British sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon twists, ties, and knots pieces of willow and other raw materials to create large-scale abstract sculptures which she installs both inside and outside of architectural structures. The pieces often involve several stages of sketching, and weeks of weaving using her hands and few other tools. Bacon’s twisting reddish-brown forms hug and scale buildings, walls, and other existing space and landscapes in interesting and intimate ways.
“My work often ‘grows’ from a host structure as I’m very interested in the tension between built, planned structures, and the ‘unplanned’ organic form that may grow upon it,” the artist tells Colossal. “I’m also very interested in the human scale of handmade structures and have created several woven spaces in recent years that people can enter inside—creating and entering the work can be a very sensory experience.”
Bacon finds interest and inspiration in nature and natural phenomena, like the swirling patterns or murmurations formed by some flocking birds. The visual poetry, scale, and juxtaposition of each piece to its setting can be seen from a distance, but it takes a closer approach to appreciate the seemingly chaotic web of expertly intermingled natural materials.
In addition to developing two very large pieces that will use several tons of stone and willow, the artist says that she will be exhibiting a new work with jaggedart at this year’s Collect: International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design. The fair opens at London’s Saatchi Gallery on February 28 and runs through March 3, 2019. You can view more of her sculptures by visiting her website, Instagram, and Twitter.
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Little Tree Library: A Clever Twist on the Donation-Based Community Library Gives New Life to a Big Old Stump
Thanks to the nonprofit Little Free Library, chances are you have encountered a small house-like structure on a public thoroughfare, with a front door that opens to allow passersby to give or take a free book. The program exists in 88 countries, with over 75,000 registered Little Free Libraries. In addition to the goodwill-fueled, donation-based libraries, one of the charms is that each one is customized. Many sport unique paint jobs or even entirely off-the-wall architecture, like the Swedish flag-bedecked Library in the shape of a water tower, which pays homage to the real structure, a beloved fixture in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago.
One family in Idaho took their Library design to the next level with a “Little Tree Library,” carved out of a 110-year-old cottonwood tree stump on their property. Sharalee Armitage Howard, you’ll not be surprised to learn, works as a librarian and previously studied bookbinding, according to her Facebook profile. She spearheaded the complex installation on her front lawn, including dentils that, upon closer inspection, are actually miniature books complete with titles. The Library also features interior and exterior lighting, to give the space an extra-homey glow, as well as a “roof” over the top of the stump to help prevent its weathering away.
KREM, the local news station in Coeur d’Alene made a video (below) to give those outside the small town a closer look at the Howard’s new addition. You can find a Little Free Library near you on the organization’s website, which also offers premade kits if you don’t have any large stumps on hand.
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Black and White Photographs Capture the Striking Appearance of Bare Trees Against Snow-Filled Landscapes
Swiss photographer Pierre Pellegrini is drawn to remote landscapes dotted by tree groves, snow-topped piers, and structures that have fallen into a state of disarray. Long exposure photographs force Pellegrini to sit quietly with these scenes, meditatively taking in the high contrast landscape as his camera processes the deep blacks and brilliant whites that emerge in the dead of winter. “I simply photograph what I feel, and am always looking for moments and situations where everything is in its place,” he explains to Colossal. “I try to find a sort of harmony between what I see and what I feel.” You can see more of his square format black and white photographs on Instagram.
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Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees.
Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that there is a very practical explanation for how these shapes emerged: science. Specifically, it was the result of a scientific experiment that spanned close to 50 years.
According to documentation (PDF) we obtained from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in 1973 an area of land near Nichinan City was designated as “experimental forestry” and one of the experiments was to try and measure the effect of tree spacing on growth. The experiment was carried out by planting trees in 10 degree radial increments forming 10 concentric circles of varying diameters.
Part of what makes the crop circles so alluring are their concave shape, which was an unexpected result of the experiment that would suggest tree density does indeed affect growth. The trees are due to be harvested in about 5 years but officials are now considering preserving the crop circles.
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Artist Heesoo Lee (previously) uses multi-layered techniques to form intricate trees, complete with leaves and branches, that seem to grow out of her functional ceramic vessels. Lee’s careful use of color establishes a seasonal mood in each of her works, some evoking the warm tones and fallen leaves of autumn, while others capture the barren beauty of winter. Each woodland scene is drawn from Lee’s imagination. The artist shares that she happened upon her current style of work by chance: her background is as a painter, and she used clay more as a smooth canvas until one day she was working on a tight deadline and was attempting to repair a broken pot, which inspired her to build three-dimensionally.
