To kick off the new semester we have been given out new projects, this part being dedicated to personal work … which I love! It is nice to be given some extra time to work on something we enjoy along with building upon our portfolios. I feel my portfolio might be a generalist one at this point as I’m torn between the modelling and concept side of things. I might have to mash the two together. For now I am going to start with a bit of sculpting and modelling as I feel I have nothing worth showing in my portfolio as of yet and I would really like to produce something that looks interesting.
I have decided to start this project with a bit of focused research. I’ve never been great at research as my ideas usually just pop into my head but this time I need to spend some time researching and sketching in order to finalise something interesting before I start into things. I am thinking of producing a few different sculpts if I have time and for one of these I would like to create a type of interesting diorama that could be viewed and rotated 360. A little research into possible themes are below.
Mesopotamia – Ancient Civilisation
“Mesopotamia was an ancient region in the eastern Mediterranean bounded in the northeast by the Zagros Mountains and in the southeast by the Arabian Plateau… “Ancient History Encyclopaedia”
Image Courtesy – JBrown “Ancient Mesopotamia”
I came across this region when looking through the online Britannica, specifically in the mythology section. It is quite an interesting area as they state it was the first place to introduce the invention of writing. The invention of the wheel is considered to be first thought up of in Mesopotamia also; “The invention of the wheel is also credited to the Mesopotamians and, in 1922 CE, the archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley discovered “the remains of two four-wheeled wagons, [at the site of the ancient city of Ur] the oldest wheeled vehicles in history ever found, along with their leather tires” – Ancient History Encyclopaedia
Mesopotamia was also known as a land of learning with there being as many schools as there were temples. When thinking that this region was about in 3100 BC, that is a lot of schools for those days. They are said to have taught reading, writing, religion, law, medicine and astrology. The first philosopher Thales of Miletus is thought to have also studied there. “As the Babylonians believed that water was the ‘first principle’ from which all else flowed, and as Thales is famous for that very claim, it seems probable he studied in the region.”
This is so interesting, I would love to do a traditional sculpt of maybe Thales sitting on a high back seat with all these themes from this ancient city swirling around him…maybe add some animation to these parts. Something detailed like that would be awesome. I am going to give this documentary a watch as it may give more inspiration/ideas for sculpts.
Tuatha De Danann – Celtic Mythology
I have a great book named Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology and it is amazing. Complicated and hard to understand, but great nonetheless. The first tale you can find in it is on the Tuatha De Danann. Probably one of the most well-known Irish mythological stories but worth a mention as it is quite interesting and could be cool to work on.
Who they were – Tuatha De Danann is translated as ‘Tribe of Danu’ and they are said to be a race of god-like people who were gifted with supernatural powers…oh and they also apparently invaded Ireland over four thousand years ago after having descended from the skies in a heap of mist. It sounds brilliant and totally plausible as how do we know what went on back in those days. If we told them that in the future mankind would spend almost ten hours a day looking at a screen they definitely wouldn’t have believed us!
An interesting article found on irishcentral.com states; “According to an ancient document known as the Annals of the Four Masters (Annála na gCeithre Maístrí compiled by Franciscan monks between 1632-1636 from earlier texts), the Danann ruled from 1897 BC until 1700 BC, a short period indeed in which to have accumulated such fame. They were said to have originated from four mythical Northern cities Murias, Gorias, Falias and Finias, possibly located in Lochlann (Norway).” This tribe were also thought to have been skilled in magic whilst the earliest reference to them states that they were “banished from heaven because of their knowledge” – kidsbrittanica.com
Another known fact was that the Danann brought special equipment with them, “four magical talismans of great power.” Niceee
Their weapons included; The Sword of Light, Lugh’s Spear, The Dagda’s Cauldron and The Stone of Destiny. All equally interesting. I once visited the Hill of Tara were the Stone of destiny sits. Apparently half of it was broken and taken over to Scotland but now is part of the throne belonging to the British monarchy. Although most definitions of it are the same on the internet, the information at the Hill of Tara describes the stone of being a phallic symbol, symbolising fertility. Hard to know what to believe! Lets hope the traditional legend of the stone having a cry which confirmed the coronation of the rightful High King of Ireland, and that its roar could be heard throughout the land. 🙂
Another great part of the legend is the other world…referred to in Ireland as Tir Na nog (The Land of the Ever Young). This land was thought to be the original home of the Danann and was reached through water, by traveling west over the sea or by passing through the gateways of the Sidhe mounds.
“In these places, the veil between the worlds was considered very thin, and therefore more easily traversable. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the magical realm is not the eternal youth, beauty, joy and plenty it represents, but the passage of time attributed to it. In Tir na Nog, time seems to stands still, while in the mortal world it passes in the blink of an eye. The story of Oisin, Fionn mac Cumhall’s son, and his other-world lover, Niamh, illustrates this perfectly. After only three blissful years in the magical realm, Oisin returns home to find three hundred years have passed. When he falls from his horse and his feet touch Ireland’s soil, age catches up with him, and he dies an old man.” – Irishcentral
I love this myth as it encompasses a lot of rich imagery which could be incorporated into a great piece of art. I feel it would be amazing to sculpt something tying the whole thing together in a unique way. Having some environment or maybe a diorama would look very nice. Even if I had a few depicting different scenes from different legends. Having a character that could live or fit into this world would also be amazing but I shall see how it goes. I need further research into themes which interest me.
Floating Markets in Bangkok
Bangkok is known for it’s floating markets. I was watching a series on Netflix called ‘Someone feed Phil’ and he spent the day at one of its many floating markets on a river. He was trying out many different kinds of street food..or boat food. Haha, so much culture and variety than over here in Ireland. The environment is something I would love to try and replicate in a piece. I always love when things look busy and colourful and this is the epitome of it in my opinion. Maybe I could incorporate this feel and look into a piece indeed. The only problem is there would be an awful lot to model and texture for it to be a success.
I put together a slideshow of some images I have found online which show the amazing markets.
Bathe Houses (sento 銭湯)
A Sento is a type of Japanese communal bath house where customers pay an entrance fee to enjoy a good wash. I find it a really odd thing which the Asians have but I guess it is quite similar to saunas over here. Since more and more Japanese households now have their own baths, the number of bathe houses has decreased. I feel it would be an interesting concept to look into if designing an environment, or could rather look cool integrated into a larger piece.
Hayao Miyazaki depicts these famous bathe houses in Spirit Away, I have shown some drawings from the art book below along with some screenshots from the movie.
Real sento’s below
Ancient.eu. (2018). Ancient History Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: https://www.ancient.eu [Accessed 30 Jan. 2018].
Kids.britannica.com. (2018). Britannica Kids. [online] Available at: https://kids.britannica.com [Accessed 30 Jan. 2018].
DeviantArt. (2018). Ancient Mesopotamia. [online] Available at: https://jbrown67.deviantart.com/art/Ancient-Mesopotamia-365518394 [Accessed 30 Jan. 2018].
IrishCentral.com. (2018). The Tuatha De Danann: Were they Irish gods or aliens? (PHOTOS). [online] Available at: https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/ancestry/the-tuatha-de-danann-were-they-irish-gods-or-aliens-photos [Accessed 30 Jan. 2018].
Gregory and Yeats, W. (2000). Complete Irish mythology. London: Chancellor Press.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001)
Sento image 2 : http://www.elginpk.com/worsley1718_1/xiao/