Category Archives: Sculpture 1

Sculpture 1 assessment result


Demonstration of Technical & Visual Skills – 26/40 (65%)

Quality of Outcome – 12/20 (60%)

Demonstration of Creativity – 13/20 (65%)

Context – 9/20 (45%)

As the levels increase, the technical & visual skills decrease in importance and demonstration of creativity increases, but as these are at the same level that shouldn’t cause any problem. The area bringing my mark down though is the context mark.

Overall Comments and Feed Forward

Your drawing improved the more inventive and open your approach became as seen in the larger drawings. Endeavour to bring this approach into your sketchbook work which will help you develop this aspect of your practice further. Be determined to continue to take risks in your use of material and the ambition that you have for your work. Try to recognise when your processes are getting results and then exploit them in terms of content and concept.

You need much more reflective comment in the learning log both on your own work and the work of sculptors that you look at, including those working now and in the recent past. It is essential for level 2 that you become less descriptive and much more self critical and analytical in your comments and discussions.

I did think my result was going to be a bit better than this overall mark. It is only 2% higher than my printmaking course and I feel I have come quite a long way since this course. I also thought I had upped my game (admittedly not enough) in my “context” work, but I achieved the same mark as I did in the printmaking course. Still, my marks are going in the right direction, so hopefully I will continue in this manner.

Critical issues to address:

  • Sketchbook work – being more inventive and open, taking risks
  • Reflective comment – less descriptive and more self-critical and analytical
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My tutor suggested printing out and binding my blog to make it easier for the assessors to view. That would entail printing 189 pages, so instead I have produced PDF’s of my blog and bookmarked the different sections. Hopefully this will be OK.

Assessment selection

Images (submitted at A1 size) and artistic statements:

1) ‘Untitled’ – stage 1, assignment 1

Assessment page 1 sml

Created by playing around with the materials I had available, this sculpture has no conscious connection to any theme or artist.

2) ‘The flick’ – stage 2, project 3

Assessment page 2 sml

A modelled hand (based on my own) flicking over matchboxes in a domino effect, inspired by looking at Lorenzo Quinn’s work and the course notes describing the use of matchboxes.

3) ‘Tower’ – stage 2, assignment 2

Assessment page 3 sml

A development of a small scale stacked structure made out of matchboxes. The hanging glass elements of this sculpture are inspired by the mobile work of Alexander Calder.

4) ‘Flow’ – stage 3, project 6

Assessment page 4 sml

A development of my still life arrangement of a cloth over a box and bottles, this sculpture shows the organic flow of a substance though two dripping pillars, bringing destruction and oblivion.

5) ‘Residency No.5’ & ‘Residency No.8’ – stage 3, assignment 3

Assessment page 5 sml

A series of unusual sculptures in ceramic, split by rusted steel shelves. The development of the idea from a thistle root has retained the idea of what is above and below the surface, through splitting the work above and below a shelf. The work has developed from its origins, but retained a natural shape, dissected by an urban/industrial metal shelf. This provides contrast between the two elements, as well as raising questions about the piece and inviting speculation as to its origins and meaning.

6) ‘Untitled’ – stage 4, project 7

Assessment page 6 sml

This sculpture started off as an experiment with slip casting spheres and leftover plaster cast in plastic boxes. The use of unfired clay and using poured slip onto plaster to get it to crack up as it dried was inspired by the work of Adrián Villar Rojas.

7) ‘The flick 2’ – stage 4, project 7

Assessment page 7 sml

A casted repeat of my earlier ‘The flick’ sculpture. This time trying out casting from life and seeing how this sculpture works without the metal boxes of the original.

8) ‘Wooden box’ – stage 4, project 8

Assessment page 8 sml

A six-panel bas-relief sculpture forming a cube placed on one of its corners. This sculpture shows the trapping/compressing of irregular natural objects (tree branches) into a fixed regular container, representing man’s need to control nature.

