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A project by Jordan Wood and Clare Scanlan.
Vivianite documents the playful discovery of the eponymous precious mineral - a native, fugitive, ocean-blue pigment from Demon's Bluff, Anglesea (Eastern Marr/Wadawurrung country). For Wood and Scanlan, vivianite is both material and muse.
View the photographic documentation of the makers' process below, and scroll on for a discussion of the work and exploration of the inherent concepts.
Formed from bones, corpses and decaying shells, Vivianite is as macabre as it is bewitching, as precious as it is elusive. In the hands of Wood, this evocative pigment informs shell-like vessels that hold an almost perfect cupped-handful of Scanlan's experimental paintmaker's brews.
Mixed into glazes, washed over local clays and exposed to the heat of the kiln, Vivianite is alchemical, turning iridescent silver then bloody brown; a reflexive nod to the decomposing matter from which Vivianite often forms.
This tone is echoed in the sap and honey of Scanlan's gritty watercolours, soon doused in the rich and endless blue pigment: a colour so prized and elusive it has shown face in the work of Vermeer, playing a stunning second fiddle to what was considered the noblest of all blues: Lapis Lazuli. Scanlan then blended vivianite into a natural limewash, whose milky, chalky tones provide a soft, mineral surface that speaks the language of the handmade. Using the stained work-surface as canvas, the washes were applied and honed and form both backdrop and the work itself.
When first brought to light, Vivianite is as white as Wood's hand-formed clay vessels, but soon morphs through a spectrum of grey-greens and blues to arrive at the inky, deeply-aquatic hue so rare in our natural world.
Have you ever considered: blue is almost always out of reach, yet we are constantly surrounded by it? Our vast and constant sky is blue, the deep sea is blue. However, if we try to touch or hold either one, we find them both to be completely colourless.
Thus, blue is intangible, ephemeral, always just beyond our fingertips. So too is Vivianite. With ongoing exposure to light, Vivianite deepens until the precious blue crystal is dark as the night sky.
Wood and Scanlan's work explores this concept of transience and imperfection with organic forms, experimental glazes, gritty textures and the stains of the makers' process remaining as beautiful shadows tracking the project's progress. Layers of iterations and ideas are added one on top of the other, with the culmination an almost baroque expression of concept and method.
The Southern Ocean and Demon's Bluff deeply informed both Scanlan and Wood's work. For Scanlan, this is the freezing ocean of her childhood and ties to her family in Western Victoria who have remained just out of reach for the duration of the project. The intangible blue of both Vivianite and the Southern Ocean becomes a melancholy love-song to the simple and precious moments that we find currently out of reach. For Wood, the ocean informs her shell-like forms and the metamorphic imagery of her collages, presented on fluid fabric and conjuring the deep rock pools of our psyche, which long for the cleansing wash of the next wave, but remain land-locked and dry as our isolation continues both physically and psychically.
Subscribe, follow our socials (Jordan, Clare) or simply watch this space for the next development in this project over the course of Craft Contemporary. All we will say is this intangible blue will become a little more tangible.
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