In Newcastle’s Biscuit Factory, I had seen sculptures of horses made by Zoe Robinson. They were clearly made of chicken wire and plaster but I could not work how the plaster adhered to the wire. I took some photographs in to the technician in the plaster workshop and we discussed it. She suggested that scrim had been dipped in plaster and then applied to the chicken wire.
I tried an experiment using this method and it did look like Robinson’s work: I really liked the way the plaster partially filled the holes in the scrim and exposed the mode of construction. I had intended to do some final work using this technique but none of the concepts I investigated seemed to lend themselves to it.
I booked onto a local oil painting course in order to get some familiarity with the techniques involved. It was useful but was focused on the representation of still life subjects: I could not relate to painting what I saw rather than what was in my head.
One useful exercise that I undertook was to use some black and white photographs of plants in our garden and colour them in. The colours were not always as in the original photographs. It was fascinating to see how colours in different materials (Inktense pencils, oil crayons, watercolour pencils etc) worked together and the ‘mood’ that a set of colours could convey. The resulting images had a subtle blend of natural and unnatural beauty and the exercise proved useful in my colour handling in later work.
I had the idea of creating a sculpture using lasercut gear wheels in acetate, in some way linked to determinism (the idea that the universe plays out in a predictable and fixed fashion, like a clockwork mechanism). I customized an open-source illustration of gearwheels in Adobe Illustrator and lasercut them from a sheet of 3mm black acetate, then photographed the wheels in different configurations and made rubbings onto newsprint.