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Art Craft

Multi-Layered Ceramics by Artist Heesoo Lee Express the Movements of Land and Sea

July 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Heesoo Lee, shared with permission

Heesoo Lee has spent years carefully layering blades of grass, pine trees, and cherry blossoms to construct botanic entanglements that crawl across ceramic mugs and bowls. Inspired by seasonal woodlands and aspen forests, the Montana-based artist recreates bright pockets of landscapes that capture small motions, like falling fronds or rustling branches. “There is movement in trees, but it is slow and subtle, a leaf in wind, the slow growth of new leaves in spring,” she says.

While Lee has continued this tradition with many of her recent pieces, she’s expanded her source material to the ocean. For seven years, the artist lived in Maui, where she often surveyed the water. “I could sit on a beach all day and watch the waves, observe them, and feel calmed by them but also respectful of their energy and force,” she says. The memory has inspired a textured piece that swells upward to form a cavernous bowl. “Even in a small object, the waves are powerful and convey so much. For me, the waves connote freedom, the freedom to express myself and take risks,” the artist writes.

Diverging from land posed new challenges in Lee’s process. For landscapes, the artist repeats elements in layers to create a fully formed piece, but the same technique didn’t translate to water. “The first time I tried to make waves I failed. I failed over and over and over after that. There were cracks, pieces broke off,” she says. “I realized the feeling of making a wave is so much different from making a landscape.” Instead, Lee retrained her hands to follow the movement of the water, using slip casting, carving, and a series of manual techniques to capture its energy and force. Her color palette changed from amalgamations that evoked seasons to a precise set of blues.

Despite her forays into aquatic forms, Lee maintains an affinity for grassy fields and windswept boughs, which she explains:

My seasonal work, landscapes that focus on all four seasons, are still a mainstay of my practice. The memories that fuel the images are so powerful for me, and it gives me great pleasure to share my interpretation of those memories with people… I have heard from people that drinking from a cup I made helped them channel their own memories of the outdoors and the seasons, even during a time when they are stuck inside.

To purchase one of the artist’s organic works, follow her on Instagram, where she often shares shop updates, in addition to early looks into her process.

 

 

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Art

Unusual Interventions by Artist Stefan Visan Juxtapose Leaves, Cutlery, and Everyday Objects

June 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Stefan Visan, shared with permission

Stefan Visan fashions surreal interventions out of mundane objects: a silver safety pin pierces verdant leaves, a burning candle is sliced and positioned at a tilt, and limp spaghetti lengthens fork prongs. The artist spends hours tinkering in his studio each day, constructing bizarre combinations with no prior intention for what he’ll create. Often sharing his unusual projects on Instagram, Visan doesn’t limit his artistic process to one medium. “I’m always exploring different things, from painting to collage, video collage, photography, illustration… For example, collage is a break from painting and reverse. Everything that I create is hand-made, nothing digital,” he tells Colossal. The result is a series of interventions that merge the ephemeral aspects of nature with enduring, manufactured objects.

 

 

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Animation

Autumn Leaves Crackle and Writhe Like a Flame in Short Film by Animator William Crook

June 8, 2020

Anna Marks

In “Stickmatch,” a new short film, a matchstick-like twig lands onto the screen, and with one long strike, it spontaneously ignites flames. These sparks don’t manifest in their usual form, though. The flames are replaced with leaves from various trees that are colored all the hues of autumn, from bright green to amber yellow. 

Created by William Crook, a London-born animator who now lives in Zürich, “Stickmatch” was an undertaking at a residency at Sasso in Italy. The sounds throughout the animation contain a mashup of crackling flames and crispy leaves rustling underneath feet. As the film plays, the miniature leaves dance to the “oxygen” around them, and the little twig becomes shorter and shorter until it’s no more. 

To watch more of Crook’s animated projects, visit Vimeo.

 

 

 



Art

Stones, Leaves, and Shells Whorl in Hypnotic Land Art by Jon Foreman

April 26, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Whirling Colour” (2019), Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire. All images © Jon Foreman

Jon Foreman arranges his seashell coils and stone gradients knowing that they’ll be washed away by the tide or kicked over by passersby. The artist’s ephemeral land art is hypnotic and entrancing in its precision, arranged in perfectly concentric circles and exacting compositions depressed in the sand. His large-scale pieces transform blank beaches and forest expanses into artworks that evidence both environmental diversity and continuity.

