Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sea Spiral

Generally when I start an artwork I have a pretty good idea of how it's going to turn out. But every now and then a piece will surprise me. It will start as one thing and then evolve into something else all together. My 'Sea Spiral' was one of these pieces. 

Those of you who follow me on facebook would know that I have been sitting on my 'Sea Spiral' piece for about 6 month's now. I had rather ambition plans for the piece originally; I had this idea to create a hanging artwork that twisted down from the ceiling resembling the spiralling cone shaped plumes of Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus giganteus). I see these little worms when I dive quite often and they always fascinate me. They are colourful, delicate and amazingly beautiful - really what more do you need to inspire an artwork than that.
The initial inspiration for 'Sea Spiral': A Christmas Tree worm
While I knew how I wanted the piece to look the reality of making it happen was rather complex. I knew I needed a spiral - but how big of a spiral did I need and how would I achieve all the fine spines that christmas tree worm's have. After a few paper models I though I had the basic design sorted and started to draw up the design. Designing and sewing the piece took a lot longer than I originally planned and almost sent me crazy. Planning out a geometric spiral shape and then evenly spacing out over a hundred curved spines was completely new to me. But after many headaches and failed drawings I eventually came up with a design and stitched it.

Sewing the 'Sea Spiral'
'Sea Spiral' all sewn and ready to have the backing dissolved
 Once it was dissolved it looked like this - a spiny spiral shape. But once I hung it up it took on a totally different life.
'Sea Spiral' once it's dissolved
 I experimented with hanging the piece from both the thin and thick end of the embroidery and quite liked both display methods. It had a nice even spiralling shape and referenced the Christmas tree worm that was the original inspiration for the piece. However I wasn't so sure about the hanging work. I exhibited this piece once (early 2013) and while people were interested in it and wanted to touch it, it just didn't have the wow factor that I thought it would.
'Sea Spiral' hanging (alternate way's)
 After being exhibited this piece was carefully stored flat in a quiet corner of my studio.

It sat there for about 4-5 months.

I found it a few weeks ago and started to play with it again. I tried pinning it straight onto a board as I would my regular pieces but it was nothing special. Then while playing with the piece I started twisting the spines.  I then tried pinning it to a board with all the spines twisted around and the results were magic. The piece came to life - it looks different from every angle and now looks like a magical spiralled shell.

Playing with ways to pin the 'Sea Spiral' down
Playing with ways to pin the 'sea spiral' down
Pinning down the sea spiral
 I am really happy with how this piece turned out. It's great that a piece that I had pretty much packed away in the failed experiments pile was 'saved'. Perhaps I will look at doing more twisty artworks in the future and perhaps hunting around my studio for other 'forgotten artworks'.

The finished 'Sea Spiral'
'Sea Spiral' (detail)
'Sea Spiral' Embroidery thread and pins on paper
The 'Sea Spiral' will be on display at the Melbourne Art Show later this month.

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