burnt wood

Alice Fox sketchbook Puglia

When I was in Italy a few weeks ago we explored the nearby lanes and land, collecting plant material and objects that we could make use of in the studio through various printing, mark making and construction techniques. Most of what we used then went to the tip when we’d finished with it. There was a lot of rubbish on the lanes, so I feel that we did quite a good litter-picking job, making use of things before they went in the bin.

Alice Fox burnt olive wood sketch

There was charred wooden debris amongst the olive trees, presumably as a result of tree pruning, the brash being burnt on site. I used a piece to draw with on my first walk around the fields. There was also the smell of bonfires in the air all week as neighbouring farms and small holdings cleared the land ready for the growing season ahead.

There were a few objects that I picked up in the olive grove around the Masseria and these came home with me to the studio. I have since been playing with them and forming new structures and surfaces in response. These will form part of Findings, which I will be showing later in the year. There were various nut shells: walnut, almond and acorn cups. The acorns from the majestic Macedonian Oak, which we saw in various places are huge in comparison to the ones I’m used to here in the UK.

Alice Fox walnut shells acorns paper mud

I’ve been making small vessel structures from paper yarn and once the surface of these is rubbed with mud they take on a really interesting quality. These structures are made with a looping stitch, sewing with a needle but building up a three-dimensional form. I used the same looping stitch but with a pliable linen thread on the burnt olive wood, encasing and wrapping the forms, getting to know each line, crack or subtle change in the surface as I work my way round and round the wood. And as I handle the wood the aroma of smoke takes me back to the place that they were found.

Alice Fox Burnt olive wood with linen

8 thoughts on “burnt wood

  1. Ah, Italy…what an amazing place to be able to teach & have your students create. Your sketches & work are beautiful as always.

  2. Pretty collection of pieces there. I also love the smell of burned wood – it reminds me of France where everywhere they burn wood for heating still. I also love Italy and must go back some day soon. Incidentally we were learning only today about the many varieties of oak!

  3. i haven’t been over in a while, and the doings look very good indeed. i have to say how these last pieces netted around the burned wood seem very appropriate and beautiful, like they were found in situ. i love what you’ve done with them.

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