9) ‘Esther’ – stage 4, assignment 4

Assessment page 9 sml

Inspired by life drawing classes and the challenge to first model a figure from life, then the technical achievements needed to produce a multi-part mould to cast such a complex shape in wax and then bronze.

10) ‘Landscape 1’, ‘Landscape 2’ & ‘Landscape 3’ – stage 4, assignment 4

Assessment page 10 sml

The landscape series consists of a 3D map tile, suspended above a metal construction representing grid lines on a map.

‘Landscape 1’ is cast in clear resin to represent the ‘perfect’ landscape.

‘Landscape 2’ is cast in clear wax with holes bored into the tile and filled with red candles and set alight. Representing man’s treatment of this landscape, with particular reference drilling for oil and the news images of the Kuwait oil fields alight.

‘Landscape 3’ is cast in ice which then melts in the sun, representing our ability to destroy the landscape through global warming.

11) ‘Untitled’ – stage 5, assignment 5

Assessment page 11 sml

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.

12) ‘Inward Looking’ – stage 5, assignment 5

Assessment page 12 sml

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 the work of Geoff Rushton.

Accompanying work

Because I often worked on large sheets of paper for my sketches, I have enclosed 4 small sketchbooks, 1 assembled book of smaller sketches and 1 assembled book of larger sketches.

I have submitted my assignment submissions of photographs and videos on a USB stick and DVD, plus printed out (and electronic) copies of my tutor reports.

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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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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: 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: 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: 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: 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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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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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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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 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 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 – 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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Assignment 4 – Tutor feedback


My tutor left some very positive feedback about my submission for this assignment.

Project 7

For ‘Bell Pit’ he suggested that the wooden blocks they sit on are too heavy and large against the subtlety of the bronze and suggested fixing them directly to the surface of a white plinth or shelf. Looking at these again this seems obvious – I think I need to revisit my sculptures after some time has passed to make an assessment on how successful they are and what can be improved.

He suggested that ‘The flick 2’ could be expanded into a series of casts of my hand, but I would need to reflect more on what the sculptures are about. I could see how this would work and I may return to this idea at a later point.

Project 8

He suggested experimenting with hot wax on the gaps or the positive form in order to deepen the relief and seal the gaps. It took me a while to get my head around what he was saying here, but now I have it sounds like a good way of working, the smooth sections between the branches are not ideal, despite roughening up the surface of the clay before casting, this would increase the 3D effect of the branches and increase the contrast by providing dark shadows.

Assignment 4

‘Esther’ – he commented that it is a good idea to work from life and not the drawings – I tried modelling from sketches in my initial attempt, but for this sculpture it was actually modelled from life, with a few quick sketches of certain areas to remind myself of sections of the form whilst finishing off. He commented that the figure fells too unformed in its arms and waist. These are fair comments, but I think more down to this being an early attempt to model the figure and that despite being modelled from life, I was restricted to mostly doing it from one angle of view.

On my landscape series, he would like to see more writing about my ideas for a sculpture and research that relates to the ideas or inspiration for the work. I produced artist statements for each print for my printing course assessment and I will do the same now for my sculptures.

He felt the steel grid base was overly complicated in relation to the form it holds and that I could consider just using the four spikes to really heighten the tension in the work. I can see how this would work if viewed from level with the piece or even below it, but I think it would get lost if viewed from above which is the more likely viewing position. A local gallery owner thinks that this sculpture could be developed into sellable pieces, so I may have a go at trying this suggestion out in the future.


As expected, he picked up on this as an area which needs work, saying that I need to be more rigorous with my drawings. I do find this hard as I am reasonably happy with my drawing of existing objects, but when creating work I see the form in my mind and struggle to represent it well on paper. What looks like a scrappy drawing in my sketchbook is a fully formed sculpture in my head! I need to work on making this work better for other people to view.

Suggested reading and viewing

Tim Shaw

Tim Shaw’s sculptures use figures to tell a story. His work ‘Soul Snatcher Possession’ (2012) is very disturbing, full size figures in cloth appear as if on a stage, acting out some kind of ritual. The tights fabric stretched over the faces is reminiscent of a bank robber or something being used to smother or tie up and gag the figures. I’m not sure what is taking place, but it’s obviously not nice!

