Workshop 'Metamorphoses of life forms'


Transformations of organic forms in workshop'Jordnära konst för alla ('Earth art for all')
Naturum Getterön, Sweden, November, 2013

In this workshop we worked with stages of growth or decay. Participants moved from time to time some steps along a circle on the floor, and moulded a ball of clay adjacent to the organic form someone else made and left there just a moment ago, thus taking the unfolding process of growth or decayone step further. The images in the centre are from the late 19th and early 20th century: drawings by Ernst Haeckel and photographs by Karl Blossfeldt.


Earth Art, Earth Walk
National Park Kennemerduinen, Netherlands, June 2013

‘The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper’
Eden Phillpotts (English playwright), 1919

What happens when we seek to connect with the living world – not through pre-established scientific knowledge, but through an open-ended artful process? During this experiential course artist and teacher Jan van Boeckel joined Spring College. Together with Li An Phoa and Sarah Denie, he invited participants to explore the relationship of Art with Earth, through an open processes of creation. Jan invited the participants to engage with the living world and the moist, pasty substance that was below their feet and now in their hands: clay. Working the clay, they used their imagination to give shape to organic forms, expressing dynamic natural processes of germination, growth and decay.

At the beginning of the session, participants lay down in a circle and study the coverage of foliage above them. Silence and bird song, shade and light... The idea is that each participant starts at a certain clay ball, with three clay balls in-between her/him and the next participant. The participant starts to make an organic form there, expressive of a stage in growth or decay. The other participants do the same. After completing the form, the participants move along the circle, clockwise, and each moves to where someone else made a clay form, picks it up and attends to it carefully, and makes a new organic form, which takes the form that was left as starting point but develops it further. A new metamorphosed form comes into being. This rotating continues until all the clay balls have been moulded to sequential organic forms. When this is completed. From this we have a common dialogue about what people experienced and what they witness, observe, in the results.
One of us chose to make as a first form an object that expresses the open sky in-between the tall trees above - the blue air between the dark silhouettes of the trees...

The clay form that was expressive of the open space above, between the trees - the one on the far right - metamorphoses into a form in which the clay bits are the contours of an other in-between space, as each following participant continues and adds to the growing sequence. The whole session is done in silence.

Inside the nature centre, we look at the incredible photos of Karl Blossfeldt (made in the 1920's!) and look at seeds through magnifiers.

During the Earth walk

 Later, after a long hike (Earth Walk) with Li An Phoa as our guide, we gather in an open field and work with found natural forms. Using color pencils and crayons, we combine the seeds or leaves we picked up and try to depict them enormously magnified, and combined with motives of the black-and-white images of Blossfeldt.


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