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sculpting

The Two Jimmys

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

When I started taking classes in pottery last year, I began to hand build creatures out of clay. They were initially creatures from my head. Mythical creatures that live in dreams and fantasy stories. One day, I was beginning what I expected to be another mythical creature. This piece of clay had other ideas, I sculpted my last guide dog Roscoe.

That sculpture showed me just how well my hands can see. It doesn’t just look like a dog, it looks like him.

After this, Fee suggested I could make other animals and give them disabilities. Show through sculpture the abilities of people with various disabilities. The idea was to create the animal and then write a story of their journey. This story could continue when they found new homes. Incorporating the journey of the person, or people they found homes with.

One of the first animals I made was a water dragon. I had a willing model to use as my guide. Jimmy, Fee’s water dragon who lives at the studio.

I’d never touched a lizard like him. I’d stroked the backs of a couple of blue-tongues and gone out of my way to avoid any opportunity to pat a snake. I knew that Jimmy was at the studio and was curious, but didn’t actually meet him until I decided to sculpt him.

The first time I held him was magical. He sat on my hand and I could feel him breathing. I was afraid to move. Not because I was scared of Jimmy, rather, I was afraid of disturbing him. His skin felt like rows of little bumps, His spine is smooth, as long as you stroke him down from head to tail. The most surprising and beautiful thing that day was that he let me touch his face. I moved my hand very slowly and gently from the back of his head over his face, prepared to stop at any sign he didn’t like it. He didn’t react at all.

I’ve always been told I have a very gentle and smoothing touch, but that day, I felt like I’d been given one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Slowly I started to get to know Jimmy and he began to know me. He liked to lie across my chest and tuck his little head under my chin. And for me, I loved the feel of his skin under my fingers. Slowly I realised that I was far calmer and in the present when I held Jimmy. I also got to know what he looked like with each session. All of this memory and feeling I put into my sculpture.

It’s been a long process. What with lockdown and other projects getting in the way, but Jimmy the sculpture finally came home with me. I can see little errors in the work. I haven’t gotten the texture of his skin quite right. The body isn’t narrow enough at the hips. What’s surprised me is that, I can see these errors, but I’m not beating myself up over them. I’ve been taking notes for next time. Learning more about the craft so I can improve with each piece.

Just before I brought Jimmy the sculpture home, with some help, I got a photo of the two Jimmys. Jimmy the Lizzard was quite happy to sit beside his likeness.

I finished the actual sculpting more than six months ago, but Jimmy still comes out of his tank for cuddles. Now he likes to sit on my shoulder while I work. He’ll sit on my back with his head and front feet over my shoulder. Wandering around on my back and shoulders when he wants to find a more comfortable spot.

I’ve come to care very deeply for this magical Water Dragon. Partly because I like spending time with him, but more importantly, because he’s happy to trust me.

He’s been generous enough to let me use him as a muse. So I hope you all like Jimmy the sculpture as much as I do.

 

-Sam Ogilvie

Hebel: look what we made!

By | Art, Lifestyle

I am extremely pleased to tell you all that, yes, the hebel carving workshop did happen this past Saturday. Even better, my unfinished piece from two years ago was found, supporting one of Fee’s plants in the back garden. I have to admit, there was dancing and I had a lot of trouble sleeping Friday night. And not very much sleeping the night before, the anticipation was on a level equivalent to Christmas Eve for a child. I was not disappointed.

Saturday was a beautiful day to be outside, carving sculptures.

Not too hot, but also not cold and wet like my last hebel carving workshop. We were a small group. Four participants, Geno as my support worker and of course Andrew to show us what needed to be done. There was a lot of laughter as well as a lot of creating. And nobody went home clean. We were all covered in hebel dust and in some cases wet from being hosed down instead of the sculptures.

I remembered how much fun I’d had last time. How could it be anything but fun. I got to play with a drill, with saws and hammers and chisels. There was also a tool to shape and smooth that does have a technical  name, but will forever be know as a cheese grater to myself and my fellow creaters.

Out of the various sized blocks, emerged a couple of lizards, a Heart and yin yang symbols and a wombat. Yes that’s right, I know have a wombat living just outside my back door. He happily holds a daisy plant on his back. Rupert (what else would you call a wombat), isn’t quite finished yet, he needs his head shaped a bit more and eyes etc. And his legs need defining, but I can do all of that from home.

We all went home, happy and dirty and tired.

If you ever get the chance to take one of Andrew’s workshops, you would be crazy to turn it down.

