This week, I went along to Farnham Heath; an RSPB nature reserve where a selection of artwork is currently on display – including the work of a few of my peers from uni!

The artwork trail has been funded by Surrey Hills Arts, and you can find out all about it on their website.

The heath is a fantastic place to visit, with or without artwork on display and I would recommend that anyone visits! This week it looked particularly beautiful in the afternoon sunshine.

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The first artwork is one by Steven Edwards called ‘Horizontal and Vertical Sound.’ These are sculptures of sound waves of bird song and are made in ceramic. I really like how they’re suspended within the trees, where the sound waves would naturally be carried.

One of the works by my university friend, Will Pike, was this steel sculpture of a bird’s wing. He describes it as a metaphor for the way that the heathland inhabitants rely on each other to function as an ecosystem, much like the way a wing needs all it’s feathers.

My other friend’s work was this steel and wooden bench. Carl wanted this bench to be a place for visitors to sit and take in their surroundings. It was extremely comfortable and was places in a great position, with a view right of the heathlands! Although his bench is quite far around the trail, I would definitely recommend making the effort to walk to it.

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I think the artwork which stood out the most for me, was this one by a group of textile artists. Tall wooden posts, which have been inserted into the ground, have then been wrapped with brightly coloured wool and fabric. The artists say the the physical act of binding the ‘trees’ illustrates how everything in nature is bound together.

And right at the end of the trail are these glass birds, made by Ann Downey. Each of them was made from a different coloured glass, and attached to the branch of a tree in different positions. The birds get gradually lighter in colour and more transparent, symbolising the extinction of some species, and highlighting how important nature reserves like the Heathland are so important.

Overall, I had a really fab day wondering around in the sun and looking at all the work! I strongly recommend you go down to have a look yourself.

I want to say a big well done to my friends Will and Carl, whose work looks incredible in this space. They should be really proud!

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That’s all from me for now, stay tuned for some updates on my work and info about New Designers!

 

This weekend, I took some time to visit the Crafts Study Centre, and look at my friend’s exhibition ‘Leach Pottery: The Sound Of It’.

Loucia Manopoulou is a current MRes student of the university and I have worked with her previously at the New Ashgate Gallery. As part of her final examination, she must curate an exhibition here where I work.

This exhibit looks at familiar Leach pottery and a selection of books, sketches, documents and letters from the Crafts Study Centre archive. She has also included some work which is part of the current production ware from the Leach Pottery studios, which still runs today down in St. Ives.

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The range of works she has selected for exhibition vary from hand painted tiles and glaze tests pieces to full sets of ceramic ware. Many of the cabinets are curated in a way that places the imagery or relevant sketchbook notes alongside the physical works, which is a particularly visual way of curating.

Personally, I find I am always more drawn to the artist’s sketches and notes than I am to the pieces themselves. It was so nice to see so much of these unseen papers in the exhibition and I have heard similar feedback from other visitors over the last few weeks.

 

One particular piece of writing that was lovely to see was this:

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I just found it to be so grounded and respectful. You could really get a sense of who Leach was and what he was trying to achieve during his practices at this time.

The final part of the exhibition explores Loucia’s interest in the connections between craft and the senses. There is film of some people working inside the Leach studios, commentated by Leach himself and also an interactive display; with brief segments of sounds which have been recorded from the studios in more recent times. These sounds correlate to images of different parts of the studios and example pieces of ceramics or tools.

It is clear that Loucia’s focus in her curation is to sensually connect the viewer to the studio environment. You can get a clear glimpse into the running of the Leach Pottery studios throughout its history. She has picked out this lovely quote of Leach’s that I think must have really resonated with her:

“You must approach art through the senses by learning the steps towards producing it.”(Leach, 1975:34)

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I really recommend that you come along to see this exhibition, which runs until December. It is very fascinating!

Well done Loucia!

I just wanted to write a quick blog post to say a big thank-you to everyone who came along to my graduation show Private View, and also to all those who have supported me through-out this degree. It has been the most amazing experience and I can’t believe it’s over!

Here are a few images of me, my classmates and my tutors enjoying a few celebratory drinks at the Private View:

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Gratias vobis ago.

 

 

This week, we’ve been busy getting things ready for the graduation show. As a class, we have to come together to curate our exhibition space as a team, to create the best looking show we can. The tutors have been so supportive in this process, helping us to paint the space, put up temporary walls and to install lighting.

