Category Archives: Stage 2 S

Project 3 Research

Course suggested research

Andre Volten

‘Architectonic Construction’ 1958

Looking at sculptures in the course book is very deceptive as I had this down as a wooden sculpture until I found it on the web and realised it was in brass and marble. It is easy to see how this probably started life as a wooden maquette though. Constructed of simple geometric shapes of triangles and square section, it looks more like a constructed sculpture than a stacked one to me though. I like it’s simplicity though.

Some of his other work seems to fall better into this category. ‘Column’ , ‘Cube’ or ‘Sign’ for instance.

David Smith

‘Cubi IX’ 1961

This is much more like a stacked construction and presumably more like what I will be producing with the hundreds of matchboxes I have just got (I must think of a sculpture to use several thousand matches now!).

Again, another deceptive image (even when it is in colour this time). I would have put this down as brass when it is in fact stainless steel. Again, it is a nice simple structure which I like. It looks like he has used some interesting marks on the surface too, possibly from a grinding wheel?

A piece of his which I really like (but doesn’t fall under the stacked sculpture category) is his ‘Royal Bird’ 1948. As well as being interesting to see that you can join steel, bronze and stainless steel together, it is a very interesting piece with lots to occupy your attention. Some of his similar work starts to look a bit cluttered and messy, but this one remains a very pleasing sculpture as a whole.

William Turnbull

‘Llama’ 1961 and ‘Oedipus’ 1962

These are made of bronze, rosewood and stone. I can’t say that these do anything for me. I don’t find the individual parts or the whole sculpture to be very interesting. Looking through his other work, these also don’t appeal to me, so I will move on!

Hans Aeschbacher

‘Figure XI’ 1960

Again, this doesn’t appeal to me as it seems too bulky, although always difficult to judge from a black and white image. I also can’t find any sculptures of his on the internet of interest to me.

Kenneth Martin

‘Oscillation’ 1962

A spiral sculpture in bronze. Again, hard to judge from a picture, but it doesn’t leap off the page at me, nor do the few other works I can find on the internet.

Alexander Rodchenko

‘Construction of Distance’ 1920

This just seems like a few blocks of wood stuck together to me. I’m guessing they are coloured and maybe that adds to the sculpture when seen in the flesh, but again, another sculpture which does nothing for me.

Rodchenko’s ‘Spatial Construction no. 12’ 1920 is more appealing to me, but doesn’t fall within the stacked construction category.

Comparison of liked and disliked sculpture


Further research

Barbara Hepworth

Some of Hepworth’s sculptures fall into this category, e.g.:

‘Four-square (walk through)’ 1966

‘Three forms vertical (offering)’, 1967

‘Three part vertical’, 1971

‘The family of man’, 1970

The latter of these I have visited at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park:

P1010700 P1010701

Made of bronze, these are very striking and dominate their landscape surroundings. She uses very characteristic holes and carved out rectangles and leaves textural marks to add interest to the blocks. The blocks on the sculptures photographed are not aligned with each other, the twist adding interest and making a blocky sculpture less blocky (if that makes sense!). This also makes it more interesting from a number of angles, rather than just being designed to view from 1 or 2 angles. In contrast, this nearby sculpture of hers is best viewed from just two angles:

P1010706 P1010707


Various Artists on a sculpture trail in Birmingham

Jo Naden

Dove sculpture in bronze

Although in the description on his website he says that he is not aiming for an exact representation, these birds do look very lifelike and accurate. They have a patina which makes them look more like stone than bronze which is interesting.

June Ridgeway

Pots broken after biscuit firing and glazed separately before piecing together again.

These were interesting, but looking at her website, I actually prefer her whole pieces which use combustible materials (string/threads/organic material?) to create patterns on the top of her vessels – link.

This method of firing ceramics looks very interesting and I will have to have a go at it at some point.

Peter Walker

Peter Walker’s sculptures were angular animal shapes, made out of clay and then cast in bronze, then treated to look like rusty steel – the immediate question for me being, “why didn’t he make these out of steel in the first place?”!

I can’t find a link to a specific image on his website, but “Horse in Dynamic Form” was the style of sculpture I saw. His website is terrible to navigate though!

RSBA Gallery, Birmingham

Naomi Robinson

Naomi produces thrown ceramic vessels and whilst there isn’t anything remarkable for me about the vessels themselves, their decoration using black glaze with fragments of text exposed in unglazed areas is very effective – link.

