Balanced-Earth Biography (and Karen’s)

…continued

This was slow art

The drying time of the paperpulp in the moulds took weeks. This is no exaggeration. The moulds, first sculpted in clay, were then cast in plaster (the clay form destroyed in the process). Initially, the surface quality of the vessels was very inconsistent and perfecting the imperfections took months. It wasn’t until December 2019, an idea for a different technique dropped into my mind. It worked. After two years I had finally refined my process to make vessels with a smoother finish and a much needed shorter drying period. It still takes a vessel eight days to dry and a further two days for each coat of protective wax-oil to cure, but this is a huge, and very welcome, improvement.

It was then crucial I observed how the paperpulp vessels reacted to regular watering. Over the months, I could identify flaws and adjust my recipe and watch again. I discovered my vessels were “micro-porous”, excess water evaporating through the walls.

Fishing nets and ropes brought in by the sea onto the beach
In tandem with this I worked on the decorative frames holding the vessels. I prioritised using the nylon offcuts and aluminium from my jewellery-making past. CDs and old computer software and drivers followed. I had previously used beehive wire to make a sculpture – loving its tangled messiness like a scribble with a black ink pen – and this was included. Harmful rope detritus from fishing, found when walking on a Norfolk beach, was collected for its creative potential.

The found materials needed to find their form, their place, their purpose in my sculptures.

Gathering of discarded materials continues. The exploration never ends.

I hired a local exhibition space to launch “Balanced-Earth” in March 2020. By the end of the month, clinically at high risk from Covid, I was advised to shield. Home alone, I continued to refine my sculptures. I carved into the plaster moulds so some of my vessels had flat rims. I adjusted my pulp recipe. I experimented with new ways to weave the sea rope fibres. This gave me a positive focus during this difficult time.

Balance Found

And here I am. My life, like my sculptures, in balance and the rheumatoid arthritis in remission. And the many years of experimentation and study have coalesced into the sculptures you can see, and experience, now. But this is not the end, the journey will continue, the harmful waste will still need to be skimmed off our planet, and my sculptures will develop and grow. This is the life of the artist, and it’s a life I cherish.