BIRDS assignment 5

Geese and the sketch book

In my formative feedback Doug Burton said that my drawings and sketch book work needed to be improved. He wants me to use drawing in a creative way so that I experiment with ideas in the way that I do when I actually make things.

To this end I spent time with six geese, observing and drawing.

Strangely, they would not pose nor keep still. I was annoyed about this at first, then managed to capture, in my mind’s eye, the goose pose and put it down on paper after the goose had moved. I got quite excited by the whole experience. I believe that my drawings have gained a fluidity and spontaneity that they have previously lacked. I hope you agree, dear reader!

I have looked at ” creative pen & ink techniques” and love the movement and spontaneity of Rodin’s sketches of the dancer Alda Moreno, and the Cambodian dancers are full of movement and have a lively light touch. I also like Egon Scheile’s style. I saw Egon Scheile’s drawings at the Courtauld institute and was stuck by their strength and apparent simplicity.


Egon Scheile


Rodin’s Alda Moreno

I was pleased that my observational drawings of geese made me notice a lot of goosey characteristics that I had not seen before. The goose beak is a straight, boxy affair. It has a large upper portion and a thin but powerful lower part to the beak. I observed that geese do not have foreheads, unlike swans. Their tails are like the famous ‘duck’s arse’ imitated by teddy boys in their hair styles. They are made of soft feathers without the strong lines of flight feathers seen in, for example, kestrels.

They are very sociable animals and tend to do things in groups. They are not clever and if you throw them corn, they take ages to find it.

I decided to make a goose out of chicken wire, muslin and two sticks for legs. In my sketches and in real life , the orange of the beak is  vitally important to convey goosiness. I was living 40 minutes from the nearest shops and I managed to find an orange pleastic bag from sainsburies to use as the beak. The eyes were made from black plastic cable ties. Here is the sculpture.

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I intended to make a gaggle of geese but sadly, time allowed for only one. As I stated earlier, they are sociable and should be in a gaggle.

I will look at my sculpture in the following categories:-

weight; form; balance; life presence; stance.


My goose is light. She is made of chicken wire that encloses air. The muslin that makes up her outer shell is translucent. Her bill is plastic. She is very light and I wanted this because it add to her goose-like character.


This is a description of the shape of the sculpture.

My sculpture has an elliptical body and a crescent shaped neck and head. It could be described as an elongated ‘s’ shape.


My sculpture is well balanced. It has a long ‘s’ shape to it so that the tail is on the bottom left of the sculpture. This is counterbalanced by the head and neck in the top right corner of the sculpture.

life presence

My sculpture is supposed to embody the spirit of goose. I feel it does have life presence .


My sculpture has her head up, leaning forward and looking with interest at something in the distance.

My sculpture is light with fabric twisted round her in a spontaneous fashion. She works well ‘in the round’. She is supposed to be a bit like a three dimensional sketch of a goose which displays a lot of goosey characteristics.

I would like to have had six of them, like the six living ones. I could have shown their behaviour as a group.

I would have liked to have made webbed feet so that they could have been seen in the grass.  I wanted her to be situated near the live geese. I consider her to be an emblem of the type of farming that would have been present in many parts of the world prior to large scale industrial farmimn practised now.

My son’s six geese are to be killed at Christmas. They will be the centre piece of his Christmas and new year celebrations. He hopes to sell a couple to cover the costs of the four he and the family will eat.


Picasso was fond of modelling farm animals that he must have seen around. I really feel that these sculptures contain the characteristics of the animals that they portray without being exact replicas. i remember being impressed by how big the goat was when i saw it in Musée Picasso in Paris. It is goat size.




Guardian of Carraignamuc and the Shehymore mountains

wikipedia has the following to say about the Shehemore mountains :-

Geography and geology

The highest peak (also the highest mountain in County Cork), Knockboy (Cnoc Buí, “yellow hill”), is 706 metres high and most of the other peaks in the range are between 500 and 600 metres high. The River Lee rises in Coomroe, a small valley at the eastern end of the range, before flowing eastwards towards Cork Harbour, where it enters the sea. The peaks mostly consist of Old Red Sandstone laid down in the Devonian period. During the Ice Age, the Shehys took their present form, when glaciers carved out the many deep valleys in the area and also eroded the mountains down to their present height. When the icecaps retreated, they left behind hundreds of lakes in the valleys and on the mountain tops.


The Shehy Mountains are mostly covered with peat bogs and coarse grassland, but there are also some small conifer plantations scattered around the area. Plants typically found here include butterwortssundewsheather, and bilberry, among many others.


The animal species found in the Shehy Mountains are mostly the same as those found throughout the lowlands, but some are more often seen in the mountains than elsewhere, including:



The area has a very long history of human habitation, going back at least 5000 years. Numerous Neolithic megalithic monuments are found in the foothills and valleys, as well as ringfortsfulachta fia and later antiquities. One of the most historic sites in the Shehy mountains is Gougane Barra in the Coomroe valley, where Saint Finbarr established a hermitage in the 6th century. During the Irish War of Independence, the mountains were an IRA stronghold, and continued to be so for the anti-treaty forces during the Irish Civil WarScreen Shot 2017-09-19 at 18.14.23

This is a google map of the area.

The area is sparsely inhabited and maybe changed for ever by conifer forests and a wind farm. People lived off subsistence farming a generation ago and now most farmers in the area have to have a second income to make ends meet. My son is thought to be eccentric with his small holding with geese, ducks, hens, a cock, goats a couple of pigs, bees and now a single cow.

I love the land, the area, the people and the way of life.


I want to make something that is part of the landscape. I was interested to see Spencer Byles’ work called ‘a year in a French forest’.

forst sculpture1forest scul[pture

Byles’ work is as if it is part of the forest yet man=made.The circle of branches in the bottom left picture would be easy to miss in a forest and be thought of as part of the surrounding wood. I want to make my sculpture part of the farm and mountains yet man-made. I want him to be a guardian of carraignamuc  (which is Irish for ‘the rock of the pigs) and of the mountains. Initially I thought of my sculpture as a custodian of carraignamuc but then I looked up the difference between a custodian and a guardian: a custodian is a person entrusted with the custody or care of something or someone, a caretaker or keeper; while guardian a is someone who guards, watches over, or  protects. I want my sculpture to be a guardian. I would like my sculpture to blend in with the landscape and be part of it as Byles’ work is. I like his use of branches and twigs. I would like my sculpture to be a huge bird sitting on top of a hill so that a silhouette of him could be seen, black against the sky.