Joan Sharma

Joan doesn’t seem to have her own website and the sculptor group she is a member of has a limited selection of her work to view.

The piece of hers I liked was a carved green/brown serpentine stone which had a lovely contrast of smooth and textured areas on it.

The sculptors group sounds like a fantastic idea and way to learn – a shame there isn’t anything like that in my area.

Birmingham Gallery | Castle Fine Art, ICC

Lorenzo Quinn

Lorenzo Quinn works mainly in metal using the human hand or figure in different ways.

‘During love’ Aluminium and the other pieces in this series are very simple but effective.

Some of his ‘Gravity’ series were here as well, but these didn’t work quite as well for me. Maybe it was a matter of scale? Or that they started to look a bit more mass produced and less individual? Or that the metal figures didn’t gel with the stone they were balanced on?

‘Draw your own time’ also was interesting, but didn’t grab hold of me.

Posted in Stage 2 S | Leave a comment

Bronze Casting Course – Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I went on a 5 day “Bronze Casting” course at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in August 2014, run by Chris Butler from Castle Arts Foundry (

Unlike the metal working course in May, I went prepared with ideas this time!

The first day and a half was spent ‘playing’ with wax and moulding our creations:

Working on my hand sculpture

Working on my hand sculpture

My 2 finished wax sculptures

My 2 finished wax sculptures

We were only supposed to create 2 pieces, but I had some time spare so created a third piece. The doughnut shape was considered doubtful whether it would work as it would be difficult to get it to dry in time, so I got to run my third piece up as well – bonus!

The next day and half was spent coating these with a ceramic shell (with time to spend looking at the sculptures in the park whilst they dried):

Shelling my extra sculpture

Shelling my extra sculpture

My hand sculpture with first shell on

My hand sculpture with first shell on

The shells drying

The shells drying

Then came the firing of the shells and pouring of the bronze:

Melting out the cup wax

Melting out the cup wax

Melting out the rest of the wax

Melting out the rest of the wax

Adding a glass fibre ceramic layer

Adding a glass fibre ceramic layer

Firing the shells

Firing the shells

Melting the bronze

Melting the bronze

Pouring the bronze

Pouring the bronze

Followed by breaking off the ceramic shell, cleaning them up, patinating, waxing and polishing:

Hammering off the shell

Hammering off the shell

Chiselling/scraping off the shell

Chiselling/scraping off the shell



I got the hand and sea-weeds done on the course, but the doughnut took another good few days to clean off all the ceramic shell!

My finished pieces (well the doughnut is fully finished, the other two are parts of bigger pieces which will be photographed again when they are complete):

Bronze 15






Yet again, another course at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone.

Bronze 17

(many thanks to Cintia Prieto for the majority of the photographs in this post – used with her permission)

Posted in Stage 2 S | Leave a comment

Project 3: Building three dimensional structures

Initial Ideas

Some of my sketches from playing around with matchboxes and gluing some together to form starting blocks:

Sketchbook036 Sketchbook045 Sketchbook044 Sketchbook043Sketchbook042 Sketchbook041 Sketchbook040 Sketchbook039Sketchbook038 Sketchbook037

Some starting ideas, and some arrangements which didn’t work…

First sculpture

The first idea from these sketches that struck me and stuck, was that of domino effect boxes tumbling towards a tower.


Now unconstrained by material constraints, the plan developed into a bronze hand flicking over the boxes, with the boxes constructed out of stainless steel, possibly on a wooden base?


This seemed like the obvious progression from the domino boxes, so I am not sure if it is Lorenzo Quinn inspired or just coincidence! Either way, I am quite keen to have a go at this sculpture.

There is unconstrained and then overly ambitious?! Hey, it just happens that I am booked on a bronze casting course at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and I have now got my welding kit setup and ready to go (well, after I build the welding bench it is!) – so anything is now possible! I now have my bronze project worked out, so will see how that goes and develop it from there.



After a fantastic 5 day bronze casting course, I have a bronze hand. In my original idea I envisaged a bronze (metal) coloured hand with stainless steel boxes. Having now cast the hand, I patinated it a brown/black colour, so shiny metal boxes now do not seem appropriate. Various types of metal are now on order, so I will experiment with different options and see what works best, but I am now thinking more along the lines of rusty metal boxes.

