Another quick but essential day in the studio, adding what I have called Plinth tracking. On the sides where a plinth – made of cardboard of course, I have laid two tracks of cardboard with a gap to safely allow a two-ply thick plinth to be added to the bases. This can be easily slotted into place at any time and when in place, it should not move as it’s trapped between two lines of tracking, locking it without gluing it in place. It would allow me to more easily transport the work.
As I look back at the work which is now covered for it’s own protection, I can see just over a year of dedication has gone into making these four pieces. I’ve learned how to make furniture, expanded my gestures from external to internal pieces. The level of detail has definitely increased, making the process a lot longer. My making skills have also increased, whilst still keeping detail lose I have grown in confidence in what I make. I’m really proud of what I’ve made and really want to see them with projections simultaneously now. I know that’s only a matter of time and patience.
In the meantime I have seen some complete (folded) boxes in my studio space. I’m very tempted to expanded them and experiment to see what the possibilities are. I will obviously have to reinforced them with strips and triangle pieces for structural reasons before I even consider placing one of the pieces on top. I think I just like finding work for myself sometimes.
I feel I’m getting back to 100% now so I can put more of myself into the work again. Allowing me today to finally bring two of the model miniatures together. It’s been a day of progress with a massive limitation which I’ll get to later. I began the day by getting the paint out again to add another coat to the remaining pieces. Which are slowly becoming a solid white.
I spent the majority of my day in the project space starting to see how the finished piece will look which is finally starting to come together. I’ve been working with the extended saloon and the Japanese piece, which I forgot how heavy it actually is when I brought it down to the space. Sadly I can’t see the two projected at the same time as yet, something I need to work on (financially). Looking at how these two pieces work opposite each other, which is still hard to tell really. What I do know is that they need to be at least 3-4 meters apart, allowing for the projected image sit in the pieces and the audience to explore them. The saloon front is now being dropped, they will add nothing to the look of the pieces. At least one wont be sitting to allow this to happen. Also the work will be in a dark space, which leaves them invisible to the viewer, so I’m wasting my time on these pieces.
On a positive, staying with presentation pieces I looked at how the extended saloon would work on its side, the open section looking on facing the table. I would have needed to paint an otherwise hidden piece that was left bare as its generally out of view. Looking similar to the Japanese piece which really needs to be on it’s side to work. I am however considering removing the suspended light as it does create an obstruction. I know that once it’s removed, its not going back in.
So I need to invest in more kit, sooner rather than later as I realise this piece. If I am to see how at least a pair work together they need to be projecting simultaneously, then I can look at timing of the pieces which is also important to how each pair works, do they play together or one after the other? I need to ask the questions to know how things will look.
My final day of the year in the studio was a busy one. Beginning by carrying out more repair work to Minnie’s Haberdashery again, still having trouble with the buttress and beam. I’m hoping second time lucky. I’ll be leaving that to fix over the holiday, as much as I am tempted to drop by I know it wont really happen. I moved onto focus on the two other model miniatures that were undergoing work still.
The extended saloon is really coming together now with the addition of the blinds which went really well, cutting lengths of brown packaging paper to length and width, before fixing them in place. They are more or less at the similar heights, whilst still looking pretty natural. I also made a start on painting the new tables, which I may continue over the holiday back home.
Moving onto the newest addition it really came along today, reaching the next stage today. Adding the final coat of paint to the furniture and main body of the piece. Allowing me to add the balsa fixtures which proved to be difficult to install. I had to shave the legs of the piece over the bar to be flush, reducing the height only slightly. Whilst the false wall over the stairs was really difficult to install, having little room to actually fix it in place. Once the two pieces were in place I had to secure them at the top. The beams on both coming up a little short to meet either each other or the wall. I had a few pieces left, which I have cut to length. The shorter piece was easier to complete. It was the beam over the bar which I was wondering how to secure. With the reduced height it would run under the other piece, meaning I had to improvise, the length I went for ran under and butted into the other beam after cutting into the beam. I’m quite proud of myself, making the piece work still at the slight changes, hopefully making it look better in the process.
Looking forward I will be making some time at home over the holiday today make a front, if complete I will be painting also. Taking home the saloon which has undergone the extension, this way I can bring them both up to the same point by the time I return to the studio.