‘Middle World’ (1989 – 2009) also looks disturbing, although it is hard to tell what the figures are doing from small images on the web.

‘Man on Fire’ (2009) is a very powerful sculpture, showing a burning figure running with the top of the torso a mass of flames, on a base with the words “What god of love inspires such hatred in the hearts of men”. An extremely potent political and religious statement about the troubles in Ireland, based on a personal experience in Belfast.

‘Casting a Dark Democracy’ (2010) is another sculpture which makes a powerful political statement, this time about the war in Iraq. An Abu Graihb prisoner made from steel, barbed wire, black Polythene and electrical cable is in an almost crucifixed pose, towering over a pool of crude oil in the shape of the figure’s shadow.

References:, (2015). Riflemaker Contemporary Art | The Riflemaker Gallery | Tot Taylor and Virginia Damtsa Tim Shaw. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].

Shaw, T. (2015). Tim Shaw. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].

Giuseppe Penone

Giuseppe Penone sculpts out of wood mostly, or uses natural materials or forms in his work. In ‘Spazio di Luce’ 2012 he sculpts a tree with branches, then carves out the centre of the trunk and textures it as tree bark before casting it in bronze. The centre of the tree is then covered in gold leaf and the result is a very striking sculpture.

‘Spazio di Luce’ means “space of light”, the empty space of the tree coated in gold giving the light. It was created by adding layers of wax over the tree, so the internal wax side shows the bark of the tree whilst the outside of the wax still looks like tree bark, but shows the fingerprints of the people making the wax covering. He uses the branches to hold the pieces upright, making them look like they could walk. He then leaves some branches unattached to let in points of light along the tree trunk.

Looking at other work such as ‘Albero Porta—Cedro / Door Tree—Cedar’ (2012), he often carves trees from the centre of larger trees, or beams in some cases. Reading further it is his intention to reveal the past life of the tree by sculpting the smaller tree within it.

He creates some fantastic sculptures by focussing in on trees in this way – I will keep an eye out for his work.


Whitechapel Gallery, (2015). The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce – Whitechapel Gallery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015]., (2015). Giuseppe Penone – Gagosian Gallery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].

Yoo, A. (2012). Young Tree Carved Inside Old Tree. [online] My Modern Met. Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].

YouTube, (2015). The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].

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Assignment 4 – Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

The project I decided to do for these projects and assignments were a huge technical challenge (probably why the course notes say to avoid metal casting!). I think I have worked through these challenges well (although not without plenty of errors along the way). I think I always go for the most difficult option to learn more – I like the challenge!


Resin – Worked quite well but very smelly and would be costly for anything big. Interesting to experiment with, but probably not something I’ll use again in a hurry.

Wax – Not crystal clear as described, except on the bottom (maybe it reacts with the rubber in some way). Worked well to fulfil my burning landscape idea.

Ice – Expansion meant that the base was not flat, although I guess it could have been melted flat if required. I fortunately cut and then glued the plaster mould back together, which then allowed the mould to be broken apart to get the ice out. It worked well for the images I was aiming for.

Bronze – This is a fantastic material to use and I do love the finish you can achieve with it. It is a very involved and time consuming process to cast yourself though. Some of this was learning the process, but a lot is the waiting time between coats / etc.

Wood – I’m using offcuts of what I have lying around at the moment. It would be nice to get hold of some old railway sleepers or something with more character for future work.

Stone – I was planning to use stone for some of the sculpture bases, but couldn’t find out where to get any from and ran out of time! Hopefully I’ll explore stone bases in future projects.

In terms of materials, I think I have used a very wide range of these in this stage.


Despite a few mistakes along the way, I don’t think I can be faulted in this section. In my figure piece especially, I constructed a five part rubber and plaster mould to transfer my super-sculpey shape into wax. Then the bronze casting process is very involved, both in the spueing and shelling process, then in the metalworking and finished after having poured the metal. I also had to design and construct tools to enable me to pick up and pour the bronze from the crucible.