I also like Cornelia Parker’s work ‘hanging fire’ situated in the forest of Dean.


She made the flames in clay then got them cast in resin. This sculpture is not made of the forest but is striking and looks as if it is at home in the forest.

This sculpture has a magical element to it. I like the fact that it is 25 feet off the ground. The artist had the steel band made in the forest of dean and hoped that the sculpture would rust and age to become part of the forest. She didn’t write in her comments on the sculpture, but in common parlance, ‘hanging fire’ means to delay one’s actions. Maybe this means ‘don’t change this environment’. This is the message I would like to get across with my sculpture.


i found this small image on ‘bing images’. i think the sculpture is becoming part of the forest.

i want my sculpture to be above eyeline and to become part of the landscape.


Ents were tree-like people invented by J R R Tolkein in his books ‘ The hobbit’ and ‘the Lord of the Rings’. My bird will definitely be Ent-like.

I collected dead branches and started to form my bird.






The main, thick branches are making the tail and the wings. the structure is about 8 feet tall.

i started making it in a coppice where the branches had been cut. I added and shaped the bird by putting on extra branches, pulling them into place with plastic electric cable ties and cutting with secateurs. The difficulties in making the bird are:-

It is hard to reach his head to work on and when using a step ladder, it is difficult to see the effect of the changes from the ground.

Branches, being natural things, grow in their own way and not the way you may like. They have to be constrained into the the desired shape.

Because the bird is made of the same stuff as his surroundings it is difficult to see him as a separate entity and not some pile of branches.

After some time it became apparent to me that my bird was indeed in a coppice and not on the top of a mountain. Damn. The logistics of how to get him to the mountain were of great concern to me.  An 8′ tall bird and a 63 year old 5’6″ sculptor with a wheelbarrow.

I began my task and luckily a farmer and his wife visited and we put him in the wheel barrow, lifted him over a gate and plonked him on the raised land by the side of a track that goes to the mountain. He has to stay there, there is no alternative.

I had good feet on him but they disappeared into the grass. I defined them by tying white chicken feathers on to them.

Giacometti said that if you get the eyes right, the rest of the sculpture will follow (Tate modern exhibition video); I tried putting stones for eyes and wood for a beak. I did not want the ‘snow man’ look. I found broken discarded tiles from the old farm house and made eyes out of them. I tried to define the eyes with feathers. I put a piece of wood on for a beak. The head was more of a parrot’s head than a guardian’s head. I needed to make the head smaller and define the neck more. I put a wire around the neck to pull it in.


The top 2 photos show a less structured bird’s head. I love the wavy intimation of the beak. I think it looks good against the sky. It does, however, look too much like a bonfire and not sufficiently like a bird. The lower picture shows the smaller head and  the eyes and beak. The head is turned at right angles to the body. It also features the sphagnum moss and shamrocks I used for the breast.

DSC05493I love the symbolism of this material. Shamrock is the symbol of Ireland. Sphagnum moss is the plant that makes peat bogs. Peat bogs and sphagnum moss make a unique, acidic base that support an ecosystem comprising the carnivorous sundew plant and huge dragon flies and a host of other organisms.

Peat can preserve human bodies for thousands of years because of its acidic, damp properties. It has been used to dress wounds, with some success, particularly in world war one.


In the top photo can be seen the leg with feathers. the head turned to one side and the drooping beak can be seen in the final version of my sculpture. The bottom photo was taken looking upwards, thus excluding the surrounding vegetation. He looks as if he maybe on a hill top looking down. This is what I wanted.



Although my sculpture is heavier than I can lift, it is airy and light due to its low density. Light can be seen through it.


The structure is twiggy and has a pyramidal form. The two wings and the back and tail form the pyramid. It is not a very well defined structure and has a tendency to blend into the background a little.

contraposto and stance

It does not conform to the rules of contraposto but I feel that the head turned through ninety degrees give the bird a relaxed stance.

life presence

Yes! my bird has life presence.

In the round.

My sculpture works in the round, although in his present site he melts into the back ground a bit.

I am pleased with the size of my sculpture. He is an ambitious project. I like the body, the wings, and the head. I am not happy with the eyes and the beak. The eyes are not properly positioned in the head. The beak looks more like beaver’s teeth than a bird’s beak. I have sketched the eyes and the beak of an eagle onto the head of my bird.

I could not reach the head well and I was nowhere near a shop to get something beak-like. I did not want to use something like a carrot for the beak because it would look too snowman like. I also wanted to use something from the house or the land for the sculpture. It was a compromise.


I would love the sculpture to have been placed on a high rock so that he would look down on his land. I have done a painting of how I would like the bird to look down onto his land. He would have been very successful on a high rock.

Click to access sphagnum%20moss.pdf


A Flock in flight

Some years ago I went to southern Spain to watch birds. On at least two occasions, I was told ‘look, there is a flock of bee eaters. Twice, I did not see the birds. I was disappointed because they are beautiful birds.


The third occasion I was told that there were bee eaters, I saw them. Previously, I had been looking up and focusing too high where eagles could be seen but not much lower in the sky where bee eaters fly. It was quite confusing. How could I just ‘not see them’ when I ‘looked’ at them.

Similarly , there is a video , which, if you have never seen it before, is really interesting.

We see what we are looking for and not what we are NOT looking for. How can perception be so strange.

Throughout history people have been fascinated by flocks of birds. The fun people have describing flocks of different types of birds illustrates this: an exaltation of larks, a squadron of pelicans and a flamboyance of flamingoes!

What we think we see changes our emotions towards the sight we are viewing. This is well described by D H Lawrence in the poem ‘Bat’


At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise …
When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding …
When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno …
Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.
A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.
And you think:
“The swallows are flying so late!”
Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop …
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.
Never swallows!
The swallows are gone.
At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio …
Changing guard.
Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one’s scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.
Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;
Wings like bits of umbrella.
Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.
Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.
In China the bat is symbol for happiness.
Not for me!

With this in mind, I made a flock. I made seven birds and one aeroplane. I would have liked to make a whole series of things that fly such as a flying squirrel, a dragonfly and a bat. If I coloured them all similarly, it would be interesting to see who would notice that they were not all birds.

I wanted my flying things to be raku fired.This is a process involving getting biscuit fired pieces and putting raku glazes on them. The kiln is fired to about 1000 degrees centigrade,  the pieces are observed to make sure the glaze has vitrified, then the kiln door is open when the piece is red hot and it is allowed to cool rapidly.

