TheBig sculpture scale up begins!

OK just to remind you , we are making a 26 ft high figure, in bronze.. by far the most massive thing we’ve ever done, I’ll be taking you through the creation of this giant, in various blogs over the next three years, so the answers to your burning questions will come in good time!!

Recap: Below is the model of the figure in plaster, being sliced on a bandsaw in order to get a series of layers to draw round on graph paper..found out why…..

 

 

 

Here are all the plaster slices stacked up and numbered,

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Here’s Tom looking at the shapes traced on to graph paper, He is then carefully copying each one onto a  polystyrene sheet on which the graph paper has been scaled up.

 

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Eva now jigsaw’s out the scaled up shapes,

 

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Here’s the top of the thighs

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They are stored carefully!

 

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Dan takes the offcuts to be responsibly disposed of.. I see a new sculpture coming!

 

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Ania Eva and Dan (whose last day this is) rest after a hard days work..  Thanks for all your hard work this summer Dan!

 

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Meanwhile Tom has started to grapple with the steel structure which will support the edifice.. A large section hands unnervingly from the ceiling, which has had to be reinforced, as the weight of the whole thing will likely buckle the roof!!

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The leg section lies on the floor waiting to be winched into position..

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It fits perfectly all Toms mathematics and planning has paid off!  He now starts to fit the poly sections..

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Holes are cut in the centre of the poly , and plaster will be used to fix each one to the steel armature.. creating a surprisingly solid structure

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The body section waits to be installed, But we leave it at this stage for now, as we have four bronze figures to finish who will be climbing a beautiful staircase in Cannon St London.. that’ll be the next blog..

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That was a shorter pithier blog.. I am attempting shorter more frequent blogs from now on.. unless you want them longer?

Follow me please.. look at the website and let me know what you think..

 

have a good day ..

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Body in the water: ‘A Thousand Tides’ causes a fuss!

“Bronze sculpture mistaken for body in the water” BBC online

 

The BBC got in touch with me whilst in France to report that the Coastguard, Police and Fire Service had been called out to my figure lying in the water at Butley Creek.

I would like to apologise to the Emergency services for distracting them from their important work. and to the distressed member of the public who reported a body on Tuesday.   I would also like to thank the artists of Butley Mills Studios, who fielded angry Coastguards and Police.

The story has been on BBC online, Look East, Radio, the Telegraph amongst others.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-40875640

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The Sculpture was buried in the Creek over 18 months ago, (weirdly about a thousand tides ago!) and is supposed to sink slowly into the mud, It was a parting gesture to a loved landscape which had abutted my studio at Butley for over 14 years. It was intended to echo the Saxon ship burials of the area (Sutton Hoo and Snape) and the bronze age hordes discovered in neighbouring fields, now at Orford Museum.

 

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The figure disappears under the water with every tide and re emerges when the water recedes. I see it as an ablutive (purifying) process, cleansing a calm caressing. This tenderness expresses perfectly my relationship with the Suffolk Coast, a relationship captured beautifully in books such as Julian Tennysons ‘A Suffolk Scene’.  (A book that mirrors many of my experiences exploring these marshlands in my youth.)

 

The Creek at High tide, the figure under the water.

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The sculpture’s harmony with the environment is often recorded by visitors, who send me images of their experience, these ones from John Esling. Showing the birds of the area making use of him.

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This is a  long exposure through a pin hole camera created by artist Laura Ellenberger. The exposure lasted a month, day, night – high, low tide…the figure becomes a ghostly haze.

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The burying of him was a performance in itself, . We had to build a raft with a hole in it for him to be lowered through and into position. When he entered the water he bubbled as  air escaped, he turned golden like a giant fish as he descended,  the bubbles continued to issue for some time,  a powerful experience.

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Making him was also an emotional experience, I usually model figures upright, they therefore become a kind of equivalent to me. Modelling a supine figure changed the relationship, he was like a patient and I the doctor, he seemed vulnerable and when holding his hand I felt as though I should read his pulse, he peered over his chest at me working on him as if to ask what I was doing to him. This relationship, I feel, continues in the marsh. ‘Where am I going’?

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A good film has been made of the project by Film maker Phil Cairney, here’s the link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XFYDvEB4V8

 

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I am in talks with the Coastguard at the moment, their initial response is for me to remove the work, I have suggested some buoys would signify its presence as an object and not a body. I await their decision.