I also needed a base for the sculpture. I had a piece of pine left over from building the workshop dividing walls and decided to put that to use. On it’s own it was too light a colour so I distressed it (hit it with a hammer, punch and nail) and varnished it with a walnut varnish.

Back to the boxes…

Experiments with copper (silver soldered – more successful and TIG welded with bronze – less successful)

IMG_5525 IMG_5526

Experiments with TIG welded 3mm steel:


The steel ones were more like what I was after, and obviously allowed for the rusting effect I had in mind, so I carried on with these.

Having made enough of these, I then laid these out in the arrangement I had in mind:


This was now too cluttered, so I decided to ditch the tower:


I welded the boxes together and added rods to the base of the standing box to attach it to the base. I then decided to partially rust it which I then sealed with varnish:


Finally it was finished:

‘The flick’
Bronze, steel, wood
38 x 8 x 14cm

Hand1 Hand2 Hand3 Hand4

Second sculpture

Playing with matchboxes, the idea of a ‘bonfire’ of boxes with another single box with a match striking it as if to light the pyre came to mind. Mulling over this for a while it then seemed that the addition of a hand to this sculpture would also work well.


I started out imagining a wire frame hand and tried to make this. Using thick steel wire and a very thin brass(?) wire, I tried to sculpt a hand, but it was harder than I imagined!


I think a wire thickness somewhere between these two would work better as the thick one was a bit too tough, but the thin one far too thin to sculpt with. I need to stop buying more stuff for a while though, so rather than continue with this idea, needed to think of alternatives.

I was set on abandoning what I had done and starting again, however, mulling it over for a while, the idea of putting a cotton glove over the armature and dipping/filling with plaster came to mind (I have been playing with plaster moulds recently for bronze casting).


After some fettling up, it was then time to make a decision on colour. I decided that white was too stark for the hand (and the wire rust was staining it anyway), so decided to colour it with graphite. I shaved down a 9B pencil to dust and smeared it over the hand, then sealed it with the spray you use on graphite/charcoal drawings.

The ‘bonfire’ was to be a pile of boxes, so I painted them all white before sticking them together into a pile on a separate base.

P1020217 P1020218

The next decision was on a base to fit both elements and what colour to paint it. A few experiments in Photoshop and some mulling over in my sketchbook:

red basegrey base dark grey base brown base blue base black base

Dark grey was the conclusion and it turned out to be a good decision.

‘Pyromaniac no.1’
Plaster, wood, matchboxes, graphite, acrylic paint

IMG_5513 IMG_5515

Third sculpture

The third idea I went with was a tower. There are many ways in which this sculpture could be developed, but for this one I decided to stick with the 15cm base and matchboxes, especially given that the next assignment requires scaling up the models and that could be tricky with the other two pieces!

Some of the rejects:

IMG_5523 IMG_5524

I already have some idea of how these could be scaled up with a difference, using wire boxes and mobile elements in the style of Alexander Calder, so picked the final design with these future requirements in mind.

Sketchbook051 Sketchbook052

I used acrylic inks to try out a number of colour options:

Sketchbook055 Sketchbook056 Sketchbook057 Sketchbook058

Of these, the latter option worked best for me, but the blocks of colour were too plain and static for my liking. So I decided to paint them using a syringe filled with acrylic paint, letting the colour drip down the boxes and onto other boxes/the base.


The final piece:

Matchbox Tower
Matchboxes, wood, acrylic paint

IMG_5517 IMG_5518 IMG_5519 IMG_5520

Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Technical skills:

  • I welded the toppling boxes together on too high an amperage and melted the edges – this is hidden to some extent with the rusting.

  • there is the problem with the rust showing through on the plaster hand – I probably should have sealed the wire before adding the plaster.

  • The matchboxes in the ‘bonfire’ and in the tower sculpture were not painted enough to stop the matchbox design showing through in places.

Visual awareness:

  • I think the white boxes are too stark in the ‘bonfire’.


  • I think the materials used were good choices for all of these sculptures.


  • I am pleased with the composition of these sculptures.

Quality of Outcome

I am particularly please with my first sculpture, so may have to wait longer to start seeing the flaws in this one.