However, in concentrating so much on the process driven steps required to mould and cast my objects, at times I felt I had moved away from the creative / conceptual work in carrying this out, although that could be just because I did this work so long ago now. I look forwards to embracing this again in the next stage.

Observational Skills:

These are probably most acutely shown in my figure sculpture as this was directly sculpted in a life drawing session, with the base fabricated to fit the figure in a more natural way than the arrangement of cushions/etc. used by the model in the session.

Design and Compositional Skills:

I am pleased with the way my residency sculptures are developing and feel this area has a very wide range of possibilities to explore. I think that modelling and adapting my design as I play with the materials is the most natural way of working for me.

Quality of Outcome

I am very pleased with the quality of my work in this assignment.

‘Esther’ – a great opportunity to sculpt from life which has resulted in a very attractive bronze sculpture. It does have a few small marks which could have been ground off before patinating.

‘Landscape 1-3’ – These realised my ideas well, the ice and wax versions providing the most interesting (although temporary) outcomes.

‘Landscape’ – My video editing abilities are limited to using Windows movie maker, but I think this worked quite well.

‘Monument to the last tree’ – This is perhaps the least successful sculpture with the patination too uniform and dark to express what I had in mind.

‘Residency under construction’ – This worked surprisingly well, although the background shelf is too busy and would probably work better with a plain rusted shelf. I may change this at some point.

Demonstration of Creativity

My sculptures may have suffered from the technical focus of the processes I was going through, and because each piece took so long to realise, I didn’t develop my ideas as far as I have in previous projects. I think I should focus my efforts on this development in the next stage (although learning yet another process in carving may get in the way of that! I can see why this has come out of the newly revised course notes for this course).


These sculptures are not particularly inspired by other artists. ‘Esther’ came from a life drawing opportunity, ‘Landscape 1-3’ came from my fascination with all things to do with maps, ‘Monument to the last tree’ came from seeing a lightning struck tree and ‘Residency under construction’ is a development of my sculptures in stage 3.


Looking back, it is interesting to see that I have produced three sculptures in this section which make an environmental statement – maybe there is something I want to say with my work!


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Assignment 4: Cast works and bas-relief in plaster


We had a two week pose at my life drawing class, so I did figure sketches of the model at the first class and then tried modelling the figure at the second. This is currently still incomplete:

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I didn’t pursue this model further as I thought the pose would make it very difficult to mould and cast in wax.

After this, there was the opportunity of a full day life drawing, so I decided to go along to that and model from life – not the easiest thing to do as I found out! It might have been easier to concentrate on sketching and produce the model afterwards, but I came out of the day with a reasonable likeness of the figure:

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This was made in super-sculpey, a soft modelling clay which can be fired in the oven to harden it. I did this and then took a mould of the base and figure separately.

Life sculpture

This is where I learnt that I needed the thixotropic thickener to use with the silicone rubber as my first attempt was a disaster and only resulted in breaking the arm off. The second attempt was more successful, but took about a month to mould as I did each section separately with three coats of rubber and then plaster.


Finally, I had replaced my super-sculpey model in wax – it would have been far quicker to just do it again in wax, but it was a good learning process none the less!

The waxes needed work to tidy them up, then they were sprued, shelled up and then cast:

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They were then sandblasted and the sprues cut off and tidied up. They were both given a smooth finish and patinated. I considered drilling holes through the base and into the figure and attaching together with a bolt, but as they didn’t meet completely, you would be able to see this from some angles, so I left them separate.

Esther 1 Esther 2 Esther 3 Esther 4Esther 5 Esther 6 Esther 7

27 x 15 x 14cm

Map Tile

I quite fancied the idea of a 3D map tile. I visualised it being cast in resin or glass and balanced over a metal grid structure, or maybe cast in ice and filmed as it melted? Similarly, a wax version with multiple candle wicks inserted in could be lit and filmed burning, like the news images of the Kuwait oil fields alight?

