Feeling their way through

Looking again at opposite and complementary approaches to making incorporated within a single practice, I am focusing here on works by Nayland Blake and Franziska Furter, which, like Neil Gall’s, were represented in our exhibition, Undone.

Franziska Furter ‘Chlumpä’ (2006)

Franziska Furter ‘Chlumpä’ (2006)

Furter’s ‘Chlumpä’ (2006) appears as a tight crystalline ball, c. 5 cm in diameter, positioned above eye level on the gallery wall and so small that it might not be observed by a casual visitor to the gallery. It was made by the artist knotting nylon thread over and over on itself, at the end of a long day in the studio and over the course of several months, as a means of relaxing away from the intense process of drawing, which is another aspect of her practice. Furter’s pencil drawings are often on a large scale and worked up from photographs. They record fleeting effects, but require a great deal of planning in their execution. ‘Chlumpä’ meanwhile was started and finished ‘on the side’, without the artist knowing exactly how it would develop, when it would end or whether it would become an art work. It gained ‘density’ – as opposed to mass or scale – through time and repetition.

Nayland Blake’s ‘Untitled’ (2003) is a slender and delicate assemblage made from wire, chain, thread, beads, buttons, tags and sequins, collected by the artist in suburban ‘hobby shops’. Blake is better known for his large mixed media installations, which are camp, funny and provocative and for his explorations of the gay scene in New York, so that this work, in terms of its appearance (and indeed the origin of its components), may seem anomalous in terms of his practice. But his installations and assemblages represent two sides of the same coin. The former often use explicitly sexual imagery, whilst the latter enact sensuality and desire. Blake describes making his assemblages in a ‘touching-the-thing-and-fiddling-with-it, additive way’. For him, this is an entirely physical experience, as he makes spontaneous decisions in response to the opposing qualities of materials – hard and soft, smooth and textured, round and angular – and feels his way through.

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