The second sculpture works well in the hand and matchbox section, but the ‘bonfire’ section is not as good and would probably be improved by the addition of graphite to these boxes as well?

The third sculpture is less interesting and developed than the other sculptures, but was created with the assignment piece in mind, which I hope will work well using this design.

Demonstration of Creativity

I think I have done much more to develop my ideas and experiment with materials/etc., than in the previous stage, and have continued to adapt the work as I have worked through producing it.


Some of my research work is showing through in these sculptures with my recent exposure to Lorenzo Quinn’s work probably having an influence on the bronze hand, and from there to the hand in the second sculpture.

Alexander Calder influenced the design of the third sculpture, but only in the way I have been thinking about how to develop the design moving into assignment 2.

The area I am still falling down on and know I need to improve on is my sketchbook work. I have signed up to be involved with the OCA sketchbook circle which might help with this and plan to develop these further.

Posted in Stage 2 S | Leave a comment

Project 4: Large drawings from maquettes

Following my tutor comments, I need to be much more adventurous with these drawings. The course notes ask for A2 drawings, but I have used A1 (or close to A1) for all of these to try to get myself to work more loosely.

Initial ideas:

  • Charcoal drawing of fire sculpture

  • Pastel drawing of bronze sculpture

  • Acrylic ink drawing of tower sculpture using a brush tied to a 3ft stick (following my tutor’s suggestion)

Matchbox tower drawings

The project 3 sculptures are in order of how the ideas came to me, which was actually the reverse of the completion times as the early sculptures took longer to realise. The tower sculpture was the first to be completed and so the first to be drawn.

I started out trying to draw these using a brush tied to a 3ft stick following my tutor’s suggestion. I used watered down black acrylic ink to start with:


I did a few of these, with little success. Then I tried adding colour to one of them:


I then tried another tack by drawing in the shapes in pencil and then adding acrylic paint using a square palette knife:


This was a better result, but had no tonal differences across it. I then tried again in media I am slightly more comfortable in, picking XL charcoal to work with this time:


Pyromaniac no.1 drawings

For the first of these, I decided to work in pastels. Starting with a coloured background (purple – colour not chosen, just the only coloured A1 sheet I had), I put in the background first, then added the rest, working in a landscape format


Changing the angle to suit a portrait format, I next drew this sculpture in graphite, using a large 9B graphite stick.


The Flick drawings

Working in a portrait format, I tried drawing this sculpture in charcoal first:


Then I decided to try pastels on a watercolour wash base.

Initial sketch in pencil:

flick drawing1a

Watercolour wash added:

flick drawing1b

Pastels on top:

flick drawing1c

Appraisal of Outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

My acrylic skills are poor at the moment which is something I plan to work on. I also struggle to work in a loose manner as suggested by my tutor.

I think the compositions of these drawings are good, although I only drew the tower from one angle.

Quality of outcome

Matchbox tower:

The tower drawings show little variation in tone, something I find especially difficult to achieve when working in colour. The shapes and perspective aren’t very good on these either.

Pyromaniac no.1:

The graphite image has an uneven background (due to the unevenness of the drawing board I am using) which doesn’t work very well. The dark base of the sculpture shows up the sketchy pencil marks and is not a dense enough colour. The ‘pyre’ is not correctly drawn in relation to the base on which it sits (it should be central) and some of the boxes are not drawn correctly.

The pastel image is much more successful and better drawn – using a ruler to draw the straight edges has improved the depiction of the baseboard shapes. The angle on the hand baseboard is wrong though, it is too pointy at the front and too tight an angle as it goes behind the hand. Deeper shadows would also improve this drawing.

The flick:

I think the charcoal image works well here, although more tonal variation would improve it.

Pastels on a watercolour base also work well. I think the drips from the brown watercolour wash would be improved if they were carried throughout the other washes. The hand is the weakest area of this drawing and I struggled to get the different colours in the bronze.

Demonstration of creativity

I tried my tutors’ suggestion to loosen up my drawings, but have not achieved this yet.

Trying pastels over a watercolour base worked well and I will try this again in the future. The other mediums used were ‘safer’ options that I knew I was happier using.


The idea of using pastels on a watercolour base came after reading an article which described this in a painting magazine. Otherwise I am not sure what else to put under this category for these drawings, save perhaps that I should have performed some drawing experiments in my sketchbook before embarking on the large drawings.

