Friday, September 28, 2012

Desert Equinox: A convergence of solar and art in the outback

When 30 or more artists from Australia and countries worldwide collaborate together to hold and sculpture exhibition then you can expect a fantastic result.  
But combine that with a prolific arts community in the middle of the outback, in a unique mining city like Broken Hill and you get an extra ordinary event.

Desert equinox is the result of that collaboration

A combination and interpretation of Solar powered Art by  international artists

Google desert equinox and you get a page full of results that will give you all sorts of information from many different perspectives. 
But as an artist exhibiting in this unique event a newer version can emerge.

This project was a very different direction for my art. I had in the past broached installation and found object works but never sculpture. So when invited to participate an opportunity arose that I found challenging, and immensely enjoyable.

 I love the sun, the light and the endless hues of colour over the outback landscape. The process to create one of my "suns" into metal was a huge challenge. I also have a connection to rustic objects which I collect, much to my husbands discontent. These rusty pieces of iron and metal hold an array of colours and textures that are replicated in my paintings. Often I found these patinas were influenced by the condition of the metal found object. If there was a deep scratch or dent in the metal, the elements of rust would be directed differently across the metal surface, occasionally bringing out marvelous textures and colour through line.
A started my idea with a large 1.2m piece of 5mm thick steel plate and a computer generated design.

An artist is generally poor, selling one peice of art to fund another and to be sponsored for such a experimental project is an inspiring opportunity.
Jamie Bolten from Boltons Engineering, Beryl St Broken Hill and his employee Tim gave me enormous support. Jamie used my design to plasma cut through the plate steel. To see what Jamie can offer go to
From there it was up to me to take "Rays of Rust" from steel to Art.

The next step, a quick welding instruction course from my husband seen a mad artist I splattering flux here and there, burning holes into my base timber board with weld pools and eating up welding rods like a baby with a chocolate. Great fun!

My next process needed much more thought.
I needed to etch the steel to create the rays of the sun. Each ray needed to be etched at least 3-4mm deep in the steel plate if I was to achieve a rustic patina within lines.
 Each etch was painstaking slow, taking 2 months to etch over 500 rays into the steel. Each ray needed to be in an exact line to influence the rusting so the line penetrated through the rust in the final process.
After blistering fingers, holes in gloves and aching arms the etching was complete.

The final finish was to hasten the rusting process and with assistance from my sponsor a large steel bed  was made to fit the plate, the plate lowered into a murky mixture. I sat and waited for results, checking daily and hourly, impatiently waiting to see what evolved.
This was now at "a make or break stage".
There was no time to redo the work should it fail. I had just over one week to installation day.

The result was more than expected and the plate revealed a doubled sided effect. The sun on one side and the textures of the earth on the reverse.
The birth of...

Rays of Rust 

My involvement in Solar Desert Equinox was not restricted to just my work. I met wonderfully talented artists from all over the world. Thought provoking work by Alexandra Byrne, wings of polar rhythms suspended on poles that glowed like an aura through solar rays and Hamish Dunlop with his sculptured illuminated dogs howling at the Solar Moon by Peter Woodford Smith. 

To my sponsor Boltons Engineering, Allan, Georgie, Shim and Susan of Desert Solar Equinox
I say thank you.
What a wonderfully inspiring project!

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