Grasshopper lollipops

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I saw a grasshopper

We often listen to music when we’re drawing or making. But how does the presence of music or kind of music change our environment and consequently what we make in it? How does a grasshopper spring up in response to 5 minutes of ‘Wander in the heather’ by the Celtic girls? In last week’s constellation lecture I had a go at creating an object to this melody, using only a green lollipop stick and a length of wire:

The music itself almost disappeared into the background while I was making but I remember focusing in on the guitar in particular. It conjured up memories of jams and open mic nights with a guitarist friend from home, as well as a day I spent during the summer holidays, sat in the garden listening to a Spanish flamenco CD I’d found while rummaging through an old box in the garage. In particular I recalled fond memories of visiting my nan and grandad’s caravan in Pembrokeshire where dad would sit out on the balcony on warm summer evenings strumming away Big and Rich and Time O’Brien tunes. There were plenty of insects in the campsite: lumbering bloody nosed beetles traipsing the sandy beach path, stripy caterpillars in their cobweb tents, and in the bramble hedge – grasshoppers, the sound of their legs rubbing together like an ensemble of tiny maracas players. This ‘celtic’ style of music also reminded me of early Renaissance court music played on a lyre so I wasn’t surprised to find a cover of ‘Greensleeves’ featured on the same CD. It was easy listening, cheerful, slightly jazzy, and flowing steadily so that I felt comfortable to work at a slow pace, not worrying about the result of the exercise.

I didn’t try to make a grasshopper (or any insect at all for that matter) but perhaps the way the wire was presented to me pushed me in that direction, the long strand looped to look like wings and the stick the long curved green body of a stick insect. The green colour I probably associated with nature, plants and growth. I played with the materials and they would suggest things to me: a raft or a person crouched, skiing downhill, Joseph Beuys’s sledge. I’d then adjust the shape in response to the material, how can I make it look more like the image in my mind of a person skiing? It would then morph into another creature or object. I tried to bend the materials to my will but had little control – the neat, smooth lollipop stick splintered into sharp, jagged edges revealing the grain inside.

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