Project 8: Bas-relief

This section of the course looks more interesting to me and I will follow the course notes for this project.

Some initial ideas:

  • I could produce panels like those on F.E. McWilliam to then construct into a large sculpture?
  • Map panels?
  • Could I do one of my residency drawings in this way?
  • Cast in something light and make up a picture / door covering?
  • Could cast a head in sections and texture the surface with bas-relief?
  • Try brushing in graphite and rubbing off on surface?
  • Try blowtorching the clay surface to make it crack first?


The course notes suggest looking at two sculptors in this section, Eduardo Paolozzi and Henri Matisse.

Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005)

‘Japanese War God, 1958’

This is a sculpture I think is hard to appreciate from a small picture in a book. On initial viewing it looks to be very cluttered with lots and lots of information, and not a very aesthetic form. Investigating further, this is a large sculpture at 1.5m tall, so viewing it as a 10cm picture is going to be difficult. Even so, I think this has far too much information in it to be viewed at a distance (as I am effectively doing).

I’m sure some of the forms in this sculpture might provide inspiration, but not at the scale I am viewing it at.

‘Hermaphroditic Idol, no.1, 1962’ and ‘The City of the Circle and the Square, 1963’

These are very different sculptures, the forms are much simpler, make more use of repetition, and are mostly symmetrical.

The first of these reminds me of a gaudy fairground machine, which doesn’t do anything for me.

The second looks like a mishmash of a piano/building on a machine base. It makes me wonder what it is supposed to represent (no idea really!), but doesn’t appeal to me aesthetically.

I think they are both too blocky, regular and almost plastic – the kind of look you’d get on a cheap, mass produced plastic toy – part of that could be viewing large sculptures at a very small size, but that is the impression I get.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

‘The Back 1-1V, 1909-1929’

These are interesting in showing the process of abstraction, and that Matisse is returning to a sculpture that inspires him again and again, over 20 years in this case. It shows that if an idea grabs you, you should keep working on it until you perfect it – probably something which you never achieve! These look like they are carved bas-reliefs, so not produced in the same way as will be done in this project.

Julius Schmidt (1923 – present)

‘Cast Iron, 1961’

This wasn’t a suggested bas-relief to look at, but it looks like it could have been produced in this way? This is full of information like the first Paolozzi, but doesn’t look as cluttered in the same way. Perhaps this is because even at the scale of the picture, you can tell that there are lots of interesting things to look at, a cityscape on a war machine base reminiscent of a star-wars walker (maybe this is where the inspiration for them came from?).

Having looked into Julius Schmidt more closely, it looks like these were probably formed using core-sand casting – something which looks like an interesting process. I guess they could be done in bas-relief though.


Read, H. (1964). A concise history of modern sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson.

Julius Schmidt. (n.d.). 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: Schmidt.pdf [Accessed 25 Jun. 2015].

Test Tile

I started out with a test tile as suggested, pressing in various tools / cogs / etc.

P1030242P1030283 P1030284 P1030285 P1030286

I really liked the effect of some of these marks. The ones which particularly worked well were the tools, the fingers (particularly when wearing a rubber glove) and the tree branches.

Boxed logs

I decided in the end to go with the tree branches and construct a 6 panel box out of them. The thinking behind this being the trapping/compressing of irregular natural objects into a fixed regular container – representing mans need to control nature.

S4 Sketchbook additional 2S4 Sketchbook p24P1030243 P1030244

I cast 6 panels, then cut the edges at a 45 degree angle before fixing them together with glue and filling in any gaps.


As a finish, I painted it with gesso to give a white finish.

Wooden box 1b Wooden box 1e

I also tried adding charcoal (I was hoping to get finger marks with this, but it didn’t work out that way).

Wooden box 2a Wooden box 2b Wooden box 2cWooden box 2d Wooden box 2e Wooden box 2f Wooden box 2g

‘Wooden box’
38 x 45 x 40cm
Plaster, acrylic paint, charcoal

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