By Jean Duncan. More on Jean’s work with the Living Field.
Exhibition, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee, 17-30 March 2017. More images here.
Our artist friend, Jean Duncan has been trying out new techniques, getting inspiration and materials from the Living Field garden and from microscopic sections of roots. Jean writes about her depictions of brassica roots:
“The print is an etching made on a zinc plate by drawing with a needle into soft wax and then etching the lines in copper sulphate. Ink is rubbed in to the etched lines and then printed on wet paper.
“My idea is to print root sections and plant drawings on to plant papers. I want to combine ancient techniques of papermaking with the latest microscopic images in a way that will highlight the plant’s diversity and engage people in how plants can enrich soils as well as provide food.
“For papermaking, the most successful fibres so far have come from maize stalks from the Living Field garden. These are chopped and simmered for several hours in soda ash to break down the fibres. The long fibres are then bashed further in a Hollander beater like a large grinder. Sheets of paper are then formed on a mould and stacked for printing or casting. Wet paper sheets can be pushed into plaster moulds of the plants and roots and when they dry the plant is embossed into the paper.
“So it’s a long process but I am currently working on a latex cast of a plant root and it’s been successful so far. It may even be useful to scientists as a way of preserving the fragile roots in a way that means they can be handled without being damaged.
Jean Duncan on this web site (with links): art/jean-duncan
Here it is.
And thank you for allowing us to use it on this site.
[More to follow from Jean’s experimenting ….]
Nocni dialog, oil, 1964 by Vida Fakin. More on Vida ….
T rep. The short form given by our field survey teams to white clover Trifolium repens. Still a common plant of pasture and waysides, so common that the intricacies of its structure and function generally go unnoticed.
Yet the mathematical artworks by Macoto Murayama shown in July at Dundee University reveal these intricacies in astonishing detail (image right).
The exhibition was held by courtesy of Frantic Gallery, Tokyo.
The Living Field’s correspondent gk-images sent some cellphone snaps from the exhibition.
The introduction gives some detail of the artist and how he transfers the complex flowering heads and flowers of his botanical subjects to two-dimentional images.
“Macoto Murayama is a Japanese artist who cultivates ‘inorganic flora’. His extraordinary images are created after minutely dissecting real flowers and studying [them] under a microscope. His drawings are then modelled in 3D imaging software then rendered into 2D compositions on photoshop before being printed on a large scale.”
Born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1984 he is now a researcher at Institute of Advanced Media and Art and Sciences, Tokyo.
The photographs, with reflections of lights and the opposite wall are of white clover (top) and spanish broom (lower).
Dundee University – Macoto Murayama: Growth and Form Exhibition. 14 May to 20 August 2016. Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, Dundee. Click the link for opening times.
Macoto Murayama at Frantic gallery: http://frantic.jp/en/artist/artist-murayama.html
Frantic Gallery Tokyo. Looks like some great exhibitions, for example the Universe and other Oddities by Zen Tainaka.
On Growth and form, a classic treatise by D’Arcy Thompson. Web site http://www.darcythompson.org/about.html
Images Thanks to gk-images for the photographs shown here.
Ps Back to T. rep. There would be, in the 1940s, five or six legumes growing as ‘weeds’ in cornfields but they have since been ousted by nitrogen fertiliser and chemical herbicide. Trifolium repens is one of the the last remaining of these nitrogen fixers still found, but then rarely, in arable fields.
William Ricketts began in 1934 to create his Sanctuary in a hilly region of the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, Australia. He fused fired-clay images, mainly of Aboriginal people, with the lie of slope and rock on a hillside vegetated with trees and tree-ferns. He believed that people could live together and with nature, and that destruction and exploitation were not inevitable.
The images are now shaded by layers of vegetation. The upper canopy is mostly the leaf and branch of australian mountain ash, Eucalyptus regnans, tall and straight, said to be the tallest of the Angiosperms (non-conifers), and so very different from our own mountain ash or rowan. Below them are a few medium sized trees and then the tree ferns, luxuriant above the paths and sculptures. (A part of a tree fern is included in each of the sets of images on this page.)