Posted in Stage 2 S | Leave a comment

Assignment 2: Large stacked structures

The brief for this assignment is to create a model 4 times the size of the maquettes created in Project 3, one in plain cardboard boxes painted, the other utilising more textured surfaces.

I have deviated from the brief in project 3, so have no simple matchbox maquettes to work from (apart from the one I have an idea in mind for already), so I will have to continue this deviation into this assignment!

1st Sculpture

The tower of matchboxes was created with its development to this size in mind:


I wasn’t sure what I was going to create the solid boxes out of, but I had the idea for the wire framed boxes, so started with those.

The original plan was to create metal boxes for the rest of this tower, but having almost run out of gas for my welder (and money to replace it!), a rethink was required. Following the successful use of walnut varnish on distressed wood for my first project 3 sculpture (actually finished after producing the wire framed boxes for this assignment), I liked the effect and thought I’d try using it in this piece as well. So I produced 2 “boxes” in this way from a solid block of wood to be the two “blue” boxes as the base of my sculpture.


For the final “green” box, I created a box from plywood and painted it initially in white, then after photographing it and trying out various colours in Photoshop, went for a light grey colour.

Light grey

The next question was how to hold all this lot together!

The base blocks were simple, I drilled holes and attached with dowling rods glued in. The wire boxes would need to be attached with wire staples (or that was the only way I could think of doing it), so I marked the location of these staples and drilled pilot holes before hammering in the staples.

The final sculpture:

Wood, steel, glass, stone, wire, acrylic paint

Tower 1 Tower 2 Tower 3Tower 4 Tower 5 Tower 6

2nd Sculpture

Whichever of my other maquettes I picked, I was going to need to sculpt a hand! I could either do this in the same way as in project 3 (although casting a bronze hand that size could be tricky – especially as I have no facilities to do so yet!), or I could modify the design. My idea was to try modelling with wire again and hope it was more successful than my attempt which led to the plaster hand.

I was also thinking about texture (bearing in mind the brief) and was thinking that I could also use different materials (sheet metal / wire mesh / knitted wire / fabric) wrapped around the wire frame of the hand.

Thinking this through further, I realised that I didn’t have any wire strong enough to construct this hand out of. I therefore decided to work with chicken wire. I created the fingers by wrapping the chicken wire around a drainpipe, wiring it together, removing it and shaping it further by hand.

The final wire hand:

P1020312 P1020313

I was quite happy with this, but it wasn’t quite there. I was considering stopping here and adding that papier-mâché could be used as a development of the piece, before deciding that I should just get on and do it now! So I added torn up newspaper covered in wallpaper paste to the wire frame.


This worked quite well, but the paper started to yellow in some places, so I decided that I needed to paint it as well.


White was far too stark a colour, so I added graphite in the same way as I had done with the maquettes – this time with a bag of graphite power (isn’t the internet great!) instead of having to shave a pencil.

The next development idea was that I could char the fingertips of the hand using a blowtorch to work into the pieces title. I thought the whole thing might go up in flames though, so decided to use charcoal on the fingertips instead. Unfortunately this didn’t show up much in comparison to the graphite covering.

The matchbox was created out of a cardboard box and I decided to paint this with acrylic paint to look like the original matchbox:


I didn’t have anything the right size for the match, so I glued 64 matches together (well I do have enough to last me more than a lifetime now!), then filled them with wood filler, sanded and painted them:


The final stage was to assemble these. I didn’t make a base for this sculpture, although a circular one like the displaying board I made that these are pictured on would work well as a base:

‘Pyromaniac no.2’
Wire, newspaper, matches, cardboard, sandpaper, acrylic paint, graphite, charcoal

Pyro2 1Pyro2 2Pyro2 3Pyro2 4Pyro2 5Pyro2 6

Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Technical skills:
1st sculpture

  • The welding on the open boxes is not great and I have got some distortion in the shape which causes the sculpture to lean somewhat. This is also compounded by the joining method of using staples, which has some slack in it which also adds to the lean.
  • The wires down to the glass and stone pieces are loose on the wire across the top of the boxes. These could be squeezed into place, but that would stop some of their movement, so it would have been better to have a loop in this wire in the centre to attach these wires to.

