Project 2: Open-space relief sculpture


  • 3D wall sculpture protruding out from the wall approximately 300mm

  • Dynamic composition

  • “open-space” construction – searching the web took me to “Studio Codex” which explains this as a sculpture which has openings/holes, or protrudes out into space – i.e. not appearing as a single solid object.

  • Using a selection of lengths of softwood of various dimensions, e.g. 1×1, 2×1, 2×2, 3×2. Inches

I felt I needed to start this project with more of an idea than the first one.

Sea Groynes

One initial idea was to do something based on sea groynes:


Whilst this would protrude out of the wall, I wasn’t sure if it sufficiently fulfilled the “open-space” requirement.

Mulling over the issue I remembered the work of Ursula Von Rydingsvard I had viewed at her recent exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Ursula Von Rydingsvard

Her large sculptures are mostly constructed out of 2”x4” or 4”x4” cedar planks, cut with a circular saw. These fit together to give a grid appearance from the ends, with the saw marks evident and part of the design, enhanced by the use of graphite to stain them which also gives them an old appearance.


Two large cedar and graphite sculptures


“Bronze Bowl with Lace, 2013-14”, cast in bronze, but the initial model was in cedar, so retains its texture and feel.

Her sculptures in cedar are all very large scale works, so if I was to work in this way it would need to be on a much smaller scale. In my mind I put her work together with my “residencies” ideas and began to come up with an idea.


With the full title of “residencies – homes for unknown creatures”, this is an idea I have been mulling over for a while and which already has some partially complete sculptures:

Hanging cage - steel - 54cm x 27cm x 16cm Cage in tree - steel - 30cm x 22cm x 19cm

Hanging cage – steel – 54cm x 27cm x 16cm
Cage in tree – steel – 30cm x 22cm x 19cm

Basically a themed set of sculptures based on the homes of creatures – cocoons, birds nests, caves, etc.

One possibility might be to put this together with Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s working methods to produce a “residency” as a relief sculpture? I think it’d blow the proposed 10 hour time suggestion out of the water, but could be fun to do!

Having googled images of cocoons, I think I’m more imagining a nest actually, especially as I picture an entrance.

I tried sketching this idea, but I can picture it in my mind much better than I can draw it!


I decided to scrub the branch idea as it was getting into carving more than construction so was deviating off subject.


I thought girders protruding from the baseboard would work well, but these would probably be best actually in metal which is again going off subject. So I left that idea and started on another.

Explosion of fire


The idea here was to have two wheels of wood, one rough and burnt, the other smooth and varnished. These would be on a painted background going from brown to red to indicate fire behind the burnt wood wheel.


Experiments with the wooden wheels, going beyond 5 pieces looked too messy.


Only 5 pieces did not protrude anywhere near the suggested 30cm from the wall, so I added some extra pieces sticking out with the thought that these could also be used to support the main pieces.


Working out possible arrangements. I then sanded the wood and drilled a hole through the pieces (and half way through the top piece) so I could affix them with glue and dowelling pieces and played with the arrangement some more:


Then with the burnt wood added:


The baseboard painted:


This was cut out of laminated chipboard, primed, painted with acrylic gesso, painted fully in a purple/brown, then a grey randomly applied on top, then red, orange, and finally yellow. The thinking was to try to give the impression of a fire. My acrylic painting isn’t up to too much just yet, but I am going to work on this as a side project whilst I work through the sculpture course.

The pieces were fixed together by using glue and dowelling pieces through the central hole and also in the two places where they rested on each other. This gave a firm structure.

I drilled holes in the base of the protruding pieces and affixed them with glue and dowelling also. Two of the pieces were also affixed to the main piece using dowel rods in their sides.


The final piece with mirror plates on the back and hung on the wall.

A sketch of the piece in coloured pencils and charcoal:


Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

The background painting in this piece is too busy and uniform & is too much of an attempt to describe the theme directly (but doesn’t look close enough to this either!). I need to try to be more imaginative and get at the feeling of the fire. Working bigger and more fluidly in preliminary sketches would have helped this.

A backboard painting made after the completion of the sculpture which is more free (but could still be improved upon):


Is there a danger though that a bolder background could dominate the attention and distract from the sculpture? Maybe a plain colour would also work?

The burnt wood elements are also too clean, especially the bits which point outwards from the board exploding towards the viewer. Splitting these with an axe would have given a better rough and random element. Using matt varnish would also be an improvement as the shine on the gloss varnish doesn’t marry with the burnt wood.

As my tutor pointed out, the next obvious development is to have the burnt wood exploding out and off the baseboard of the sculpture. These shards could be hung from the ceiling using fishing wire.


Quality of outcome

Overall it is more adventurous than my first project, but it could go much further.

Demonstration of creativity

The sculpture is unique and imaginative. I find it hard to describe how I come about my sculpture ideas, but this piece came to mind in a design very similar to the finished piece. It could have been developed further to express the feeling of the exploding fire more, playing about with the materials and working outside the boundaries of the brief.


Again, this sculpture was not intentionally influenced by my research, but was arrived at through thinking about different possibilities using the course notes brief. In doing this I have again followed the brief too rigidly and moving beyond this would produce work which is more bold and adventurous.

This entry was posted in Stage 1 S. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *