Category Archives: Part 3

Project: A modelled organic abstraction of the human form – Initial drawings

I decided to plough straight into this project and produce some drawings before researching this field. For five life drawing sessions, I focussed on shapes which could be extracted from the figure and drew these.

Body lying down:

Body original Body sculpture

Upper body:

Upper body original Upper body sculpture

Leg:

Legs original Legs sculpture

Shoulder:

Shoulder 2 sculpture

Torso:

Torso original Torso sculpture

I really enjoyed doing these drawings and was pleased with the images I produced. They are similar to Henry Moore sculptures in many ways. However thinking it through, I realised that whilst I liked the drawings, I wasn’t sure I would like sculptures based on them. The key flaw for me is the smoothness of the surfaces, whereas I like to have some texture in my sculptures to provide more interest. So, how to add texture into these? Firstly, I needed to identify which drawing to take forwards. I narrowed it down to these two:

Torso sculpture Legs sculpture

The torso drawing already has texture added in the form of the cuts used to show the tattoos.

The legs sculpture drawing could have texture added to the recessed hole in the side, or on the knee area. I think this is the one I will take forwards. I think this sculpture would be easier to produce by carving it, but the course calls for modelling at this stage, so I will give it a go.

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Project: A modelled organic abstraction of the human form – Research

Henry Moore

Henry Moore is the most obvious sculptor to look at when investigating the organic abstraction of the human form, with the majority of his sculptures being of reclining figures.

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 18 July 2005.

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 18 July 2005.

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The surfaces of his sculptures are often smooth and many of my initial drawings in this part of the course are similar to his works in this way. The sculptures of his that I prefer though are those with more texture, like the two above.

Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth often used the human form for inspiration. Her early work was very figurative, but became more and more abstracted, with ‘The Family of Man’ coming a long way from the initial forms.

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I really like this work, the basic forms, the holes through the pieces, and the textures of the surfaces, all of which work brilliantly in bronze.

Jean Arp

Jean Arp created sculptures which reflected natural forms, although he created the form without a finished product in mind and titles his work afterwards, so his work is more relevant to the second project in this stage.

Tony Cragg

Tony Cragg sometimes uses the human figure for inspiration. Personally, I find his wavy sculptures interesting, but the overall effect is too overwhelming and discordant for my taste.

By Ninadanilova (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ninadanilova (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

John Isherwood

His artist statement says that “he does not imitate the body” (Isherwood, 2016), but many of them do have an obvious human form or organic shape influence. He works in stone, carving the surface with sinuous lines or grids to add texture and emphasise the shape and form of the pieces. Whilst stone carving is not an avenue I am going to explore, I particularly like the surface textures he uses in his ‘Truth’ and ‘Aletheia’ sculptures. From his website it is also interesting to see how his drawings explore similar patterns and textures to his sculptures, an area I need to develop myself.

Peter Randall-Page

Peter Randall-Page creates large organic shaped masses out of stone, again using surface texture to provide interest and accentuate the form.

By Anders Sandberg from Oxford, UK (Chain of events) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Anders Sandberg from Oxford, UK (Chain of events) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

His ‘Beneath the skin’ sculpture (above) is very similar to my back sketch and could well have had the same influences.

SEED

In ‘Seed’ (above) and ‘Fruit of mythological trees’, he explores themes similar to some of the artists I follow – Geoff Rushton and Anna Whitehouse – taking inspiration from seed pods, or microscopic photographs of pollen. This is an avenue I hope to have chance to explore also at some point.

William Tucker

For William Tucker, the human figure plays a large part in the shape of his sculptures. Some are more figurative than others, many are abstracted into barely recognisable forms. I’m not a great fan of his work though, I think it is the uniformity of the surface texture and bronze patina which puts me off and makes them look more like amorphous lumps.

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By Kamahele (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Overall

Of the work I have looked through in researching this area, the only sculptures from the organic abstraction of the human form which hold much appeal to me are those by Barbara Hepworth (and they have gone a long way from the original). I like the use of abstract figures in sculpture, but have yet to find many more abstracted forms which appeal. There are elements I can take from the other artists though.

References

Isherwood, J. (2016). Statement | Jon Isherwood. [online] Jonisherwood.com. Available at: http://jonisherwood.com/statement/ [Accessed 20 Jun. 2016].

Randall-Page, P. (2016). Peter Randall-Page, british artist. [online] Peterrandall-page.com. Available at: http://www.peterrandall-page.com/ [Accessed 20 Jun. 2016].

Royalacademy.org.uk. (2016). William Tucker | Artist | Royal Academy of Arts. [online] Available at: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/artist/william-tucker-ra#gallery [Accessed 20 Jun. 2016].

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Exhibition visit: Grizedale Forest

Grizedale Forest is owned by the Forestry Commission and apparently has “the first collection of site-specific art in the UK” (Forestry.gov.uk, 2016), started in 1977 and now containing around 40 sculptures.