It’s my last weekend in the studio of 2017, as always I want to make the best of my time. Again working on three pieces again today. I began by doing the important job of making Minnie’s Haberdashery by adding gum-tape to the exterior sides. I then went onto add the remaining pieces to complete buttress’s to the posts, which wasn’t trouble free. I had to re-point and fix a beam that allowed a buttress to meet smoothly from post to beam. I’m hoping that my work today will be a successful when I return.
I moved onto add another coat of paint newest piece, I can confidently say that I will be adding the final coat to the main pieces before I turn to the balsa elements I’ll be adding them and extending them so they both meet each other in the back right hand corner.
Lastly I focused on the extended the saloon which is almost ready to paint again. Adding detail to the windows and doors. I’ll be next adding the blinds, which I’ll have to understand as they affect how much of the windows are shown. Being blinds they are all at different heights, I may make them uniform, otherwise it would be too much detail, paying far too much attention to the screenshots. I’ve also reduced the height of the saloon bar which now sits much better in the space. I have to keep imagining people in the space, how they would work and interact with the space.
I’m hoping over my time away from the studio over the holiday to still make at home, taking at least one of the pieces home to look at the possibility of the loose front, which would sit around one side, being a similarly detailed front. I wont paint it white until I know it’s working.
Can’t find earlier posts? – they can be found in diary form here
Another very productive day in the studio, working on three model miniatures again. After applying the another coat of white acrylic to the latest model, I quickly moved onto the other pieces. Firstly turning to Minnie’s Haberdashery where I started to add the buttresses, which I originally didn’t want to do, but feel they are necessary now to allow the model it has a relationship to be more effective. Once these are fixed I will move onto the remaining pieces. I am also seriously considering applying gum-tape around the edges for extra strength as I’ve had to carry out more maintenance today, which I want to reduce as much as possible.
Moving onto the extended piece where I started to see problems arise. After adding a problematic trim to the bar, which am still not happy with. I feel I’m adding too much detail and it will come to a point where there will be nothing left to the viewers imagination. I now feel it needs reducing in height to work with the tables and the detailing of the doors and windows which I made using strips of balsa. Where I then noticed that the internal door in the corner looks far smaller than the front door. I have a lot to consider here. The smaller door matches the other door further up the stairs. However when you see both of them in light of the elongated windows and front door they look ridiculous. However I am working from the set design in the screenshots, these areas are like that and I can’t escape that fact.
Lastly and much easier to achieve with little fuss, two tables have had the tops changed from circular to square, which matches the screenshots again. I think I just need to bring all of theses pieces together before I add the stove – which has no funnel this time and a slightly different design. I feel that as I have progressed through each model miniature my making has improved which in turn has produced pieces with greater details, none of them can be left behind on that level, that’s my main considering, the language of the detail.
A shorter than usual trip, with only a handful of shows this time. Starting off with a bit of fun at the London Film Museum – Bond in Motion. Billed as the largest collection of Bond cars ever, which wasn’t my main draw, it was to see everything else on top of the cars/vehicles. Once I was there I was like a kid in a candy store, looking at the cars, especially those which the guns and rockets on show. Definitely one for the boys. The icing on the cake being a model miniature from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), that was built to allow the production team prepare how to film the finale, complete with cylindrical saws.
My next stop stayed with the filmic theme at The Photographer’s Gallery, for a show I really wanted to see. Instant Stories. Wim Wenders’ Polariods. Exhibiting some of the remaining polaroids the German took on location and for inspiration. Out of the thousands he has said to have taken only a fraction remain which allow you to get an insight to his thinking. I see them like sketches, see it, capture it and move on. Taken in the 70’s and 80’s, you get to see him working and exploring America and Germany. I really could have stayed longer than I did, going around the two floors of the show a few times, taking in each carefully framed polaroid, given a new precious status, this ones throw away images are given something far greater than was ever intended for them.
I can’t remember the last time I spent some real time with this work which I’ve been working loosely with since the summer. Today I’ve spent some good time in the studio playing with my lights and projector, directing them onto the white models I made in the summer. I’ve finally been able to do what I set out to all those months ago. It was rather satisfying to see these ideas take form, if they worked or didn’t was another thing, to actually follow through on a thought that had been there for a long time means I’m happier for it.
