A Matter of Scale

It’s been a very busy few days both in and out of the studio!

Managed to take advantage of the fine weather Tuesday, and spent the morning roaming the city with my camera … many more nest photos are now on the hard drive, awaiting their integration into work.

One of the 'famous' nests in Edmonton ... so many people I have spoken to about this project have mentioned this nest to me. A nice little bit of ingenuity, this.
What I didn't know was that there was a second nest built into the bridge! This one's rather less obvious than its larger cousin farther along, and much better hidden. I almost missed it.

Wandering around and marvelling at these structures – as I always do – got me to thinking about all the challenges around constructing these objects, and how they really don’t change all that much, regardless of scale. It’s all variations on a theme in many ways, with the materials used and context dictating the eventual solution … and of course, some situations are easier than others! It struck me that the Walterdale Bridge pictured above was a great place to build … the pre-existing structure provides so much in the way of stability and security, that it’s more a matter of finding the best space amongst many than anything else. There are much tougher places to work with to be sure …

I am also in building mode – working on a series of sculptures that will also be incorporated into the body of work for NEST this autumn. It’s great to be working this physically – not that the gel-transfer printing is not (my fingertips are still a mess; they’ve gone from blistered and sore to peeling and calloused!) – but the sculptures engage my whole body, directly and simultaneously. Manipulating the materials with a consciousness of their relationships to space and volume – and how best to work with them – is a fascinating process in active learning. Not unlike the process a bird would experience in building a nest for itself – but I lack the avian advantage of some genetic hard-wiring! Again, scale becomes a defining factor, both in the methods of construction and the way the resulting structure is ‘read’: a nest that one can hold in the palm of one’s hand means differently than one that could potentially house a full-sized human being.

Ultimately, it comes down to the relationship between the physicality of the being making the structure and the structure itself  … and it’s that back-and-forth, that dialogue, which is my greatest teacher on a great many levels just now:  about what I am physically capable of doing/making, about the strengths and limitations of various materials. About this matter of scale … and what it means to make work that explores (and exploits) the dimensions of the human form, the way scale (in all things) can create connections or break them apart.

And on that note, I thought I’d also share this artist’s work (my thanks to David for directing me to this work!):

Tony Orrico

This fellow is billed as the ‘human spirograph’ … which struck me a a bit gimmicky. But his work is truly beautiful, thoughtful, and executed with a deep understanding of living in and working with and from the human body for creative ends.

A photo by Michael Hart of one of Tony Orrico's Penwald Drawings, in process

It’s very much worth having a look at the videos and images collected in a lovely article Orrico’s work on BrainPickings to gain some insight into the tremendous physicality of this artist’s work. It’s quite humbling, and mesmerizing to watch.


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