In the studio: Shane Waltener, artist
'You will make something nice if you use gold, but that's not a big challenge'
Friday 13 September 2013
Walking into Shane Waltener's studio there is a particular aroma, sweet and fruity and not unpleasant. We try to track down its source.
Is it the row of pollarded trees, waiting to be transformed? In fact, it turns out to be the rolls of jute Waltener has been using to make his large site-specific works, most recently in the grounds of Nottingham Castle where it is intricately woven through the trees.
The installation has not been without problems. "There is a clash between the pathways I am creating and the squirrel highways", says Waltener, undismayed. "Fragility is really important; it makes it precious and adds value. It is just a piece of throw-away string and so if it doesn't last it becomes even better. If they are there forever, people take them for granted."
Waltener was born in 1966 and studied in Belgium. He currently lives and works in London where he also teaches at the University of the Arts. He is clear that this studio is not the only place where he works: "When I am on a bus I think about work and the bus becomes my studio. So work happens here and elsewhere".
In the past few years the artist has workshopped with diverse organisations and individuals. A collaborative work with Entelechy Arts involved writing and drawing with people who had suffered strokes. "I became their hands. I created patterns that were then bonded onto a table, mapping out their memories. That said something about them."
His objective he says, is "to give value to what is discarded. Of course you will make something nice if you use gold, but it is not a very big challenge". In the past he has used sugar for graffiti tagging and panty nylon for his larger crocheted and knitted webs.
Recently he gave himself the conceptual task of making an artwork a day and posting it on his blog, dailymades.blogspot.com.
"I have notebooks and do basic diagrams and mostly write. I do very little sketching – the sketching is done in three dimensions, the daily-mades are really the sketches." Composed of everyday materials – paper, pencils, paper-clips, vegetables – they are often springboards to bigger works elsewhere, but they "add a rigour for the practice and give me focus."
While we sit Waltener plays with some paper, effortlessly plaiting and weaving the scrap into a complicated sculptural form. Weaving is his most recent passion, taking over from the sugar craft that preceded it. "Weaving is about rhythm and making," he says. This is art that reaches out and is inclusive by its nature.
Waltener's site-specific installations and performances are often joyful, bridging those gaps between what is considered craft and the high arts.
Shane Waltener, Panoramic Pathways (Nottingham Lace), continues as part of Make Believe, Re-Imagining History and Landscape, Nottingham Castle Museum until 29 September, nottinghamcity.gov.uk; dailymades.blogspot.com
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant