Inspiration from a Skip

Unbeknownst to all but my inner circle of close advisers, friends, family, the guy on the checkout at my local Lidl and some random strangers in the street, I’ve been working on a top secret photo project which I can now reveal to you.

Skip Art is the title of a new series of pictures created as an appetiser to a major new exhibition, The Chemistry of Bronze, starting on Saturday 26th May (preview evening on Friday 25th – open to all!) and running until July 15th at Black Swan Arts gallery in Frome.

The Chemistry of Bronze will feature pieces by established UK artists as well as tools, illustrations and demonstrations explaining the bronze casting process by local foundry Art of a Fine Nature.

My involvement in the project came about when I was approached by the the exhibition curator and ceramic artist Hans Borgonjon to see if I’d be interested in creating a set of images to be displayed in the areas leading to the main exhibition hall which would be an appetiser to the main exhibition.

The idea intrigued me, so off I went to the foundry to have a look around and see what pictures I could make. My brief was wide open except for one caveat; I couldn’t directly illustrate the process of bronze casting as this would be thoroughly explained inside the main gallery.

Foundry owner Jon showed me the various areas of the workshop; the racks of rubber moulds, the workshop where the wax models are readied for encasing, the room where ceramic powder is built up over the wax models and the furnace in which the models are cast.

All the while I was having a mild panic inside, thinking this is all very lovely, but whatever I photograph will just look like an illustration of the process of making a bronze and I can’t show that!

Then Jon showed me the skip into which all the pieces of ceramic casing are swept once they’ve been broken from the cast bronze objects. He reached in and picked out a fragment to show me, and there was the impression of a gecko’s foot. I thought it was cute, but didn’t think much more about it until the middle of the night when I was lying in bed trying to come up with an angle on the project.

The image of the gecko’s foot kept swimming into my mind and it suddenly struck me that this was my angle.

So a day or two later I went back to the skip. Jon issued me with rubber gloves and a mug of tea and I spent the next couple of hours skip diving for interesting looking fragments in amongst the ceramic dust and rubble, picking out anything which had an interesting impression left on its surface. I was silently cursing myself that I hadn’t already kept the gekko foot and assumed it was lost forever in the bottom of the skip.

I’d pulled quite a few interesting pieces from the skip and was thinking of calling it a day when I decided to have one more look in an un-promising corner of the skip. That’s when I found the gecko’s foot Jon had shown me as well as the second, smaller foot you see in the photo. I was happy now and could go and make the photos.

The next few blog posts will reveal more about the project and the exhibition and keep you informed of progress as we head to towards the launch evening, so do watch this space.