeps. Liz and I first met each other back in the early 1980s, when she was head of the scenic department at Welsh National Opera and I was the designer of a production that she was about to supervise through her workshops. We became close friends and remain so to this day. She and her husband Graham live in France, where Peter and I occasionally visit them at their beautifully restored historic house just outside Bergerac. (Artlog regulars may recall that we spent last Christmas there with them.) Liz has made delightful sequential images using her maquette of Meg the Welsh Border Collie.

 Liz Sangster

James Hood: beastly tales. James is a visitor to the Artlog who one day mused in a comment box that he might take part in the exhibition. Later he probably rather regretted that, because I hounded him until he did. James gained his degree in illustration at Stockport College, and I greatly enjoy his illustration-themed blog Cardboard Cutout Sundown. (Well I would, wouldn’t I, with a name like that?) He ‘s produced three maquettes. There are two boldly conceived shadow-puppet style tigers, the first designed and assembled digitally and the second cut from paper. However his last maquette was submitted at the eleventh hour. James called it simply ‘Beast’, and I think it quite wonderful.

Beast

 

Hard to pin down why I like this quite so much as I do, but it’s probably because through form and texture the artist has captured something dark and mysterious, qualities not common in the large submission of work for the exhibition, but evident too in the maquettes of Philippa Robbins. No matter how hard I look at James’ creature, I’m not quite sure what it is that I’m seeing. The face is visible though hard to read, wiped of recognisable expression like a burns victim. The huge eye ringed with gold  is black and unnerving, the nose a blackly gaping wound. An ill-fitting and bulky jacket has sleeves long enough to give no more than a tantalising glimpse of the ornately fluted claws. He looks tormented and uncomfortable in his man-clothes, fearsome and yet poignant, as of course all great beasts must. I’m drawn back to the figure over and over again. James has used collage elements. I’m pretty sure that’s an engraving of a sea-anemone forming the serpentine mane. I find the densely etched-texture of the tight trousers appealing. The shoes seem far too narrow and constraining for a beast’s paws, and that too adds pathos, as though he’s bound and crippled his feet like a Chinese courtesan. While I’m reminded of Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête and Angela Carter’s The Tiger’s Bride… associations clearly signposted for us with the Tiger’s bipedal presentation and the Beast’s leonine appearance… James’ Beast remains uniquely and compellingly itself. It haunts me.

Tiger 1

Tiger 2

Philippa Robbins: deconstructing Velasquez. Philippa has thrown herself into the making of maquettes with admirable enthusiasm. The first set are part of an ongoing project in which  she’s exploring and deconstructing the painting Las Meninas by Velasquez. Picasso, too, went head-to-head with this masterpiece, and it rewarded him with rich pickings. (His Las Meninas sketchbooks alone show that he riffed on the theme with dazzling virtuosity.) Philippa has kick-started her exploration of the Velasquez with an engaging cast of paper maquettes and a set of small, simplified papier mâché figures. I’m only showing the former on the Artlog, as this project is about flat maquette form. However you can see the papier mâché models on her blog, HERE.

 …

I’m not sure whether this as yet unpainted wire-hair terrier is to be a part of the Las Meninas project, but the little chap certainly has a lot of character.

Finally, two thought-provoling images to round up this first post of the Artlog Maquetteers, and they exhibit a streak of darkness that is right up my street. A doll, one of P’s favourite leitmotifs, and a strange, semi-flayed self-portrait, in which the artist has reinvented herself as a ghoulish Red-Riding Hood, exposing her inner architecture as she skips through the woods bearing the blood-red cloak that lends its wearer her name. I love the oddness of her little skirt with its appliqué of an x-rayed pelvis. In the second image her almost ecstatic expression casts her as a martyred saint throwing off the bloodied, discarded shawl of her skin. It should be said that Philippa thinks I’ve invented rather sinister scenarios for this last maquette, which in her own eyes is quite a cheerful little character.

More Maquettes in Part Two, tomorrow.