For a site which has been around for so long, you would have thought they would be geared up for directing visitors to the sculptures, but this was sadly not the case. A pretty useless map could be purchased from the visitors centre, but this contained no information on what the sculptures were, only their number and location. There was also no information on how to find the sculptures in the forest. Some were obvious, but others were off the beaten track and only marked by decaying and overgrown wooden posts – something we only discovered after walking past two or three of them and therefore missing those sculptures.

That aside, forests planted for harvesting never make very interesting walks, so adding sculptures is a good way of pepping them up a little. Due to the size of the site though, they are a bit too sparsely dotted around.

Some of the sculptures we found are detailed below. I would have found out more about them, but the official interactive sculpture guide  (Grizedale Sculpture, 2016) is also awful, so I gave up looking!

grizedale-forest-walk-1 grizedale-forest-walk-6

Some Fern, Kerry Morrison, 1997 – very effective and striking sculpture

grizedale-forest-walk-9

Romeo, Rupert Ackroyd & Owen Bullet, sited 2013 – Totem like, interesting to look at briefly, but doesn’t keep my attention.

grizedale-forest-walk-12 grizedale-forest-walk-13 grizedale-forest-walk-14

Seed, Walter Bailey 1995 – I like the textures on this sculpture, although they could be more varied.

These sculptures like many in the forest are made entirely of wood, which do work and fit the surroundings, but don’t appeal to me as much as many other sculptures, confirming my like of mixed media in sculptures.

grizedale-forest-walk-17

Taking a Wall for a Walk, Andy Goldsworthy, 1987 – Effective, but now very overgrown so hard to see as a whole. His ambition “was for them to be absorbed back into the forest” (Grizedalesculpture.co.uk, 2016), so I guess that was the point, however a raised area nearby would be nice to be able to appreciate the shapes the wall forms.

Overall, I was glad I visited on the way home from a holiday in the Lakes on a dull day and not gone there especially to visit the sculptures. In an area of beautiful scenery this isn’t somewhere I would chose to go over walking in the nearby mountains.

References

Forestry.gov.uk. (2016). Art & Sculptures (England). [online] Available at: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/artroots [Accessed 18 Oct. 2016].

Grizedale Sculpture. (2016). Interactive Sculpture Guide. [online] Available at: http://www.grizedalesculpture.org/interactive-sculpture-guide [Accessed 18 Oct. 2016].

Grizedalesculpture.co.uk. (2016). Taking a Wall for a Walk | Grizedale Sculpture. [online] Available at: http://www.grizedalesculpture.co.uk/taking-a-wall-for-a-walk/ [Accessed 18 Oct. 2016].

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Exhibition visit: ‘Metallic’ at Burghley House

I visited this exhibition when in the area with friends who weren’t quite as interested in the sculptures as I was, so it was a bit of a quick tour around them. I forgot to photograph the labels and information is sparse on the internet, so I don’t know the artist for most of the works.

There was a mix of sculptures with some looking contemporary and others looking quite dated.

burghley-house-1 burghley-house-2 burghley-house-3 burghley-house-4

These pieces were all by different artists and all quite interesting, but it confirmed to me that whilst I enjoy rusty surfaces, I like pieces to also have a contrast with the rusted surface, so most sculptures made entirely out of rusted steel don’t appeal to me. The exception to this was one of their permanent sculptures of a face.

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This sculpture did work for me using rusted steel alone. The incomplete face and the surface being made out of small sheets of steel with gaps between them worked well. The large scale also helped, making it an imposing piece. It could maybe have had more of an expression.

burghley-house-8 burghley-house-9

This was one of Jim Unsworth’s pieces (the reason I knew about this exhibition) and it reminded me very much of Caro’s work. This was my favourite of his three pieces here. The standing sculpture works well as a standing stone or figure, with the gaps in the piece framing and helping it to fit in with its surroundings. The colours and textures of the metal were also very pleasing.

burghley-house-10 burghley-house-11

I wasn’t as keen on this sculpture, but it was interesting in the way it used metal to paint a picture and tell a story. I also liked the way that the cut marks on the edge of the steel had been highlighted by painting them bright green.

burghley-house-12 burghley-house-13

A simple but effective archway. I have some plans to create an archway at our house, which I had planned to use bronze spheres welded to a steel framework. This method of joining could provide an easier and more contemporary way of joining the two materials though, so I may try using this in the future.

burghley-house-14 burghley-house-15

Finally, this permanent sculpture was also a very interesting one which told a story. The use of stone and shiny metal provided a very striking statement and the house on a long ladder prompted many questions. I see some similarities here with my ‘residency’ sculptures which I plan to pursue further at some point.

