Why is making things with your hands such a deeply satisfying act?
For some people cooking is a ritual as well as a functional and necessary act. Gently pressing short crust pastry into a flan mould, always conscious of the firmness of the buttery texture, requires concentration and a commitment to doing it the right way.
For me it has always been drawing. The simple act of applying line, tone and colour to a page to produce something with life was always a magical conjuring trick. The results were often surprising; developing a life of their own as the drawing progressed. Drawing was one of those beautiful activities that cause you to apply effortless focus and to lose time; the psychological concept of “flow”. Perhaps that physical act of creating is a way of thinking about life and relating to the world?
Somewhere along the way the pencils were shelved. Always present but rarely used after being impulsively purchased during a gallery visit or trip away.
Then last year, when designing the Bendigo Botanic Gardens Play Space a challenge emerged. Water spilling from a hand pump needed a bridge to reach and flow over a large flat rock. I thought that an oversized oak leaf cast from bronze would provide the perfect shape to funnel the water, while quietly referencing the nearby oak trees.
The leaf was sculpted from wax on an armature of natural linen. It was softened and shaped, and then burnished with the back of a spoon. Broad veins were revealed by removing surrounding material. Fine parallel grooves were drawn with a chiseling tool. Finally the whole leaf was softened enough to gently fold it into an arching three dimensional form.
I then handed the wax model to bronze artisan Phil Mune, who created a ceramic investment shell. Using the lost wax process, a bronze leaf was produced with all the textural detail of the original wax, together with the cool mass of the metal.
Seeing this piece installed into the gardens, and become gently buffed by use in various places was a profound reminder that I used to once draw with my hands, and it made me feel good.