2nd sculpture

  • The papier-mâché hand could have done with an additional layer of chicken wire for strength and an additional layer of paper also.
  • I should have used gesso paint rather than the acrylic paint I used as this would have provided a better tooth for the graphite.
  • I should perhaps have risked burning the fingertips as using charcoal didn’t show up over the top of the graphite.

Visual awareness:
1st sculpture

  • The painted plywood box doesn’t fit in very well with the other elements in this sculpture. The original plan of a metal box may have worked better, or perhaps a different colour paint may have improved it?

2nd sculpture

  • Painting the cardboard matchbox to look like the original matchbox was a mistake I think – it would have looked better colouring this in graphite like the original maquette.


  • The materials used were interesting choices to experiment with, but didn’t all work well as detailed in some of the points above.


  • The composition worked as planned as these were scaled up versions of the project 3 sculptures. The lean which was introduced to the tower sculpture spoils the composition of this sculpture from certain angles.

Quality of Outcome

The first sculpture is moderately successful, it is close to how I had pictured it, but I don’t think it ‘works’ quite as well as I was expecting it to. The lean at certain angles is part of the problem, as is the grey box which doesn’t fit with the other elements as well as it could do.

The second sculpture developed from how I imagined it as it was produced. It is OK, but not a great work of art! The hand works quite well, but the matchbox is definitely not as good as it could have been. In preparing this blog post I have also realised that this sculpture no longer fits the title “Large Stacked Structures”, but hopefully that is not a problem!

I have photographed and filmed these pieces much more professionally than for the previous stage.

Demonstration of Creativity

I think I have develop my ideas well, ignored material constraints and experiment with materials/etc., and have continued to adapt the work as I have worked through producing it. Not all of this has worked successfully, but it is a learning process!


My research work into Lorenzo Quinn and Alexander Calder show in these pieces as described in the context section for Project 3.

The biggest area of improvement I am aware of is on my sketchbook – steps have been put in place to work on this.

Posted in Stage 2 S | Leave a comment

Assignment 2 – Tutor feedback

For this assignment, I had a Skype tutorial with my tutor to talk through the work I had produced. These notes are from this tutorial, the short written report my tutor provided and thinking about what we discussed afterwards.


My tutor was pleased with my progress from my first assignment, and I have made good steps forward from my first assignment. So he is going to push me and direct me to help me to be self critical and make decisions to re-jig sculptures if they are not making sense, to give them more life.

It was clear that I need to spend a lot more time reflecting on the sculptures I have produced, both in terms of working out what works/doesn’t work and why, and also to consider how other people will respond to the sculpture/what meaning it portrays.

Project 3: Building three-dimensional structures

My tutor thought that ‘The flick’ was too staged, too illustrative. When the viewer comes along, are they convinced my the scenario? Does the hovering of the hand work more successfully than the staged metal domino’s? He suggested that taking the boxes away might achieve a more successful or different outcome. Does this create a more unusual sculpture – what would the hand be pointing at?

In producing this sculpture I had an idea in mind and, although this idea changed as I went along, I did end up producing the sculpture I had envisaged. What my tutor is saying is that I need to question these ideas as I go along and be prepared to change this, drastically if necessary.

He suggested that in modelling the hand and placing it in a situation that implies realism, I could have cast my hand instead. Has the process of modelling it given it a sense of the uncanny to the hand? I particularly like the marks from the modelling process, I think they make the hand work, and I didn’t want it to be too real. But maybe as my tutor suggests, putting the hand in the situation it is in, makes it need to be more real? Maybe its situation means that the non-realness is lost. I think the hand on it’s own does work better as a sculpture and maybe I was being too constrained by the brief in keeping some constructed elements in the work. The modelled hand provides more of a sense of the unreal, which is then removed by the staged metal dominoes. He suggested that I look at the drawings of Egon Schiele to see the sense of the human form describing something beyond itself. Looking at his work, they certainly have an energy and expressiveness, with an interesting use of unreal colours. They have passion and convey a message, but they are not pictures I would have hanging on my wall – something I will come back to at the end of this post.

The bonfire sculpture is again an illustrative piece with a hand striking a match to light the pile of matches. He pushed me to describe the contrast between the constructed metaphor for a bonfire and the hand – there is something curious in terms of scale with the height of the fire and the hand – there is a sense of narrative between the two things – there is something interesting in putting the two elements together which works. However, the match lighting the matchbox feels a bit jokey, or kitsch, which doesn’t fit in with the rest of the sculpture. He suggested that if it was a maquette for a larger sculpture, it could be similar to a Claes Oldenburg sculpture due to this.

