Sculpture at Tafe

My new Tafe course started up tonight, it’s a subject from the Bachelor of Visual Arts degree called Small Object Making, and is basically exploring difficult materials to make into sculptures. I adore it. I could move into the sculpture department and live there very contentedly for the rest of my life. It is a big space, full of mad half finished sculptures everywhere, and the most delicious collection of expensive equipment in neat, well set out workshops. There is the bronze forge. There are tools for working metal in the metal workshop, oxy-acetylene torches, huge orange rubbery welding screens that looked oddly medical, grinding wheels, even a proper metal forge in the corner. There is a whole room devoted to clay and ceramics, where in one of the classes you sculpt in clay a life model who poses for the class. There is a wood workshop, full of lethal and fascinating wood tools, saws, drills, sanders and suchlike. There is a small class area of comfy lounges with pigeon holes of art materials and half done projects on one wall, and books and magazines for inspiration scattered all around. I could barely contain my excitement!

I also tried to get my jewellery project back but it hadn’t been marked yet. I will post pictures when I do!

For those of you who are only familiar with my 2D art forms, you may not know that I also have a passion for a type of sculpture called installation art. Where sculpture is usually about making something, a 3D shape of some kind that is then put on display, installation art is about taking a space and transforming it. It’s more akin to creating a theatre set, every part of the space is thought through. One installation artist I like is Christian Boltanski, especially his works with light and shadow such as Monuments, and Tombs.

Many years ago in school, I made two installation artworks for my yr12 project, one a pair of life size plaster people with clear perspex wings that changed colours in a light display, reaching for jewels that were suspended from plaster hands that hung from the roof. The other was a huge 6 foot long sarcophagus, complete with Mummy, from whose chest burst forth feathered origami birds that flew away through the ceiling. They were pretty awesome, I loved making them. It was very therapeutic to take over a small room at school and make it entirely my own world.

However, there’s big difficulties with this art form. It doesn’t always transport well – to put the sarcophagus on display at the Roma Mitchell Arts Education Centre I had to drive her in roped to a trailer doing 40km an hour, and then do fairly extensive repair work with silicon, paint, and hot glue when I arrived. It’s also difficult to find space to store the works, they are often built to suit a particular space and don’t work well in other environments… and they’re tricky to construct when you live in a small space and have a tight budget…

But I love it! And, as I improve my photography skills, I will be able to construct, photograph, and dismantle works more easily. So the final result may not always be an installation you can walk around, but instead an interesting series of photographs. And of course, there’s always possibilities for sculpture in miniature. I love to work with many different mediums and want to learn skills in wood, metal, glass, clay, polymers, and electronics. Getting sick and being so restricted with movement and energy I adapted and took up needlework and embroidery. Prior to that I would never have explored those areas, but now I value knowing how to sew and do bead work. I get a lot out of exploring different kinds of art.

So, I have a big decision coming up. Tafe applications close at the end of this month, and I have to decide what I’m applying for. There’s a number of fascinating Certificate 4’s, including one in 3D sculpture and public art, that are each only a year full time. (I would love to get into public art, but I’ve been told it’s very very difficult and involves a lot of paperwork. urk) There’s also the bachelor degree which is broader in scope and takes 3 years full time. I’m trying to leave open options to keep picking up all the other short courses I love such as at the WEA, and the media training I’ve booked in for with Radio Adelaide, plus I have to be able to fund all this study as most of these are pay up front kind of deals. And of course I do want to continue with psychology/social work/disability work/mental health/peer work kind of study also… Although currently being an artist, writer and speaker I feel I am being helpful in mental health, and my enthusiasm for being employed as a psychologist is somewhat waning when compared to making art to present talks about mental health like I’m doing now… tricky tricky! I’m worried about the commitment to a three year degree considering my health and my caring situation are both rather unpredictable, and I’d rather finish a cert 4 than half finish a degree. On the other hand I can work on the degree part time and I guess if 6 months into it it’s clearly too stressful I can always withdraw and apply for a cert 4 without too many issues. Dilemmas!

In the meantime, I have materials to experiment with as part of my current subject, two projects to complete and a journal to work on. Hope your day was inspiring too. 🙂

See my next post about Small Object Making here.

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