materials: snow, plastic, wood, paper, snow and ice


Simon Beck from Les Arcs, France works in snow as a graphic and performance artist.

Pet bottle lamps and projects via google images

Wood pavillon in Madrid
Picture 5

Paper scenography for the Style and Design «Z» magazine from NZZ special to promote the Watch Exhibition in Basel 2011

ice sawn

Ice Art:  An exhibition in the Elfenau Orangerie In Bern. ca 2006

How do you master a material?

It is slow work that can be learned from a mentor, in a class or through trial, deep awareness and practice. Working directly with any material one simply must study and provoke it, see how it reacts to the tools used and then re-imagine; forms, contexts, user experiences or  further researches that expand your perception and expertise.

One can craft music, dust, snow, metal… or flash events but one must practice to  learn how the “stuff” is worked to achieve a well finished result. You should enjoy the material because mastery takes countless hours of practice and reflection. You must experiment with every aspect of your character and moods to finds the relationships which bring insightful artifacts. Art is about self mastery as much as in finding a reflective resonating expression through a material–process-development by which through performance others respond and an audience is developed.

Often secondary school projects  start with an easy to work non toxic material which fits the learning goals. Clay, gypsum (Gips) and casting concrete or wood products like MDF are the usual choices. Many school classes focus on 2-D work because paper and paint are cheap and disposable. By comparison 3D projects are more difficult have a longer learning curve and more need for machines and space to work as well as to display, document and archive so when budgets are tight the 3D projects are sometimes avoided. However at this time when children spend a great deal of time transported through space in cars, trains or as virtual players and movie watchers this strategy is responsible for a basic disconnect between their reality and their abilities to act creatively and manage in 3D and film projects.  I think it is important that kids have the chance to work in 3D with hand forming techniques but also introduce digital and CNC/3D printing productions. So to quickly ground their self experience young people can profit from working in quick to form materials like: food stuff for example: butter, pasta, chocolate as well as fruit and veggies. The more traditional school plastic materials of plaster-gipsom-clay have disadvantages of : cost, usefulness-life cycle, slow learning curve as hand-eye skills are developed and a short interest time. Test objects in green materials provide a freedom of creation at low cost from which much can be learned about form and user experience and keep the imagination active well into the form choosing stage of creation when typically technique is more important to reach a quality product.  Cycles of iteration and consideration of a test form and interface produce a refined result saving time and costs.

In summer when there is plentiful supplies of fruits and veggies art and design classes can study the properties of organic materials, pattern making, skin and volume filling as well as how color and form combinations work together on a plate. In a photography session students work on food presentation, lighting and  learn the importance of clear exhibition and performance. Afterward, some of the products and waste are edible and can be enjoyed as part of an exhibition-apero.


For more ideas and co-creation of your workshop give me a call. Keith Riggs 079 506 6484