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Concrete Artists

Andrew Goss:
Concrete Work

Original Project
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Concrete Handbook
for Artists



Project Concepts

THIS PROJECT is materially based. It is about concrete and metal. But it is also about what they represent.

Two words are central: precious (or preciousness) and concrete (related to cement). I have documented definitions and word origins elsewhere on this site.

stoneWhen I use the word precious, I mean valuable, that which has value, based on its Latin origin: "price." This meaning has definite connections to jewellery, because of the terms "precious metals" and "precious gemstones."

When I use the word concrete, I mean the raw material, the mixture of portland cement, aggregate and water which becomes solid and hard. Its importance to the project is that we think of concrete (or cement) as a non-precious, or valueless material, the opposite of a precious metal.

This project will be ongoing for about one year (1998) and its purpose and parameters may change. Having said that...

engagementMy thesis is that real value is in the beauty, in the art or craft of what we make with our hands, our hearts and our minds, not in the preciousness or the cost of the material. Why is this important? Because a lot of jewellery has been tied to preciousness: the so-called rarity of diamonds, the value of gold determined by international speculation.

An international movement took place among some artist-jewellers in the late 1970's and early 1980's around this issue. Some of my own earlier work reflected these concerns, but the affluent late 80's seemed to stall this movement which I felt was beginning to free jewellers from the constraints of preciousness. Hopefully this project will resolve some of these issues, at least for myself.

    The idea for this project, then, is to explore a relationship of opposites, starting with the opposites of value:
  • metal is valued; concrete has little material value
  • metal can make a form; concrete fills a form
  • metal is hard, but ductile; concrete is soft, but hardens and is brittle
  • metal is a material of conscious deliberation; concrete is mindless
  • metal is stable, unchanging (unless it is cast); concrete is metamorphosed from dry, to wet, to hard

This project is not just theoretical --- I work with my hands and I make things. To quote Jacob Bronowski: "the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation...The hand is the cutting edge of the mind."

For another overview of this project, go to the article I wrote for the Metal Arts Guild's MAGazine.

~Andrew Goss

Last update: January 30, 1999.

This project made possible with the assistance of The Canada Council