At the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort this week I was lucky to see their private collection of works by James Blackwell.
The pieces, entitled Pod Clusters, are displayed in a grid formation within a glass-fronted shelf structure spanning the length and height of a wall – unfortunately with a staircase directly in front!
“Part of the joy in creating these works is seeing what can become of the easily discarded or ignored.” Bushwalking in the Blue Mountains has become part of the artists lifestyle “I like to think of the valley floor as my art supply store!”
It’s the visual simplicity of these items that attracts me. Each is unique but seems connected to the next. Although there is quite a colour range on display they feel unified as a whole. They vary in scale but still sit within acceptable parameters as a group, and most of the external decoration spans the circumference of the vessels.
Looking closely at each one shows the different types of natural objects used for this decoration: overlapping leaves adhered to the sides with just the ends showing, flipped back to form ‘spines’ – tiny pebbles giving a spotted effect – woven twigs and plant fronds – seeds and pods.
So these shapes leave me wondering how they were formed. Did he start by forming the base of each around a bowl shape and then freeform the top sections? Were they formed around partially inflated balloons that were later popped, leaving the dried papier-mâché vessels ready for colouring and embellishing? Were they formed and, when partially dry, slit on one side with the centre support being removed before collaging more paper to hide the opening?
Something new for me to research and learn about.
Note: Whilst at Wolgan Valley I also had the opportunity to see some paper works by Lizzie Buckmaster Dove. Click here to see some of those works and read my review.