I belong to a very artistic family. I find myself looking at their work and feeling inspired by it. I wonder sometimes if that makes me a bit strange… none of my dog friends seem to share my interest.
Kay likes to thump out removable two-legger fur on a big machine she has in one of the two-legger house rooms. For this project, she usually uses sheep’s wool made into long strands and wound onto flat sticks or things that look like the tin cans two-legger’s use on the bay when they’re hunting fish. She told me that this piece she’s making is a tartan, something Scottish people use to tell each other what breed they are. She’s thumping out one for Matheson two-leggers now. Apparently, she’s part Matheson, a mixed breed like me!
Elizabeth also likes to make two-legger fur. She does it in different ways using similar materials to Kay’s, except that they don’t always smell like sheep’s wool, and she often uses sticks with points to make her fur. I like sticks, and I’m somewhat of an expert on sheep and wool by nature, so I thought I’d try my hand at it one day. I’d found a ball of Elizabeth’s wool on the floor beside her chair and thought maybe she didn’t need it anymore. I was wrong. And my efforts didn’t turn out anything like hers.
Discouraged, I went over to some of the building sites in the neighbourhood. I found some really interesting things at them, which I brought home to work on later. As a result, I discovered that metal is my medium. It was really just a matter of “keep on trying until you find what works for you.”For example, plastic sounds good under pressure, but it is too brittle and doesn’t hold its new shapes well, especially in colder conditions.
It was quite accidental, the way I discovered metal. The tin can I was working on had a residue of pork and tomato and tasted really good to chew on. By the time I had finished, the pattern of tooth holes, dints and folds in the metal was, I thought, quite appealing. Regrettably, Elizabeth had an altogether different reaction when she saw what I’d been up to, the result of which is that I cannot show you a photograph of any works from that period of my artistic career.
This last week, I found myself at loose ends while Elizabeth and Kay started picking the tomatoes. They knew another night of cold was coming. They had a lot of tomatoes to pick. I decided watching them was a bit boring, so I found something else to quietly occupy myself while they worked away.
Elizabeth seems quite impressed. She says artists name their works, so I should give a title to it. We discussed a couple of possibilities, then ran the best two by Doyle the Dog Food Man when he came to make a delivery (Doyle is one of my favourite two-leggers, by the way. I figure that if he knows where to find a perpetual supply of dog food, then he must be pretty smart).
He scratched his chin and eyed it critically. “No,” he said “I think Failed Crop is best. It kind of captures the raw emotion of the piece, I think.”
‘Raw emotion’ isn’t quite what I was striving for. I like Failed Crop because it best symbolises the two-legger angst I always sense at this time of year when there’s a lot of unripe produce in the growing place and really cold weather moving in.
But I’m glad he likes that title, too. It’s one of the qualities of art that it represents different things to different people, I think. So, that’s it. Failed Crop.
“Not quite,” cautions Elizabeth. “Other artists are going to want to know how you produced your work. They like to discuss techniques among themselves so that they can learn and grow in their own artistic experience. You need to explain how you created your masterpiece, Stella.”
Well, my favourite technique, as I mentioned earlier, is mandibular manipulation. I applied that to the long tynes at the top. The body of the work involved more a complex methodology: a combination of the forward momentum of my chest and the rearward thrust of my powerful legs against the inertia of the wood decking of the walkway. It isn’t a technique I would recommend for amateurs, really. In fact, I think I will avoid the Siren call of mass reproduction for this piece and allow it to stand alone as a unique work in my portfolio….
I hope you all enjoy it.