31 oct 2019

argillaceous/ˌɑːdʒɪˈleɪʃəs/ adjective Geology adjective:


  1. (of rocks or sediment) consisting of or containing clay

…form is death, form giving is life…Art does not reproduce the visible, but makes visible

-Paul Klee

Ingold, T. (2011) Being alive: essays on movement, knowledge and description. London: Routledge.

Tsing, A.L. (2015) The mushroom at the end of the world: on the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


by Katalina Caliendo

Anthropologist Tim Ingold uses textility to describe processes of inscriptions or tracings in the production of material artworks, goods, or things. This excerpt from my recent BA dissertation applies this theory to explore the variety of ways one can concieve of matter and form.

…In positing [this] process-centred ontology, Ingold dismantles and challenges well entrenched Aristotelian constructs, particularly those that highlight the union of “matter” and “form” as the basis of making (Ingold, 2011). Contending these relations are not between matter and form, but between materials and forces, Ingold suggests it is a “question not of imposing preconceived forms on inert matter but intervening in the fields of force and currents of material wherein forms are generated,” (Ingold, 2011, pp. 210-11). Ingold introduces the notion of textility (see above) as a means to describe the terms of negotiation makers use when navigating heterogeneous materials, forces, and tensions ( Ingold, 2011). Here the carpenter is portrayed more like a weaver, responding to the undulations and densities of the fibre’s material. As such, it is the way heterogenous materials, enlivened by forces of tension and compression, mix with one another that “things” are made:

forms of objects are not imposed from above but grow from the mutual involvement of people and materials in an environment. The surface of nature is thus an illusion: we work from within the world, not upon it. There are surfaces of course, but these divide states of matter, not matter from mind. And they emerge within the form-generating process, rather than pre-existing as a condition for it (Ingold, 2000, p.165).

Specifically looking to more-than-human makers helps illustrate this contention. Human and more-than human making are both cultivated from the world and craft the world. Materials generate form through the negotiations of force between actants-—between carpenter and wood, between weaverbird and beak, between the mud, willow, water, and beaver. A process-centred ontological restructuring, derived from both Ingold and Bennett, helps re-position more-than-human actants as catalysts for world-making. Furthermore, framing more-than-human actants as world-makers presents an opportunity to more meaningfully reflect on how our human making practices are integrally linked to larger ecologies and assemblages. In anthropologist Anna Tsing’s recent polemic, Mushroom at the End of the World (2015), making processes across multiple species are presented as a means to strategise and plan for collaborative survival:

making worlds is not limited to humans. We know that beavers shape streams as they make dams, canals and lodges; in fact, all organisms make ecological living places, altering earth, air, and water. Without the ability to make workable living arrangements, species would die out. In the process each organism changes everyone’s world, bacteria made our oxygen atmosphere, and plants help to maintain it. Plants live on land because fungi made soil by digesting rocks. As these examples suggest, world-making projects can overlap, allowing room for more than one species. Humans, too, have always been involved in multi species world making. (Tsing, 2015, p22).

Aesthetic Foraging at Jacobs Ladder

Katalina Caliendo

Katalina Caliendo (2019)

As it can be for many others, long walks are both inspiring and rejuvenating to my practice and well being. My making practice has always been responsive to landscape, not only by the solace gained, but also how the act of walking adds to my visual collection of moments. While I often document this process of aesthetic foraging with photographs and found objects these choices are arbitrary to the overall experience, as it is in the time spent ruminating both during and after these walks that my ideas form. No matter where I have lived or where I travel time spent in this way materialises a greater intimacy with place and myself within in it. I am fascinated by how landscapes, environments, and the things that make them enlivened are continuously shaped by the symbiotic interactions and collaborative tensions between both life and non-life, the tangible and the intangible.

On a recent walk in the Peaks I took notes on long and short moments which struck me, the likes of which resolved in the beginnings of a novice poem.