The  glazes may contain copper salts, cadmium or even silver salts. The speed of cooling determines the effect of glaze achieved. If a copper-based glazed piece is removed and covered by saw-dust straight away, then the copper precipitates out, leaving the most amazing coppery glaze. If a piece painted with the same glaze is left uncovered by saw dust for a while, the piece will be green in colour.

I made my birds very roughly and daubed the glazes on quickly and without attention to detail. The birds were placed in the kiln by Austin Gannon, an extremely experienced ceramicist. I removed them using long metal tongs and wore protective face shield, gloves and jacket. It is hard to take the birds out from a red hot kiln without dropping them. Hooray, they all came out in one piece.

When they are cool enough, they are taken out of the saw dust and cleaned. A blackened lump of pottery, covered in burnt saw dust is taken and washed. It must be a bit like panning for gold. It is so exciting to see the colours and textures of the pieces as they are cleaned. Large pieces often change colour in front of your eyes as they still take time cooling.

IMG_2668.jpg I was so disappointed with the photos. These photos only hint at the finished articles and the excitement of their discovery.

I took them home and put shoe polish on them to seal them so that the silver and copper do not become dull and oxidise.

I now need to decide how to display them. Some have their wings placed upwards in the flapping involved in flight and some have their wings flapping downwards. One is in flight in the pose seen in the photograph of the bee eater. My birds are not actually bee eaters, they are just based loosely on them. I an not interested in replicating a bird exactly.

I decided that a dark background would work best. I wanted to photograph them in front of Birmingham engineering bricks that were used to make the walls by the canals.

I made a frame of bamboo and suspended them using black button thread.


I think this has great potential, however,  three birds broke in flight. They are SO fragile. One beak broke just because I tied a thread around it. Sadly, it is not feasible to suspend them. I display them  on my kitchen table.

Before arranging them, I decided to photograph the surfaces so they could be appreciated properly. The results are very exciting!



I have left the out of focus edge because it draws the eye to the focused area in the centre of the photo.

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I love the colours and the textures in the glazes. I think that the pixellated image at the bottom is also of interest. I have painted a picture of part of a glaze.







My birds are in many ways very successful sculptures. They have my ‘loose style’. I wanted the birds to be rough and not highly detailed and representational. I wanted them to give the impression of flying birds. I wanted the aeroplane to be the scale as the bird so people would say ‘Oh! it’s a plane’. (They do!) Their raku glazes are very successful. Where they have failed spectacularly is in their ability to form a cohesive sculpture which can be photographed with a neutral back ground. I imagine the seven birds skimming across a clear blue sky. I would have liked them to be suspended in air with the engineering bricks as if flying past. I could imagine them flying up towards the sky as if in a tornado.


Stone Carving

stone bird

i have decided to learn to carve in stone. i love the rotundity of Barbara Hepworth’s work (see research)  and found Andre Derain”s ‘nu debout’ interesting.





As far as stone birds are concerned, I love  Henri Gaudier Brzeska sculpture ‘rechercher’. Jacob Epstein’s ‘doves’ is charming. The latter piece looks incredibly hard to carve with the large gap between the two doves.

I had not done stone carving before i signed up to do a full time five day course at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

My reservation were thus;-

I have done a lot of figurative modelling in clay and the way i do this is to work and re work the proportions until I am happy with them. This involves a lot of adding and removing clay until it’s ‘right’. With stone, once it’s gone, it’s gone. No adding back. Terrifying.

I was concerned that I would be chiseling away for days and hate the result.

Slow, hard work and poor results were my concerns.

Before I signed up I looked at the work of the tutor for the course.

Her name is Marcia Bennettmale. She is a trained sculptor and a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. She concentrates on sculpting vegetables out of many different types of stone. I love her work. The pieces are small and self possessed. She often makes a stone plinth on which the piece sits. Her carrot sculpture conveys a sense of fun in the way it sits cheekily on it’s plinth. Her fennel is elongated and sophisticated. Her cabbage leaves are sensuous and curvacious.

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Understandably, i could not sleep the night before the course, full of excitement and fears.

As a beginner, I was advised to chose limestone. The choices were from Ancaster, Tadcaster and Clipsham stone. Ancaster and Tadcaster are fine, fairly smooth stones. They have a consistent texture which can be highly polished. Clipsham stone has been used in Lincoln Cathedral, the House of Commons and the Oxford colleges. It is sandy in colour and contains lumps of quartz in it. The quartz is hard and the sand is crumbly. It has little shells embedded in it.

The Ancaster and Tadcaster was mostly hewn into neat blocks whereas the Clipsham was like irregular lumps of rock. The Clipsham was intriguing. i was not drawn particularly to its sandy colour but liked the organic forms and its irregularities. The stones appeared to have a form and character already present and awaiting my discovery. I chose a piece that was best described as diamond shaped.


When making jewellery I study my piece of silver, which is frequently an offcut from a previous project and think about it. I think about its character and what it could be formed into. I do a similar thing with gem stones. This process can take a long time. Similarly, I studied my stone. I had the feeling that there was a bird inside the stone waiting to be expressed. I know this sounds a little far fetched but what I am trying to describe is that I like to work in response to my material if possible. I studied geese in Ireland and sketched them. I did not want my bird to be a goose or an eagle as such because that would restrict me to a certain form which might not be in the chosen stone.


I managed to locate the bird within the stone. It was difficult to make an exact drawing of the creature because it evolved during the carving. it was to be a representational bird not an abstract bird. Initially I did not know how much detail I would put into it or in what style i would carve it in. I was too concerned that it would have a head, body, tail wings, neck and breast!

Initially I used a punch chisel with a tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) head to rough out the bird. I then used a claw headed chisel which leaves 4 or 5 lines marked on the stone in its wake. I went on to use a 20mm flat chisel and a 10mm TCT chisels to get more definition and to enable me to do finer carving.

