A visual research into shapes


While undergoing intense workshop into the basics of throwing and turning in the first term, I started to lean to and try to repeat some similar shapes in particular – trapezoid, a cooling tower shape or a hyperboloid structure.

To aid and direct the objects I am producing during the first term’s project, I’m researching work of Bernd (20.08.1931-22.06.2007) and Hilla Becher (2.09.1934-10.10.2015); as well as looking at other images, and my drawings emerging from them.

From series - Cooling towers, Germany 1964-1993 by Bernd and Hilla Becher
From series – Cooling towers, Germany
1964-1993 by Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher are an artist duo documenting German’s disappearing industrial architecture in 1959.
Their work is presenting engineer’s structures, like sculptures – monuments of strength and stability; they are sincere and objective-less: documenting and capturing the present, which can disappear (and which did – disassembly and moving factories and industries to Asia).

Like a technical drawing, showing the great skills in photograph-making, they are trying to capture the image with no distortion, and brimming with information.
That’s why their photographs are sometimes criticised as cold and ‘inartistic’, especially in the time when art photographers wanted their pictures with an effect – high contrast, soft focus, etc.

Bernd and Hilla Becher Gas-holders Germany, Belgium, France, Britain, USA, 1966–93 Each 40 x 30 cm
Bernd and Hilla Becher Winding towers Germany, Belgium, France, 1965–98 Each 40 x 30 cm











Cooling Towers, 1983 Gelatin silver prints Twelve parts, each: 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Gerald S. Elliott Collection 1995.31.a–l



Cooling tower ink sketchWinding tower ink sketchCooling tower ink sketch

Water tower ink sketchCooling tower ink sketch

I created a number of quick sketches from these photographs, looking at the overall shape and pattern structure within.
I want these to direct my work into similar shapes, patterns and concepts.
As the photographs being a sincere documentation of present mastery, my work will be at the end of this first brief a honest snapshot of my development and mastery of the craft.


The ideas of stability and the present also interest me, as well as the historical significance of moving most of the industry from Europe to Asia and how the economic changes impacted today’s population of the West.



thrown-3 thrown-5thrown-4These are my first thrown objects this term, in Ash White, turned and most of them lightly burnished or scratched.
They can stack up to create a new structure, but they doesn’t fit well.
I do treat them as first experimentations, practice maquettes and first stages in my development of both practice and concept.
I want to be more consistent in the shape, to translate the stability and industrial power. The stacking up element to create new sculptural pieces from them, securely fitting into each other. And the overall quality of the object: cleaner finish, mostly with the rim; walls consistency and overall balance of the weight.
In the near future I will look at surface decoration: printing, scratching, colour, glazes, pattern, metal features.

  Information and photographs drawn from:
http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/long-look-bernd-hilla-becher http://www2.mcachicago.org/work/cooling-towers-bernd-and-hilla-becher/ http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/L2010.10.a-i/?tab=details https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernd_and_Hilla_Becher//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js


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Marek Liska


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