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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Costello, workbooks

Week 3, 9-13 March 2020

Week 3 includes making a wooden stool, crit week, handing in my IPO and an artist talk by Hoel Duret


After sitting cross-legged for ages sorting the stamen, I decided I would make a sorting stool using the pōhutukawa wood collected.

Tim from the woodwork studio helped me chop wood for the legs and taught me how to use the bandsaw and draw-knife to shape them.


This is the artwork I presented for Crit week. Materials include hemp string, pōhutukawa stamen, cellotape and wooden stool. My comments and feedback from fellow students and mentor are below.

Suzy's comments: A large entangled clump of hemp string drops from a height in a corner, suspended in space thanks to tape holding it to the white walls. The ball of unwound hemp string rests to one side on the ground which is painted a grey colour.

Red pōhutukawa stamen are trapped in the hemp and those that passed through the web are scattered on the ground. There is no trace of the origin of the stamen but the pattern suggests they have been dispersed from above and fallen into and through the web of hemp string. Most stamen are held within the web in clumps but along singular lines of the web they are held delicately by the fine strands of hemp fibre. It is as if an attraction binds them together preventing them from falling.

On the ground rests a rustic wooden stool constructed from material sourced by felling, or pruning, a pōhutukawa tree. This implication of death counterposes with the life-giving process of pollination inherent in the stamen. The stool holds the marks of both the material and maker and expanding foam ozzes from where the legs join the stool top. One leg of the stool rests on a piece of pōhutukawa making the stool lean in an unbalanced angle that would be difficult to sit on.

The work speaks to Tim Ingold's idea of entanglement, where things continually come into being as we participate in the flux and flow of materials. His ontology "assigns primacy to processes of formation (as against their final products), and the flows and transformations of materials (as against states of matter)". In this work the stamen are constantly falling and the stool which is normally considered a final product is imperfect, tilted and leaves an impression of the sitter who is there but not there - flowing and transforming with the other materials.

Fellow students' comments: - seeing it working with organic material with the classic tape holding the wall together

- what is white stuff on stool? - expanding foam

- reminiscent of stool but it could not hold the weight of a human

- is it pōhutukawa? residual of seed, deconstructed taken from a specific time of year

- pōhutukawa not usually made into a stool but used in homespun craft objects

- entire ball of string still there to side

- material of nature can hold itself but human could not sit on stool

- don't think 2 halves go together...would prefer to see stool and needles then other string thing

- plastic tape is a bit naff

- nails made of pōhutukawa would have been better

- how it disposes itself in space and parts joined together are important.

3. HANDING IN IPO Research question! How can the theory of new materialism inform my art practice? What problems does this create for formalism which is evident in my work? Can issues of consumption, consumerism and environmental concerns be explored through the use of natural, found objects?

What is humanity’s relationship to non-human objects in an increasingly technologically innovative and dependent society?

4. ARTIST TALK - Hoël Duret

Hoël Duret was born in Nantes, France, and graduated from the Nantes Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. His work has been seen at the Biennale de Mulhouse where he was awarded the Young Creation Award in 2012.

Hoël Duret presented some of his recent performative works including -

  1. La Vie Heroique de B.S. an opera in 3 parts that explores the modernist idea that perfection is only achieved through industrial design (2013-2017);

  2. NFT pH<7 Logique a 2017 outdoor installation of a futuristic glasshouse that discusses global environmental concerns;

  3. Life is old there, a 2019 indoor performative work involving 11 actors over 5 hours engaged in meaningless activity apart from two climaxes - sun going up/down.

Check out his website to see more of his work.

NFT pH<7 Logique by Hoël Duret, 2017.

Life is old there by Hoël Duret, 2019.


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