As artists we spend quite a bit of time observing the world around us and responding to these events. We have to look no further than the current situations we are faced with ; racial injustice, a pandemic and climate change just to mention a few. What ever your subject, it is an opportunity to engage with creative solutions to raise awareness, create change and even trigger action. This week Shelley talks about her continued investigation and response to problems encountered by the world’s coral reefs.
Are the ideas/themes for this project ongoing or are they new?
Having previously made work in response to coral bleaching due to rising sea temperatures, I have continued to investigate and respond to problems encountered with by the world’s coral reefs. Having been overwhelmed by the amount of discarded plastic I came across while beach combing, I began to wonder if it affects coral and of course it does. It contributes to disease and it can become entangled around the delicate coral fingers causing them to break off. I gathered the discarded beach plastic and laid out my new collection. Some of the plastic resembled little sea creatures or vessels to contain tiny pieces of broken coral. As I arranged the fragments, they reminded me of extinct exhibits in a museum. How sad if our coral reefs become extinct and the only way to see coral in the future is displayed in boxes in a museum.
What is your favourite part of the creative process?
I love sampling, testing, trying things out and experimenting. I like to mix different media – asking myself ‘what would happen if…?’ In fact, once I have figured it all out and know where I am going, I quite often lose interest in completing the finished piece. This is why increasingly I work in small units – almost little test pieces, which I build together to create a new piece of work.
Generally, my work tends to be two dimensional but this new body of work involves little three-dimensional assemblages, so I am very much learning as I go along. I have been using porcelain, paper clay, slip, plaster, paint, wax, varnish and wire. As I discover some things that work and some that don’t, I am reminded of a favourite quote of mine,
‘Creativity is about play and a kind of willingness to go with your intuition. It’s crucial to an artist. If you know where you are going and what you are going to do, why do it?’ Frank Gehry