So it was all about colour to begin win, wanting to shine block colour, taking the phrase almost literally – painting the town red – with light. I found that the red was coming out more pink, turning to less obvious colours such as green and blue, before finishing with orange. Photographically the results aren’t the best. I found myself returning to earlier work, which is not where I want to be heading, I need to move away from the literal yet atmospheric.
Moving onto another idea I had was to project video onto these essentially blank canvases which meant getting the projector out and finding clips of Westerns I have, seeing what work. Not really choosing anything in particular I went for the rollerskating scene from Heaven’s Gate (1980) which pushed me to consider how to really use the projector and the model, which with every consecutive scene grew ans grew. With this scene it was more about how can I cove the whole or the majority of the model.
It was nice to see how the image consumed the model, becoming an outdoor cinema, projecting its image against a saloon. The image come up well on the model, it will ultimately vary depending on the model being projected onto. I moved onto a scene from The Searchers (1956) which was more of the same. I went to another scene from the film, this time bringing another model, meaning that the projector had to move back to accommodate them both.
What happened here was that the images took on a status of being bigger, yet still very much part of the same world. When I saw the landscape against the more urban models, this is something I wanted to explore, the background being part of these models in the foreground. Pushing it further with the final gunfight in True Grit (1969) which had wide open spaces to take advantage of.
This particular scene worked more so because of the action, the cinematic presentation of the scene, these gigantic god-like being behind the models. I also moved all four of the models in front of the projector, experimenting with layout, creating shadows, which ultimately don’t really matter as the image is still caught on the models in front, the light becomes sculptural. I carried the god-like status through to the next scene – the family massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) which I was very pleased with, partly down to the close-ups.
For the last set-up I positioned the models into a more conventional street set-up, with a gunfight from A Few Dollars More (1965) which drew me to my final thoughts of the day, linking nicely to the original inspiration of the Marquis in Melton – Street violence, or that of gunfights in the genre. I’d like to see how more models and more gunfight scenes work with this set-up. I still want to see how the cowboy figures work in terms of shadows they produce.
So as you can see I have been very busy and had lots of fun, immersed in the Western. To me this piece is about the violence that is created/depicted in the genre, this is where I maybe leading this piece going forward.
A part of my wanting to attend The Big Weekend at New Mills Festival (2016) was to finally see ADP (The After Dislocation Principle) (2015) by James Cauty whose work I had previously seen, most notably the Riot in a Jam Jar series, self-contained moment from disasters that are populated with miniature figures, both comical and deadly serious, how the hell did these events take place, how did we get to this stage to let them happen. ADP is a natural progression for Cauty who has been touring this new work since it was first shown at Dismaland last year. A containers touring the U.K. allowing the public to view a disaster in a fictional town in Bedfordshire.
We can only view the work via viewing ports, I’m not too sure if they are magnified or simply glass. There are literally too many to count, each one allowing to access to view this disaster zone in miniature. Some are more successful than others at what you can see, allowing you extreme or restricted views of the scene that is all but hidden. I was able to see how the piece was constructed, a series of rotating lights on a timer, moving around like helicopters over the situation below, it would have been even better to one land. With that loss there is still an abundance to see from every view-port. You could literally spend hours with this piece, so much care and attention to detail, nothings missed out, like a moment in time has been captured.
The scale of the work has blown my mind, the sheer scale of it, I hope one day to create something as large and as engaging as this. The devil really is in the detail and the mass of figures as he has brought together every conceivable accident into miniature form
I was tempted to take some photographs, I decided to hold back for a few reasons, the aura of the work was far too precious to take anything away from it. I couldn’t really do the work justice with my camera. Lastly I wanted the images to be imprinted on my memory. I can however share with you publicity stills
You can check out where the tour is heading to next here
Laying the Tracks (2016) is part of a larger body that confronts the American Holocaust through play, utilising the non-pc plastic Cowboy and Indian figures that is loaded with negative a racist connotations, having been played with generations of children who are unaware of the history in their hands.Using these figures and the expanded play-set language a more honest history is played out. Using the colours of the figures to define nations they each play out events loosely based on 19th century history. Laying the Tracks looks at the intrusion of the Iron Horse on the Indian plains of America, Yellow Indians who have moved closer to the now much depleted Buffalo for a summer hunt.
Continuing my exploration of the Western genre of cinema, focusing on the steam train. Combining found footage and model miniatures I have travelled the length of my studio at Two Queens, Leicester, U.K.