Monday, October 12, 2009

The Sculpture Commission

The sculpture commission came about when we started off chatting about commissioning a painting for his shop. He'd already bought a few pieces off me including a sculpture that he was particularly fond of. He talked about how he connected more with sculpture than with paintings. At the time, we were sitting outside in his large and beautiful garden, and I commented that a sculpture set into the garden would look great. It clicked. And now I'm working hard to construct, complete and install it before the daylight diminishes and the weather turns too harsh for being outdoors. The end of the month is the aim. We'll have a garden party for the viewing.

Being commissioned to produce work like this has been a good process for me. When I work solely for myself (though as I type that I realise how untrue it is) I develop ideas and pick up influences and references as I go. They almost unconsciously weave themselves into my work. There's also had to be a bit more intellectual rigour in putting forward a clear and plausible proposition.

As part of the process I've put together a 30 page, bound document - a mixture of words and images -of my references and research, and sent it to my client. (Jo - we need to get a binding machine for the studio!).

I'm not going to detail the references here, because I'm finding the process to be a highly individual and personal one. But here are some fragments :

The basic concept is of a figure rising up from the earth. I was thinking a lot about it when I was in Brazil and knew I need to do something to get the process started and to have some actual images to work with. I took photos of Neto so I could begin thinking about the shape and structure of the figure. I also found some fashion images of figures in the landscape, where the legs were wrapped in long flowing skirts. This gave me a better idea for a more sculptural shape.

When I was back in the UK, I took a lot of photos and made drawings of trees coming up from the ground, and roots going down into the ground.

For the past year I've been drawing trees and seeing how they resemble the human form. I could see how the myth of Dryads emerged and what a potent idea it was. All of this was working its way into the process.

The base of the figure I will be sculpting will be covered in natural materials - grass, leaves, sticks, stones - elements that I've been working into my paintings for years.

I will be making the sculpture out of materials attached to a wood and wire frame. The size of the figure (about 4ft 6ins) makes this a little more problematical. But again I had references to draw from. Most days I walk by the River Taff where they are constructing a new fish-pass at the weir. Just recently they have been constructing the framework out of wood and metal rods and then pouring concrete. This showed me how I would construct the armature for my figure and attach materials to it (I'll be using fabric soaked in concrete and exterior PVA, with the whole thing being primed and then painted with many coats of white exterior paint - can't wait to get my hands in concrete!).

I'm due to start construction next week in the studio in London and I have most of the materials and tools ready to take.

But my car's knackered. That's the next problem to fix.

Good job you weren't trying to get your commission done in Latvia then. We had two weeks of rain, two days of lovely frosty sunny autumn weather and then today it snowed. Winter arrived a whole month earlier than last year. Just hope it doesn't last a whole month longer. We had snow on the ground from December to April.

Glad the sums were of use.
Joanna ... the weather's been mixed here so I get out sketching when I can ... not as bad as there though by the sound of it!
" all looks and sounds amazing! canĀ“t wait to see the finished thing...

must say though, the bit about "can't wait to get my hands in concrete" does have me somewhat worried. do be careful.
Claire I'll be careful. There's a story in the news over here about a girl in a school art lesson who put her hands in plaster of paris to make a mould. It set and the temprature rises significantly when it does. Doctors had to cut her hands free using power tools and her hands were so badly burned that they had to amputate her fingers.

I'll wear gloves.
thick ones please!
Isn't it ironic that you get all the hard work done (ideas, research, preparation, models) then the stupid car breaks!

If all else fails, pack stuff in suitcases and book the megabus. I'll meet you at Victoria...
Jo ... car's sorted ... will be there next week. Time to get cracking!
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