Category Archives: Stage 5 S

Project 9 – Research


Henry Moore ‘Composition, 1931’

This sculpture was obviously modelled in clay or something similar before being carved in stone. This doesn’t seem to be a unified sculpture to me. The lines carved into it don’t seem to match the rounded form of the rest of the sculpture and look a little like an afterthought. Whilst you can see the references to the female figure in this work, it doesn’t gel together and just looks odd to me.

Barbara Hepworth ‘Two Forms, 1937’

These are two very pleasing forms which evoke a sense of calmness and serenity.

Barbara Hepworth ‘Pierced Form, 1931’

This is an odd shaped sculpture which is difficult to appreciate from the photograph. I can’t believe that Hepworth made a model for this sculpture before starting, it looks like it has taken its form whilst carving the stone.

Fritz Wotuba ‘Reclining Figure, 1960’

This is an interesting piece which is quite unusual in its geometric hard edges shapes which makes it look more constructed that carved out of stone.

Isamu Noguchi ‘Black Sun, 1961-2’ and ‘Study from a mill stone, 1961’

These are interesting forms and could be adapted to suit the circle of a tree trunk?

Etienne Hajdu ‘Delphine, 1960’

A very 2D sculpture which looks appealing in its simplicity and defined edges.

Morice Lipsi ‘Volvic Stone, 1958’

This is another interesting angular shape which could offer some inspiration for my work.


Henry Moore ‘Reclining Figure, 1945’

I have seen this sculpture, or one similar, in the Henry Moore exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It is an impressive piece of work, but I’m not sure it needs to be in wood. It doesn’t seem to benefit in any way from being in this medium as opposed to plaster/bronze/etc.

Barbara Hepworth ‘Single Form, 1935’

Am I missing something or is this just a sphere of wood? I can’t say this does anything for me.

William Turnbull ‘Llama, 1961’ and ‘Oedipus, 1962’

Whilst these sculptures do not appeal to me, the use of different materials to create a carved stacked sculpture does and could offer me some ideas for my own work.

Constantin Brancusi ‘The Sorceress, 1916’ and ‘Adam and Eve, 1921’

These are interesting wood carvings which are constructed in sections and pieced together on top of each other in a totem pole type arrangement. Using wood from my wood pile, this type of arrangement might work for me.

Constantin Brancusi ‘The Cock, 1924’

This is a much more simple shape and although probably carved in two pieces, works as a single piece on a base rather than a stacked arrangement as with the two pieces above. A simple shape like this could be a good starting point for my carving.

Ursula von Rydingsvard ‘Doolin, 1995-7’

Ursula carves cedar planks using a circular saw and places these planks together to form her large scale sculptures. I saw some of her work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and they were very impressive.

Shigeo Toya ‘Woods, 1987’

These Japanese artist uses a chainsaw to produce his carvings from tree trunks. This sculpture has very interesting abstract shapes carved into it and the colouring from charring and white acrylic paint works well together.


Tucker, W. (1992). The Language of sculpture. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Collins, J. (2007). Sculpture today. London: Phaidon Press Limited.

Hepworth, B. and Bowness, S. (2011). Barbara Hepworth, the plasters. Farnham, Surrey: Lund Humphries.

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Project 9: Drawings/ model in clay and cast block for a carved sculpture

Initial ideas

It is interesting that the course notes say “The sculptor starts by making a model in clay, drawing the form of the sculpture and transferring it to the stone”. This is a very broad statement which is not true in all cases. Barbara Hepworth did not use models before commencing on her sculptures, unless required by a commission, conceiving the sculpture in her mind. Similarly, I have talked to other sculptors who find the form of their sculpture by working on the wood/stone and seeing where it leads them to, with no clear idea at the outset.

One thing I do know at the outset of this stage is that I will not be working with stone. Having done a short evening class in stone carving and lost the feeling in some of my fingers for about a month, I know that this is not a good area for me to explore.

I will therefore try plaster as detailed in the course notes, and possibly also wood (although I may experience similar problems to stone if the wood is hard).

An area I enjoy is mixed media, so I will try to explore using more than one material in at least some of the sculptures.