For my work, I had to plan out a temporary environment that could house my installation. This involved building a plasterboard wall in the corner of the room. This space will then also lead into my other pieces, which I had originally planned to display on individual plinths.

In the craziness of my approaching deadline, I ran out of time to make my plinths, so the super kind woodwork technician; Jim, helped me out by putting them together for me and sanding them back.

In the end, we decided that with everyone else’s work displayed on trestle tables, mine seemed to be out of place on the plinths. This was a shame, as I wanted my work to be seen at eye level, so that people could really appreciate the detail. But this degree show  had to look effective as a whole space, and so I had to compromise on this.

There was lots of other preparation to be done, including cleaning the floors, re-painting walls, painting tables, hanging work and testing lights…

In my installation space, I also had to hang black fabric on the walls, fixed with a staple-gun, and install a metal bar across the top of the two walls, to hang my lighting and the projector from. I was extremely happy with my installation space and the intimacy of it. The film also projected very well on the black background, and the colours were as good as my previous projection tests.

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Here are a few images of the final set up and some close up photos of the other students work:

In the lead up to the show, I have also been putting together social media graphics and a catalogue for our course, including information pages and photographs of everyone’s work. This has taken me a long time and I am very proud of the outcome!

I made sure to match the branding with the university’s official invitations and map for the whole university’s graduation show. This worked out really well, and all of my classmates were very happy with the final printed catalogues!

I have also designed some personal invitations to the degree show to send to family, friends and potential business contacts. I also want to share it here with you guys, as a general invite, so that if any of you are interested, you can pop along and see all the work for yourself!

Rosie Wesley Graduation Show Invite 2017 (Front)

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If you want to come along, feel free to e-mail me, and hopefully we can arrange it on a day that I will be there!

Wow. I can’t believe we’ve reached the end!

All of my work is now finished and I have displayed it all in the University studios for grading. I feel I was surprisingly prepared for this deadline… when I had anticipated being very under-prepared.

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Here are some photographs of my work for you to see what was required to hand in. I have my sketchbook, my site sketchbook, my contextual essay, product book and 2 technical journals. I have also included a USB with my installation video, test pieces, successful experiments and the finished works and photoworks.

After handing everything in, me and some friends from the course all went out to the pub for some celebratory drinks. I wanted to show you this image of me at the pub, relieved to have it all finished!

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I hope everyone else is well, and enjoying their week. I am going to take a well deserved break before all the chaos comes back in the form of the degree show!

 

This week has been super hectic! And very stressful! It may seem from reading my blogs, that I am quite a laid back maker or that I do not get stressed out about deadlines, but trust me, I really do.

As our final ever university deadline creeps us on me, I have felt extremely panicked to get this piece finished. I am a totally over-ambitious person, with very high expectations of myself and making my big sculptural piece has been my ‘big dream’ target for the year, so finishing it for my deadline has been a hardest test of myself. Getting this piece finished will be the chance for me to prove everyone else wrong!

But this week, I have been able to make a start on the final construction phase! We started out by fabricating some kind of base piece, which allows my work to be fixed down and secure.

Still working with bronze, I milled out a disc and then cut this in half and drilled/shaped it. I used bronze for this so that I could get the strongest weld and so that when patinated, it would blend into the cast pieces and not stand out too much.

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So once I had established a strong base, using some of the heavier bronze pieces, I was able to begin planning the rest of my piece, which I did by laying out my components on the workbench.

This planning stage was so important, because I had to have an idea of how the piece would balance, and how each section would fit together (how successful the welds would be).

After working out roughly which components I would be using, I then dove in and began constructing! This part of my making process is all about working organically, and seeing what works and letting the components/materials lead me. I love working like this, because it adds a kind of mystery to the work.

I began the welding by laying the piece on the workbench and earthing the bench. This was really effective, as I could lay the components down on top of the piece, and only had to apply pressure to keep them in position. Welding with the piece stood upright was much trickier, and getting the piece to stay in position and getting a successful earth was more difficult.

Finally, I had to remove it from the temporary base piece, which was this scrap wood found in the textiles department at uni. I then used this as a template for drilling the real base, which is this beautiful piece of sycamore.

I transferred the sculpture to the new base and it balanced perfectly! This made me so happy. It is actually really well balanced without the base when transporting too, which means it is completely manageable for one person to carry. I think it’s total final weight must be around 21kg.