Removing an object like this isolated and  a long way out from land, and away from the channel, will be very difficult,  I cheekily asked the Coastguard if they would be able to do it as part of a training exercise, they informed me that the Helicopter’s are based at Lydd in Kent and up at Hull. and would cost thousands, I asked if any helicopter would do it, the response was negative!

The exumation would be a perfomance in many ways and what to do with the weathered and encrusted body after would be something to consider.  I’ve obviously been thinking stay in touch!!!

I’ll finish by reflecting on Myron’s bronze bull on the Acropolis and how it fooled the public into thinking it was real, and feel i’m in good company!

For more information please contact me on edwards.bronze@gmail.com

or my gallery Messums.com

Large sculpture man.. diced,sliced and stacked….

OK, the big journey started this month.. the largest sculpture I’ve ever had to make.

The contracts were signed and work has begun on a 25 ft bronze man. Its going to take at least three years to make.   I’m employing 3 more people, who are in intensive training ..

Here’s the plaster in a grid box.. this is the master we are working from.. about 3 ft high we will be enlarging him to the full size plaster over the next few months, the scaling up starts here.. he is basically sliced on a bandsaw..

 

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He has to be angled perfectly, which is what the wax buttress’ are all about.

 

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The slices are stacked and numbered

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It’s a precision job, even the width of a blade can make a big difference at 25 ft..

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Now he is fully sliced, he waits to be enlarged, what next.? you’ll have to wait until the  next blog……

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I have finished modelling four figures for a massive staircase in the city.

It’s next to Cannon Street Tube station.. Two figures are climbing the stair and two brood at the top.  Here are the two climbers in clay.

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This guy is arriving at the top of the stairs, looking slightly daunted, he has various wrappings.

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I like the back!

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I like this hand too..

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This is the second man, but the first you come to in the building, he’s looking concentrated, slightly fleeter of foot, I wanted a touch of evolutionaryness. (spell check didn’t like that!)

 

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The other two are now in wax,

 

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Disco king!

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Man contemplates monkey..

 

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Fear of the collapsing wax……… poles and string..

 

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Indeed the hot early  summer has prompted the use of props for sagging waxes.

A theme I think I’ll develop, once the commissions are realised. Though with a total

of ten 6ft figures to make it won’t be for a while…

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These are sagging in the Sax studio,.. I’ve had to pin them to the wall.. Love them.. again i’ll cast them when we get the time in the schedules..(can’t believe I said that)

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I’ve had to buy an access platform that reaches to 30 ft, to make the giant .. three of us had to go on a course to learn how to use it!

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You can drive it from the top.. alarming!

 

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Here are a couple of new employees ..

Eva and Ania learning how to operate the grog crushing machine.. Noise and dust do not translate to blogs like this.. believe me it’s not pretty.

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Ania’s already having to teach work experience students, Harriet from Thomas Mils stayed for a week..

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I used her as a working exhibit on her second day.. The Essex Art fund, seemed to have a fine time visiting the studio..

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Hoody man.. wrapping again is proving most stimulating.. more stuff to develop.

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A popular slot.. ‘The collapsing clay.’. here a figure disappeared overnight..

 

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Studio detritus

 

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I’ve made a couple of bedrooms at the fire station for the new assistants, I’ve put

pictures on the wall and set dressed..

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Maggi Hambling and I have just opened a show at  the ‘Lynne Strover Gallery’ in      Fen Ditton, Cambridge.  These are shots of the setting up.. The show continues until August the 5th.

 

AN ENCOUNTER | Maggi Hambling & Laurence Edwards

http://www.strovergallery.co.uk/exhibitions/

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I’m also in this wonderful drawing show  ‘Seeing through Drawing’  at Mandell’s Gallery in Norwich, celebrating the life of John Berger.

Curated by John Christie a long time friend and collaborator of Berger’s and Martin Battye. The show celebrates drawing, featuring the likes of Kossoff, Aurebach, and Berger himself, amid many other significant artists, its worth a few hours.. Heres the link.

http://www.mandellsgallery.co.uk/seeing-through-drawing/

‘Seeing Through Drawing’ Press Release

 

Finally I was gob smacked, and dumbed by the medieval  glass at Long Melford church,

Apparently some of the best on the country, whatever that means..whats Modernism when it’s at home eh..?  sorry about my photo’s

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The lady on the left was the inspiration for ‘Tennier’s ‘ illustration of the Duchess in

Alice in Wonderland.

