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Ann Symes

Wood: growth patterns

In 2019 Ann visited Alison Crowther's barn studio to see and talk to her about her wood sculptures and working methods. Alison was working on a massive oak sphere, skilfully carving along the paths of the annual growth rings with a gouge and mallet.   

Their conversation led to the Elements as Ann recalled a qigong exercise that expresses air, water, earth, fire, wood and metal, leading Alison to retrieve a sketch book in which she'd written the following while working on a massive sculpture, now in China.

Wood feeds fire

Fire creates earth (ash)

Earth bears metal

Metal collects water

Water nourishes wood

This has been on Ann's studio wall ever since.  Not only does it continually inspire her but it triggered ideas for the gallery's 2020 exhibitions programme.

The following day, as an intuitive response, Ann started to work on a wooden panel, examining the grain and gradually discovering the possibilities of a new way of working: a way of working that has enabled her to make work that expresses all the elements and which will be shown in four exhibitions at Gallery57 during 2020.

The birch panels are selected specifically for their grain markings.  Ann begins by studying the grain as this will suggest a starting point and from there she works intuitively.  As patterns and shapes become more apparent she responds. The few materials used are chosen to enhance the grain which is either interpreted as water, wood or the contours of the earth. Added linear expression suggests expanding growth, vibration, movement, rhythm, balance and energy within wood, water and the earth and, in some works, the emergence of other-wordly landscapes.

A number of the pieces can be hung to an orientation of choice.

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