Monthly Archives: March 2016

Other artist’s interpretations of my 5 words

Iron ore vein




Catherine’s image features a mining marker stone that lies on Horsall Common, Woking. Interestingly this could also be viewed as a gravestone in its shape which would make reference to the ‘dangerous’, although I’m not sure if this was intentional or not. The hazy/soft focus used in the image evokes feelings of times past and invites speculation as to the stone’s purpose.



Hand dyed textiles on felt

This image is made up of hand dyed textiles using black dipping ink and homemade walnut ink as well as tea leaves. They are layered in a similar way as veins of rock in cross section. Interestingly this is close to the image I produced (albeit in a different media) and she has also used some similar blue colours to the ones I used. It is an interesting idea to use textiles to represent hard surfaces like rock and iron, but it works well here.



Print – acrylic and oil

Alison has taken an image of a worker toiling in the heat and sparks of a foundry as the basis of her print, thinking through the process of making iron ore into a usable product. The print is based on a photograph found on the internet.



Mixed media

It looks like Bee has used a similar cross section of rock strata at the base of her image, with black ink(?) marks suggesting the dark and dirty industry on the surface.




There is a lovely texture to Ingrid’s collograph print and she has managed to portray finding the ‘gold’ of iron ore in the rock strata as well as incorporating the red colour of the furnace flames which would be used to process the metal (or the ‘heart’ of the vein?). The use of a circle is also an interesting idea which works well.


It was fascinating to see what other people had produced based on my 5 words. My words were perhaps more restrictive in their interpretation than those picked by the other participants whose words offered more options for interpretation (then again, that is the great thing about working with other people in that we all think differently!). As a result, the layering of ore veins in rock strata has featured in three of the images (as well as my own). Also the colour schemes are similar, featuring dark blues, black, red and gold. The images are all very different though.

Many thanks to Ange for organising this swap and a collage of all the pieces can be seen on her blog post.

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Project: A maquette for the sculpture

I started to make maquettes of my ideas and also sketched new ideas at the same time.

Working with abstract shapes, I explored simple forms which started from the idea of using standing stone shapes, but ended up looking like sails or an aircraft tail fin:

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The two simpler maquettes work better as it gets a bit clunky in the third more complex form.

A sketch of the centre sphere and how it might be textured with a line that might be found on a water-worn rock:


Other possible lines:


In the large sketch it was the hidden aspect of the sphere I was interested in.

I tried a few more sketches surrounding it with flat sheets:


However, when made up into a maquette it wasn’t working, it was too messy and contrived:

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I sketched some more:


It is probably difficult to see on this photo, but a small sketch in the corner led me to think about using vertical sheets rather than bars:


This was a more successful maquette for me.

Having thought about this for a while though, I realised that I hadn’t explored the hidden aspect enough and placing the metal sheets and sphere into a box might offer the result I was looking for:


This one had legs for me and I decided to run with this for my larger-scale sculpture (in addition to one or two of the first maquette options).

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Exhibition Visit: Le Défense

During a recent visit to Paris, I took the opportunity of visiting Le Défense, the business district of the city, which houses over 60 pieces of outdoor sculpture.

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Related to this stage, ‘L’Araignée Rouge (the red spider), 1976’ by Alexander Calder was one of the largest and most prominent sculptures there. It certainly had a presence, despite its huge size it had lightness and movement in its curves, and it provided a nice frame for the area. My impression of it – “it’s OK”, but why wasn’t it really working for me? I suspect it was because it was too flat and lacked texture variation. It did work well in the space it was sited in though.

I toured the area looking at the majority of the sculptures on display in the area. Out of all of those on display, there were only two that held my attention.

‘Le Grand Toscano, 1983’ by Igor Mitoraj

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A bronze part of a figure, with other figure parts recessed or on top (despite it not really working from a rear view).

‘Les Hommes de la Cité, 1995’ by Hugues and France Siptrott

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A group of businessmen figures in bronze with highly textured line markings across them and interesting colouration.

What did these sculptures have in common?

  • in bronze, already a favourite material of mine
  • interesting textures / colours
  • both modelled
  • both figurative – an area I have not looked at in much detail yet
  • unusual
  • well made
  • invited speculation. Why the recessed head in front of the figures heart? Female head on a male body? What are the businessmen thinking?
  • enjoyment of the material coming through. The dynamic slashing of the businessmen figures, the sculpting of the figure shapes

I feel I am getting closer to working out what I appreciate/enjoy in a sculpture.

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Project: Drawing and development

Just using flat 2D surfaces to create a 3D sculpture seems a very prescriptive restriction, given that the level 2 work is supposed to be less prescriptive in its approach. Hopefully something good will come out of it though.

The course notes suggest using life drawing to reduce the image and structure of the human form to its essence. On initial inspection, the figure would seem to be the worst subject to reduce into planes though!

I tried sketching out how a lying down figure might look in planes:

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Although maybe a good design for a robot, this didn’t inspire me.

I was really struggling to get any inspiration at all for this project through the use of planes only. However, having researched other artists work in this field, with the exception of Calder and a few others, most other artists combine planes with curves / solids / other shapes, so I will join them!