I roughed out the bird and Marcia advised me that she felt that the neck was too thin and the head was too small. “You can always reduce them in size later on.” “A very good point“ I thought. The Clipsham is not easy to work with and is friable in parts. I found that my stone had a dent in the back of the bird so that I had to take the back down so that there was not a depression on the left side of the back. The whole bird was leaning to the right with its (her) head tucked in to the left side of her body. The wings were open a little and she was crouching in that position. Marcia was not happy with the curve of the neck. She felt that it didn’t work as it was and asked me to take a lot of neck off the left side of the bird and increase the thickness on the right side. I did as suggested and this gave the bird a lovely smooth supple curve which was an improvement on the stiffer one I had given it. Initially I had tried to portray one of the wings with an upper and lower set of feathers with an angle to curve the wing inwards. Apart from anything else, that was what the stone was doing. Marcia was not happy with this arrangement and felt it did not work. She suggested inward curving wing feathers.






I was not happy with this because feathers do not naturally curve to that extent so I took the angle out and angled them with a slight curve inwards which I felt was satisfactory. Strangely, the eye of the bird seemed to appear in the Clipsham and I just defined it more.



I was disappointed when the bird was mistaken for a vulture. I think this was to do with the head size and the curved beak. I altered the beak to be more of a straight powerful goose beak with no forehead. This suited her better. I was not happy with her ‘ducks arse‘ tail (so beloved and copied in hair styles by teddy boys). I made the tail have more defined feather like that of a swan’s tail.

Initially I thought of leaving the breast undefined with rough chiseled marks between the wings and the neck. There were a few reasons for this. Firstly I felt that it would give more of an idea of the stone from which she came. Secondly I liked to see rough stone in a sculpture like some of Robin’s sculptures. Thirdly, I was inexperienced at carving and found getting rid of large quantities of stone very daunting as large amounts of energy would be expended inefficiently in its execution. On the afternoon of day 3 I found that my technique was improving so decided to tackle the the breast excavation. Marcia helped me marry up the back of the bird with the breast, not an easy thing to do when the whole of a sculpture cannot be seen at the same time.

In order to effect the breast shaping without chipping the friable lower edge of the sculpture and not ending up in hospital with debilitating back pain, it is essential to lay the bird on her back, upside down to do the work. The land marks I was using on the back were no longer visible but I proceeded to turn her from front to back regularly and finished the job.

I had the difficult job of carving the breast in a confined space with the boundaries of the head, the neck and the wing making it difficult to reach inside to complete the carving. Marcia helped by doing a little of this then left me to define the top of the head, the beak and the neck with a longer chisel that would reach inside this area.

With the help of my knowledge of geese I have decided that I would like the neck and head very smooth the breast less so and maybe the back and upper wings quite rough with the flight feathers quite smooth too. The latter may be difficult to achieve as they are at present fairly rough because the stone kept braking off when I used the chisel on it. I have one more day on the course to finish my bird. I will see what tomorrow will bring.

I used special files used for stone carving called ‘rifflers’. A lot of sand came off and I proceeded to coarse (no 40) sand paper. Eventually I graduated to 140 wet and dry paper. I was disappointed with the effect. It looked muddy in colour. When Marcia used a flat chisel she left a pristine surface in which I saw glistening flashes of pale blue quartz. I wanted to show this surface, smooth and bright on the neck of my bird.  All I got was a muddy surface. Marcia suggested that I brush off the muddy paste made out of the powdered, sanded stone mixed with water from my sculpture. I did not manage to achieve the surface I wanted. I need to do more work on this and then protect the surface from rain with a special wax. I was pleased with the feathery texture I made with a pointed chisel. The wings need more work so they are smoother, but not polished like the neck.




My carving was a major undertaking, taking a very long time to finish and was physically tiring.


This sculpture is heavy and looks it.


The sculpture is diamond-like in shape.

I am not entirely happy with the form. From a distance it does look a bit like a blob!

life presence

The sculpture has life presence. She is preening herself and looks introspective. She looks maternal to me.


the bird is bending over and preening her wings.


She is carved by the artist as was made popular by Branchusi, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. This is a traditional, craftsmanly piece of work.

I am pleased with her neck and her wings.  I like the texture of her breast and intend to work on the neck to see if I can get the sparkle of the quartz to show through.

The Phoenix

The Grenfell tower disaster shocked the world. The horror of it all. When I grieve I try to do something to  heal the wound. I wanted to make a memorial to the dead people and a symbol of what good could come out of this terrible disaster. I went past the tower when driving into London. It is a ghostly spectre. I wanted to make a phoenix arising from that skeleton.

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This is how I started. I knew I had a metal sphere I could use but did not know what I would use for the rest of it. It needed to be metal so it could arise from the cinders of a fire. It had to be from found objects from a city to convey its message.

I liked the ‘trees in Yorkshire Sculpture Park (although they are far too pristine for my liking)


  I had a frame that had once been for a swinging garden settee. I had my washing line pole, the stand for a dress maker’s dummy, a couple of wooden stake holders, a drill and bolts. I wanted the wings to be rising triumphantly from the ashes, like the posture of the eagle on the American dollar bill. I found some discarded spiral squiggly things that could intimate the decoration that my painted phoenix has around the eye. To get the scrap metal into this pose was difficult. I bought a drill bit for drilling metal and with the help of my friend Eeyasu, I managed to drill holes and put bolts into the swing stand to make a beautifully curved shape for the wings. We had to drill once more to fix the washing line pole in place. A rectangular column was embedded in the lawn and the phoenix was born. The next morning he was dead. Couldn’t stand the wind! 

A little disheartened, we set about the task of resurrecting him. This time my elderly friend used a heavy mallet to bury a large stake holder into the ground. I stood by ready to do cardiac resuscitation if necessary! Finally the phoenix was stable.


I decided that he needed a unifying colour. Peter Stevens, executive director of David Smith’s estate states: ‘white can be used as negative space.'(1)

In London and in other parts of the country too, it is customary to leave a painted white bike, often with flowers on it in a place where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured. This acts as a memorial to that person but also as a warning to drivers to be aware that they need to share the road. White it is then.




The next step was to make cladding and add something to indicate habitation. I used cardboard for cladding and fabric for this.


We put petrol on the panels but not enough. the fabric burned well. I wanted the metal to be a charred skeleton. I wanted it to rise triumphantly with new feathers on it.

I had to paint it black.


I have now completed it with feathers. On each feather is a number (there are 23 of them. For each feather there can be a message for what good the observer would like to come out of this dreadful tragedy. It can also be prayers or memorials. In Japan, on shrines, people tie pieces of paper with prayers on them. I want the phoenix to be similar.

The messages so far are :-

  1. change of government.
  2. The voices of the marginalised dispossessed are heard.
  3. building regulations are tightened up and enforced.
  4. The gap between the rich and the poor to be narrowed.

prayers-tied-to-a-fence-in-japan-eexhwc (1)



This works as a sculpture.

