Mon, 30 May 2016 22:15:48
The Carving Of Guy Of Gaunt
I am currently undertaking a large scale woodcarving of a British cadaver tomb, as part of a major project by Dr Christina Welch at Winchester University. The genre is known as a Transi Tomb, and shows the deceased as a withered corpse ( or maybe still alive in Purgatory after its death) and, though from the 1420s - 1530s, shows remarkable anatomical knowledge. Here is a typical stone Transi figure, from Southwark Cathedral.
A large 6ft block of limewood was prepared at the Giesler-Moroder carving school in Elbigenalp, Austria, and delivered to my studio. Handling such a weight requires special equipment - here is the press which is used to laminate the block.
The block is prepared for delivery
Thu, 24 September 2015 15:06:55
A Waxwork Of Virginia Woolf Sept - Oct 2015
I have been asked by the historian Dr Ruth Richardson and by King's College London to make a wax of the writer Virginia Woolf for the foyer of the Woolf building on Kingsway.
We plan to present her in "a room of her own" or rather, a wardrobe, to balance the Auto-Icon of Jeremy Bentham who had his real body preserved with wax head and kept in a cabinet for the instruction of his successors at University College London up the road.
She will be fashioned upon this elegant shop mannequin which is currently seated at my dining table.
I am dressing the waxwork after this 1923 photograph of Woolf with Lytton Strachey, taken by Lady Ottoline Morell. Whilst not costume expert myself, to me VW seems here to be wearing clothes that are slightly behind the style for the time, wrapped in seemingly Edwardian layers; far from a thoroughly modern Millie.
I chose these pictures because in them she seems more at ease than in the more posed phto shoots with Man Ray and Gisele Freund.
I imagine Tomlin had VW present to sit for this portrait bust.
Virginia Woolf Bust in Charleston studio
Stephen Tomlin's original plaster bust of Virginia Woolf made in 1931.© Charleston Trust Photograph by Axel Hesslenberg
Work begins fleshing out a skull of the requisite length and slenderness. I happened to have one of the right ball-park of proportions, and the eyes are from ebay on this occasion.
Roughly establishing the eyelids early on helps with recognition and likeness
Still some way to go - she looks older, more gaunt, the features too big for the surrounding head
More definition, beginning to flesh out the face; the expression quizzical and as yet too arch, needs correcting
Sometimes the effect is clearer in black and white. This is starting to resemble a well known picture of VW looking out of a window.
Once the face and head shape are there I take off the hair and eyebrows ready to cast her into a harder wax.
Indignities of the casting process
Several servings of Tiranti RTV20 silicone rubber later
A WW1 period dress is fitted to the body by Louise Patey,a tailor who specialises in period and theatrical costume. The dress was sourced from Kalamazoo Michigan from the Etsy shop of Vera Vague, one of many white tea dresses from this age they have collected, each of which would not look out of place in a painting by James McNeill Whistler.
The finished Virginia in a room of her own in the lobby of the VIrginia Woolf building at King's College in Kingsway.
Mon, 19 March 2012 21:50:26
Something About Nietzsche
Which began a while back with a block of limewood, some jaws and a hunch about how these might be unified.
A great deal of cutting profiles and scooping of eye sockets later....
Some more detail filled in, and on the carving clamp awaiting hair cutting and teeth carving. I didn"t mean this one to resemble Nietzsche in the beginning ; it just went that way, unstoppably. Nietzsche himself believed he was Dionysus in later years, so something of transformation was always on the cards here..... Photo by Roberta Ballestriero
The finished piece complete with deer jaws and a burial medallion from the 19th century : "Nietzchehirsch"
In the collection of A. McLachlan
Wed, 15 February 2012 20:05:09
Yearnings, Rescue, Homage, Angst, Abduction, Amor
A sculpture for the exhibition in Australia in various stages of development. The only restriction on its design was that it had to go by UPS couriers for under 4kg and pack into a 30cm cube box.
The head was built up hollow in hard wax. The atmosphere filtered in from a pair of Victorian opera gloves.
At some stage it starts to look like someone.....
It"s all about Max Klinger"s prints "Paradigm occasioned by the finding of a glove".
Its personality coalesces very late one night in the shed.
And it could exist just as a head, but not for this show
As it sits in the exhibition, channeling something from Miss Havisham and Brian Eno, as Paul Sutton kindly pointed out. Thanks to Steven Rendall for staging this one.
Wed, 15 February 2012 20:01:21
On The Bench Of Thoughts And Dares
Every new piece starts on this bench as a vague hunch, an ink splash or a bit of fiddling with something old.
Making some drawings about the wax reliquary busts I am sculpting: the head, reduced, compacted, hoarded.