On the 13th of June, I participated in a local exhibition curated by Esme Murray. All of the work I entered I had actually created two/three years ago during my art A-level; I wasn’t expecting them to see the light of day again! However it was a rewarding experience as a first exhibition, and it was interesting to see what visitors had to say about my work. Common themes in the comments made on my work included the chaotic-yet-flowing composition, and the medium with which they were created.
The concept for my final sculpture piece originated from idea of an ‘impossible sculpture’, this being an incomprehensible, terrible creature; the physical embodiment of oil, charcoal and death. The actual sculpture itself is the blackened, discarded skeletal forearm of the creature, bound together with string. Chicken, duck, and roe deer bones were used. These were boiled to disinfect and remove soft tissue. They were then coated with PVA glue, nail polish, and several coats of matte black paint. They were then bound together into the shape of the hand, first using a glue gun, and then string around the knuckle/finger joints of the hand.
This sculpture is a physical articulation of ideas, interests and feelings. It is also an investigation of materials. The aim of this work is to convey these concepts to the viewing audience.
One of the main aims of this work is to express a feeling dark, hollow fragility, in the desiccated remains of what once was. Two songs that heavily influenced this are “Risingson” by Massive Attack, and “Cage of Bones” by Son Lux. They both evoke a heavy, visceral atmosphere, reminiscent of a desperate howl in an endless void. One feels something primal and unexplainable when listening to them; I aimed to achieve this atmosphere in the form of physical matter.
I selected the bones for the sculpture in order to make it gangly and lumpy, with emphasised knuckles and a curving grip. Black string was woven around the knuckles, simulating sinew, in order to emulate the ephemeral delicacy of viscera and ligament; joint and cartilage. This was done in order to express an appreciation of clumsy biomechanics, and a fascination with the delicate intricacies and curves of natural bone. The work of Egon Schiele has been a major influence in this aspect. In many of his paintings are depictions of bony, nimble looking hands, with a similar aesthetic to my sculpture. The black thread emphasising the knuckles of my sculpture are a nod to the, bloody, bruised knuckles depicted in Schieles’ hands. The matte black paint was used in order to mask the subtleties of the bone, requiring the viewer look closely in order to see them; if the viewer has looked close enough to see them, they may find the fascination that I am trying to convey within themselves.
The mode of presentation (a pool of white liquid) is part of the sculpture and was influenced by the work of Damien Hirst; namely ‘Pickled Shark’. Hirsts’ work presents dead creatures in preserved in fluid. Therefore, the white fluid in which my sculpture sits could have been the pickle in which the hand could have been preserved. It could also be interpreted as the blood of the creature from which it came, but it is up to the viewer to decide the context of the fluid.