Treedragon Sculpture

On one of the forums I frequent, a member by the user name Treedragon started a thread wherein he let us follow his progress as he completed a sculpture. His style can be defined as abstract, or we can forego defining it at all. These are just the shapes that remain after Treedragon has removed all the unnecessary stone. He has explained that he doesn’t begin a project with a set plan for the piece. He’ll sketch in some initial cuts and then let the stone tell him where to go from there. He also doesn’t try to interpret what the piece means when it’s done. He explains that that is the purview of the people looking at it. Us, in other words. Here is some of what he had to say during the project:

The purpose of this post is to share just a little of what I do when not haunting the forum these many years, and thus maybe offering something of interest while using the occasion/s as a form of motivation, (for myself), setting myself up to follow through……. If you are reading this then at least I have started ;D

When time allows I sculpt stone, there has been a slab sitting on the work bench waiting………..

I had been asked – “How do you go about creating a sculpture, is it planned or do you just create something?” My reply was as follows – “Well many times I just draw a line on the stone and then just ponder where to take it…… and then………. uummm….. just remove the bits of stone that obviously should not be there and basically just smooth up what is left…….”

Here is the series of images Treedragon shared. Comments by Treedragon.

Header image above

The stone slab you see is basically an offcut from a quarry that mines a building stone called Hinuera Stone, with Hinuera being a place to the south west of Hamilton, North Island, NZ. The stone is a form of compressed volcanic ash, of average hardness and quite uninspiring to look at and work with it being way too high in silica for my liking as it blunts my hand tools quickly.

So the line is starting to developing a bit as a few, very few, ideas occur to me, top right is morphing into a Koru form (unfurling tree fern frond), this I use this as a symbol of potential and future growth into what may be. The swing down to the left and up into a wave form, sea of life maybe, and somewhere in there I feel a hint of music possibly but that might be later detail.

So with a general form now outlined it still seems too soon to grasp for more detail over and above the fact I haven’t thought of any yet. The next stage is to chisel out the drawn lines so they don’t get wiped from memory, (I have done that often enough on the computer as it is), and then start removing some stone that obviously shouldn’t be there, define some depth. This is where it gets messy and plans can change, I tend to wonder throughout this next stage if anything worthwhile will emerge from the stone.

Having now decided to actually remove some stone instead of talk about it I am at the point where I find out if I have set myself up for a hard slog with an awkward piece of stone or a more mellow block that will not go on forever. This is also the point when visions get blurred in a mess of stone chips and dust and it seems to lose any resemblance to something that might be a sculpture….. sigh

Today’s pic is a composite image from two different angles in an attempt to give a sense of depth such as it is, with the deepest bit only being just over an inch (2.5cm) so far. That’s a couple of hours work.

Well I appear to have had my “awww gawwwd……… why did I start this!” moment, after which i left it on the work bench waiting…….

As promised i have a picture for you. In this case it is the low morning light that is best at showing the broadest range of light and shadow within the various aspects of the form. First thing i saw was the amount of adjusting of various curves/lines that will be needed as i work the piece into something a bit more coherent if somewhat unusual, but it’s early days yet.

Yesterday’s work was a day of “cleaning up” the sculpture … Now the thing about the cleanup times is the empty head space that often results as the eye looks and the hands trim the stone, it’s a quiet space amid the tap of hammer and skid of chisel over and through the stone. Also it’s a time when ideas seem to randomly float into view.

A few minutes ago i was burying a dead possum (ie; turn into fertilizer to flow into the fruit trees….. ahem 🙂 ) and my thoughts turned to the sculpture with a noticing that at it’s simplest it’s a swooping form that contains stuff, but there is an opening, an entry of exit, thus the contents require a flow from/or to containment……… or something.

Well with the exception of a bit more cleaning up here and there and a protective coating of some sort, and assuming i can leave well enough alone……… then i can, to all intents and purposes, call it finished.

The sculpture is now out in the garden with some of the others and i managed to get a photo with a few of them in the frame.

Many thanks to all that followed this process and for your comments.
So suspecting i might be on a roll with getting some sculpting done i have put another slab on the bench, twice the size and i am currently resting my back……….. sigh

All photos credit Treedragon.

Here is Treedragon’s response to one of my comments:

arjaybe: I’m not very good at discerning the meaning of things, but I get a strong sense of water from your sculpture. I’d like to know what that woven-looking thing is.

I’ve enjoyed seeing this done and I hope you’ll think about doing it again.

Treedragon: Hi arjaybe

i am quite sure you are very good at the “meaning of things” arjaybe and you are quite right about the water aspect, at least from my perspective. The sculpture as an item does not come with a specific meaning as such, however i do use certain forms with monotonous regularity as representations of certain things and this sculpture features water in many aspects from the specific (the wave) through to the most undefined such as the water of life at it’s widest meaning/implication and maybe even a touch of the sea of consciousness.

It might be worthwhile to note that i sculpt for purely selfish reasons in that i am trying to trigger something within myself. i have noted how works of art/sculpture/and all sorts of random things can trigger a “feel things” in people……… from my perspective i appear lacking in this department. Obviously recognizable objects can trigger individual personal response even if just just a memory or two so with me being prone to deliberately doing things the hard way in order to have a fuller experience ::) with the sculpture it seemed doing non recognizable forms had the potential for a more unique experience. The jury is out as to the success or not, of that ;D

Life doesn’t come with a specific meaning i’m told (cue Monty Python) but i’m picking one of the aspects available to us is that we give it meaning.

Soooo….. the woven-looking thing is waiting for a meaning as part of the whole i guess so a stab in the dark from me would be……. umm well it is vaguely sun-like in position and small aspects such as overall circular form and with radiant incised lines but with the main body being woven it is seeming a construct by something/someone/s and each thread has a Koru (unrolling fern frond) on each end signifying potential yet to be (defined) by the thread (maybe a person or groups of people)………..

The sculpture is about Family, or so it seemed to me while creating it, so that could mean something along the lines of the collective intentions/creations of a community shinning their creative light over the sea of potential within their own defined universe or area of life…………… but really it is your decision maybe based on how it all feels to you.

Thank you for asking arjaybe as a result i have just seen a bit deeper into my sculpture something that may not have happened for a while.

As for another one i am not so sure this fits in here within the general scheme of things, i do get a bit wordy……..
However i do have a a couple of nice slabs lined up to play with………….. so maybe i do a similar thing on my website and post a hint or two for those interested i am still pondering the whole event but at least it got a sculpture started and finished.

arjaybe: Thanks, Treedragon. My curiosity is in part because this experiment seems similar to my posting my books here as I write them. Like you, I write them mostly for myself (hoping people will enjoy them of course) and let whatever meaning might be there come in the reader’s mind. Also like you, I see things when I read them that I didn’t realize I was putting there.-)

This experiment took courage. Thanks for risking it.

There will be future posts on this subject.


About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.
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