Based in Wales, the artist began creating his nature-based work while in college. Since then, his land art has ranged from minimal stone sculptures to sweeping sand mandalas, and each project has its own entrancing motif. “Repeat processes are always very therapeutic and this is a good example of that, getting lost in the process is an important part of land art,” Foreman recently wrote on Instagram.

If you don’t have the opportunity to see one of the artist’s highly composed pieces in person, pick up a print from his shop. (via Juxtapoz)

“II Ad Unum” (2019), Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

“Confluere” (2018), Art of Balance Exhibition, Summerhall, Edinburgh

Left: Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire. Right: “Nether” (2019), Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

 

 



Photography

Tangled Roots and Mossy Branches Loom through Heavy Fog in Mystical Photographs by Neil Burnell

April 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Neil Burnell, shared with permission

Devon-based photographer Neil Burnell captures a mossy labyrinth of gnarled roots and twisted branches in a new series that manifests nature’s most fantastical qualities. Mystical exposes the otherworldly elements of Wistman’s Wood, an ancient oak woodland on Dartmoor, Devon, England, while it’s enveloped by a dense fog. The overgrown forest is thought to be the remnants of a similarly wooded area dating back to 7,000 B.C.

Burnell tells Colossal that when he visited the spot as a kid, he was reminded of “the film set of Empire Strikes back in the forest of Dagobah.” The photographer has spent much of his career in graphic design, but after delving into photography more seriously, he returned to the forest to try to capture the mysticism in his cinematic style.

It’s taken four long years of visiting and learning to capture a series I’m truly happy with as compositions can be tricky in such a claustrophobic wood. 90% of the successful images are either shot in the first hour of light or the last hour when the light is really soft. The other key element for a successful session is thick fog…I can count the successful trips over the four years on one hand. Many times I’ve been the conditions just don’t suit for the style I want to achieve.

As climates change around the world, areas like Wistman’s Wood will feel the effects. The photographer says the area requires a balance between being protected from destruction while also being available for human interaction and enjoyment. “Over the four to five years I’ve been photographing, it’s clear to me that the woodland is (at) its most vulnerable in the winter months and particularly after heavy rainfall,” he says. “The harsher weather climate throughout the year really can be damaging…During the past five years, I’m thankful to say I’ve not seen one person who hasn’t been respectful to the woodland.”

To follow the latest from Burnell’s ongoing series, head Instagram and Behance. You can also acquire a print of these untamed scenes on his site.

 

 



Craft Design

Assemblages of Found Florals Imprinted on Ceramic Mugs and Plates by Hessa Al Ajmani

March 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Hessa Al Ajmani

Artist Hessa Al Ajmani often gathers small flowers and fronds from her mother’s garden. She brings the floral arrangements to her home studio, where she presses the groupings onto her earthenware and stoneware pieces, leaving simple and realistic imprints. Based in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates, the artist uses some plaster molds and stamps she creates herself, although each piece is hand-built, preventing any two from being exactly alike. Before firing, she peels off the greenery and petals, revealing the small grooves and divots that she later paints.

Because Al Aljmani doesn’t use a wheel, her pieces typically take hours, or even days, to finish. “I’ve been playing with all sorts of clay (air-drying, polymer, earthenware) since I was a child. I learned how to work with it professionally in university, but didn’t pick up the practice until about a year ago,” she said on her site. “I had to re-teach myself all the basics and do endless tests with clay consistency, form, texture, firings, etc.”

Shaping each ceramic piece and layering the found florals is therapeutic, the artist says, because it requires patience and has fostered an acceptance of and appreciation for imperfection. “My ceramic work speaks of my memories of home and the process of self-healing. Through imprints of flower, leaves, and patterns, it invokes a sense of nostalgia and the idea of home as a space of free thought and personal growth,” she said.

In addition to her own practice, the artist founded the Clay Corner Studio in 2019, which offers ceramics and painting classes. To watch Al Ajmani’s process, check out her Instagram and see which pieces she has available for purchase in her shop.

 

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