Introducing a sphere into the use of planes instantly opened up lots of ideas and I was finally fired up again!

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I decided that my aims for this stage would be:

  • Ensure I integrate drawing into my work in this stage – address one of my weaknesses
  • Combine different materials – this offers a lot of interest for me in sculptures
  • Work with new materials were possible
  • Adding in a personal aim to use bronze in every different stage of the course if possible (possibly after the event due to production timescales)

As suggested by my tutor, I combined the sketching with the maquette making (which worked more successfully for me), so most of the sketches are in the following project post.

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Planes: Construction / Deconstruction – Research

The course notes suggest looking at John Hoskins’ (1921-1990) ‘Bolted Flat’, 1963. As always when viewing a small image in a book, it is difficult to asses the sculpture completely, but the interest for me in this sculpture comes from the texture of the welded seams and the stripped patterns on the inner surface, in contrast to the shiny smooth surface of the outer surface. The piece references industrial construction and has a strong composition of the two pieces balancing each other, although looking like they are on the point of tipping.

Another course notes suggestion was Hans Uhlmann ‘Steel Relief’ 1959 and ‘Sculpture for the Berlin Opera House’ 1961. The former now looks very dated, the latter is a very bold and striking design which throws strong shadows onto the building to enhance it’s presence and it seems to sit well with the style of building it sits in front of.

In looking through the research suggestions I had to look up the definition of a ‘plane’ which was ‘an area of a two-dimensional surface having determinate extension and spatial direction or position’ (, 2016). One of the course notes suggestions of these types of sculptures is Pevsner’s ‘Torso (Constructed), 1924-1926’, but whilst it has some planes in it’s construction, there are more curved plastic shapes than flat ones, so does this really count as a sculpture of planes? Is a sculpture of planes just one which only includes flat surfaces?

I was fortunate enough to be in Paris for a few days and spent some of this time searching out sculptures using planes.

Antoine Pevsner ‘Masque, 1923’ is a better example than the one given in the course notes:


This is a constructivism sculpture out of Celluloid and zinc. It is interesting how the face can be reduced to a series of planes, however it does only work from one angle (straight on). The side view looks little like a face:


The sculpture also looks very dated, maybe due to the materials used?

Naum Gabo’s ‘Constructed Head No. 2’, 1916 is given as another example in the course notes. This is a similar way of reducing a figure to planes as the sculpture above by his brother, but it looks like this sculpture works from more angles than just the straight on view. This sculpture also makes interesting use of asymmetry to give more interest and intrigue to the sculpture. I think this is the most successful sculpture in planes I have come across in my research.

Anthony Caro works primarily in planes. Whilst some of his sculptures work for me, many of them don’t – see exhibition review (LINK). I think his small table pieces are some of my favourites, such as ‘Table Piece LXXX’ 1969:

Table Piece LXXX

A lot of Dina Wind’s work uses planes. Eg. 1984 – Black Flat Plane Series #1 (View #1). These are like origami in steel, but don’t inspire me as the flat single colour sculptures lack texture and interest.

Sidney Gordin ‘Construction No. 7, 1954’. I like the combination of open rod planes and flat solid planes used in this sculpture. The mixture of these makes this look like a more modern sculpture than it actually is.

David Smith pioneered the use of welded steel in sculpture and his work has been described as ‘drawing in air’ (Collins, 2007). ‘The Forest, 1952’ and ‘Hudson River Landscape, 1951’ are two examples of his work and this is exactly what they appear like, more drawings than sculptures. Although not completely flat, the ‘image’ is all on one plane and only a sculpture because it is freestanding and can be viewed from both sides. As a drawing I like it, but I can’t really see the benefit of taking it off the wall and putting it on a pedestal.

‘Raven IV, 1957’ is a more 3D sculpture, using planes in constructing the piece again, but this time by using small pieces of steel sheet or bar. The result looks more animal like than the intended bird, but this is an interesting way of working with planes, using small flat pieces to make up a 3D shape, which may yield some ideas for my work.

Sculptures using planes primarily seem to have been made in the 20’s or 50/60’s. Very few modern examples were very obvious. I tried harder to find some of these.

Terence Coventry uses planes a lot in his work, although the works I find most successful are his solid bronze pieces (e.g. and – the way he translates animal or human forms into flat planes is very successful and I particularly like the surface texture he uses on his pieces from carving lines on them in plaster – ‘The way the surface texture is manipulated is definitely deliberate and through experience I’ve learnt that I can alter the viewer’s perception of the form by the way that texture is applied.’ (Terence Coventry, 2011).

Apart from a few exceptions, the sculpture I have found which uses planes doesn’t inspire me much – not a great start to this stage!


Collins, J. (2007). Sculpture today. London: Phaidon Press Limited., (2016). The Estate of David Smith. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Feb. 2016]., (2016). the definition of plane. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016]., (2016). Dina Wind Art. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2016].

Phaidon, (2016). Agenda | Phaidon. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2016]., (2016). Home. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2016].

Terence Coventry. (2011). 1st ed. [ebook] London: Pangolin. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2016].

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