Figure and Bowl

The work in Figure and Bowl is the result of a collaboration between my friend John Feitelson and myself. John is normally allied to business and profit, but a weakness for and keenness in art led him to undertake this project with me. I am prone to toiling alone, but have found unexpected avenues, both formal and material, through this relationship. Words are wrought just as happily as steel is wrought. Like steel, words are heavy, and need many hands to move and shape. These words were sketched by me, the artist, carved by my colleague Jennifer Wilson, and filed by my partner Jacqueline Gothe and daughter Agatha Gothe-Snape. Figures too, can stretch themselves and connect in unexpected and surprising ways.

The works in Figure and Bowl are derived from four drawings. The first drawing is open. The fewer figures, the more open the space is between the figures. Each figure has more sway in the play of movement. The second drawing is woven. There are more figures here and each figure still plays a discernible role. Here however, the individual figures become part of a chorus. The third drawing is dense. The figures are herded into a swarm and their human form is disguised by an overriding dominant rhythm. In greater numbers the animal nature of the human is revealed. The fourth drawing is very dense. While the figures remain individually created in the context of the whole their role is relatively microscopic. The figures have been absorbed by the sense of an emerging sphere.

In fact, the drawings – open, woven, dense and very dense­ - in and of themselves are a conceit, for they were only ever drawn in order to be transformed into metal bowls. It is in this metamorphosis that they are tested – the touch of the hand in the drawing is pitched against the resistance of the material – metal. The cutting and pressing of the metal into bowls serves as an initiation for the drawing to test its mettle, to make it real, to make it tough. Once the drawing is embodied as bowl, the sculpture is complete.

In each bowl the figures spread in all directions at once. The figures do not oblige the demands of gravity or good sense. They make the sense their nature demands of them. Notions of up and down and sideways are suspended. Whether in singles, couples or groups, the figures shape the space they occupy. Each figure here is unique. No figure breaks the rhythm of the whole but plays its part to build a network that is both bound and unbound. The uniqueness of each figure never breaks the common cause. The figures have in common a state of surrender to the connectedness of humanity.

Yet there is a second side to this story. The drawings, by their nature, comprise two parts. A positive, which we see materialize in bowl form, and a negative. These negative parts have been reconfigured in four included works. In Bowl 11 parts of figures appear as space, not steel. They overlap against continents, oceans, moving tectonic plates. All is not as Dionysian as it may have first appeared. The Fall rises on its own accord and catches the spirit of the times. Polar Bowl maps the shaky moving crust of the earth and its melting ice caps. No figures abound in Bowl 15, which instead draws atmospheres (Lows, Highs, off- shore currents).

Upon the floor lies the final manifestation of the drawings – a woven silk and wool rug, descended not from Sydney, but Nepal. Here, the invitation to lie with and amongst the figures is implicit, reminding us that we too, are always already connected.