All that I have left to do now is to tidy up any welds, with sanding or using the compressor pen to add details and textures back in. Also need to patinate it, seal with wax and also seal the base with wood lacquer.

That’s actually a lot to do, and I know I’m going to be pushed for time, so I will have to work at 100 mph!

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Wish me luck!

I just wanted to share with you some images of the finished silver works that I have made for my final degree collection. I have titled these pieces ‘Ashurst In Silver I’ and ‘Ashurst in Silver II’.

The silver for these two pieces was funded by The Goldsmith’s Centre. If you would like to know more about how I was selected for this, then please check out my previous blog post here.

I am so pleased with how these two pieces came together in the end and I think they look great stood next to each other too!

As these pieces are made from sterling silver, I had to take them to the Assay office for hallmarking. I opted for a 3D laser hallmark on these pieces, so that I could have them larger, and made more of a feature of.

'Ashurst in Silver II, details' (2018) 210mm

‘Ashurst in Silver II, details’ (2018) 210mm

I also made this short little stop-motion video of the second piece rotating, so that you can see all angles!

If you would like to see these works in person, they will be on show at our graduation showcase along with the pieces from my Beaulieu collection.

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Updates on the graduation show following shortly.

As part of documenting the environment that I am working with, I have been taking Polaroid photographs on my Fujifilm Instax camera.

I love working with photography, because it allows me to capture something so fleeting; freezing a moment in time. It is a much faster way of preserving my observations of a space than drawing or casting.

The particular charm of polaroid film is that the images are un-editable, unpredictable as well as instant. The remain a pure and honest representation of a space, contrastingly to my artistic sculptural responses.

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I am currently working with a big range of bark collected from Beaulieu, which is enough to create a collection of maybe 5-7 sculptures. For this reason, I have felt that it is important for me to return to Beaulieu on multiple occasions and record it from lots of different angles and in different conditions.

This has lead to me taking a lot of Polaroid images, which I have really enjoyed laying out in collections and flicking through. However, it seemed such a shame to have all of these wonderful images and not share them or create something with them to both contextualize my work and illustrate a story.

So, after scanning lots of Polaroids into my computer and experimenting with digital compositions, I decided it would be really nice to find a way of displaying these in groups or all together. I originally planned to frame them in groups, or individually mount each one to a wall, but I came across these portrait orientated ID wallets and I thought it would be amazing to try and create some kind of ‘curtain’ with them buy stitching them together.

 

In the end, I opted for drilling holes in each wallet, and using jump rings to attach them all together. This gave a really nice effect, as it gave the piece some movement, bringing a new dynamic to the photographs.

I also had a play with arranging some of my finished sculptures in front of the Polaroids, which I liked. I think this piece is a really lovely photowork, however I think it is one that I would display as a separate work, rather than an accompanying piece to the sculptures.

I feel that photography will remain a strong influence and documentation in my making process and it is nice to be able to find creative ways of displaying these and incorporating them into my professional work. It will be nice to continue challenging this idea and playing with more creative photography in the lead up to my degree show.

For now, I will leave you this little photo of me exploring…

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This month was the University’s final organised bronze foundry pour until the end of term – which meant I had to get all my final pieces of bark sprued up and prepped for the pour if I wanted them to be used for my big sculpture!

I probably had enough pieces already cast in bronze to make the final work, however due to the organic nature of my construction methods, I wanted to be sure that I had enough variation in the pieces of bark that I could select the most suitable pieces as I went along. Working with more than I need will give me the freedom to be a little more selective.

Here is the photos of one of the final wax trees!

For some reason, I didn’t take a photo of the second wax tree before I started dipping… I must have forgotten, because I ended up quite rushed for time in the end!

I really enjoy the was working stage of the casting process, but I must admit I do get quite picky when it comes to my joins and making sure they are neat and well sealed! This means it takes me quite a long time to finish each one.

The second tree only had two larger pieces of bar of it, so I was able to attach them at a more vertical angle than some of my previous trees.

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It was then time for the final ever clean up. (I will say this now – I will NOT miss this process when I leave uni!)

Although, Mark did show me a new tool which was a great help to remove some of the shell. It’s called a needle-gun scaler and here’s a little video of me trying it out!

So this is my final collection of bronze bark pieces that I have produced using traditional fine art foundry techniques. All together there is about 40kg of bronze costing around £500!

