Recently I’ve been spending a bit of time browsing tumblr and pinterest (ok, more than a bit of time) and while I think these modern pin-boards and journals are a valuable tool, it’s led me to questioning how to keep track of my ideas, the inspiration that comes from the everyday, that which I don’t find online? How do artists keep records of their thoughts and do they really reference their records when creating works? This month at Whipup we will be hearing from artists and crafters and finding out a bit more about how they keep records of their ideas and where those ideas come from.
First up, is Dan Stewart-Moore. Dan is a sculptor who trained at the ANU School of Art where he is now a lecturer and research student. He has previously been known as a “metal-head” (a sculptor who works with steel) but more recently he has been experimenting with stone and timber.
Dan has exhibited works nationally and internationally with pieces in private collections in the USA, UK and Australia and is currently working on a solo exhibition “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” which opens on August 22.
Today, Dan shares with us how he records his ideas and develops those into pieces of art.
Can you tell us how you document your ideas? Do you use a journal, sketchbook or random pieces of paper like the back of beer coasters or napkins?
Well I hope none of my students read this but in truth even though I draw every day I don’t use my journals as a place where I plot out my work. They are more like a dream space, a place where anything could happen. I create worlds, or at least fragments of worlds in my diaries. Although to look at them you’d just see lots of scratchy sketches.
When I’m planning a work I use plasticene. It means I can work with it quickly and cleanly – which is unusual for a sculptor, then I document it photographically.
Do you have a notebook always on hand or do you schedule time for creative thinking and doodling? Perhaps you do both?
There’s always a visual diary next to the loo. I do my best thinking in there.
I imagine you would have many sources of inspiration, can you tell us what or who most inspires you?
That’s a big question so I’ll try to break it down a little.
Conceptually I guess my biggest inspiration is psychology in particular I find that psychology offers a fantastic insight into climate change. We tend to assume that sane people are rational, yet any psychologist will tell you this is not the case. Our irrational behavior regarding climate change has been a source of frustration and anxiety for me, understanding why we do the things we do has been a trully insightful journey.
Aesthetically I’m a sucker for all kinds of things. Natural patterns like Fibonacci spirals in plants, the surface of water, contemporary architecture, modernist design, the list goes on.
The people who have inspired me the most are artists like David Jensz, Anthony Gormley, Kensuke Todo, Michael Le Grand, John Lennon, Salvador Dali, Simon Shuerele, Geoffrey Bartlett, Daft Punk, Masahiro Asaka, Studio Job, Sol Lewitt, Jan Svankmejer and many, many more.
We would love to know more about your creative process, how you develop ideas, what makes something become an artwork rather than remaining an idea on a page?
Short of giving you an exegesis on how I make an artwork it really is a matter of trial and error with a Marquette (small version) then if I think it can work I experiment with the construction method and materials. Sometimes I’ll just know that it will work. Other times I need to do a lot of testing before I’m happy to proceed to undertaking a major piece.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
I’ve got an exhibition on soon – “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” and generally I think most people think exhibitions are a bit intimidating. The truth is that they are – but only for the artist. The snob factor that people get so anxious about is non-existent at M16 artspace openings. People in suits mix with skinny dreadlocked men, the young confer with the old, in short no one is judged. So I would dare you to come but there isn’t any daring required.
**All images in this post are the property of Dan Stewart-Moore