Memory, Boundary and Place
THE SHAPE OF THINGS
Everywhere we go, Craig is drawn to stone.
Even in unexpected places the afternoon will often turn to rock, whether by conversation or mode of action - he has ended up outside lifting, sifting and dripping water over bits to see the colour again. When we get out of town he’ll sometimes end up with bag full, pieces he lugs gleefully back up (not exactly making look like light work) whatever trail we came from. But there are also many times, in places where the weight of cultural significance is known to us and heavy in the stone, that he’ll leave them alone, as if there is a line in the sand separating them.
The beach, after all, is where it began for Craig. Much of his youth was spent in the waves, and he would often walk the shore and collect things that had washed in. Discarded plastic and other small pieces became early models for his carving – tokens from the industrialised world transformed into natural materials such as stone, bone or shell. When Craig returned to study for his Masters he was, in part, interrogating this - the notion of the found object in an extended format. He seriously considered issues around cultural appropriation and developed an ethical approach for his own practice, which also involved a shift in his process toward addition and fabrication of stone works.
Over the last couple of years however, Craig has returned to the reductive methodology with a matured point of view, and the works in this show are an example of this. They present a re-rendering of forms (reverberating circles, found objects) and ideas (place, identity and cultural boundaries) that have travelled through his practice for the last 20 years. I share a workshop with Craig and have watched this body of work unfold.
The plates were the first to be made, carved in slate taken from an old billiard table, using little more than a grinder. They are a response to his father's diagnosis with dementia, solid and tactile pieces which can be firmly grasped, and each one is a composite made from memory. They echo pieces from the family’s decorative collection of fine dining ware, and are all finished with a dense layer of graphite. The more they are handled, the more this surface will rub off, smudging onto fingertips. Not plates for eating from, these are placeholders, fluid and fading recollections, lustred shapes of tableware deeply inscribed with personal meaning.
The tweeters began to emerge next, shard-like pendants that clearly move along the same formal lines supplied by the plates. These sit very much in keeping with Craig's history of interpreting industrialised surroundings using natural materials, but are also an expression of his personal identity as a maker - his interest in audio, the tactility of manmade made things and his joy of handling stone. Like visual markers of exchange between maker and wearer, they project the identity of both.
The French curve form found its way into Craig's practice a couple of years ago, and since then he has made a small number of editions, all in mother of pearl with carbon fibre backing. It is based on a drawing tool – a stencil or template that is used in manual drafting. The original template is usually made of plastic and comes in a set of three, designs developed in the early 1900’s by German mathematician Ludwig Burmester, but there are also many other variations suited to different needs. What exactly influenced the scrolling shape of these tools is not widely referenced, but certainly seems to have been borne out of function.
In the context of the pacific and Aotearoa New Zealand, such a form, made into a pendant out of mother of pearl shell, immediately references the issue of appropriation. This piece, along with the iterations which he has made for this show, are about as close as Craig will tread. They are on that line, seductive, serious and questioning – a series revisiting conversations from wider issues that clearly need to be ongoing in the current political climate.
A+M is a moniker for production pieces that come out of the workshop, based on initials from Adamson and McIntosh. These are the product of collaborative practice and come out of a self-set mandate to operate within the realms of studio craft history and small scale production. So far this has quite naturally tended to be a conversation between metal and stone, a reflection of both of our strengths, and simple designs that play with traditions of jewellery from a shared perspective.
It’s no mistake that one of the few pieces that Craig makes over and over again is a stone pendant in the form of a lens. Seemingly simple, this ever satisfying idea has alot to say about the person who made it. A rock has been picked up, slabbed and ground to dust around it, but the original weight remains. It is carried by the maker, kept alive by the wearer and given meaning by culture. Craig’s practice is deeply embedded in the materials he uses, intertwined with his sensitivity to place, and his outlook on the world – a rock becomes an artifact, and the past is lifted into the future.