 

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This ‘Crucifixion of the lillies’, Christ on a cross of flowers took my breath away!

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Enough, I’m going on holiday, see you on the other side…scroll on for previous postings, there’s a few years worth now.. and the website will always welcome you…

http://www.laurenceedwardssculpture.com

Have a great summer!

 

Lx

 

LITTLE AND LARGE

The big head is going through the casting process, those familiar with this blog, will no doubt  appreciate the nuances and technical developments, those new to this blog, will marvel at the shear wonder of it all ……..

To recap the head we are casting, is the biggest I’ve ever made, and Tom here is applying the first patches of pink rubber.

I’m making it because I’m in the final throes of securing a commission for a 25 ft high figure! (ridiculous prospect) and I need to see if it’s possible, so not only am I enjoying working on this scale, it’s also providing me with invaluable information, helping me work out the price of such a giant…..I’ve priced the figure according to a prediction, which is that this head will weigh 150kg’s, if it doesn’t I’ve under quoted and am in deep dooda’s..selling the house type dooda’s!!

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Rubber is painted on.. looks like a Glenn Brown painting ….

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I walk past these everyday, an inspiration for this big figure, that and Elephant heads..

 

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Plaster cases in place with a squared up top, so when its turned upside down to pour wax into, it won’t fall over.. don’t worry it all makes sense in the end, pictures are far better than words..

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These moulds are the oddest things.. in fact the whole process is one big oddity.

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So we de-moulded, which basically means ‘took the clay head out of the mould’ and re assembled it so it was hollow, we threw the clay away as it was finished with, and  proceeded to pour hot wax into the mould, swill it around a bit and pour it out again, leaving a wax skin, we then filled it with grog and plaster and opened it up, and here it is, the wax head, looking mighty fine, chairs there for scale..

 

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Craig then proceeded to spend the next three days covering it in plaster and grog, (the grog makes the plaster fireable) as this is all going in a big kiln…which is hot.

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The chains are wrapped around the ‘Investment’ in order to add strength, later on, when the bronze pours into this mould the pressure is immense..

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The finished investment weighs over a tonne! here it is being lifted onto the kiln trolley..

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It was in the kiln for seven days at 500 degree’s with loads of other moulds, we were worried that the scale of this mould and the time it would take to cook it, would mean the other small moulds would over cook and crack, but amazingly they didn’t.. a logic I don’t quite get, but am not going to question..

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We have to wrap the moulds in plaster and scrim to secure and strengthen them against the pressure of the bronze., here’s Craig cutting  skrim…

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This is son number one ‘Sim’, both sons will have to do their ‘time’ in the foundry before being released into the wild..IMG_6177

 

Moulds are lined up for pouring.

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Finally the mould is ready for pouring an anxious moment,  a lot of time material and effort . It was 250 Kg lighter when it came out of the kiln, all the water cooked out of the plaster, any residue would spell explosion on the ceiling of the foundry.

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It poured well, only a little splash.

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Here it is after being cleaned up amazing result, a thing of wonder I’m sure you’ll agree…

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The lines surrounding it are the ‘Risers’ these allow the air to get out as the metal pours in..bit like plumbing really.

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The detail was fantastic, down to good cooking and getting the pouring temperature of the bronze right, this was poured at 1040 degrees celsius..

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It weighed in at 120kg, which was within my estimate..House is safe for the time being, phewww!

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Head number 2 awaits the same destiny in my fire station studio…

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Another commission coming in provides me with a wonderful opportunity to work with a Georgian interior, a ‘Wyatt’ interior to be precise, sitting in an opulant country house set in a beautiful Capability Brown landscape.

Here is the room, it’s the entrance hall to a house called Heveningham Hall..

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And there’s Ed up to no good…

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I say that, in fact he’s doing an important job, allowing me to get the sense of scale for the figures to go in the six niches .

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Steady on Ed.. food for thought!

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The rubber shot.. plaster niche being moulded, to house the wax maquettes, to show the client..

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The first plaster niche..

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The set with the first generation of waxes, the first of many..

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Moved to the Fire station kitchen ..

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Photographed  professionally.

