Bringing out the inner artist

Examining one of my terracotta pots

Examining one of my terracotta pots

I’ve just started an art class in the evenings and I love it. It’s just one evening a week and the course is covering quite a few different aspects, including drawing, painting, textiles, pottery, screen printing and lino cuts.
One of the first things we were asked to do in week one was to come up with something called a mood board. This consists of putting down ideas on (in my case) an A2 sheet of card. The ideas can be photos, materials or anything else that you can stick onto the surface with a Pritt stick. These ideas, colours, textures will be the basis for what I do over the next 30 weeks as I move from one project to another. Initially my idea was to create something colourful with my own photographs taken recently of things made before the creation of plastic.

Pre Plastic phase
I pretentiously called this my ‘Pre Plastic Phase’ but after printing out the images I realised that the theme wasn’t just about old items created before the creation of plastic products, it was more about decay as the photos were mainly of things either rotting, in the case of wood, or rusting, if it was metal. Paint peeling and vegetables going mouldy also seemed to feature quite a lot.
All in all, my 100 or so images are a clear indication that I tend to take photos of very abstract things such as mould, old disused farm equipment and puddles of mud. The sheet of A2 is also littered with images from my latest acquisition of vintage terracotta pots (not those again I hear you cry). It’s very strange how these old pieces of pot have seemed to shape my life at the moment. It’s because of these that I am now spending far too many hours in the evening looking on EBay at things like old wooden apple boxes, galvanized tin baths, old oil tins, milk churns and old dolly washing tubs.

In the coming weeks in the art class I will need to take in items to either draw or paint. I already have the pots, which are small and portable. I’ll see if I can drag the old tin bath I got from a skip last week (they are selling on EBay for €45) and if I had my way I would be dragging old rusting gates up the stairs to the classroom. I suggested this to the lecturer who pointed out it would be simpler to draw these types of items “in situ”. Point taken.
In the meantime I am on the hunt for anything galvanized as these items will do well in the garden setting where they will invariably end up as there doesn’t seem to be anyone else in the family that shares my vision for dilapidated household items.
It’s my latest obsession, I have tried to put a label on the style I am interested in and I thought it was ‘Shabby Chic’ but this doesn’t quite fit the bill. If I were to give the style a name I would go for ‘Vintage Retro’. This can include anything from galvanised buckets, baths, dolly tubs, dustbins, shelving, watering cans, planters, suitcases, gates, lights, tools…the list goes on.

Future Plans
In the coming months I will be on the potters wheel and I have a pretty good idea what I am going to be making. I have an idea for some nice handmade plant pots. OK, I have a garage full already but you can never have too many plant pots can you?
I’ll no doubt be taking some of the planted terracotta pots into the classroom to draw too for my still life practice as they are small and will fit into a bag for carrying up the stairs. I have a new addition to my retail stock this week, which I am displaying in the Legenderry Warehouse in Derry. I have potted up some fabulous two year old coffee plants. These are the most common of the coffee plants called Arabica, which account for about 80% of all the plants grown. Coffee plants usually produce beans after three years but we might need to wait a bit longer for these as they will be growing indoors and not in Africa and Asia where they originated. It’ll be an interesting project for me and anyone else who takes them on.
I wonder if I can get tea or tobacco plants to grow indoors, which could be an idea for next week’s pot planting.

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