New sculpture at Stackpole Gardens.

Sculpture Stackpole Gardens

I’ve installed some new cast concrete sculptures for an exhibition at the Stackpole Walled Gardens, in Pembrokeshire. On show till further notice.

 

 

 

 

More detail about the exhibition as a part of Art out West can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/ArtOutWest

newfangled spanner

R&D 11 | Newfangled Spanner

Newfangled Spanner

This artwork considers the experience of an ordinary person. This person, imagined in a garden shed or toy-room, tries to make sense of the world through his drawings and toy-like assemblages. These hobby ‘projects’ enable him to better cope with and relate to the technological and incomprehensible objects that now surrounds and govern our daily lives

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This project is funded by a ‘Research and Development’ grant from the Arts Council of Wales. This support has enabled me with a period of time to be more experimental in my working method.The project which has been documented through this series of Blog posts, has culminated for now in a short exhibition at CAT, created in collaboration with Ben Lloyd

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My main aim throughout this project has been to try out new methods of thinking about, making and presenting my work. Specifically I have focused on a methodology that encourages the medium of play, colour, adaption and versatility of presentation.

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The overall inspiration for this projects theme has come mainly from living so close to the Centre for Alternative Technology, in West Wales.  Overtime, the centre has established within our community (amongst other things), an atmosphere focused on engineering as well as environmentalism.

CAT’s short courses such as those that have demonstrated How to build a wind powered turbine, include for example learning skills needed to carve wooden turbine blades. To me this blade-shaping science could also be thought of as a method to represent and encapsulate the wind in condensed and crude, physical form.

As a visually minded person I began then to imagine technology as being essentially just manifested moments of natural forces. It later occurred to me that this overly simplified way of thinking was no more sophisticated than my own two-year-old son’s take-it-for-granted view of the world.

To imagine technology so literally is useful on some occasions, such as with these turbine blades, or in comparing electrical flow to the flow of a river.. Yet mostly the analogy fails to represent whatsoever the complexities and mysteries of either science or nature.

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Like most people I am bewildered by present day technology. Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that even basic knowledge (in the sense of true understanding), cannot be rationalised and is unobtainable to me. I think that Art, through abstract metaphor can help to express the unexplainable and therefore contributes towards a language for better discussing the stuff of the Universe.

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I think of my abstract artwork to be not unlike a landscape painters attempts to capture the beauty of a landscape. Each is essentially, mostly about the language of aesthetics and serves no practical purpose beyond expressing a human fascination with anything and everything. Yet science, as with art relates to beauty as being an undefinable constant, as in – it is an idea only. Beauty as in relativity theory, or as in what is beautiful, momentarily exists perhaps only in the eye of the beholder.

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This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the Ben Lloyd

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 10 | Play 2

Each construction was based on play with a loose direction, then the installation was photographed and dismantled and we started again from scratch.
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The whole process took part in this shed purpose built by Danny and installed in the grounds of the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth.

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The last installation, below, was based on constructivist ideas of space and time.

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In my next post I will be reflecting on these days of collaboration and the R & D project on the whole

 

 

 

 

 


 

This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the Ben Lloyd

 

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

Exhibition at St Fagans

Danny May

This exhibition was informed by St Fagans museum of Welsh history and its display of pre and post-industrial age machines and crafts.

I was originally drawn to the display of everyday objects, such as the wood-turned utilitarian items seen in many of the museums building, kitchens and living rooms. What interested me about these things is that they seemed to be made mostly during the period of transition towards industrialisation, even as mass-produced and cheap alternatives became available.

I also noticed that the shape and style of some of the less older objects appeared to mimic the look of being machine made

Danny May, Sculpture, St Fagans

At this period in time the relationship between nature and people was very organised and controlled, but was also just about as harmonious and symbiotic as can be. The learned and clever use of nature’s resources was for a time sustainable.

In the moments just prior to the industrial revolution humanity was able to manage and improve the health of the countryside. In return nature defined and provided for our daily existence.

 Danny May sculpture at St Fagans

The artworks shown in this exhibition take that moment in time, through a series of oak-turned and carved sculptures presented on plinths. These objects are simplistic in shape, pertaining to both the natural and the man made. The sculpture’s exaggerate and utilise the form that was already in the  material resource. And popped them upright as if cakes in a shop window

Danny May sculpture at St Fagans

The inspiration for these forms came also as a result of appreciating the sculptural quality of functional objects.