It appears light because it is thin and airy. Its form comprises arcs of a circle, a sphere and a triangle. It has a good balance to it. I like the way one wing is higher than the other which is counterbalanced by the bird’s head being turned to the side of the shorter wing. Does he have contraposto? Well, maybe! His stance is of an upright bird taking off.

I have not worked with steel before and was pleased that he didn’t collapse. I liked him white and I liked him black.

I wish I had been brave enough to contact the association for the survivors of Grenfell Tower to offer him to them. He may be a bright, colourful sculpture outside the skeleton of a building. I think people like posting positive messages as well.

Although the background to my sculpture is ‘busy’, for this sculpture I think it works.

I was disappointed with my furnace. We were not brave enough to put enough petrol on the panels. I was not happy with my cardboard panels. They should have been painted properly and left to dry. (I was beginning to lose the will to live at this point)

I like the feathers and the ideas they may represent. He could get covered with lots of feathers with messages. He would then look like a very plump, magnificent phoenix.


the watercolour sculptor

I have been trying to work on my drawing and observational skills. To this end I enrolled on a weekend watercolour course. I started by sketching the subject which was Rosa Rugosa. This plant has voluptuous (rose)hips!

DSC05874 (1)



After drawing lightly in pencil I added an appropriate wash to my painting. I used a technique called ? wet in wet, where two colours can be applied while wet, and moved around on the surface of the paper. The washes were left to dry and I applied fine detail with a fairly dry brush. The brush was ‘rolled and dragged ‘ prior to painting. I don’t think I’ll make it as a botanical water-colour painter. Two days for one small painting and it was still only a two dimensional piece of paper at the end of it all.


I did learn a lot.  Teacher liked my painting and said I had a nice ‘loose’ style. I like to think that my style is similar to that of Shirley Hughes, the children’s author and illustrator (Dogger etc)

I feel that this exercise has helped my observational skills, my use of paint and colour. This will help me in future in my depiction of sculptures either real or imagined.

reference 1 for the phoenix.

appraisal of the whole of assignment assignment 5

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I have learnt a whole new skill of stone carving during assignment 5. This is a hard skill to learn and I am pleased with the outcome of my first stone sculpture. I would like to work on this skill further and use it in a more adventurous way.

I used my visual skills to capture the geese that I drew in my sketch book. I need to do more sketching and sculpting from life.

I learnt something of working with found metal objects and used a metal drill bit with a drill to put bolts through the metal to hold it up.

I learned to capture the essence of a goose with wire mesh, sticks, a plastic bag and muslin.

I learned how to fashion large branches into a bird using secateurs, plastic cable ties and found objects.

I demonstrated my skills of making clay birds and biscuit firing them myself. I demonstrated my skills in raku firing and learned when to cover the piece with saw dust to get the best effect.

quality of outcome

My most successful pieces as far as quality of outcome are the stone bird and the phoenix. I felt that they both worked very well as sculptures.

I would have liked my flock to have been better in its final display but I was too ambitious for it.

My goose could have been the start of a grand project but I had to leave Ireland and the scope of a single assignment, by necessity, must be limited.

My ‘guardian’ is statuesque in its size. I would have loved to make his face more fitting to his role but time did not allow for this either.

I would have loved to have made massive rose hips moving in the sky, similar to Phyllida Barlow’s submission for the `Venice Biennale’ called ‘folly’

demonstration of creativity

I feel that the sculptures I have made are ambitious in their vision and original in their execution. The materials used are wide ranging and demonstrate the armamentarium of skills I have at my disposal.

personal style

When a potter throws a bowl , you can see from its shape that a particular pair of hands has formed it. My water colour teacher described my style as ‘loose’. I think my creative style is for big gestures rather than precision. The overall effect is is what I aim for rather than fine detail.




Assignment 4

Bas relief is going to be a challenge to make. In preparation for this I visited Tate Britain looking for bas relief , and visited the Paulozzi exhibition in the Whitechapel gallery. In October Last year, I visited the Guggenheim museum in New York and saw the work of Agnes Martin. I was also able to visit the ‘MOMA’ in new York where I saw  works by Mondrian.

Agnes Martin was an American painter who had schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is characterised by the symptoms of visual and auditory hallucinations among other things. Agnes Martin loved painting highly geometric paintings which she mathematical calculations for, to make sure they fitted her picture frame. she found this work made her tranquil. I expect that the hallucinations were less intrusive while she worked. DSC02537


‘falling blue’ oil and graphite on linen 1963

Every blue line was first drawn in pencil then in blue. If you look at the top image, it looks to me that there is a secret image present within the painting. It’s not a reflection. I would love to make this with 3 d corrugations for the lines and hide a secret picture in there as well.



I was excited and impressed when I saw ‘ Broadway bougie woogie’ (1st image) It was very different the work normally associated with Mondrian, ‘composition 11 in red yellow and blue. It was influenced by bougie woogie jazz and i love the thinner lines in it that look almost cartographical.

‘Rotation’ by Colin Jones, has great three dimensional properties. It’s clean and white with plenty of shadows to add high lights and interest to the sculpture. I would like to use this in my sculpture.

I then went on to think about Harry Beck’s 1933 tube map. This map was a schematic view of the underground stations, baring no resemblance to a map that takes geographical distance between the stations. Initially thought to be to radical an map for use, a few maps were circulated and they were hugely popular and went into general circulation. His style has been copied around the world, subsequently.

What attracts me to this map is the geometrical features and the use of colour. I also like to think about the places between the stations that are never seen when on the underground and the geography only hinted at in the map.


I will base my sculpture on this bit of the map. My friends live at the Barbican so i know this bit well. It is not 3 dimensional and, for a bas relief I would like to make it more so, perhaps by adding the type of terrain found in the unrepresented gaps between the stations. IMG_1949IMG_1943IMG_1944IMG_1948IMG_1945IMG_1765

In my thinking of this relief, I have considered the Pompidou centre. It would be great to make a relief similar to that.

what  great relief that would make! I love the colours.fullsizeoutput_103e

this is what happened when I made my bas relief in silver.

Firstly I glued my design on a wax sheet. I then cut the outline out, then worked on each panel until I had the design I wanted. I and my teacher (Nick Greenhough ) then packed delft sand casting sand clay into a metal cylinder. We then got anther cylinder and attached it to the lower cylinder. We added more Delft sand, packed it down, removed the wax, made a hole in the upper layer of sand in order to pour liquid silver in and holes to let the steam and smoke out.

