Thursday, July 21, 2011


The ability to Ignite … to dynamically utilize fire as a tool … in order for things to be better, go faster and farther has been a measure of society’s capacity to flourish.
 Fire Drawing @ Franconia
From the first campfire to our twentieth century world … fire has been harnessed, enabling survival by way of cooking and heating but it has also led to ravishing the planet of its resources created by greater and greater need or should I say greed for fuel. Fire Eating Dance @ New Mexico
 ‘Prytotechnic production required higher and higher temperatures and more and more fuel, than the heat of the campfire which typically burns at about 600f. Hearths, Kilns and Furnaces that intensified fire to above 800 followed then super heated forges catapulted the technology and manufacture of sophisticated tools, weapons, and jewelry. It enabled the creation of coins - metal money. As is stated by Edwin Black in his book ‘Internal Combustion’, ‘Smelting enabled civilization itself, it was the technological font from which everything else flowed.’  Molten Metal Overflow
As an artist I use : Fire as a transformative agent aiding the events: which are tantalizing, in flux, action, vibration, and residue. Operating with these elements has allowed me attempts at capturing a sense of vitality, cause and effect in my work. It is a tool that I repeatedly come back to. 
  'MothRA; Personal Iron Cupolette
The preparation of this blog gave me an opportunity to review my work over the past 20 or so years and I have selected a few pieces that deal with ideas that I continue to return to in new work. They are in no particular order.
 'Celestial Spheres' Cast Iron '97
This is an early piece as with many of my early metal casting experiments I spent a period of time, about three to four years researching and developing the use of low tech processes where I could embrace the unexpected and explore materials shifts, using ancient processes.  'USUK Iron Symposium 1998
In this piece I used the earth as a mold …  .. I made a positive from another artists negative. As earth was dug, I would build up.
The mound created by the other earth work was a center dome, a burial mound where the event was hidden once the grass grew back over, It would dissapear. I was exploring the notion of a grounded central axis, say an earth with an orbiting force, the mound became the earth by which my piece was conceptually tethered to. It resulted in a marker for the activity.  Burn't Sand, Gold Leaf, Mud + Cast Iron
It brings together concepts of duality: The investigation of many things and the contemplation of the mystery; the object is physical and static, yet it resonates with life, resiliently maintaining the presence of the process that created it.

 Cast Copper + Aluminum - Levitated
A Magnet. I am fascinated by how a physical, relatively inanimate object like a rock, tree or even a farmers mechanically produced hay bale can have a metaphysical presence.  
I have come to the conclusion that this probably comes about in many different ways far too complex to go into here but there are two areas of which I think have a greater affect on this phenomena and that drive my sculptural investigations. 
 International Sculpture Symposium, New Orleans
One being how an object grows and forms; whether it be the subtle strands of a blade of grass, the intense layering and overflowing of volcanic lava or the diverse and complex materialization of the constantly shifting clouds. I am referring here to an experience on a mesoscale: which refers to a human scale interaction with our environment.   Graphite, Cast Iron, Shotgun House
I have referenced megalithic stones and meteorites in my work, comets and meteorites formed by ancient celestial fire have been revered as objects of great power.  Up until the middle ages it was a common belief that the sky was a canopy of solid matter, bits of which would occasionally fall off leaving on the ground mysterious black stones. My interest between influx and static, transient and permanent, between earth and sky as metaphors for the mind and body are touched upon in this installation. A giant boulder slotted into an impossibly small shotgun house in New Orleans.      
Aside from how things come into being and how they may exist …. The other factor in the contemplation of the mystery comes about by our perception of the object and the thoughts we impute upon any given object such as the perfect crystal forms said to be created when monks bless water with chants and positive thoughts or the concept of reshaping objects using the mind’s energies such as Urigela’s spoon bending as referenced in my ‘diving rod series’. I find these sorts of natural phenomena totally intriguing, a shaft of light, a glint from a jewel, a shadow in an enchanted wood, an enigmatic broom leaning against a doorway, an autumn bush seemingly ablaze on a hilltop or a rainbows reflection in the mirror of a lake, these things cannot be quantified in the object.

'Diving Rods' - Magnets, Cast Iron + Steel
The question is can we ape nature in a way that does not merely illustrate it, and why are we driven to do this, this is what I play with in my work: to be closer, to be nearer, to experience, to attempt to make work that exudes that same beauty and awe. 
'Teardrop of Earth's Magic Memory' volcanic rock + cast iron
 As seen in Pier Walk, Chicago
Maybe everyone should try and make a mountain, much like in close encounters ….  This is my mountain: a mirage, illusory and unattainable. After making it I realized that it had many personal and universal references, It is about dreamtime: the original title was ‘mount meru’ the name given to the mythical mountain of Indian Culture, which refers to a place that brings universes together, the universes of mind and body, sky and earth, the spiritual and the material. I thought that ‘Meru’ was too grand of an association in relation to my scale and that this is but a mere Nuggette.
The work alludes to Ayres Rock and brings to mind the Australian Aboriginal belief in ‘Song Lines’ the act of singing things into existence, an act similar to that of chanting in rhythm with the pumping bellows of a furnace to bring forth new metal.
 Also shown at Governors Island, NY
The sensual and voluptuous form of the sculpture derives from the creation myth surrounding Aphrodites Rock , the birthplace of the goddess of love on the island of Cyprus; a place I have visited and spent time exploring.
I choose forged copper for the construction of this piece as with most of my practice the direction is to simultaneously combine the concepts with the materials, scale and construction methods in complimentary relationship to itself and its environment.
Cyprus is synonymous with copper smelting. In Latin copper was known as ‘cyprium’ or ‘metal of Cyprus.  Not only was the island bountiful in copper it also had the fuel in the form of wood to smelt it.  More than twenty thousand pieces of copper slag were unearthed near the fragments of a single copper mine in the mountainside.
       Appalacian Mountains
Shape Shifter 1
There is a parallel that can be drawn between the mountain and the furnace as a kind of matrix. In the eyes of many ancient cultures a cave in the side of a mountain was an entrance into a sacred world, to enter into the cave to reap the ores was akin to stealing the unripe fruit of mother nature for it was believed that if it were left there then all would mature to gold. The ores are then taken to the furnace, an apparatus that could speed up the work of nature.
Shape Shifter 2
The ‘Shape Shifter’ series of sculptures deals with ideas of this containment, resonance and metamorphosis, the forms themselves allude to a cracking open, they have an outer shell and an inner world. The spectator can interact and be encompassed by sitting inside.

The dynamic forces that are evident in nature are difficult to map out but they can be given a chance to manifest and teased out within the making of the piece through working physically, grappling with material and process. Through working directly with melting and casting metal inparticular I can respond to this idea of of transience. A liquid state forming into a solid state with weight and permanence: like wood, metal can be experienced as a living material as it breaths, oxidizes, and grows. The transitory action of molten metal captured in time signifies a metamorphosis. This work in the studio is challenging, sometimes awkward and difficult with spontaneous and uncontrolled results.  The idea of speeding up the work of nature is historically connected to the story of metal casting and use of fire which I will continue to discuss in future articles.

Coral Penelope Lambert


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