S4 Sketchbook p5

This idea could be a goer, so I started constructing a tile to play with. This started out as pieces of foamboard, cut out to form a contour map and then added to with oil based clay. I then added a clay base ready to pour over plaster:

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I tried painting on wax to form a hollow shape first and it was a good job I did, it was very hard to get the wax out, so I suspect I have undercuts which would prevent other materials from being extracted.

So, I then needed a mould of the wax. I first added the road lines to the wax, before making a mould of this in rubber this time, followed by plaster.


The first cast was made using a clear wax. The aim was to have a burning landscape, although it may well all go up in flames once I light it – who knows!

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Once the tile was cast in wax (not as clear as it should have been, but it still looks OK), I then drilled holes through it to insert three taper like red candles, so they could be seen running down through the wax as an oil well would be bored down into a landscape. I sealed these in with the wax drilled out of the holes.


The next cast was made using a crystal clear resin – a substitute for glass which is what I originally imagined it to be made of:


I had some air bubbles in this which I think is a common issue with resin casting (I think a vacuum is needed to avoid this), it also made my workshop a no-go area with the smell for about a week! Apart from that, it seemed to work reasonably well.


Finally (as I thought the expansion of ice might end up breaking the mould), I produced a cast in ice.


The plan for this was a metal grid with the metal rods at various angles. To do this I constructed some supports to be able to arrange them as I went along. The grid gradually took shape and I then welded it all together:


Joining the pieces

Landscape 1a Landscape 1b Landscape 1c Landscape 1d

‘Landscape 1’
26 x 26 x 15cm
Resin, steel

Landscape 2a Landscape 2bLandscape 2c Landscape 2d Landscape 2e

‘Landscape 2’
26 x 26 x 15cm
Wax, string, steel

Landscape 3a Landscape 3b Landscape 3c Landscape 3d

‘Landscape 3’
26 x 26 x 15cm
Ice, steel


It then occurred to me to combine these pieces together in a video – the ‘perfect’ landscape (crystal clear resin), followed by the landscape melting (ice) and burning (wax) as we try our best as a species to destroy it. Maybe I’m deviating too far into mixed-media here, but I thought I would give it a go.

Unfortunately this video is too large to upload to my blog site! However, if I’ve done it right, it should appear here from utube:



Inspired by what looked like a lightning struck tree, I produced some sketches:

S4 Sketchbook p23

What with the growing number of tree diseases around and ash dieback recently coming to our area, I thought a sculpture titled “monument to the last tree” might work and set about trying to create one.

I needed a base to work on as I was going to work on the outer bark of the tree only, so it would be thin and probably not structurally sound in anything other than metal. So I started out with the inner shape of the tree in super-sculpey. I then made a mould of this in plaster:

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Very involved to get a simple shape, but all good moulding experience!

I then worked on this plaster base adding super-sculpey ‘bark’ and then moulding this in rubber and plaster, before casting in wax:

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This could have been done along with the base in retrospect which would have been far quicker and easier.

I then cut the gaps back in, worked on the edges and then sprued it up in a fashion which I hoped would work:


This was shelled up and cast:


Finally, it was patinated and waxed:

Monument to the last tree 1 Monument to the last tree 2 Monument to the last tree 3 Monument to the last tree 4

‘Monument to the last tree’
25 x 25 x 16cm


I have been continuing work on my residency idea (see the 2 large acrylic paintings which I have added to the end of my stage 3 assignment blog). My next idea on this theme was to have a residency ‘under construction’, i.e. the framework of the shape, without the outer shell.

S4 Sketchbook additional 1

I tried to construct this out of wax sprues. This wasn’t as easy as I had hoped, mainly because the temperature was too low for the sprues to be in a very malleable state and they tended to snap rather than bend very much. Doing this in summer should be much more successful.