At the base are herbs, ferns and mosses, growing close to and in some instances on the sculptures. This proximity gives the site an organic feel, the images becoming part of the scene, aided by the artist taking casts of the rocks so that he could match the base of the clay precisely with its intended location.
The clay images come alive in their setting. Many are part covered in a green algal film that must change with the seasons. Water droplets lie on them. Rivulets of water flow over them. Insects and fallen leaves rest on them and they change as the gums and tree ferns filter the light. There are touches of William Blake in the way figures swirl and flow into each other.
Ricketts was born in 1898, a little more than a century after the main phase of European colonisation began. He spent many years living with Aboriginal Australians, learning their approach to life and how they managed vegetation and land. He also created works for natural locations farther north, in central Australia.
He died in 1993, aged 94. He lives through the Sanctuary, his various other works and a few writings, but most of all through the memories of people who have seen his works in their intended setting.
The Sanctuary is managed by Parks Victoria. As with all other images on the Living Field site, images of William Ricketts’ works here are displayed ‘not for profit’ (taken October 2015).
Parks Victoria State Government web page on the William Ricketts Sanctuary (with access to a downloadable PDF guide)
Brady P. 1995. Whitefella Dreaming: the authorised biography of William Ricketts. Published by Preferred Image.
The Wikipedia entry gives further references.
This fine exhibition, on themes of Empire, is housed at Wall Projects II in the Old Ropeworks off Bents Road in Montrose. The venue itself is a work unique, including an upper room (image below) and the very long and narrow rope works on the ground floor, disused and part derelict and now open in places to sun and rain.
Here’s the earner: sail to european ports with some good local Scottish produce like salmon, textiles and things to smoke; offload the cargo – but an empty ship costs money – so off down to Africa to fill up with slaves; take them to the Americas, leave them there to be sold and worked; then bring back tobacco. Scottish enterprise! So tells the audio exhibit Considered Cargo by Carolyn Scott.
The dehumanising of peoples considered little more than zoological specimens continues in the utterly mesmerising four-minute video Shadow Show by Kyra Clegg (an image captured above by K Squire).
Other artists tell of the whale trade, the driving to near extinction of these great, warm blooded, social mammals; the realisation that they individually suffer. Linen, whale oil, jute, slaughter, wealth inextricably linked.
It’s not all dark – there is lightness and humour among the twenty artists exhibiting here, but threads recur of claim and exploitation.
Take the insidious link between beverage and narcotic, tea and opium, Camellia sinensis and Papaver somniferum, a leaf-stimulent drunk by most people in Britain and the poppy-head-latex source of the heroin trade. Those Europeans who like tea, should perhaps know its origins. But no blame to the tea plant, and no blame to the poppy for it also gave us one of the best painkillers.
At the farthest end of the rope works is an impenetrable mass of ivy roots, hanging down, and from them (or to them if you look the other way) stretches the orange to yellow to grey to black complex curve of coloured, filled balloons in Meltwater by Juliana Capes. It’s the seasons played out.
We spent some hours at Empire. Sorry not to mention all the artists exhibiting, but go and see for yourselves. One of the very best.
Empire by the Society of Scottish Artists, at Wall Projects II, 13 Bents Road, Montrose, Angus DD10 8QA. Various dates to 29 August 2015. Check the web site : www.wallprojectsltd.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Society of Scottish Artists web page on Empire has many photographs of the exhibits and notes about the artists: http://www.s-s-a.org/empire-at-wall-projects/
For the 10-year celebration, Jean spent various times in the Garden looking and sketching, assembling material for teaching and an ebook. The opium poppies Papaver omniferum were a fine sight, but short-lived, this warm year. See also … Jean Duncan’s page, Metamorphosis, the garden’s Medicinals page.