I have been making these things for a few years now, inspired a great deal by the exhibition on Anthony Calder at the Tate Modern two years ago and a similar exhibition in Tours, France several years before that.
But way before all of that I was inspired by my mother Rosemary who made wonderful paintings and sculptures from quite a number of different materials.
I now have her collection of Perspex® off-cuts (acrylic sheet in numerous colours), including some wonderful colours some of which are no longer available. There is a particular fluorescent orangey pink colour that I would love to be able to buy. Its possible that it was from an American source, made by a different manufacturer.
Here’s her piece made with that fluorescent pink/orange and solid sky blue Perspex® which hangs in my window and throws amazing colours and reflections around the room as the piece rotates in the heat of the sun. This photo was taken after dark, I will endeavour to replace it with a better one soon.
Lovely pink reflections from the sculpture above on the grey floor.
During a week’s long drawing course at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a number of years ago, I began to make folded paper structures, I’m not sure really why I began to make them but they look so good rotating in the breeze. I made this one after the course and it still hangs in my house.
On a different track altogether I began making mobiles from card, cutting out the pieces by hand and then sticking two together with the thread sandwiched between. The designs for both of these were a kind of homage to my parents work, they are developed from a series of drawing and paintings. The first one from my mother’s work and the second from a series by my father.
My mothers painting And my father’s drawing
I find it intensely engaging thinking about how pieces can move in ambient air conditions and begin to move really quite fast in a breeze or when the sun shines directly on it.
I have used a number of different materials, some found objects, some bought, some hand-made and some laser cut. All these processes have been informed by my training as a jeweller and ability to think in three dimensions. I almost never being from a drawing, I simply start making. Of course one usually has to make a decent drawing at some point but its more of a diagram or specialist kind of drawing for laser-cutting.
Exploring ways to make Kinetic sculptures has been complex, there are many types of material that can be used such as plywood, thin metal sheet or wire, plastic, card and paper. Heavier materials like cast plaster or thicker metals make the fabrication much more complicated. Its so much easier to experiment and learn with paper and card.
One of the most useful lessons is to understand that that the balance begins at the bottom, not the top – an easy mistake to make.
Getting the separate elements to balance always requires the hanging point to be at the pivot point but that in itself can be hard to find.
One of the early kinetic sculptures made from Colorplan® card.
I have been testing various shapes and materials, Colourplan Card is very beautiful but quite hard to cut out fast enough or accurately enough, though I made made quite a number, see previous post.
I investigated having them laser cut which does work well but then there’s the issue of how to join the various pieces. And what kind of thread to use. Are are some made in slightly different ways.