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Project: A modelled organic abstraction of the human form – Developed drawings

These were less ‘developed drawings’ than working out how to construct the form and of how the texture might be added to it:

sketchbook001 sketchbook002 sketchbook003 sketchbook004sketchbook011 sketchbook012 sketchbook013

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Project: A modelled organic abstraction of the human form – Sculpture

I initially thought I’d make a wire frame of the sculpture to start with, but didn’t have any strong enough wire

wire-knee

I then worked up a cardboard structure. I also went smaller than the first attempt, to allow the piece to be cast in bronze if it looked like it would work successfully in this medium, although this piece would seem to lend itself well to being translated into any size.

plaster-knee-1 plaster-knee-2

I filled in the form with plaster bandages, then added plaster to the surface.

plaster-knee-3

The surface was sanded and holes filled in with poyfilla until a smooth even surface was achieved.

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I did some sketchbook tests of different material and PVA, concluding that multiple layers of thin scrim would give me the most interesting results.

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This was added to the form

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Finally, it was painted in acrylic paint to try to give the appearance of being made of bronze.

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I then had an idea about the stand – I had planned to have it laid on its side, but this didn’t really work very well, nor did having it stood up. Having a 45 degree metal plate for it to sit on seemed to offer the ideal alternative, so this is what I constructed:

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Project: A modelled organic abstraction of the human form – Final Piece

organic-abstraction-1organic-abstraction-2organic-abstraction-3organic-abstraction-4organic-abstraction-5organic-abstraction-6organic-abstraction-7
‘Organic abstration’
34x30x11cm
Plaster, steel, fabric, acrylic paint

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Project: A modelled organic abstraction of the human form – Reflection

Artist Statement

‘Organic Abstraction’

Designed to be made out of bronze and steel, this plaster form started life as a life drawing of a model’s knee. The form was abstracted and created with a mixture of modelling and carving techniques before adding fabric and painting to represent a bronze patina. The base is painted steel.

Reflection

The transition from life drawing, to abstracted shape, to sculpture has worked well. The final sculpture retains similarities to the knee it was based on, but has become something much different now. It has similarities to sea shells or an alien egg shape.

The idea of the 45 degree steel base came to me as being painted blue, it seemed a very strong colour as I was painting it but I went for it and I think it does work well. It provides a strong contrast to the colours in the sculpture and emphasises the way it appears to float.

Development

This was an interesting sculpture to develop and make, but I don’t feel it fits with my ‘voice’ so I don’t plan to develop this theme any further at the moment.

The 45 degree base and making the sculpture appear to float is an interesting way of displaying it which could work well for other pieces in the future.

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Project Natural form: a direct abstract carving – Initial form

Having gone small in the previous project, I decided to go larger in this one, or at least initially large in the cast block. I used a full 25kg bag of plaster to cast a block in a trug (a round shape to start with seemed to fit the idea of carving a natural form better than casting in a rectangular block).

The idea of this project was to carve without initial drawings, so where to start! I made a few large cuts to create the initial shape, then got to work with the chisel.

The plan with this project was to not make drawings for your final sculpture at the outset of the project, but rather to make drawings during the carving process.

Creating a basic natural form came from making a few large cuts/shapes initially, then smoothing them off and changing the shape as I went along. This is the shape I then arrived at:

sketchbook018p1050393 p1050394

To be honest, this didn’t inspire me and I couldn’t think of any way to modify it to improve it. So I tidied up the shape I had. I tried sanding a section to see if that worked, but it didn’t suit a smooth surface, it needed some texture. So I went over the shape again with plaster modelling tools to give more pronounced texture and then sealed it with acrylic primer.

It was then painted again in bronze patina colours which worked better with this piece than the previous one.

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Project Natural form: a direct abstract carving – Development drawings

I tried a few sketches whilst going along and when the initial form was complete.

sketchbook018sketchbook019scan

However, I found it difficult to draw and struggled to get inspiration from the shape I had created. The idea of inserting spiked metal rods was to break the sculpture away from its initial appearance as a Henry Moore form.

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Project Natural form: a direct abstract carving – Final form

With metal rods added and the drill holes tidied up (I should have done this before painting the piece), this is how the piece looked:

organic-carving-1 organic-carving-2 organic-carving-3 organic-carving-4organic-carving-5 organic-carving-6 organic-carving-7 organic-carving-8

‘Organic carving’
39x31x32cm
Plaster, steel, acrylic paint

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Project Natural form: a direct abstract carving – Reflection

Reflection

The form I have created is quite pleasing, but it doesn’t mean anything to me. It was created through randomly carving shapes and I don’t feel it has any of my voice in the final sculpture. I prefer to start from an idea and develop this through to a finished piece than starting with a blank canvas.

I am pleased with the colours I have achieved in the painting of this form and also with the textures created using the plaster modelling tools.

The form has similarities to Henry Moore – something my tutor pleaded with me at the outset not to produce!

I have no doubt that the form is not more interesting due to my lack of inspiration and involvement in the process.

Development

As mentioned above, this is not my thing. I prefer modelling to carving, starting out with an idea rather than a blank canvas, and working in materials other than plaster. The painting and texturing will be carried forwards to other sculptures, but otherwise this is again not an area I plan on pursuing further.

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