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The maquettes met with approval, or an agreement to proceed and let them develop…

Now we have to make a full size niche, which will allow me to offer up the full sized clay figures, to see how they look and indeed if they fit, it’s a very shallow niche, this is so the light can play off it, so a visitor to the studio told me today..

Tom has made a series of polystyrene profiles and glued them together, here he is sanding them down, preparing to apply a plaster coating.

 

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Scrim is draped over the niche waiting to receive the plaster.

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Finished, amazing job, I wonder if they’d accept this proposal, would be fun wouldn’t it?

(Note the steel trolley at the bottom , which fits into a slot at the bottom of the niche, I will build the figures on these trolley’s and slide them into position from time to time.)

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Couldn’t resist trying sculptures out for size..

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We moved it to the Fire station, which is where the modelling will take place. I see here how the light does indeed play off the arch in a most satisfying way, making all sculptures look beautiful, those Greeks, and Neo Classico’s knew their stuff.

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I thought I’d see how the large plaster  head  (see last blog) would fare out in the industrial park,  It’s far from finished, but was an interesting excercise. I’m used to the marshes at Butley, very lovely making it easy to produce beautiful photographs.

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'A Thousand tides'2

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I have to say I loved the results, I read ‘Edgelands’ last year all about these sort of places, celebrating the liminal space between town and country.. I’ve been thinking about the idea of using the estate as a back drop ever since, even a location for an exhibition. Dealing with the scale and noise was the first challenge, but now I’ve ventured out amidst fork lifts, skips, fires and 40 tonne lorries I’m intrigued to explore more..

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I’m preparing for a small show at Messum’s Wiltshire, of Maquettes and working models, I will be showing the niche figures in bronze and a few new ones, here’s the shot for the invite taken by Nick Illot, a great photographer, and there follows a reel of images taken by him between shooting for me..

I’m delivering a talk at the Barn in Tisbury (Messum’s Wiltshire) on the morning of Saturday the 13th of May, if your’e in the area drop in.

 

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This is called ‘Groundtruther’

 

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My mate Bill Jackson took these of a couple of small maquettes , the nearer one is called ‘Feel the Heat’

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Bill also took these of a proposal for a Norman settlement in Kent. I got this ‘public’ commission (first I’ve applied for in 16 years) I asked if I could create a Norman soldier returning from War, I’m quite excited about developing the  psychology of this guy. I’ve tried to de militarize him, his helmet hangs behind him on his shield. The work is delayed at the moment because its got to go through the ‘Historical accuracy departments rigorous tests!!!’ Its called ‘The Homecoming’.

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I’m also setting up work at the Alde Valley Festival, this week. Run by Jason Gaythorne Hardy, this celebration of Farming, food and Art has become a fixture in the local cultural calendar, its at White House Farm, Gt Glemham, and goes on until late may. Here are a few of the sculptures  i’ll be exhibiting.

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Well that’s it folks, a long one this month thankyou for sticking with it!!… goodby from me and goodbye from these guys, the fine students of West Suffolk College who visited both studios earlier in the month.

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Keep scrolling for earlier posts, and visit http://www.laurenceedwardssculpture.com for more work..

 

 

 

Big Heads & Birds

I’ve been experimenting with very large heads, I’ve been discussing a very large sculpture with a collector, and needed to work out the logistics.

Here is method number 1: Clay heads.

photos by Bill Jackson.

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I like these heads.I think this one might be ready to cast.

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Though they have been hard to make, the tonnage of clay  is quite daunting, resulting in the usual disasters – I began to dread opening the studio door in the mornings!

This is how I tried to make them.

I started with old figure armatures which still had the remnants of the old clays remaining.this was the ‘Carrier’

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The Carrier in the reeds at Butley.

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I covered them in wet marshy clay, stored for years in my clay bins, very smelly..

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This is the second one, with initial first coating already covering a walking man armature.

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I took a left turn on a whim thinking it should be a large standing figure..

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I started to tie old clay arms and plaster heads on.

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I lost confidence in this, deciding to return to the original plan…

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That’s  when the problems started ..first thing next morning

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I rebuilt another one, and a couple of days later..

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I welded in more armature..

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But obviously not enough..

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Finally stability. (I hope)

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I will get the mould making team in, in a couple of weeks and make a mould of the first one. Cracks are developing as it dry’s out, it’s a risky game, fingers crossed..