I am setting myself too strong a conceptual brief which I am sticking to rigidly. What would happen if the two elements in this sculpture were fused together? I am being very illustrative of my ideas, more time needs to be spent playing with the materials.

My tutor suggested looking at artists who deal with sculpture as a representation of an idea, such as Michael Craig Martin – This artist relies on belief of the artist and viewer and believes that these are key to a piece of art. In his work ‘An Oak Tree’ he “de-constructed the work of art in such a way as to reveal its single basic and essential element”, the belief that a glass of water on a shelf was in fact an oak tree. Do I get it? No. Do I like it? No, not really! Again, something to come back to.

Another artist he suggested I look at was Ryan Gander – whilst I like some of his work, ‘More really shiny things that don’t mean anything, 2011’ for instance looks interesting and I see the message it is presenting, or ‘Tell my mother not to worry (II) 2012’ has a playful way of using unexpected materials. However, other work such as ‘The way things collide (macaroon, meet stool), 2012’ or ‘Associative Ghost Template # 3, 2012’, I don’t “get” – they don’t seem to be saying anything to me and they don’t seem to be that interesting in themselves.

Other artists my tutor suggested to look at were William Tucker and Paul McCarthy. William Tucker’s work looks sterile to me – I can’t see the ‘story’ in much of his work and the imagery of it does not appeal to me. Equally Paul McCarthy’s work is also not appealing – why create silicone sculptures of White Snow Dwarf’s? – unless I am missing something from the images, they don’t appear to be saying anything much? The silicone looks eaten away in places on these models which introduces some interesting textures, but as a whole they don’t appeal to me any more than a plastic model of the dwarf would in a Disney store.

Narrative/illustrative art is art which tells a story – this used to be the case with much art up to the twentieth century, but it seems to be frowned upon now. Should it be?

Project 4: Large drawings from maquettes

I wasn’t a fan of my drawings made with a brush on a long stick and thought they looked like a bit of a dogs dinner, but my tutor thought they had more life and potential, and that the pastel drawings of the bronze hand were not convincing and felt lifeless in comparison.

He is trying to get me to introduce energy into my work – I am so aware of what I am doing, it is sometimes important to do things which are outside my comfort zone.

The drawings of the matchboxes could lead on to something else, whereas the others more records of the sculptures which don’t take you anywhere, or make you look at them in a different way. I need to look at these kind of drawings as a means to develop the sculptures.

Assignment 2: Large stacked structures

I need to think about how the viewer ‘reads’ my work, what does the symbolism ‘English’ in the matchbox mean? In this case it was what the matchbox had written on it and so had no ‘meaning’ for me when I was making it, but for someone else viewing it, that text could be very significant. It could be challenging something about Britishness, or entering into a social/political debate. I have a lot of thinking to do about my next sculptures! I have to be willing to challenge myself with what the meaning of my work might be.


I need to spend more time on reflection of the work and be much more self-critical – points covered in the notes above.

In my research, he advised that I choose a few artists to research and comment on that I am passionate about, and to do this in much greater depth than I have been doing so far.


My sketchbook needs to be used in greater depth for the next assignment.

Conceptual art

I think my tutor is trying to lead me down the road to conceptual art – a route I am prepared to try, but I am very wary of! Obviously art should have meaning or mystery, but when the meaning becomes all and the beauty / interest of the sculpture goes, then that is when I get off! I can’t see the point of art which cannot be appreciated without a story behind it – I think that story can reinforce / add to the art, but I think a piece of art should stand up on it’s own, with no knowledge of why that piece of art was created, or what it intends to depict. I don’t want to be producing “poncey” art!

I want to produce art that can be appreciated by the masses. That may not be very ‘modern’, but that is the art I enjoy, and so I can aim for little else I think. The art I produce could have much deeper meaning for those who understood it / thought about it more, but I don’t want to produce work which alienates people and reinforces the ‘all modern art is rubbish’ point of view.

Stage 3

My tutor advised me to just concentrate on modelling and responding to the materials in the next stage of the course and see where it leads me.

Posted in Stage 2 S | Leave a comment