Jim Christiansen – Feeling is Believing

Monday 9 July 2018

The shape of tall hollow vessels is, in part, determined by the need for some degree of stability. Taller vessels with very small flat bottoms looked good but are easily knocked over. In my study of classic forms I found that some did not have flat bottoms. This often allowed for a more attractive and integrated design. Following the example of many others, my first round bottom vessels were suspended on legs that were attached to the vessel or a part of a removable stand. I always felt that no matter how the legs were designed, they interrupted the line and were sometimes too fragile to be practical. 'Feeling is Believing' was an attempt to develop a way to provide a reasonable amount of stability and have the system used to hold the vase vertical not interrupt the line and maybe enhance the impact of the overall design. The thin wall vase was turned first. I wanted the form to not be one that was reminiscent of classic forms. This allowed me to add surface decoration that would not 'clash' with the expectations of the viewer. The detail on the finial and the point on the bottom were intentionally designed to create some sort of 'tribal' or esoteric cultural reference. The low relief carving on the surface of the piece has a primitive look and is not consciously based on any existing models.

The figures were carved with

a highly stylised look. Again, the look was intentionally chosen so the viewer would not be reminded of other artefacts they may have seen. The overall design, then, could be termed a work that might bring forth the belief that the viewer is looking upon a piece that might have significance as a ceremonial object in some unknown civilisation.

Assembling the piece was somewhat challenging. Putting the pieces together so the feet on the figures all touched and the vessel was vertical was accomplished by suspending the vessel on a string and then placing the figures and noting where each touched the vessel. After marking that point I drilled three closely placed holes outward through the carved figure. They were then spot glued to the surface using epoxy.

A hole was then drilled into the surface of the vessel. Dowels were then inserted providing a strong joint. The dowels were subsequently cut off and surface texture was applied to make the dowel end invisible. Once the joinery was complete, thin coats of a variety of interference colours were applied. As many as 20 wash coats are usually required to achieve the 'look' of ancient metal.

In my work, I always try to communicate feelings. I create from rough sketches and try to experience the actual feelings that I am trying to communicate. In this instance, it was â'sacred ceremony', 'sensuality', 'mystery' and 'reverence'.