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Meanwhile the second method was getting underway at the other studio.

Tom was scaling up a favourite little head of mine, the idea was to make it 5ft high,

I didn’t realise quite how big this was to be)

The first job is to slice  the head into even sections.

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The slices are then traced onto graph paper.

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The outline of the small slice is then scaled up and drawn onto the big one, then carefully cut with a hot needle .

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The profile is popped out.

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Here you can see how the large section relates to the smaller original.

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Each  section is then stacked in order.

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Once all the sections are joined, Tom then sands the edges and smooths the forms.

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A layer of plaster and scrim is then added.

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It’s then handed over to me to work on and bring to life!!

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It’s very early days, and the scale takes some getting used to, but it looks like it could be interesting. I have to say at this stage I realise how much I enjoy working directly into clay, from the inside of a sculpture, with real weight and all the problems that presents.  This sliced poly method is about image making, and will take time to own as a sculpture.

Though to create a sculpture of any magnitude it would be a foolhardy sculptor that worked in solid clay. (watch this space)

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This is a maquette of the proposed 18-25 ft sculpture!!

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The little yellow wax men standing next to him are scale models of humans..

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This is a set of proposed maquettes to present to the client, all with little scaled figures next to them..2017-02-02-15-35-11

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All this put me in mind to look at some heads from my archive, here are some old favourites..

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This version of a Creek Head, one me ‘The Heatherly’s’ prize at the Society of Portrait sculptors…last year

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This one was made from Fig leaves.

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This one  is about three ft tall, I made a core first then modelled over it in wax, and cast it directly..

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Before The dawn

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‘Grin and Bear.’

This won me ‘The Freakley’ prize at the Society of Portrait sculptors in 2005.

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This is a Muntjac Stag

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My friend John Esling, went to visit the ‘Thousand Tides’ piece, lying in Butley Creek, I was glad to see he was still there, and making new friends!! Its nearly a year since he was placed.

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This is typical of emails from John:

I was working in Chillesford yesterday and got done quite quickly so I took a trip to see “1000 tides”.

I managed to snap the attached photo before the birds flew off. Two thoughts occur to me.

a. Bad luck.  The bird has just been eating Prometheus’ liver and is perching on his feet ready to fly off .  This will give his liver time to regenerate.  I like the way your man appears to be looking up at the bird which is seems uninterested.

Maybe the tides could be seen as the daily regeneration of Prometheus’ liver with the bird returning daily to eat it.  Perhaps Prometheus is drowned by each flow tide but returns to life on its Ebb.
(Way to many classical allusions for 8A.M!)

b. Good luck. In China a crane landing on your roof is a good luck.  I can’t find anything specific about a heron landing on your toe.  The emperor Hui zong had teams of civil servants scouring China for auspicious auguries.  Wikipedia tells me that this is called “Orthinomancy”.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornithomancy

Incidentally this article also says that “Inauguration” comes from the Latin meaning “to take omens from the flight of birds”.  Maybe Donald Trump should do as Hui Zong did.  A kind of geomancy based New Deal?

Perhaps a sculpture called “Inauguration” might be interesting?!
Incidentally the attached painting may be by Hui Zong himself.cranes-on-the-roofSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Enough already.. please scroll down for previous fascinating postings, check out the website and enjoy the rest of your february….

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Big Ends – Small Beginnings!

Hi there..Happy New Year!!! 

The first show at Messum’s giant Barn Gallery  in Tisbury, Wiltshire

opened in December.

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I’m exhibiting with Sean Henry and Brian Taylor. Brian worked alongside me at my various foundry’s since the early 1990’s. I learnt an immense amount from him, indeed he became a kind of osmotic teacher to me. Before we get started here are a few shots of him in his Peckham studio taken a year before he died.

 

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He’d get attached to the less fortunate in life, homeless individuals who would set up camp in his studio! This is Mr Stanhope who came from the ‘Spike’ in Deptford in the early 1970’s

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I loved a show Sean had a few years ago in Salisbury cathedral.

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Here are some images of the show.

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Particularly pleased with the heightened detail we are now achieving at the new foundry.

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info@messumswiltshire.com

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Whilst down that way I took the opportunity to go to Oxford and visit the Ashmolian.

Here are a couple of paintings I loved, and sketch book notes….