Enjoy the photos taken on the day. As soon as Rupert is completed, I’ll make sure to share more pictures. Happy creating everyone.

-Sam Ogilvie

HEBEL SCULPTURE

By | Art, Disability

Wow! Can you believe it? We’re almost at the end of term one. It feels like we only started the year a week or so ago. The good thing about end of term though, is we all get to check out next term’s classes and workshops and decide which ones we’d like to attend.

Before the start of term two, however, is the school holidays. And I’m really excited because a workshop I’m been waiting over a year to attend is finally happening on 10 April. What is it? It’s hebel carving. For those who don’t know know what hebel is, it’s a type of soft stone.

I’ve always wanted the chance to try carving a sculpture out of stone. When we think of stone however, you imagine something very hard and durable. And Hebel carving isn’t like carving a lump of clay. It involves chisels, power drills and other big girl tools. I won’t lie, the idea of getting to play with saws and drills and things, just adds to my wish to try it out.

I have this dream. I’d love to carve out a sculpture and then enter it into some competition or event somewhere.

It doesn’t matter how well I do in this longed for competition. It’s just the idea that I was able to make something so substantial and have it seen by the world.

I was lucky enough to do a hebel carving workshop almost two years ago. Since then, Art Mania hasn’t been able to run another one because of numbers. And this one on April 10 may not run if we don’t get the numbers.

So if you have thought about it, give it a go. It’s fun, not scary. You’ll walk away from the day feeling empowered with a huge sense of achievement. It’s all the adrenalin and getting to wield power tools that does it.

Sign up and come along! Trust me, you will love it. And I will be grateful to you, because your being there too, will make it possible for me to work on my dream. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

-Sam Olgilvie

Fear and Empowerment

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

Ask any of my family or friends, and they will tell you that I have been petrified of snakes all my life. I’ve suffered with nightmares about snakes since I was around four.

A few months ago, Art Mania started a regular group art session at the Hunter Wetlands. I am a regular member of this group, and on learning that among the other wild-life, they have snakes, made me start to consider the possibility that I could overcome my fear, if I just touched a snake. A snake who is used to being man handled, and woman and child handled. The more I thought of the idea, the more I came to believe that it could help. All of these thoughts were just that, thoughts. An exercise in positive thought and creative possibilities. I don’t believe I actually intended to touch a snake. Rather, I did not at any stage believe that I would go through with the event if it ever occurred.

So given all of the above, imagine my own surprise when, around ten days before Christmas, I found myself touching a snake. I had to get pictures, because I knew nobody would believe me without them. This is what happened and how that encounter changed my life.

I’d arrived at the wetlands one morning and found a woman standing out the front of the entrance holding a snake. As I approached where she was standing, she asked if I would like to touch him. I’d always believed that if and when this moment arrived I would run screaming in the opposite direction. What I actually found myself doing was walking up to them and saying yes. His name is Kenny and he is a Children’s python. This does not mean he prefers to dine on children, but that the scientist who discovered his breed, was named Children. Kenny is eighteen months old and is a metre and a half long and around the circumference of a twenty cent coin.

I knew the belief that snakes are slimy is a myth, but I didn’t expect him to feel so soft. I stroked him with a couple of fingers at first and he allowed me to touch his head. My fear was gone, I was completely in the moment, totally focused on Kenny. His tongue on my skin was like butterfly wings. His skin like satin. Even to the point that on first contact, he felt cold like satin, but soon warmed to the heat of my skin. He moved across my hand and wrapped himself around my wrist a couple of times, just like a bracelet. At one point he was about my wrist with around thirty centimetres hanging upside-down and checking out Aimee. Aimee who stood calmly while Kenny investigated.

I could have stayed there with him forever. The touch of him was like falling into a deep pool of clear and calm water. My heart actually slowed, rather than increasing from fear. Even after he’d been taken away to impress other visitors, I could still feel him around my wrist, feel him gliding along my arm. The most amazing thing was that he broke something open in me. Some blockage I wasn’t even aware of, to my creativity. I knew I had to sculpt him and put that piece into my exhibition at the wetlands in March.

I’ve met him once since that first day. He was brought down to the room where we all create our art, so I could remind myself of what he looked and felt like. This time he slid across my arms, across my shoulders. At one point, his head and upper body was snuggled along my arm, where it formed a hollow against my ribs. He was snuggling, enjoying the warmth of my body.

Kenny the Childrens python lives behind the first viewing window, when you first walk into the entrance of the Wetlands. He’s not easy to find however, because he is nocturnal, but if you’re lucky, he’ll poke his little head out to check out who you are and to make sure he doesn’t miss anything.