Some ideas:

  • Volcano shape
  • Mounds like those of termites (continuing residencies theme)
  • Water worn gorge. Cast block and cut in half and carve inside
  • Cavern (similar idea to the above)
  • Curved tall shape with hole and radiating lines from it
  • Add string to a plaster sculpture in a way similar to Henry Moore’s ‘Head: Lines, 1955’?


Some sketches of some of my ideas:

S5 Sketchbook p1 S5 Sketchbook p2 S5 Sketchbook p3S5 Sketchbook p4 S5 Sketchbook p5S5 Sketchbook additional 1Initial sketches 1

Whilst this course is great in introducing many different methods of producing sculptures, I find it difficult to find inspiration at the start of each section when changing mediums and techniques.

This is the design I decided to go with:

Initial sketches 1

I am not massively inspired by this design, but as this stage is about practicing to carve I will stop procrastinating and get on and carve this sculpture.

Clay and drawings

A clay model of the sculpture:

Clay carving 1 Clay carving 2 Clay carving 3Clay carving 4 Clay carving 5 Clay carving 6

And a couple of large charcoal sketches of it:

Clay sketch 1 Clay sketch 2

Cast block

As my design was for a more rectangular shape, I produced the cast block in this shape rather than waste a lot of plaster.

Rectangular plaster

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Project 9 – Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills


My sketches for this project are not very developed as I still find it hard to sketch down what I can view in my head perfectly well! I also find it hard to quickly switch between sculpting methods as this course requires. So, rather than procrastinate, I went for an early idea as this stage seemed to be more about learning the carving process for which any shape would suffice.


The clay maquette is as I imagined it. It was pretty unstable as it was too wet to support itself properly, but it lasted whist I sculpted the plaster version.

Observational Skills:

The perspective on my charcoal drawings leaves something to be desired.

Design and Compositional Skills:

I think this sculpture is quite balanced and works fine as a maquette for the plaster version.

Quality of Outcome

Sufficient for its purpose as a maquette

Demonstration of Creativity

I could have worked on my initial sketches and developed them further, but wanted to get into the actual carving early on to gain some skills in that area.


Not particularly inspired by other artists, other than using Hepworth/Moore’s device of piercing the sculpture. The rest of the sculpture is more angular than their works though and doesn’t knowingly have any other artist’s influence.


Producing the maquette in clay helped to show weaknesses in my design (the cut lines) which I could then change when it came to the plaster version.

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Project 10: A carved sculpture

I didn’t take any photographs whilst carving this piece as I couldn’t locate my camera for a time, but this is what I ended up with:

Plaster carving 1

The plaster was quite easy to carve, although the down side of that was its propensity to flake off in sections where you didn’t want it to!

I drilled the hole using a wood drill in multiple locations and tried to make the edges smooth but textured the front and back with a curved carving chisel in a random fashion.

This would have been the point I carved in the design I had carved in my clay model, but I decided that this would be lost in the textured background so chose instead to glues on string:

Plaster carving 2 Plaster carving 3

I painted this in white gesso, filling in some bubble holes and sanding the edges to get them as smooth as possible. Then I proceeded to paint it. I see working in plaster as a step on the way to producing bronze (or similar) sculptures rather than an end in itself, so I aimed to get colours similar to that which would be achieved in bronze patination.

This started off well

Plaster carving paint1

Bling sculpture anyone?!

Plaster carving paint2

This is where I decided to call it a day and accept that my painting skills aren’t quite up to scratch!

Plaster carving final 1 Plaster carving final 2 Plaster carving final 3 Plaster carving final 4Plaster carving final 5 Plaster carving final 6 Plaster carving final 7 Plaster carving final 8

28 x 33 x 15cm
Plaster, string, acrylic

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Project 10 – Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills


My plaster could have been better mixed as I got some air bubbles which needed filling in once I’d completed the carving. Aside from that the rough and smooth sections work well together. The string works much better than the initial idea of cutting grooves into the material.


I got the effect I was after, so I think my techniques must be reasonably OK.

Observational Skills:

The piece is closely matched to the maquette (except for where I chose to alter it).

Design and Compositional Skills:

Apart from the alteration to use string, this was completed in the previous project

Quality of Outcome

Apart from some air bubbles in the plaster, the main issue with the quality of this sculpture is in its painting. I got close to the colours I was aiming for, but not as close as I wanted to!

