Saturday, 15 May 2021

Painted Saws in Ovingdean


Meet my friend Jo Goddard, abstract ceramic sculptor and tiki mug maker, in a report from Latest TV's William Ranieri. 

Last year, Jo inherited a collection of saws from her father. She had the inspired idea to get her friends to paint the saws, and then exhibit them in her garden. The exhibition is called Out of the Woods, and it's running until the end of this month.

Thirty artists took part, including sculptors and ceramicists.

Lisa painted her saw with day and night scenes inspired Ken Layne's Desert Oracle Radio, one of our favourite radio shows. 

We listen to Desert Oracle every Saturday evening, sipping a Dark and Stormy cocktail and watching the sun set. It transports us from Lockdown Britain to the spooky Mojave desert, where coyotes howl and strange lights are seen in the sky.

Gram Parsons, the fallen angel, is on Lisa's handle. Listen to episode 3 of Desert Oracle Radio to find out why Gram and Joshua Tree are forever connected.

La Llorona on the other side is the dark-haired weeping ghost woman, often seen on the Old Spanish Trail through the Mojave - the one we now call Route 66. 'Listen for her,' says Ken, 'at the lonesome edge of town. Watch for her.'

This is how the show always opens.

I painted my saw with the hundred letter thunderword from the first page of Finnegans Wake.  It's made up of words for thunder in Arabic (gargarahat), Hindi (karak), Japanese (kaminari), Finnish (ukkonen), Greek (brontê), French (tonnerre), Italian (tuono), Portuguese (trovão), Swedish (åska), Danish (torden) and Irish ( tórnach), joined together to make a mighty thunderclap.

Here's how the great Jim Norton (Bishop Len Brennan from Father Ted) reads the word, from the Naxos audiobook.


The handle has Joyce's sigla - the symbols he used to stand for the various characters in Finnegans Wake.

Joyce's one good eye is covered with a patch after yet another iridectomy. He wears a white jacket to reflect the available light, though he can barely see anything with his right eye. I took care with the tie because he told the portrait artist Patrick Tuohy, 'Never mind my soul, Tuohy. Just make sure you get my tie right.'

The other side is the River Liffey flowing into Dublin bay on the last page of Finnegans Wake, and the riverrun that continues on the first page.

The handle is the Irish Sea, and the god Oceanus-Neptune-Manaanan McLir.

And it's old and old it's sad and old it's sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms.

The river, which is carrying Autumn leaves, is the colour of the hair of Livia Svevo, a model for Anna Livia.  Here's a photo of her with hair hair down, from the Museo Sveviana in Trieste.

courtesy of Museo Sveviano, Trieste

Joyce said, 'I've...immortalized the tresses of Signora Svevo. These were long and reddish-blond. My sister who used to see them let down told me about them. The river at Dublin passes dye-houses and so has reddish water. So I have playfully compared these two things in the book I'm writing.'

I only realised after I'd delivered the saw that I'd made a mistake with the book's final sentence. This was spotted by Finn Fordham

The irony is that the Faber typesetters made a similar mistake, except they lost 'a lost'!

We went over to Ovingdean where I built a state-of-the-art display unit for the saws.  

Night side saws

Here I am at the opening, a rare chance to wear a suit. The great tiki mugs on the table were made by Jo.

Day side saws

Here are some more saws I photographed at the exhibition opening. These are by the tattoo artists Alex and Zoe Binnie (front), Billy Chainsaw (middle) and Matt Noir (fence).

Here's Chris 'Sick' Moore with his saws. He's inspired by the great midcentury American illustrators Jim Flora, Cliff Roberts, Saul Bass and Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth. 

I love the devil he painted on the handle of his Robert Johnson Me and the Devil saw.

Mimi Butler decorated her saw with a long-necked bird.

Mimi also created the lovely blackbird signage for the exhibition.

Here are two saws from Wintz, who says that the second one is a 'very deliberate colour combo to really mess with your eyes!' See Wintz's 'drawings from alternate realms' on Instgram.

Jeremy Diaper, architect, decorated his saws with drawings of buildings near his home in Kemptown.

I like the rusty background.

Matt Noir is interested in 'the symbolic power of objects, how they are bestowed with meaning, evoke memories and develop narratives.' Here's one of his still life saws.

Here's a ghostly face from Jeffrey Disastronaut.

The flamboyant Dave Pop! took over Jo's garage with his 'bright, bold pop art, with a generous topping of seaside sauce!'

You can see Dave singing 'Am I in Love or Am I Insane?' on YouTube.

Jim Sanders made a sculpture out of his saw.  Read about Jim's amazing Brighton studio/home here.

Here's Jim with another sculpture he made for the show.

There are more sculptures at the bottom of the garden by Rafael Berrio

On the grass in front of Rafael's sculpture there's a pig made by Danny Manning, textile artist and willow weaver.

Continuing the animal theme, there's a vitrine with a ceramic Sumatran orangutan by Jack Durling. He says of this piece, 'Where there is weakness there is also strength'.

Climbing up a fence is a longhorn beetle made by another willow weaver, Dominic Parrette.

Christine Scawin has installed these sculptures made of recycled copper on the grass.

There are female figures by Claudia Castelton-Brown. I can imagine these on Lisa's Desert Oracle saw.

These stone sculptures are by Jacob Frerichs.

A fence has banners made by Julie-ann Smith.

Apart from the saws and sculpture, there are ceramics from Chris Turrell and Simon Dredge.

Karen Hirst has decorated the mulberry tree.

Hélène McCarthy, 'mudlarker, scavenger, bricoleur' has work in the garden, in the 'art hutch', and a vitrine.

There's also an artshed with a display of cyanotypes by Tara Gould.

And there's a geodesic dome! Here are Jo and Jeremy performing the topping out ceremony.

Here's one of Jo's ceramic sculptures.

Her tiki mugs are unbelievably good value, and you can drink beer out of them as well as cocktails.

The exhibition's been getting lots of visitors. Here's Foz Foster who, apart from playing lead guitar in David Devant and His Spirit Wife, the best band in the multiverse, is musical director of a Sawchestra. Foz brought a musical saw along and played a recital in the garden.

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