Monday, 23 March 2020

Artist's book No.2 Hedge

Climate change and our slowness to act provided inspiration for this book.
COVID 19, however, is taking all our attention now and the resulting clean air and water are already apparent in many parts of the world.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Handmade Book with Coptic Binding

Last October we moved from Feilding to Palmerston North.  In the process of sorting and packing, I was looking through the photographic images that I had made over a decade ago when we were living out near Colyton, using photo paper, chemicals, sunlight and plants from our garden, and a series of solar plate prints that had I made for a book at about the same time but never completed. There were also some small paintings on paper using oil and cold wax medium, leftovers from a project more recent project.  I decided that I would use this material for my next project and pick up with the book idea again.  By December 1 had my new workspace ready, I had lots of ideas noted down in my workbook, and I had time to commit to the project.  More than two months later my first book (above) is completed.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Building up history using textures and layers


These photos are of details in my new work.
They show  'history' developing after about two weeks of building up the layers.
I began with acrylic media, sand, charcoal, pencil, pigments, and am now working on them with oil paint and cold wax medium, rolled, scraped, brushed, dribbled and blotted.  Today I rolled a thin white layer, a scumble, over them then scraped it back and tomorrow, if it's dry, I'll tone it with glazes....

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

All Bound Together: Small Works by Raemon Rolfe

From the Tide Pool to the Stars No.5
An on-going theme for me is our connectedness with all living things and with the rocks, water, air and time.  

Inspiration for these works came from a re-reading of Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez, 1941.  He writes …

       "....all things are one thing and that one thing is all things—plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again."  (Steinbeck)

Richard Feynman’s poem, I Stand at the Sea was a source of ideas for the works in my 2018 show and the verse below inspired my new work.  

Deep in the sea all molecules repeat the patterns 
Of one another till complex new ones are formed. 
They make others like themselves 

And a new dance starts. 

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Further inspiration came from Nick Lane's book  The Vital Question:  Why is Life the Way it is,2015. Lane’s hypothesis provides an insight into the very beginning of life four billion years ago. 
All complex life on earth shares a common ancestor, a cell that arose from simple bacterial progenitors on just one occasion in four billion years. Was this a freak accident, or did other ‘experiments’ in the evolution of complexity fail? We don’t know. We do know that this common ancestor was already a very complex cell. It had more or less the same sophistication as one of your cells, and it passed this great complexity on not just to you and me but to all its descendants, from trees to bees." Nick Lane

According to Lane: rock, water and CO2 are the shopping list for life, and that the perfect conditions for life occurred deep in the sea in alkaline hydrothermal vents formed when seawater percolated down into the mantel rocks and reacted with olivine before bubbling back up again and forming large, warm, porous vents on the seafloor.

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Encaustic is the main medium used in the composite works. Encaustic paint comes down to us from Ancient Greece and may be the earliest form of easel painting. It is made by melting beeswax with dammar resin and adding pigment. The molten paint is applied quickly to the substrate and each layer is fused with a heat gun. In these works I’ve applied other materials to the surface, such as graphite and gold dust and then applied shellac and burnt it with a blowtorch to create texture. 
The resulting surfaces are protected with a special encaustic sealer.
Some of these works may also include metals, sand, letterpress and collage elements often sourced from Powell  Native Animals of New Zealand 1959; I've had this much-loved little book since childhood.  

The five slightly larger works are in oil paint with cold wax, pigment, sand, marble dust, metal patinas, letterpress, and are on oil paper mounted on 300 gsm watercolour paper.

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