Demonstration of Creativity

As for project 9


As with project 9, with the string idea originating from Henry Moore’s use of string on some of his plasters (e.g. ‘Head: Lines’ 1955).


A moderately successful project, but my painting skills could be improved.

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Research: Geoff Rushton

Xenoflora 1

Apart from a few artists working mainly with circular or chain saws (I do draw the line somewhere!), carving does not seem to be a very popular medium with today’s sculptors.

One artist I do know who works in wood is Geoff Rushton, so I went to visit him to learn about his work and the techniques he uses.

Geoff carves very delicate and intricate forms referencing forms found in nature, frequently those of seeds, spores and structures found in microscopic images. Whilst he has an idea in mind when he sets out to carve, it is developed as he carves and doesn’t come from a prepared sketch or maquette, not that you could make a maquette of such detailed forms!


Most of his sculptures are carved from hawthorn taken from the farm on which he lives, they are roughly cut into shape, then worked on with a power carver. I doubt many of his pieces could be produced using traditional tools as the power carver allows him to cut the wood to leave only tiny strands of wood to make up the structure.


It also allows him to create seemingly impossible shapes such as this one


A particular favourite piece of mine (which is why it lives in a display case in my lounge!) is ‘Mycogen’ (2013)


I asked Geoff about the inspiration for this piece:

Mycogen had 3 main influences, firstly wolf’s milk slime mould.

The second, which is where the name comes from, was from an Isaac Asimov novel, ‘Prelude to Foundation’, which I was reading at the time. In the book there’s a planet with a humungous population living on top of each other and mycogen is the food creating section of the planet, all the food is fungus based, hence the name.

I think the shape of the outer shell of walnuts was also an influence, there may be others, it’s hard to say because of the unplanned way I work but they were certainly the major ones.

These influences are clear in his work but the piece obviously just comes together as he works on it – something I can associate with!

Geoff’s blog details the stages in making his ‘Three Kings’ (2013) sculpture which is very interesting and will probably form the basis of the way I will work on a piece (although a much smaller one!).

Three Kings

Images by kind permission of Geoff Rushton.

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Assignment 5: Ideas

My initial ideas for this assignment are:

  • A disc shaped sculpture in plaster or wood (or both). Similar to Isamu Noguchi’s ‘Black Sun, 1961-2’ and ‘Study from a mill stone, 1961’, but including Barbara Hepworth holes and textures.
  • Continuing my work on ‘residencies’, I plan to sculpt another one of these in a style similar to Geoff Rushton’s work.
  • Fragment of stone/plaster/wood carved with graffiti – fragment of civilisation.

S5 Sketchbook p2 S5 Sketchbook p3S5 Sketchbook p7S5 Sketchbook p8S5 Sketchbook p9S5 Sketchbook p10S5 Sketchbook p11S5 Sketchbook p12

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Assignment 5: Disc

I made up some plaster in a large trug and then just smoothed the surface and left it to set…..

Round plaster

With the edges chiselled off and rounded:

Plaster disk 1

Deciding on the design:

S5 Sketchbook p13

Drawing on the design:

Plaster disk 2

Drilling holes:

Plaster disk 3

Carving the recessed elements on both sides:

Plaster disk 4 Plaster disk 5 Plaster disk 6

Then it was time to put my painting skills to the test again:

Plaster disk final 1 Plaster disk final 2 Plaster disk final 3Plaster disk final 4Plaster disk final 5Plaster disk final 6Plaster disk final 7Plaster disk final 8Plaster disk final 9

35 x 35 x 9 cm
Plaster, acrylic

Future development sketches:

S5 Sketchbook p4042 S5 Sketchbook p4043 S5 Sketchbook p4044P1030593 P1030594

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Assignment 5: Residencies

My thinking on this was to carve the basic shape of ‘Residency 8’ or similar, then carve the bulbous section more like the original inspiration of the thistle root. Depending on how long that takes me, the other possibility is to make it an intermediate stage between ‘residency under construction’ and ‘Residency 8’, i.e. have cut outs in some of the outer section revealing the underlying structure, or an almost complete residency.

