‘Pelagos’ by Barbera Hepworth: Infinite curves parallel breaking waves; tensioned strings fight like ripping pebbles grinding in the suction of an undertow; metaphor of the wild Cornish coast.
I've always found Sculpture fascinating. It can encompass, evoke or represent almost any thought or feeling the mind can create. I see sculpture as a polygonal picture with infinite sides. It tells a story by movement; the viewer interacting with it, not only in time and space, but visually, emotionally and physically.
Art movements are at their best in their newly emerging raw and pure form. Barbara Hepworth was an early experimenter of ‘Modern Sculpture’ or the use of abstraction in sculpture. ‘Pelagos’ defines such an abstraction in its pure minimalist form
Literal interpretation requires a close representation of the subject. Conceptual or abstract form allows freedom of thought without restraint.
With the abstraction of a subject linked so closely to emotion and spontaneity, I find instinct and imagination my path to creative form.
My sculptures resonate from many years living in the New Forest. I had an early affinity to the Keyhaven coastal marshes and spreading heaths of the ‘Forest’. There’s a oneness in these wide-open spaces, an emanation of life and energy that liberates the mind and allows unrestrained creativity. It’s like the landscape speaks to you. All that’s needed is to have an open mind and listen.
I began making garden sculpture mainly due to my familiarity as a garden designer. I’ve always seen plants and gardens as sculpture in their own right.
I know work mainly with copper and alabaster. The stones opaque cloud like quality gives it the added dimension of light and depth. Copper has that earthy quality of acquiring the velvet sea green patina of Verdigris.
I’m a true believer in the Henry Moore philosophy of ‘Truth to Material’. I always look at a piece of stone and see how much of the natural surface can be preserved. There is a natural perfection here that can be replicated. It feels it’s too valuable to remove. It takes time and careful consideration to embrace this jewel like quality.
Mood reflects thought; landscape reflects mood. In such an immersive environment, creativity can freely wander. I often find my ideas emerge like a virtual form in the mind derived from perhaps as a series of unrelated ideas or they just suddenly appear. Sometimes it’s the feeling of a piece of music, sometimes you can see something in the shape of a piece of stone. Sometimes it’s something quite arbitrary like the shape or pattern of smoke in the breeze.
Often ideas become influenced by the mood of the landscape. With it so constantly in flux and vulnerable to extremes, no two days are ever the same; no two thoughts are ever the same.
As a sculptor I enjoy the spontaneity and creative energy of exploring any new or abstract form. In the vein of Immanuel Kant, I always desire to create ‘beautiful form’.
I like to feel the edge of the moment of people’s first reactions. As a creator of visual art you can’t escape the spontaneity of the experiential and phenomenological in the guise of simply ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. It’s point when observation ends and imagination begins; the realisation that your work has connected with someone else’s mind and created a whole new unique series of thoughts and feelings. It’s this cyclical analysis of psychology born from curiosity that becomes part of your next work.
The process is an emotional synergy of thought, action and material. It’s great to approach a new sculpture with raw untarnished thought. I find the distraction of a single plane, like a piece of paper, can sometimes lose the clear spontaneity of that initial thought.
It is of course necessary with a complex or large commission, to proceed in a structured and pragmatic way as with the computer images above. The most important thing though is to keep that spark of life, energy and emotion conceived at the point of the original vision.
Creating a piece follows the vision. Colour, material and process often come together. Sometimes the challenge of capturing the essence of clouds or the breeze in solid form is challenging.
Leaving ideas in a ‘thought bank’ is sometimes useful. Perhaps months later an answer will suddenly emerge.