Cowlick

Cowlick

2020

Wooden dowels, 3D Printed fittings, Pleather, Vegan suede cord, Rugging canvas, Velcro

150x150x150cm

A large scale, flatpack geodesic sphere titled Cowlick. Cowlick’s structure is made up of 90 wooden dowels, 60 3D Printed fittings and 20 hexagon and 12 pentagon pleather panels that have been rugged with vegan suede cord using a latch hook tool. 

From previous research concerning phenomenology, I concluded that to fully understand topological forms you need to physically feel the form being presented. Therefore, I focused on methods to encourage participation. The topological theory I aimed to bring into reality was the Hairy Ball Theory which states ‘if a sphere were covered in hair you wouldn’t be able to brush it without getting a cowlick’. This statement challenges the reader/viewer, it incorporates the daily and approachable task of grooming in an unfamiliar setting. According to Flow Theory these combining factors can stimulate flow and lead to understanding. Another topological saying is ‘a cow is the world’. The cow would inflate, and the head, legs and tail would shrink leaving a sphere with a pattern similar to that of the world map. Because both of these sayings incorporate ‘cow’ and ‘sphere’ I’ve decided to produce them as an ongoing series with other livestock. I describe Cowlick as a topological cow and with such comes many environmental and animal welfare associations. To be able to navigate these associations I undertook research around agriculture and the impact it has on our environment. Documentaries such as Cowspiracy and Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken, outlined how much of the Earth’s resources are used on raising livestock as well as their contribution to greenhouse gases. I decided to continue my practice as a hybrid of topology and sustainability. This concern of sustainability extends to my use of materials and how large sculptures are transported to exhibitions. I therefore designed and implemented a flatpack system that would reduce this issue. Although designed for this purpose on an exhibiting level I also found it extremely easy to transport and de/install for photoshoots in rural locations. 

As hair was the focal point of the concept, I chose to make Cowlick a Highland cow because of their distinct, long, wavy hair. I also decided that I’d use seduction to encourage participation. This was a key aspect when deciding on what materials would be the most appropriate. I originally used brown wool roving to create thick locks of hair. Although visually effective on a maquette, when I scaled the work up into panels it looked matted and unpleasant. I considered that this might be because of the colour brown, and composed a materials catalogue to discuss colours and textures. I concluded that I wanted the form to be recognised as a Highland cow, so it needed to be brown. I then reviewed the work of Siobhan Hapaska, specifically her Snake and Apple series, in which her sculptures consist of steel frames cladded with artificial snakeskin; this creates a luxurious association to high fashion, which uses real snakeskin for boots and handbags. This led me to options such as leather, suede and cowhide and their artificial alternatives. I debated using genuine materials to make the work as it would reduce waste from the meat industry, but the artificial options are made from petroleum and don’t biodegrade. Ideally I would’ve liked to use a plant based leather made from mushrooms, pineapple leaves or corn husks, however I was unable to find a producer that could make sheets large enough for Cowlick’s scale. I decided to compromise and use the artificial material, as I was potentially planning to display the work amongst a herd of cows, and felt it would be unethical to use cow biproducts. As my practice develops, I plan to design the ‘a cow is like the world’ sculpture through sustainable sourcing/producing of materials. Although I know the structure is a geodesic-sphere, I personally was inspired by a football which uses this same structure. It reinforces the link to interaction and play. 

More information on the production of Cowlick can be found on my blog.

Cowlick: The Process
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