The starting point was therefore to cut the initial rough shape. I had two options with the wood I had available, use a couple of firewood logs I have, or cut a section from the large cherry log. I decided to start out trying both and see which was the most successful.

Cherry residency 1 Cherry residency 2Branch residency 1 Residency blanks

I worked on the wood pile wood for longer than the cherry and got to this point:


However, my hands were beginning to suffer from the vibration and pressure, so this is where this one will stop for the time being. I may get it finished for the assessment, but unlikely.

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Assignment 5: Eye

I thought I could do a similar disc to the previous one but in wood – this would probably be best done using a lathe to get perfectly round, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway.

A friend gave me a couple of large logs of cherry, so I cut a slice off one of these to use as my initial shape. This wasn’t really round, so had to be sawed to a roughly round shape before starting to work on it.

The initial round (ish) shape

Wood disk 1

It was at this point that I decided to do something different with this. I explored a few ideas:

S5 Sketchbook p11 S5 Sketchbooka p3 S5 Sketchbooka p4 S5 Sketchbooka p1

Then, after having just had an eye appointment, it struck me that I could sculpt an eye with the veins going to the optic nerve. This was probably also inspired by recently looking at the work of Giuseppe Penone, in particular ‘Anatomia / Anatomy’ (2011) where he carved veins in marble. The veins could be carved to run around the outside of the disc (in reality they are a concave shape) and I could drill straight through where the optic nerve would be to allow viewers to look through it.

S5 Sketchbook p14Eye drawing 1 Eye drawing 2


Eye1 Eye2 Eye3Eye4 Eye5 Eye6

This was finished by painting the flat areas in black acrylic paint and waxing and polishing the raised veins:

Inward Looking 1 Inward Looking 2 Inward Looking 3Inward Looking 4 Inward Looking 5 Inward Looking 6

‘Inward looking’
18 x 20 x 6 cm
Cherry and acrylic

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Assignment 5: Appraisal of outcomes

Artist Statements


Taking inspiration from looking at works by Isamu Noguchi and Barbara Hepworth, with the design more inspired by the flow of water around obstructions (or holes in this case). I have chosen to emphasise the carving marks around the holes to show how it has been created and to provide contrast with the smooth raised areas. It has been painted to represent the colours that could be achieved if this sculpture was cast in bronze.

‘Inward looking’

This sculpture takes its shape from the lens of an eye with the raised areas depicting retinal blood vessels coming from the optic nerve, with the black colour from the pupil. The retinal blood vessels in an eye form a concave shape going towards the lens of the eye. However, with this sculpture the veins join together at the edges or go into the pupil in the centre, hence the name of this piece ‘Inward looking’. This sculpture also offers the viewer a very restricted view through the optic nerve hole, showing a fragment of the scene behind it. Inspired by Giuseppe Penone, in particular ‘Anatomia / Anatomy’ (2011) where he carved veins in marble, and also Geoff Rushton’s work.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills


Plaster (‘Untitled’)

My plaster could have been better mixed as I got some air bubbles which needed filling in once I’d completed the carving. Apart from that I am pleased with the surface finish I achieved.

Wood (‘Inward looking’)

Cherry seems to be a pretty hard wood, which meant it was difficult to carve, even using power tools which I thought would speed up the process.

Wood (incomplete ‘residency’)

I’m not sure what this wood is (sycamore maybe?) but it was easier to carve than the cherry.


I got on pretty well with plaster carving and already have plans to use it for other sculptures outside of the course.

Learning to power carve properly would take quite a long time, so I don’t think I’ve done too badly with my first attempt. My hands don’t take kindly to it though, so I don’t think I’ll pursue this avenue very far!

Observational Skills:

Both sculptures are well balanced, the colours chosen work well and the eye sculpture closely matches my sketches.

Design and Compositional Skills:

Again, mostly designed in my head and through working with the materials rather than from developing sketches, as this is the way I work best.

Quality of Outcome

I am pleased with the form and finish I have achieved in ‘Untitled’ and have been much more successful with the painting on this sculpture.

I am also pleased with the finish I have managed to achieve on ‘Inward Looking’. It would have been nice to do a much larger version of this sculpture, but that is beyond my abilities in carving (and my hand’s endurance!).

Demonstration of Creativity

‘Untitled’ was developed from working with the materials and playing around with possible shapes, mostly on the initial shape itself.