This is a risky process and does not necessarily work! We did this afew times until I was happy with the result.

IMG_1950 I like the different textures, the haphazard edges that didn’t fill mold made by the casting sand. It has a lovely cool feel to it and it’s heavy.

I have gone on to make a plaster relief made with plaster and clay.

Firstly I made  a flat piece of clay , drew a the design on, added texture and different planes and angles on. I poured plaster of paris on it. You can see the cast with clay attached to parts of it.


I have now finished my first bas relief. I have smoothed it, painted it with primer and then with acrylic paints. I used a spray paint for the large area of black.

Appraisal Bas relief s in project 1

I have worked very hard at the research and the executing of both my cast silver piece and the cast plaster. I have used a wide variety of textures. I have used startlingly bright colours to good effect. I like the overall look of the piece and like the effect of the wafer thin pieces of plaster in the black area and how the light plays on them. I feel that the yellow ploughed field is remencient of Agnes Martin’s work.  I like the white row s of what could be corn stubble. The different areas could represent magical places , yet to be discovered between the underground stations. I like the fact that it is not highly representational so as to leave the viewer the freedom to interpret it as they wish.

I am pleased with the silver bas relief. I like the way the themes in it are echoed in the plaster work that came after it. Again I like the textures to be found within different sections of the piece. I would have liked more of the detail present in my wax carving to be transferred to the silver.

Bas relief 2

At my time in life, death is becoming more of a reality for me. If I were 21 , i would probably be doing a bas relief about sex. I was interested in Eric Gill’s   sculpture ‘ecstacy’ that he made in 1910 but never exhibited it . He sold it privately. He was influenced by carvings done in India and the far east so started carving directly into the stone. I don’t think it expresses ecstacy but is of interest.DSC03869

Tombs and grave stones come to mind. the work is to be a study for my grave stone. I want to put into the piece a lot of things that I love. I intend to make the surface like that of a Paulozzi sculpture. I want to impress on the surface , a lot of the tools I use. I want to put my pottery tools, my jewellery tools, paint brushes , maybe add makeup and gardening stuff. I started with my pottery tools, I then impressed my wedding ring and engagement ring in. I was pleased with the effect. I went in to the garden to check my seedlings and saw lovely greenery and flowers. I decided they would look great on my grave stone and be very much part of my personality.

Above is Paulozzi’s cyclops. the other sculptures are on display in the Paulozzi exhibition at the whitechapel gallery, London. I like the fact that you can see through the sculpture , through holes.I decided that I wanted holes in my sculpture.

Above are sculptures by Miro, which I photographed in Barcelona. I like the impressed plants which are like mine.( rather, mine are like his!)


The top photos are of my sketches of the flowers ready to impress on the clay. The plants were then pressed onto the clay with a rolling pin. A crescent can be seen on the clay where I want to have a hole in the plaster so I can see through the tomb stone.

Rocket, ivy and the flower London’s pride can all be seen in the clay, and in the plaster of the tomb stone.

I sprayed the plaster grey which I think goes well with the bas relief of the grave stone.

I had thought about making ‘a study for my coffin, putting a mask of me underneath the horseshoe hole in the stone then putting pillars round the edge to make the stone into a coffin. In the end I decided that this was complicated and a bit too contrived.

I feel that the flowers , in particular the ivy, are more reminiscent  of victorian sentimentality and the pre-raphaelites than Paulozzi.

Being from Birmingham, I grew up with Millais’ images and do love them dispite their sentimentality.

3 paintings by Sir John Everett Millais that I grew up with (‘the blind girl’ and ‘the long engagement’ both being in Birmingham art gallery and ‘Ophelia’ being in Tate Brittain. I did not want this type of sentimentality but it is obviously deeply ingrained , so go with the flow.


This works well as a bas relief. It is fit for purpose and maybe I should get it made in something permanent for later use! It will save my family a tidy sum of money. I like the hole in it. I used a high ‘f’ number on my camera to get the  ‘clematis montana rubens Elizabeth’ in focus as well as the stone, in the last photo. I feel that my garden is the most appropriate site to photograph it in too.

I like the bleak grey which shows the relief well. I am pleased I did not continue it as a study for my coffin and turned it into a tomb stone.

Bas Relief 3

When I went to India in 2015 I visited a fort in Rajasthan which had a bas relief on a wall leading up to the fort. This was a relief of women’s hands who had thrown themselves on their husband’s funeral pyres.I found this shocking.


The forts were sometimes attacked by Muslim neighbours. In that society it was thought that it was better to die with your husband than to live a life as a widow who could be raped by enemies or live a life which may involve neglect and starvation. This practice was only outlawed in 1938. When I saw those hands it made me think of the dead womens’ children , sisters, brothers and parents. Think of the sadness of a child to find he has lost both parents.I feel that women world wide can be subject to inequality , cruelty and humiliation.  I wanted to changed the ending in the story portrayed in the bas relief of endless hands of dead women.

i want to portray a woman’s hands in a relationship that allows freedom and growth for that woman.

I decided to make a decorative rope around the dead womens’ hands to emphasise the constraints in which they lived. (they lived in purdah ). I want to portray the hands bound at the wrist as a further constraint. I decided to use alginate mould making material for my ‘free’ hands. I want to put them on a plain background.

Being very expressive parts of the body, it is not surprising that other artists have done this.

In the Boston museum of art, I saw these:-


I want the bas relief to be large with many hands. I want to portray a lot of the things I like to do. I wanted to show hands doing the action for ‘incy wincy spider’, cooking, percussing a chest at work and holding a stethoscope.

Firstly I started by making a rectangular base in clay. I then made impressions of my right hand in the clay. I got rope and framed them with it I got wire and impressed it into the clay by the wrist. I calculated the amount of fine casting plaster I needed , then i made the bas relief.



Who would choose to be a sculptor? Undeterred, I re formed the clay, put batons round it and re cast with more plaster of paris. I made a bucket full of plaster . As I was mixing it, I thought that that it was still lumpy so continued mixing. It was actually setting. I poured the plaster into the mould while it was setting.

I found that my huge hands looked even bigger after I re formed the clay. There was little space for my alginate hands, so I decided to limit my alginate cast hands to two pieces. I made one of my left hand holding a pencil and one of my husband and my hands.

