About me

I am a graphic designer and ran my own design group for over thirty years. Now I work from home for just a couple of clients and have lots more time to travel and do things I want to do. These 'things' include being with my family, travelling, especially in India, learning about twentieth century art and design, collecting (paintings, artwork, netsukes, badges, signs, ephemera, bakelite, books and stuff), cinema, messing around with my computer and attempting to sculpt from life....
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Wednesday, 30 May 2007

This is my blog. It is about my sculpture from life at the Mary Ward centre. I have been coming to the Mary Ward once a week for a few terms now. I became keen on sculpture when I was in foundation at Chelsea School of Art - over forty years ago. I always promised myself that I would go back to sculpting and now that I am working much less. it feels that the time is right. My tutor, Paul, is an ideal tutor for me. He is always there when you need him, without imposing his personal style. He is helping me to see my work. I find this quite difficult. Often I can only see what is wrong when Paul is sitting looking at my work, just before he says something. Then it jumps out at me.

I do have an aim in mind, to produce work which doesn't depend on a realistic portrayal of what I see in front of me, yet reflects the essence of the model. But I know only too well that this simplification of form is really difficult. I think I have to try to get to grips with 'realism' before I stand a chance of producing something more abstract. And I know I have a long way to go with producing realism too! It all comes down to seeing properly, and Paul is good at encouraging ways of doing that. I am learning the 'rules of probability' - the measurements and proportions that are so often common to us all. For instance, the third eye which would normally fit between our two eyes.

I am not going along with the rules of Blog, It just doesn't make sense to me to put each new bit of text at the top, so I am inserting new text at the end.
This week (Thursday 7th), Abigail in the group made a face mask, with the help of Paul and David. It was extraordinary to watch - and confirmed to me that I never want to do it! After putting vaseline on her eyebrows and eyelashes, and hiding as much as possible of her hair in a swimming cap, she made two cellophane funnels to stick up her nostrils, so she could breath. Then she lay her head on a pillow as close to horizontal as possible.
Then Paul poured blue goo algernate over her face, neck and ears, making sure it covered everywhere including under her nose. Then Paul and David covered her face with short strips of bandage to help the mask keep its shape. She then had to lie there for 10 minutes, until it dried. Then it had to be very carefully removed by peeling it off and lifting it back. She was very brave throughout the whole process. Some people can't take it and the whole exercise has to be scrapped. She said it felt wonderful - quite unlike anything before!
If you looked inside the reversed mask it looked as if you could see the face as a positive image - an amazing optical illusion.

Next the mask was propped horizontally in a set of bowls and then the inside was painted all over with a couple of layers of not too thick plaster of paris. Then a layer of scrim to support the mask. This was left to set. When the blue algernate layer was carefully removed, there was her face. Every skin detail was there, but the face was much broader than it should have been, because the mask had flattened out due to lack of support at the sides. Amazing, though! It will then be used as a mold - somehow!

This week I finished off my head and figure of Renata. It was a bit of a race against time as I will be away for the next two weeks before term ends. First I took the head off the post and then I hollowed out more clay from inside the head and the neck. Paul told me later that I shouldn't have taken so much clay from the neck and it is true that Renata started to droop a little. But not too awful a problem! Then I pricked the head all over from the inside. Then joined the top of her head back with slip. And she was done! Read for firing.

The figure was ready the week before - but her foot fell off! Paul had warned me that she would be very fragile without a base, but I really didn't want one. So I spent most of the class, intermittently reattaching the foot with slip. After several false starts, it seemed to stick. I left head and figure ready for Paul to fire - and hoped for the best about the foot!

Back to the Mary Ward after two weeks, to hopefully collect my fired sculptures. Success! The foot had not fallen off and the head had not collapsed! I look forward to next term.