Especially as, within the context of a museum these normally insignificant parts acquire a status of self-importance and merit as iconic things. The aesthetic of these anonymous historical relics reminds me of the broken, but still monumental and grand Greek artefacts such as fallen and fragmented columns. No longer having purpose, but remaining importantly useless

 Danny May sculpture at St Fagans

This project has been funded by the Arts Council of Wales and National Museum of Wales

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suspneded tree sculpture Danny May

New sculpture project for St Fagans National History Museum

To me, working with wood of this size is about the scale relationship between us humans and the sculpture. For this project the artwork needs to have enough mass and impact to confront head on, not be ignored. The sculpture should be large enough to be seen amongst the outdoors and yet similar enough to our sense of human scale. On proximity it should be allowed to invade our personal and intimate space, with enough gravity and substance to feel physically solid and grounded.

tree as sculpture danny may

 

Wood Sculpture Danny May

 

I reckon our response to objects is partly subjective. Formed by the associations they provoke instinctively. For example a microphone is also for biting, a carrot is also for singing into. For my one year old son everything is also for biting, or else for butting his head into. Though not always deliberately and no I didn’t teach him to do it.

Instinctively like all toddlers he also likes to put everything in his mouth, to rub his face against things, to test things with his head and face.

It’s all about our heads

 

oak sculpture by Danny May

 

Larger inanimate things, near our bodies and heads either attract or repel, but also do both. Megalithic standing stones have this purpose, their scale is smaller than a tree, but still evocatively massive due to the nearness to our scale. Yet larger, so we hug them, but fear them

 

 

What I also like about this scale is that it is at the limit of my do-able capabilities. I can only just winch each piece up the hill from where they were found, even with the help of my Land Rover.

The branch on the tree is only just strong enough to support them being hoisted into the air, to be lowered into the only just large and strong enough pick-up.

 

Oak sculpture made by Daniel May

 

Once delivered to my studio the overhead beam is similarly just strong enough to take their weight. And even after I’ve made them more cylindrical they will still only just about fit onto the lathe to be turned

 

 

tree sculpture Danny May studio

 

Danny May studio

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New sculpture project for St Fagans | Summer 2014

sculpture danny may

Sculpture exhibition at the Centre for Alternative Technology

From August 2013 I have an exhibition at the Centre for Alternative Technology. This show is the culmination of my year long artist residency based within its visitor circuit. To see the project archive for this residency see here

At the start of the residency and on arrival at the site what affected me most was the proximity of the outside world. CAT itself seeks to cultivate and preserve its environment, yet is surrounded by sheep farming and coniferous forestry. A new gas pipe is being installed underground just past the entrance. Its journey marked by a fifty metre wide scar along the valley and hills. The local roads are being widened and resurfaced. The air around us crackles with electric energy from overhead pylons. Every now and then and especially on sunny days all calm ceases as military jets roar past. I cant help but think they have us in their sights and rudely remind me of my insignificance.

Within the visitor centre great chunks of redundant machine parts litter the ground with false promise of salvation. They speak to me as understand this and you will overcome, as if technology and knowledge were one and the same thing

 

The living world can now be viewed as a vast organic Lego kit inviting combination, hybridization, and continual rebuilding. Life is manipulability… Thus our image of nature is coming more and more to emphasize human intervention through a process of design.

Edward Yoxen, The Gene Business

centre for alternative technology artist residency

The sculptures shown in the centre’s lecture theatre portray the distinction between a things purpose and how it communicates that purpose. For example, the function of insulators on pylons is to protect us from electrical shock. Yet their shape has also come to symbolise the opposite, transmission of that energy. A pylon may be to a bird as good as a tree. Similarly here I am sculpting a concept of conveying communication. The satellite dish and antennae have purpose. Coincidentally they also visually simulate the ear, the mouth and tongue of language. For consuming and spewing ideas.

Nature in the twenty-first century will be a nature that we make. We have the power to mould nature into what we want it to be.

Daniel B. Botkin, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century

Danny May sculpture residency at the Centre for Alternative Technology

Treat nature in terms of the cylinder, the sphere, and the cone . Paul Cézanne

The sculptures shown in the courtyard are informed by the artificial shapes we now see all around us. The exhibition considers the idea of these synthetic icons as being the nature of the future. In particular, those shapes that stand out in our landscape such as pylons and buildings. Are only the obvious parts of a now universally managed and controlled world. What now is truly natural? Does human influence better nature? With this in mind I chose to limit my tools to a simple self built woodturning lathe. This machine forces symmetry and engineered order onto the natural raw material of wood. Therefore does it perhaps, improve that natural appeal by empowering it with culture and value?

The sculpture’s self importance is made more so by being presented projecting from the wall at head height. Though Its worth as both natural or man made thing, is ultimately just an object for us to contemplate. A perch for a bird and a meal for a fungus

 

centre for alternative technology artist residency - Danny MayFor more information about this residency see here

This project has been sponsored by –

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