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fullsizeoutput_1047This sculpture is messy and chipped. The terra cotta shows through the white paint in places. I think this is a perfect finish a bas relief with Indian influences. It is not how I initially envisaged the final piece but the fewer number of hands in the lower half  of the sculpture is more effective than many hands would be. I am very pleased with the alginate moulded hands and their contrast to the stylized impressions of hands above.

casting internal space.

I have studied Rachel Whiteread’s work and found it to be interesting. ( please see section on ‘research’)I have made castings of plastic pots for seedlings, plastic take away type food boxes and a mixing bowl. Sadly, I did not find these objects remotely of interest.

My three children all work with food. My older son has moved to ireland to grow organic food in the west of Ireland. My younger son is a chef restaurateur and my daughter owned , ran a cafe is a chef and is now working as a baker. We love and respect food.

I decided to cast the insides of two contrasting red peppers , the inside or a cauliflower’s leaves and the insides of pistachio nuts. I found these very interesting.


I do not feel that these shapes lend themselves to being cut and used in a modular form to create sculptures. I have assembled them to create sculptures.

sculpture 1

DSC04231DSC04232I will call this sculpture ‘pudding bowl cauliflower and pepper hat’.  I think this looks comical, especially in my oil pastel  portrayal.


I think this sculpture works well in the round. It has life form. It has contrasting textures and although the base is weighty, I think the long pepper gives height and grace.

sculpture 2

oops! the ink spilt!


This is made of seedling pots with broken cauliflower leaves on them with a central flower of cauliflower and red pepper.


this small piece is almost moon scape like. it works well in the round. It looks good in monochrome in bright sunlight.

sculptures 3 and 4


Here I have another variation of the pepper/cauliflower sculpture and a hand escaping from a concrete block.

Here I will depart from peppers and cauliflowers.

Strange Fruit

In 1937 in the USA, Abel Meeropol, a teacher, saw the body of a black man who had been lynched and hung on a tree. This prompted him to write the poem ‘strange fruit’

Billie Holiday made it into a famous song. It was powerful , restrained and deeply moving . Nina Simone took the song and made it even more powerful.

these are the words ;-

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Black Americans were killed, enslaved and humiliated throughout America’s history.

There is now an even bigger killer. It is sponsored by big multinational companies and targets those already in poverty and slowly kills them. The killer is obesity.  The worst type is childhood obesity. I went to ‘home bargains’ to buy stuff that I would call ‘fake food’. Cheese puffs, packets of bacon flavoured fake food, cereal with marsh mallows in, (when did THAT happen?) a big bucket of salty sugary pop corn was there for £1-49p. sugary sweet dummies etc etc.

I decided to fill a babygro full of plaster of paris so it could symbolise a fat child. I think it worked really well.


In this picture I have tried to use negative space and white pastel to show the ‘fat child’. Here, the head is made by the pudding bowl. It could even be called sculpture 5!

I then took the addictive fake food and mixed some of it with plaster of paris. I hung it on my apple tree as ‘strange fruit’. Yes , it is a strange sculpture but so are these ;-

p.3_fraser_002-1-634x700Bed 1980-1 by Antony Gormley born 1950

Th first is a sculpture I saw in the modern art museum in Barcelona (MACBA) by Andrea Fraser. It was part of a major retrospective of her art. She is an  American artist and this piece is called something like ‘costumes of  fantasies’ but the title is in Portuguese.

The second piece is a bed made out of bread by Anthony Gormley

I have made one sculpture of the fat child having a picnic under the tree with the strange fruit on it and the second sculpture is of the fat child on top of the fake food. The ribbons from the ‘strange fruit’ wrap round the fat child.


Sculpture 6

This is the finished piece.

This piece is unusual. It does contain the interiors of packets of food and the interior of a babygro. The babygro does look like a macabre , headless , fat child but in some ways it looks cuddly and endearing. I think it works well as a sculpture although the apple tree is not clearly defined from the back ground garden which it is if you see it in my garden. I feel that a suburban garden is a fitting setting for this sculpture.

sculpture 7


Now the fat child is trapped by the fake food. This looks a bit as if it has been taken in a rubbish dump. This is the intention. The fat baby/child thrown away like detritus with the fake food. this is not a pretty sculpture. I think it is powerful and thought provoking.

Appraisal of assignment 4

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

During this assignment I have learned how to carve wax, cast silver, make a plaster of paris cast of a clay. I have used ‘alginart’ mould making material for casting hands.

I have changed my attitude to my sketch book. I go to figurative sculpture classes. My teacher, Paul Brown, ( ) has studied illustration as well as being a sculptor. He suggested a good quality sketch book , being lighter in touch, using cross hatching rather than smudginess. He suggested a 2B pencil, the use of inks and being more free in my style. I think my sketches and larger pieces are better and done with much more care than in the last assignment. I have used oil pastels for the first time and am excited by their vibrancy.

Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas

It is difficult for me to be objective about this.  I have been to a great many galleries and exhibitions since I started this course. I feel that I have absorbed a lot about art in a more conscious, deliberate and academic way. I feel that I draw on this appropriately and in a coherent manner.

I have ideas and i conceptualise them. I feel that I could use my blog to record my ideas before they fly away. I have put my photographs in a way that describes the progression of my work better than in previous assignments.

I like to express myself in a fairly direct unfussy style of writing.

Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice

I am ambitious in my sculpture I experiment and take risks in techniques and concepts.

I like to be inventive ( I’ve never seen a plaster cast of a babygro before!) I want to improve my technical skills so I can expand my sculptures  to equal the ideas that i would like to undertake.

I am exploring the development of a personal voice. I have tried a different style of drawing involving fibre tips and ink. I would like to develop this style further. At this stage I do not want to be constrained by a style which i believe to be ‘my voice’ Similarly , i want to experiment with art installation as well as bas reliefs and stand alone sculptures.

Context – reflection, research, critical thinking

I believe that I contextualise my work well. I am a reflective learner, although I may not always write my reflective processes down in enough detail.

As far as research is concerned, i read widely, I visit many exhibitions  and need to concentrate on writing the knowledge down.

assignment 4 research

The Elgin Marbles

Lord Elgin removed many art works from around the world and many of them are in the British Museum in the ‘Duveen gallery’. The pieces we know as the ‘Elgin Marbles’ should be referred to as ‘the Parthenon marbles’ The Elgin marbles comprise sculptures in the round, high relief and bas relief sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens. ref.1

The large sculptures came from the pediment at the front of the parthenon. The high reliefs are from an architectural term called ‘metopes’ ( see diagram)

The metopes depict battles between centaurs ( who were representing the Persians , who were the enemies of Athenians) and the Lapiths who were war like people.