Meeting Kenny has been one of the most magical experiences of my life.

I still wouldn’t want to encounter a snake out in the wild, but he has most definitely changed my attitude. Even more incredible, I’ve been told that any time I want to work on my sculpture, one of the snake handlers can bring him down for me. He apparently loves to pose for photos, so will be quite happy being immortalised in art.

I want to say thank you to everyone at the Wetlands Centre for their support. For making it possible for myself and other students to get to know and be up and close with the wildlife.

Being able to create in such a beautiful, positive environment is nourishing my soul and my creativity.

Having the chance to exhibit the resulting work, is something special and I feel honoured to be given this chance.

 

-Sam Ogilvie

SCULPT AND SIP NIGHT

By | Art

A few weekends ago saw the first of Art Mania’s new and popular pottery workshops.

On Saturday night, a group of energetic and excited women arrived at the studio for “sculpt and sip.”

Apart from myself, all were new to the Art Mania Studio experience.

Sip and Sculpt was an evening of wine, food and hand-building with clay.

Each of us were given a portion of clay and after Kristie demonstrated a few key techniques, we were told to go for it. To make whatever we imagined. The volume was high, the energy sparkling with possibility and the wine flowed. Everyone was keen to give hand-building a go.

There was bonding in collective creativity, the opportunity to have time out from partners and children and a general enjoyment of the night. 

Part way through the evening, the group broke for a chance to enjoy one of Fee’s legendary platters. There were four types of cheeses, fruit, salad vegetables, cold meat and crackers. Everyone tucked in and continued to laugh and chat. And of course, more wine was poured and sipped by all.

In the first half of the workshop, we were encouraged to get their pieces completed, ready for stage two, after the break. One of the advantages of the weather warming up, is that pieces will dry faster.

At the studio, we work with two different types of glazes. There are under glazes. These are the glazes used for your base coat. These glazes are matte and after firing, do not change. What you see on your piece, as you glaze, is the colour your piece will stay. The other kind are fantasy glazes. These will change colour after firing. They also contain small chunks of glass and crystal. These little pieces will melt on firing adding a gloss and shimmer to your piece. Under glazes are the only ones that can be applied before the first firing. This first firing is known as a bisque fire.

On Saturday night, the group was offered that chance to apply an under glaze to their pieces. Part of the workshop was this opportunity to under glaze their work and then have it fired. Once the firing is done, a clear glaze will be applied before a second, glaze firing, is done. In around six weeks, the members of the workshop will be able to come in and collect their completed work.

I have to confess, the group was just a little loud for me. I only have a small voice and I’ve learnt over the years that there are times that I am just not going to be able to be heard. This doesn’t bother me, I like the dynamic energy. The joy of people letting go and letting themselves see what will happen, what they can create. I can sit and create, let the conversation wash over me and enjoy the night. They were a great group and I hope everyone comes back and participates in some of our other workshops.

We’ve also just launched our fourth term program. Part of next term are more sip and sculpt workshops. We are also running a high tea!

This is my favourite time of the term. When the current term is about to wind up and the next term is shimmering and sparkling just out of reach.

I love to sit down and workout what I’d like to try in the coming up term. It’s a lot like Christmas for me. So please, check out what’s still left this term, you might be lucky enough to snag a spot. Check out next term’s offerings and find something you’re interested in. Or maybe something that will push you outside your comfort zone.

I hope to see you in class soon!

– Sam Ogilvie

HOW DOES LOVE SHAPE YOU?

By | Art

What is love?

Can it be defined?

How does it shape us, create us and steer us?

If we look at love too closely it can sometimes feel like it will disappear, so we keep it just in the corners of our vision and we feel safe knowing it still exists in its shapeshifting way.

When we think it’s gone, we can crumble into a heap and question the very fabric of existence. 

If we brave looking into the heart of the flame of love it can be so overwhelming that it threatens to tumble us in its crashing waves and drown us in its intensity.

Quite simply, love makes the world go round.

It fuels our desires, it propels our passions and it makes us stand up for what we believe in.

Gary Chapman used his many years as a counsellor to communicate to over 11 million people in his book The Five Love Languages, that we all connect to one or more of these love languages. Understanding yours and others can help to improve relationships with partners, family members and friends.