A Mid 15th Century Flemish ‘Pieta’

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This Mary crinkles like tin foil, it’s as though the whole painting has been folded up and ironed flat again.  Her dead son lies on a sheet, hands upturned like dead spiders on a window sill, in fact his whole body is aptly chrysalis like, angulations combine cloth and skin, his left foot seems broken at the ankle.

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Again a Flemish 15th century painting, this time of Pilate and Christ.

sorry its blurred ..

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The thing that really grabs me about this one is the eyes and hands. There is a desolate resignation in the eyes of christ, and a numb dread in those behind him. A kind of mockingness is apparent in the shape and gestures of the interlocutor pointing toward Pilate.  Pilates half  closed eyes reveal a dignity and intelligence. Weary and harangued  as he is, there is compassion.  He is washing his hands of the matter. They are comfortable and fleshy in contrast to Jesus’s skinned fingers. The foreboding greens on the left give way to pinks and gold, which eventually rest on a hand pouring water from a jug. The water is poured  anonomously with aplomb, dexterity, cheeriness and self-satisfaction, for me these hands sum up the painting. They speak of all the people outside of this scene who assume the right decision will be made, they unlike Pilate do not carry the weight of office.’Populism’ forcing the hand of those in power… sound familiar?

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My great friend Les Bicknell, book artist, folder of things, educator and much much more (take a look at his site and blog you’ll understand)

http://lesbicknell.blogspot.co.uk/

http://lesbicknell.wixsite.com/work

Was throwing out trays of type set, so decided to give it all to me. It was hanging around for years in a dusty corner of the studio, coming to light in the recent move. Its been bugging me ever since, so i decided to apportion precious time and attempt to sort it out turn it into a resource.. I’ll let the pictures tell the tale..

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I decided that I would test everyone and so started an inept print – text project !!

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I found an old print tray and started to file..

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A weird symbology evolved..masonic, heraldic ? Against my better judgement I was enchanted.

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I was reading Jaquetta Hawkes ‘A Land’ (1949) at the time, charting the history of the British Isles, from the Pre – Cambrian to now. Her fantastic descriptions of fleeting organisms settling in sediment and turning to stone, to be revealed by the likes of Henry Moore millions of years later in a collaboration of time, nature and creativity must have effected my methodology , fragmentary fossil like arrangements were evolving before my eyes..

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My old friend the Quincunx wasn’t going to escape..

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Pattern could easily have evolved

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They turned into cards for Christmas and the new year, I had to justify these lost hours somehow…don’t worry if you didn’t get one, there wasn’t that many…

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Then to my surprise it got monumental even architectural..who would live in thishouse?

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The resulting print tray a fortnight later. A resource?

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   Tom and Edward finally got to mould the large figure I’ve been making this Autumn.

 

  The bizzareness of this method never ceases to amaze me, why pink?

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The Photographer Bill Jackson missed the opening party of the new space.

Rob Harries of ‘Air Artists’  (who had the space before me, kindly donated the sun)

 We even cooked a six-foot loaf of bread in the kiln…which involved buckets of kneading from Tom and Tim..

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It was dark but you get the idea ..  very tasty…

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Any way Bill missed the party but really wanted to see the new foundry. He’s a great photographer, so I’ll let his images play out the end of this blog..

www.billjackson.photography

My Wax Studio

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Was shocked to find this in Beccles High street in front of the gun shop!! It’s a camouflage suit for stalking , you lose your silhouette if you put it on. remind you of anything!!!!

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Middle distance is the wax from the mould featured earlier.

Foreground, my lying man fell over – he contemplates his injuries..

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The inevitable bronze pour..

I love the glow on the floor from the lid in this one.

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George Farrow – Hawkins, Glasgow art school graduate and new intern,  with legs spread in this plaster spattered fashion shot..

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Craig Hudson concentrating!

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Craig , Laurence and Tom concentrating..

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Jees! I scare myself sometimes!

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Oh and finally here’s a couple of images from a three-day teaching stint I did at Heatherly’s a small college in Chelsea London, specialising in figurative art! great fun..

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This was interesting the student layered clay coils on top of each other, poured plaster in, removed clay, built it up again and poured again until she’s arrived at this form..

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Biggest things Dan had ever made..

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Cheerio, scroll on for more, sign up and be a friend its lonely here, and go to the website for finished art.. thankyou and goodnight..