David Nittmann - Two Grey Hills

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Inspired by a rug purchased on his way through the Monument Valley, David Nittmann used the pattern to create a wonderful backdrop for this magnificent basket illusion bowl

Two Grey Hills, 2011, jelutong, 305mm high x 330mm dia.

A slow drive from Boulder, Colorado to Desert Roundup, a biennial woodturning symposium held in Mesa Arizona, found David winding his way through Monument Valley. He stopped at the famous Kerley Trading Post and purchased a Two Grey Hills rug - that he couldn't afford - to use as a backdrop for a basket illusion bowl just finished for the show. Presentation is everything, in David's opinion. He didn't sell the bowl but he had several enquiries to acquire Julia Wesley's rug. He kept the rug. It's unique. Julia used a Granado red atypical of the muted colour of Two Grey Hills patterns. He continues to be enamoured with this unusual touch of colour.

Two Grey Hills is a Navajo region near the '4 Corners', the area where the states Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona all meet. The hand woven rugs that originate from this region are some of the finest produced. The finer yarn and skill of the weaver allow for the emergence of intricate geometric forms that cover the entire weaving, while a border around the perimeter of the textile is the norm. These features are consistent with his signature work, the visual and tactile illusion of a woven form.

Upon returning to his studio David decided to create an artwork that would evoke Julia's rug. A Southwest shape made from jelutong (Dyera costulata) turned out to be a difficult hollowing job requiring a steadyrest. His usual beading and radial burning followed. Then needed was a geometric design to embellish the vessel that would emulate the rug. Using archival quality acrylic paint and his Grex 0.2mm airbrush, he concentrated on matching the greys but decided against copying Julia's red and introduced a more subdued variation. Four spirals adorn the vessel portraying the '4 Corners'. Look closely at the shading; it is typical of the sunsets in that region. The result is this basket illusion vessel: 'Two Grey Hills'.