I took a winter walk in the peaks with Sheenie before Christmas. We took the train from Manchester to Edale and walked from the train to the Pennine Way path and saw:

A gate with a map of the way with 1 large dead pigeon face down in leaves
A recessed pathway which was sunken below the banks where the roots of the trees were twisted in all directions, knotted together, clinging and strong, like sculptural greetings to the trail
The most brilliant reddish brown farewell from this seasons ferns on the hillsides
A straight flagstone pathway through crumbling sheepfolds
The mist moving low across the farmhouses
Sheep with cow print legs and long dreaded wool
A ruin in an enclosure
A stone bridge covered in mosses
And I saw:
A cairn with snowy hills behind it
Patches of ice on the limestone stairs of Jacobs Ladder
The heather sparkle in the bog when my boot fell into a sink hole
A stranger that helped us find our way that was was walking to find solace from the loss of a child
(his wife later told me after tea in their home )
The light move brilliantly across the expanse of tall grass-orbs, both shadow and reflection like the light of a solar eclipse
A red-orange sunset of California against the green meadows of England and through the tree silhouettes from my childhood in the Pacific Northwest
Places where fragments of both manufactured-tile and rock were aggregated together and then broken-up to create a path in the mud/earth

Katalina Caliendo (2019)
Katalina Caliendo (2019)

A Fragment of Stone Edgar Ward

Piece for Southwark Cathedral (2017), Edgar Ward

Edgar Ward is a sculptor with a background in architectural stone carving. He is currently in the first year of the MA in Ceramics at the Royal College of Art. He works with the tactile processes of carving stone and ceramic to make sculptures about his experiences of nature, architecture, and memory.

I kept a fragment of a sandstone carving that was removed from Southwark Cathedral in London during a restoration project I worked on. The carving is a stylised, almost abstract foliate form that curls up over the mouldings. These pieces of masonry are a part of the building’s exterior fabric. Southwark Cathedral has been rebuilt and restored many times in its long and turbulent history. There is still evidence of shrapnel damage from bombing during the Second World War.

At the end of the second year of my studies in architectural stone carving we had the opportunity to work on a project to replace a string course of over 40 carved “stiff leaf bosses.” We were given a design to work from based on the fragments that remained of the original string course. We were replacing eroded and pollution damaged Victorian carvings, they themselves were replacements of the original 16th century Gothic carvings. When we first observed the Victorian carvings from many meters below, we thought they looked lifeless and crude. However, once the scaffolding was set up for the installation of our new carvings we were able to see the originals up close. These twisting and undulating stone leaves were delicate and lively, while ours felt clunkier and less developed in comparison. It was a reminder of how much we still had to learn from the carvers of the past.

I took the fragment —which was intended for the archives—home with me because it reminds me of my place in a long line of stone carvers and is a symbol of the constant renewal and continuity of human civilisation. The tools that were used to make my interpretation of the design would have been almost identical to not only those of the Victorian carvers, but even the Roman stone masons that worked in London in the 1st century AD. My sandstone fragment is blackened and worn smooth and in my room— removed from its architectural context— has become strange and mysterious.

Object: Electric Vapour Diffuser [Essential Oils] Róisín O’Connor

Ruminating on how general well-being is informed by the sensorial environment Róisín O’Connor shares how daily rituals which engage us with our surrondings in reflective capacities help us better engage with objects sustainably .

“The object’s sole purpose is to produce something completely invisible, yet deeply sensed by an individual”.

As an object, the form is intrinsic to its utility. There were seemingly few considerations made in overall design or aesthetic; arguably it resembles a small ‘Tupperware’. The discreet white opaque plastic vessel sits quietly on my bedside table. It is filled with a small amount of water, and a few drops of oil. Then it is connected to an adapter and activated by a push-button, at which point it instantly evaporates and emits a vapour that is diffused into the atmosphere. The object’s sole purpose is to produce something completely invisible, yet deeply sensed by an individual. Meditation with aromatherapy has aided my mindfulness practice, as a daily exercise in helping to heal from the past, embrace the present, and not be fearful of the future.

Scent has been used for centuries in meditation practices around the world, and when used in mindfulness meditation, it can aid concentration in opening pathways for spiritual exploration.

Fern Fossils (2019), Róisín O’Connor

As a person living with Generalised Anxiety Disorder with panic attacks, meditation is invaluable for the stability of my psychological health.

Human skin is roughly 1.25mm thick and without an exoskeleton, only a keratinised layer of skin cells can protect our body from harmful pathogens and bacteria. But what of the harmful interactions with humans or our own opinions of self-worth; can harm done to the body on a neurological level impact the delicate balance of our psychological health? This is perhaps why I turned to fragrance to cure the anxieties I couldn’t see but could feel, as scent and emotion are part of the same invisible realm.