Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Art, recycling and wall building.

I would think that the ideas of building walls from found objects must have come seeing the work of Gaudi but it made real sense because I'd spent a large part of the 80's being a landscaper especially within what might be called hard landscaping. Even when I started basically laying cobblestones I became the one who cut them and later when they need to be fixed in cement, whether concrete or mortar, I was the one chosen. I'd done lot's of drawing as a kid and young adult so anything to do with lines, straight and curved, I was good at.

Towards the end of my one year at Art school a friend and I rented a space, a basement, right next door to where sky city was eventually built and pretty much straight away we started scouring back allies and skips for broken bricks and various detritus we could use to help us create the space we wanted in that basement. I taught this friend of mine how to mix a good mortar and how the basic elements worked and was quite amazed how quickly he took off with it.

Way back then was when I first realised this way of working could be taught to anyone as it's really just like playing with sand on the beach except it stays the way you make it... for a very long time.

So over the years I've pushed it quite a ways to see how things work and especially doing this kind of wall building without steel to realise how it can potentially crack up, which it has here and there, but I've learnt why and so I now have a fair idea of how this particular way of building can be used in all kinds of ways.

One of the things that has really appealed to me as an artist is being able to recycle bits and pieces especially in the sense of re-orientating how we look at rubbish because I really do think that most of it is useful in some way and that if we can start using it in ways which make it look good then this may very well raise what may the most important issue of seeing that alot of stuff will become rubbish and in doing so design it the first place not only for it's intended use but also with the idea in mind that after that use by date it can actually still have a use.

But first things first of course and this type of wall building using a sand and cement mix is basically about being able to glue together various already quite substantive rubbish as in glass bottles and jars, broken bricks and blocks, rocks, etc, as well as various steel and metal objects like old car parts. And because of the nature of the mortar, sand and cement mix, being pliable and then setting over a few days, the technique lends itself well to group activity just like a bunch of children playing in a sandbox.

The basic way to do this type of work is to have foundations laid with concrete and steel with a vertical steel every metre or so up about 600mm, just like a block wall, allowing each person involved about a metre each. Then you stagger off the people at 500mm intervals so they have a space to themselves and can work basically unhindered by what the person alongside them is doing and then the next day move along one or two sections, just like laying blocks again, so then each person fills between what two others did or builds on top of what others did. This takes for granted that the piles of things that will be put into the wall are piled ready for use with possibly a few personal piles alongside the community pile. Therefore I'd reckon about 8 people would be just about right because you'd get either one 8 mtr wall, two 4 mtrs ones or possibly even a 2x2 set of walls for a small building.
This is a wall at the front of the house built from the leftovers picked up on building sites plus various other bits stored to be used on another face and the floor of it, a patio out front of the house.
This is a wall out back and in front of my garage which I will soon take down by catting it up and using the bit's to finish a retaining wall out front made from broken footpath concrete which was obtained when the workers came in to fix up the footpaths where I live. And in writing this it has occured to me that the footpath out the front of my own place is the only section in the whole area which is somewhat broken but has never been fixed so it makes me wonder whether I shoudn't just go out and fix it myself in a style that suits me... almost as if the workers had already know this.
And here we have my collection of yet to be used soft stone sculptures which are made with sand, cement and vermiculite whereby the mix is cast and set for a few hours then stood up and carved which is a very simple and fun thing to do.
This is a section of fairly recent work with the big footpath concrete slabs set as a base and then various broken masonry used to infill. Then because it all quite organic the tiles to be laid will be set quite linearly to have a nice juxtaposition goin' on.
Most recent wall as part of a planter which features nice squarey concrete from when they did up a church down the road and made it into a childcare centre as the base then some of my precious whole bricks with the star's old kiln bricks from a wood fired kiln where lots of salt was thrown in.
Further along the wall above it starts to get organic because it's getting closer to where my place is which kinda starts to tell how these walls can tell stories. In the background is a small part of my collected plumbing collection except for the grey things with a massive fire jets for some humongous industrial process that needs lot's of heat.
Storage which in turn are always a snail farm extraordinaire so it behoves one to have it on concrete to collect the droppings... but it's not so that'll be problematic in the future.
More storage with a side, as on the left bottom, of how the detritus is broken up and used a path foundation which the kitty cats are adept at crossing without enduring sore paws.
Various stuff collected to start the vehicle workshops. The corrugated fence part is coming out and a proper block wall will go up to be regulatory in the sense that such wouldn't be questioned... and loads of old broken pots for pathways down on the right.
A planter within a planter, under-way, to raise the useful succulents to non-bending heights. The little aloe alcove.
A selection of kitchen stone leftovers... mainly where they cut out for sinks is surplus.
First it's picked up in the car then stored in the driveway then as bits, construction get to the point of skeletons then driveway stuff is brought to be stored pretty much where it'll be used so my whole place is kind of an ongoing construction site... which I traverse barefoot to keep them tough! Just like the kitties!
If there was a secret to stacking it tends to be untidy as one needs to kind of know what's available in an on-going conversation between irrational and rational.
And this finally, is one of the first walls I started on the property and it's way down the back and I kinda went from bottles to jars as jars are deeper and more square but the steel lids are problematic as they rust out so I reckon a heavier aluminium like throw out oven dishes would suffice to make my own lids.

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