I constructed the shape I was after, then cut it in half and spued it up. Again, I am using a lot of guesswork and blind hope that this will actually cast!


After shelling and casting, amazingly it all worked out just fine:


This was then reconstructed and placed around a similar shelf as used with my previous sculptures, then patinated.

Residency under construction 1 Residency under construction 2 Residency under construction 3Residency under construction 4 Residency under construction 5

‘Residency under construction’
40 x 18 x 10cm
Bronze, steel

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Project 8 – Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills


I had not deviated from the course this time and used plaster. The firewood used to impress the design works well.


Cutting the plaster blocks to fit them together was not easy and took a few attempts to get right. Getting it perfect would have been very difficult indeed, but I have embraced the imperfections of the joins.

Observational Skills:

The end result matched the initial idea I had in my first sketch.

Design and Compositional Skills:

The box shape works well stood on one of its corners and the wood impressions provide bold marks.

Quality of Outcome

I am pleased with this sculpture and it actually looks better than I was expecting it to look. The use of charcoal could have been experimented with a bit more, maybe rubbed into the whole sculpture then rubbed off the highlights?

Demonstration of Creativity

Due to the amount of time I have spent on bronze casting, I devoted less time to this project than to the previous one (although it still took a considerable amount of time – how anyone produces anything in the time stated in the course notes I have no idea!). This meant that I followed my early idea and didn’t work on developing it further. I think that was because I am less inspired by bas-relief than other sculptural forms.


The thinking behind this sculpture was to represent mans need to control nature in the containing of irregular natural objects into a fixed regular container.


Bas-relief was interesting to experiment with, but it is probably not an area I think I will continue to work in.

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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.

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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.

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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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Cornelia Parker at The Whitworth

I visited The Whitworth gallery in Manchester to see the Cornelia Parker exhibition.

She obviously enjoys ‘playing’, using anything and everything to make her sculptures and pictures. They are all about the ideas, with the actual sculpture/picture sometimes being secondary. For instance she displayed a number of images using wire which was made from the metal in bullets (‘Bullet Drawings’), or gold from dental filings. The arrangement of the wire in the frame looked pretty arbitrary and not arranged in an aesthetic way. This made many of the works interesting, but not decorative. Some of these were also humorous like ‘exhaled cocaine’ which was a pile of incinerated cocaine from a police disposal.

Sometimes the sculptures and pictures from these ideas are beautiful though, as well as being interesting. My favourite had to be ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, 1991’, a blown up garden shed and contents, reassembled as in mid-explosion and hung from the ceiling by wire around a light bulb.


This sculpture has a huge presence and looks fantastic with the light breaking through the gaps. What a great idea and vision to see how it would be transformed from an ordinary object into a work of art.

Another favourite was titled something similar to ‘pornographic image’, which was a butterfly picture made out of ink from destroyed pornographic video tapes – presumably a reference to the blot pictures used by psychologists? On a similar vein was ‘Poison and Antidote Drawing, 2012’ where she used both snake poison and it’s antidote to make butterfly pictures which have the ability to kill and save your life at the same time.

Other interesting pieces were cast pavement cracks, where she had used cold cast rubber to cast a section of pavement in London and also in Jerusalem. The London location being a graveyard where she often played hopscotch with her daughter and the link between them being that the graveyard houses William Blake who wrote the poem ‘Jerusalem’.

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I’m only part way through her book at the moment, so may add to this post later.


On display at the same time in The Whitworth was a room full of a large drawing by Cai Guo-Qiang surrounding a lake, called ‘Unmanned Nature’.


It turned out that this huge drawing was made using gunpowder laid on Japanese hemp paper and ignited (with cardboard on top to contain the explosion and put out the fire). Amazingly this was done on the floor in a sports hall somewhere, so is actually quite contained. It produces some wonderful marks and is extremely effective in this drawing. Who knew you could draw with gunpowder? Tempting to try this out myself, although maybe not the best idea…….?!


Blazwick, I. and Parker, C. (2013). Cornelia Parker. London: Thames & Hudson.

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