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As you can see, there are still some pieces that need cleaning off, and I shall have to attack these bits in the grit blaster, but other than that they’re all ready to go!

I have been playing around on the bench today with a few examples of pieces that will fit together nicely and also matching up some pieces that were originally one piece of bark, which I had to snap in half to cast.

 

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The next step is to start fabricating some of the steel sections, so I will post an update of that in a few weeks!

I received some fantastic news recently… I have been selected as a winner of the Goldsmith’s Silver Bullion Grant!

This is an award which presents the selected silversmithing BA student with £400 of silver bullion to create a piece of ceremonial or domestic silverware, alongside a 10 year registration with the London Assay Office for their hallmarking services.

I am so excited to have been given this amount of silver to work with, as it provides me with all the materials needed to create two silver pieces as part of my final degree show collection.

A few weeks ago, I completed a second casting in silver, leaving me with this little collection of silver bark pieces to work with:

 

Each piece is of different thicknesses and weights so I will need to carefully consider where each piece will be placed when constructing the final pieces. They will need to balance and stand upright on their own, so this is a very important aspect to consider.

This week, I made a start on the silver sheet. I treated this in the same way that I treated the copper sheet in my Beaulieu collection, using a mixture of texturing techniques, including rolling and hammering in wire, using cutters on a dremel and engraving.

 

I decided to be brave this week and just delve straight into constructing the first silver piece. As I had already found an effective way to construct each component from my previous experimentation and my last finished pieces, I thought I would have enough knowledge to just go for it!

Turns out, things are never as straight forwards as you want them to be! After wrestling with these first two pieces and precariously balancing them in place with the help of a third hand (absolute MUST HAVE bench tool!) and some binding wire I finally secured them in place with a small solder join.

The next step was to secure the two pieces in place with a third piece of bark! This is a much thicker piece of silver, so it took much longer to heat and I had to take lots of care that any previous joins were protected!

Between each solder, there was usually a small amount of cleaning to be done. I found that the most effective method of soldering these pieces together was to stick solder, however, this often leaves excess puddles of solder on the surface of my metal, so I had to file these down and clean them up as I went.

I basically then just repeat these steps, adding a new component each time until I feel happy with the shape. This is how it turned out:

I think I may go back in and add a few more pieces, but I am really loving the profile of this piece! For the second one, I would like to experiment with combining silver plate and bronze bark, to explore the contrasting aesthetics it may have.

It feels so nice to have the chance to experiment with more precious materials and not be too worried about messing it up… I always get really nervous when I know I am holding something that I have spent my own money on!

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I am so thankful to Goldsmith’s for this bursary award and I can’t wait to get the pieces finished in time for the grad show so that they can be displayed in all their glory!

Progress!

This week I jumped in at the deep end and started to assemble some final pieces! I wanted to share with you a few of my working progress images from the workshop, so I hope you enjoy.

…my workbenches…

 

…the assembly…

…finished forms…

I’m pretty happy with these pieces! I had a few issues with the welding – tig welding really is an art form in itself! But having overcome that, I am really happy.

Next step is to file, finish and patinate… who know’s what colour they will be?!?

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They’ll probably be black.

I did something EXTREMELY exciting this week! My brother, Ged who is an aspiring film maker (find his youtube account here) came into the university to help me film a promotional video about me and my work, which should hopefully be available for people to watch later on this year.

We had great fun on Thursday, as it was a ‘pour day’ in the foundry, and we got some good footage of Mark, Kelly and Shaun, the university technicians pouring the bronze into my moulds.

Lots of people were interested in watching the pour this week – and we ended up with quite an audience!

Normally, students and other staff are asked to stay quite far back from the sand pit, but Ged was given special permission to film fairly close which should give us some amazing close up footage of the molten bronze.

On the Friday, we visited the jewellery workshops instead to film some footage of me working on some wax trees ready for casting. We also conducted a small interview, with questions about my working methodology and the inspiration for my work.

It was so scary to have someone film me whilst I was working! I’ve never experienced anything like it and working with the wax seemed so much harder with someone intensely watching me!

We still have a little more footage to film – including some of me in the forest collecting bark, but it shouldn’t be much longer until all the filming is done and the editing can begin.

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Unfortunately I can not share with you guys any of the footage just yet, but there may be some that I can show you soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

 

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