When I took the love language quiz I was interested to find that Acts of Service, Quality Time and Physical Touch all ranked as equal first, with Words of Affirmation a close second. Funnily enough Receiving Gifts was a low scoring last. It made me reflect on Christmas time and the gift giving frenzy that whips us up into consumerist hogs. I never wanted to buy into it, theoretically or physically.

I would always make presents. I’d spend hours crafting something with my hands for the special people in my life and it made me feel good. Now I recognise that it tapped into all 3 of my top love languages.

Acts of Service –
I took the time to create something special for someone.

Quality Time –
that time was focused, with my energy invested into the creation.

Physical Touch –
By creating things with my hands I was imbuing my love and energy into the piece.

It’s nice when something that you have always done finds a deeper space of understanding.

The upcoming workshop, Introduction to the Pottery Wheel (timed for Valentines Day) feels close to my heart. Creating with clay tickles my love languages and with the endless artistic avenues that pottery provides, it finds its way into most people‘s hearts and languages. Valentine’s Day can feel very Americanised and consumerism driven, however if we take out the ‘should’ and come back to the essence of what this day is about, it’s all about love, and love is a natural state and that feels right.

How do you express love? 

How do the people in your life receive love?

Can you make this Valentines, a day to find that out and communicate in a new way?

For those that love to express through creativity, through acts of service, quality time or physical touch, check out the pottery workshop, it could be a great occasion to share with someone you love or a great way to make something special for that special someone.

Remember:

Love is like water.

You can fall in it,

You can drown in it,

But, you can’t live without it.

Written by Jen Majenta Moon, Art Mania Team Member

5 REASONS WHY ART GIVES TEENS THE LIFE SKILLS THEY NEED

By | Art

We all know that being creative has a certain essence about it that makes us feel good, right?

And, by saying ‘being creative’ it doesn’t mean creating a masterpiece on a canvas that is intended for an art gallery. 

So why does it feel good and seem to affect so many other areas of life?

Creativity is a human trait. We are a species born to create. From meals, to buildings, to babies, to packing a lunch box. Creativity must be fostered, it needs encouragement and room to grow whilst still having limitations to exist within. 

For young people that have a higher than average exposure to creating art and the media for creating it, possess qualities that many others do not have. Exposure to art, ripples out to many other areas of learning and life. 

1. EXPRESS YOURSELF

As children develop, they move from the outward stage of exploration and finding identity to one of social integration and figuring out where they fit in the world. Many experience an internalisation of their true expression as the desire to ‘fit in’ and ‘be normal’ in this hyper-stimulated world dulls their externalisation of self. By expressing oneself on a physical medium, teens find a voice that may otherwise have never been accessed. Language is only one way ideas can be expressed, all youth need to build skills in other avenues to convey what they may be struggling to express in words.

 

2. FINDING SELF CONTROL

We’ve all had moments where we feel like life is out of control. For teens this can be a constant state and as they try to harness control of their life. Artistic engagement stimulates the mind and when they create something, they can call it their own. Overcoming problems in other areas of life becomes easier as they regain the sense of self-determination creating something physical.

 

3. PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE

When we see our improvement as we refine a skill, the sense of achievement is tangible. Youth increase in confidence when their talents begin to improve, such as with drawing, building, painting and designing. When teens see progress and change in something they have persisted at, it offers a reflection, illustrating that all things can get better with time and effort.

4. INSTANT V’S DELAYED GRATIFICATION

It can be hard when we’re young to truly grasp the notion of doing something now for later benefit. Most Teens want instant gratification and an instant result that is tangible. Art offers both. Creating something positive and worthwhile is an instant and tangible result. Being able to look at a beautiful creation over time, allows them to reflect on how they were feeling when they created it. They can see how the passage of time changes things, they also see their own capacity to create something real and lasting which adds to their sense of self.

5. SKILLS FOR LIFE

Every step we take teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. When our journey is guided by the freedom and boundaries art allows it offers a platform to develop skills that will be applicable to every area of life. The process of creating art is a healthy way to develop skills in making choices and solving problems, something we are all faced with each and every day. From a simple choice of which colour to use, where to draw a line, what size to make something, each choice makes something more their own. Art goes beyond, as through the process of creation, until that point, it was only in the imagination. They have the capacity to bring something to life that previously didn’t exist.    

 

Art Mania Studio’s Teens After School Development Program fosters not only artistic skills in the group, it also offers social, communicative and self-expression skills that will equip them for life.

 

WE HAVE A COUPLE OF SPOTS LEFT FOR OUR TERM 1 PROGRAM – for more details click here

 

Written by Jen Majenta Moon, Art Mania Team Member