Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Keeping to my resolution of more frequent posting, I'll stay with the subject of constructions for a while. What appeals to me about the process of making them is that you can manipulate the parts and re-assemble them in innumerable ways without having to lose anything, unlike painting on canvas or any flat surface. 

If you decide something doesn't work when you're painting a picture, or have an idea that replaces a previous idea, you have to destroy what you started with, or partially destroy it, to introduce the new layer. That's fine and can create lots of interesting painterly effects, layer upon layer, but you can't have it all. Whereas in a construction, the elements you're using - found objects, bits of wood, paper, metal, whatever - stay there in front of you all the time, they don't vanish forever under a coat of paint if you change your mind. You can throw pieces out but that's different. It doesn't have the melancholy finality of painting over.

Here is a construction based on my attraction to ancient Egypt. I don't remember what the hinged glass-fronted box was originally used for but I saved it, knowing I'd do something with it one day. Because the lid can be opened, I included a very small book which can be taken out and handled - its pages are painted and textured, like fragments of ancient walls.
The top photo is with the lid open, the bottom one with it closed.



addon said...

Theere's something about boxes, isn't there? Something about the box containing things that .... do what? Just sit there it seems. But there is intrigue -- why are they in the box? How do they relate? Can we open the box? Is it locked? How? Do things in there get dusty? Are they fixed in position? Where do you keep the box? Could you tuck it under your arm and run for it? Are there other Egyptian-themed boxes? Is it quiet in there? Do the pieces talk to each other? Do they have secrets?

So we could go on. You have lots of questions to answer, Natalie! I want to handle it and see it in the flesh.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hi Adam, yes, I love boxes.
My Egypt one: can be opened, there's a catch at the bottom of the glass lid (not locked).
All the things inside are glued down and can't be moved, except the tiny book which is only held by a piece of Velcro. Things do get dusty but not as much as if there were no glass lid. It's hanging on the wall, there's picture wire at the back and the box is not heavy. There is another Egypt-themed work of mine "Natshepsut" which is in a box; you can see it on the "artists'books" section of my main website by clicking on that title.
Quiet in there? Yes, very quiet. Talk and secrets? Probably. But I don't speak Ancient Egyptian, alas!
You could handle the actual thing....it's for sale (don't mean to push it! If interested, email me).

Dick said...

I love box constructions for much the same reasons as addon's above. We have a triangular corner cabinet full of artifacts which serves the same sort of function.

Hattie said...

I love these collages! Fascinating!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dick, a corner cabinet is a perfect setting for such things. I made one construction which is intended to fit in a corner. What artifacts are in your corner? Can you post a photo on your blog?

Hattie (good photo of you by the way)
somehow I think you could come up with some interesting assemblages/collages/constructions....have a go?

Jonathan said...

I've been thinking a bit about what gets left behind recently, since we're going to visiting Teotihuacán and it makes so totally little sense to me (I hope to learn more, though). On the other hand, if I opened your box three thousand years from now I would immediately sense the human behind it! So I guess the question is: What's in the book? You say painted and textured but that's a bit ambiguous...

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Jonathan, many thanks for coming over here and for placing my box in a historical context! It's intriguing to try and imagine what a person 3000 years from now (if humanity survives that long) would make of my artefact. The little 'book' I've included only has a few pages, no text and no recognisable images. There are only some loose brush- strokes and paint textures, so the pages look as if they might be fragments of something that might once have been words or pictures. That's all!

Hattie said...

Maybe I might try collage again. I did some good ones once. Right now I am making funky pots for my orchids.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

See, I knew you were a 'collagiste'!
Do more, as well as funky pots.