Lee explains that she uses translucent porcelain because its “beautiful clarity and color and is the perfect canvas for the bright underglaze and glazes I use.” The artist begins by forming each tree individually, starting with the closest and largest trees as she builds perspective by filling in the background with progressively smaller trunks, each of which is individually formed with a clay coil. Next, for her non-wintry pieces, each leaf is individually formed and applied to create the dense foliage that further increases the sense of depth on the surface of her ceramics. After an initial firing, Lee applies colored details using painted underglaze, which must be applied without overlapping different glazes to prevent discoloration after firing. Lastly, she chooses from a range of finishing glazes, selected depending on the desired effect, like an icy blue vernal pool or clearly defined leaves.
Lee shares that she first came to the United States, looking for freedom and adventure and with little knowledge of English, first living in Berkeley, California. She started re-exploring ceramics outside of the strictures of traditional Korean ceramics, rediscovering her love of the tactile medium after studying painting in college. Lee has been a working artist alongside her partner, a fellow ceramic artist for many years, and cites her time in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation as a seminal experience:
My work, mostly in medium-range porcelain, expanded beyond painted surfaces, my mainstay for many years. I pushed my work beyond the motifs I had been using for many years–flowers, mostly–and built larger than I had before. I was inspired by my children, the landscape of the places where I lived, and my own childhood in Korea, and reflected these themes in my work. I found that working in a place like the Bray, surrounded by other artists who created a supportive, inviting, and welcoming community, gave me the freedom to grow as an artist.
Lee lives and works in Helena, Montana, where she has a home studio and kiln. You can see more of Lee’s in-progress and finished work on Instagram, and she also keeps her Etsy shop updated with new pieces available for purchase.
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Root Bench is a multi-height bench system installed in Hangang Park in Seoul, South Korea. The design is a winning proposal by Yong Ju Lee, which creates a circular protrusion of roots that provides space for rest and relaxation. The nearly 100-foot diameter installation is formed from conjoined slats of wood attached to a metal frame, and sprawls from a centralized point in the park. Three different heights accommodate children’s seating, adult chairs, and tables for picnicking. This provides space for all sizes, and allows gatherings that vary from intimate to community-wide celebrations. (via Designboom)
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In French photographer Pierre-Louis Ferrer’s vibrant photographs, Dordogne, France is transformed into an enchanted land bathed in canary yellow. Ferrer’s colorful photographs illustrate the country’s idyllic topography, where the leaves upon the trees, fresh grass, and sculpted shrubbery are captured in the same vivid color.
While photographing, Ferrer takes time to observe his environment and decide on the best photographic technique to use. For his Dordogne photographs, Ferrer used an infrared photography technique which allowed him to capture the landscape in brilliant yellows. “My artistic approach is based on the invisible and imperceptible,” Ferrer tells Colossal. “I work with invisible parts of light (infrared and ultraviolet) and with techniques like long exposure to offer alternative views of our world.”
This yellow effect in Ferrer’s Dordogne photographs is due to a mix of visible and infrared light, and each plant species appears different depending on how it reacts to the light. “I use a selective filter that let’s pass a large part of infrared light and a small part of visible light,” Ferrer explains. “The main subjects of this technique are trees and foliage because they react a lot under infrared light.”
Although yellow is prevalent in nature; found in bananas, autumnal leaves, egg yolks, and the irises of some animal’s eyes, in Ferrer’s photographs he standardizes all natural elements, highlighting the color’s prevalence in natural forms.
As human eyes are not used to infrared light (due to its longer wavelengths), Ferrer’s photographs invite viewers to see Dordogne as through they are in a different dimension. The extravagant Jardins Suspendus at Marqueyssac and its ivy-covered châteaux are transformed into an ethereal world that might otherwise only appear in paintings.
Although fantastical, Ferrer’s photographs encourage mindfulness and allow us to reflect upon the importance of nature. “My goals are to invite contemplation, to realize the place of nature in urban places, to make aware of the impact of our environment on us, and our impact on the environment.”
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Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.