‘Inward looking’ takes multiple elements of the eye and rearranges them to form an interesting and unusual sculpture.


These works take inspiration from a number of sources, ‘Untitled’ came from looking at Isamu Noguchi and Barbara Hepworth, with the design more inspired by the flow of water around obstructions. The residencies follow on from my previous work, with inspiration from Geoff Rushton’s work. ‘Inward looking’ is inspired by Giuseppe Penone, in particular ‘Anatomia / Anatomy’ (2011) where he carved veins in marble, and also Geoff Rushton’s work.


I would have liked to explore the use of mixed media more in this work, but this is difficult to do when you have never used a material before. It would also have been nice to work on a larger scale, but for ‘Inward looking’ this would have to be done using a different media for me to be able to manage it.

Because I had new techniques to learn again, I kept things simple and didn’t develop some of my ideas as far as I could have done. Hopefully I will have more opportunity for this in sculpture 2 as I build on what I have learnt in this course.

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Assignment 5 – Tutor feedback


My tutor left some very positive feedback about my submission for this assignment, with my main failing being in my sketchbook work.

Assignment 5

I need to work much harder on documenting my inspiration for sculptures, working in my sketchbook to show the development of ideas which happen mostly in my head at the moment. I also need to work on sketches of how work could be developed in the future. He suggested 20 drawings of development ideas. I haven’t managed quite that many, but have added some of these to my blog.

My tutor would like to see more on my reflections of my work, but says that I am moving in the right direction, which is very encouraging.


He suggests printing out my blog as a bound copy as the inclusion of my other courses can make it hard to find the areas they need to see. I will look at this and see how my blog could be re-organised for the next courses also.


I need to comment more to show my opinions in relation to what I feel I can take away from looking at their work.


I need to be more robust with all the aspects of my drawing. This needs to be my key focus at the start of ‘Sculpture 2’.

Suggested reading and viewing

Eduardo Chillida

Suggested by my tutor as my ‘Untitled’ sculpture brought his work to mind.

His work is interesting, often made of steel or concrete and monumental in size. It is very angular in shape and usually makes use of a square rod shape bent into different shapes. My tutor suggested a link to his work after talking about combining the naturalistic, with a sort of cosmic geometry. I get what he was saying about these elements in my work, but I am struggling to see the same link in Eduardo’s work. Despite their very blocky form, they do have a naturalistic feel about them from the semi-circular shapes that appear to be his trademark shape. I guess they could be considered cosmic in that the lines he uses sometimes feel like an alien language, or marks on a spaceship. Maybe this is the link he is making.

The simple form of his works makes them very suited to large outdoor sculptures. If his Mount Tindaya sculpture is ever completed it would take monumental to a whole new level. Despite this looking like a very impressive sculpture, which would be an amazing piece of engineering to complete, I do disagree with the large scale destruction and desecration of the mountain which would be required to make this project into a reality.

In terms of what I can take away from viewing his work, the bold simple lines carved in stone pieces like Lurra G-41, 1984 or Lurra G 167, 1990 are very effective and could be explored if the course requires carving in any future projects (might save my hands!). Also, the more I look at other artists, the more you can identify their different styles or motifs. Sculptors often also seem to work in 2D mediums as well and these styles/motifs carry through to these pictures. I know I need to improve my sketchbook work, so trying to expand my ideas into different mediums would be a good thing to try more of. Nothing else immediately springs to mind, but as with most inspiration, it may come after a while of mulling it over.

David Nash

David Nash works predominantly in wood, utilising a chainsaw or axe to shape the wood, and often a blowtorch to char it, or working with living trees to shape them into regular forms. I quite like his work, but the one piece which really works well for me is his ‘blue ring’, a blue pastel ring accompanied by a ring of bluebell seeds which is shown in the Royal Academy video here. I think this piece is one I am most likely to take away and use in my own work, but time will tell.

Black sphere is also interesting and reminiscent of Ursula Von Rydingsvard. The regular grooves around this sphere work better for me than some of his more naturalistic forms.


I need to choose around 15 and no more than 20 of my best sculptures which show my development through this course. He also suggests including a DVD of my videos and the audio file from our Skype tutorial.

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