The sculptures sculptures from the pediment comprise large figures telling the stories of the goddess Athena. They have beautiful flowing robes and are exquisite sculptures. they have none of the stiff formality of the later Roman  figures. Perhaps my favourite sculpture is the selene horse head. It is beautifully displayed on a plinth.220px-Elgin_horse_2d

The 15 metopes are stylised high reliefs of battle scenes220px-Ac_marbles

They are lively works. Look at the detail in the man’s left knee and correct anatomy in the man’s right arm. He is flexing his biceps.  The flexor and extensor muscles are clearly seen in the forearm.


The frieze depicts various processions with people, horses and riders. the works were all done around 447-438 BC and the artist, Phidias, oversaw the work.  The frieze is in low relief. Linear perspective was not used and the horses were offset to show that one horse is behind another.

The Baptistry gates Florence

Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378–1455)

In 1401 a competition was held to find an artist to make the North gates of the Baptistry in Florence.  These gates was vital to the life of Florence. Every one in Florence passed through the gates at one time or another. The competition was fierce for the commission to make the gates. Lorenzo Ghiberti won it by a narrow margin. Close on his tail was Filippo Brunelleschi.  

Luckily for mankind, Brunelleschi went off in a huff to study architecture. In 1401 the artistic style was more Gothic than renaissance. the North gates were traditional with an ornate frame around the bas reliefs which depicted scenes from the New Testament.

The gates took 21 years and had several famous artists assisting Ghiberti in their execution. In 1423 Ghiberti was commissioned to do the east gates of the Baptistry. A lot had happened in the intervening 23 years in the early Renaissance. Brunelleschi had discovered linear perspective and Donatello had described a way of portraying this in Bas Relief. (This was know as ‘rilievo schiacciato’ meaning flattened relief.)Tastes had also changed. Gone were the ornate frames found in the North gates. Instead there are simple square panels with a story from the new testament seen in each. The use of linear perspective is clearly seen, especially when building are portrayed. The people in the panels are shown in naturalistic poses (using contraposto) and are lifelike.

When Michelangelo saw them he declared them to be ‘the gates of paradise’

Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005)

Eduardo Paulozzi was born in 1924 of Italian parents. (ref 2). His grandfather and Father were killed in 1940 in a ship that was blown up. He studied art and was one of the most prolific and influential sculptors of the 20th century. ( ref 3).

The above photographs from the Whitechapel retrospective of his work in London, show his delight in impressing various pieces of scrap metal in his works. I also love the ‘windows ‘ he puts in which allow you to see into and right through his work. I like the texture and the rough rather bleak colour of the metal sculptures.

He did wide and varied work as can be seen from his playful , brightly coloured piece called ‘ Diana as an engine 1’

He also made very large figurative sculptures towards the end of his life, such as ‘Faraday’ which was installed in Birmingham University, right near my house , in 2005, shortly before his death.


He is bold, strong and automaton like in appearance.

Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread was born in 1963. Her father was a labour party supporter and a geography teacher. Her Mother was an artist. She studied painting at Brighton polytechnic then went on to the Slade to study sculpture. Her first casting of a negative space was when she pushed a spoon into sand and then poured lead into the impression that the spoon had left. She was fascinated by this process which affected her subsequent work. While in Brighton she cast flotsam and jetsam from the beach using wax as a casting material.   She was influenced by Eva Hesse, an American artist who was minimalist and feminist.


She started casting the interiors of objects to reveal their inner secrets. She cast the insides of pieces of furniture that she would have grown up with as a child. She cast her grandmother’s table , adding the formica leaf which was kept in an adjoining room for use when needed.

yellow leaf

It is said that her work suggests a shared sense of history, with the viewer who will be familiar with that bed, or piece of furniture. She photographed many mattresses lying in the streetand felt that they take on human characteristics by their pose. An early work of a bed interior was called ‘shallow breath’ 1988


This work was completed soon after her Father’s death from heart failure. Heart failure causes extreme shortness of breath. It is said that this sculpture has fine hessian threads from the mattress cover that resemble human hair. it has also been stated that the title ‘shallow breath’ and that the impressions made by the bed slats give the impression of a rib cage of a frail old man fighting for breath. (ref  4)

I have seen many people terminally ill and some dying from heart failure but this sculpture does not even get near the impression of those patients that I saw . I think it may be different if I actually saw the sculpture rather than a photo in a book.

Rachel Whiteread is a highly acclaimed artist of world renown. She made a house sized sculpture of the interior of a victorian house prior to demolition. This house won her the Turner prise in 1993. She has cast many interesting things since. she has made a memorial for the holocaust, put a sculpture on the ’empty plinth’ in Trafalgar square.

When looking at images of her work all lined up in little boxes in a google search, they look intriguing. I need to visit some to appreciate them fully.Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 02.36.19.png


  1. The British Museum
  2. Eduardo Paulozzi foundation.
  3. Herbert Read modern sculptur
  4.  R.W. (Rachel Whiteread)  by Charlotte Mullins published by Tate.

clay and plaster


Assignment 3

I am having great difficulty with this assignment. Firstly, Jim Unsworth, my tutor, resigned and I used to have an internal dialogue when working. It was like this: “I wonder what Jim will think of this work? Will he think this silly or really good?”

The second problem is that I have worked with clay for 30 years and was really  looking forward to making five sculptures in clay. I had planned to make two in heavily grogged clay which is good for big sculptural forms, two in smooth throwing clay, and one in paper clay which has the properties of being strong and quite delicate, thus thin forms could be made.

I re-read the assignment guidance and realised that these were not to be fired but to be squashed down and re used. During the time that I have been preparing, making notes and planning this assignment, I have gone in a lot of different directions, groping my way around the brief.

It would have helped to put the amount of clay needed in terms of 12.5 kg bags. I thought it would be three bags but it was more like four.

After talking to my new tutor, Doug Burton, I felt more reassured.

The points that I found helpful were when he talked of using positive and negative space and that I could do other projects (which could be fired) later on in the course.

Having said the above, what I aim to do in this course is to stretch and extend my skills and my ways of expression which I believe I have achieved by this different approach. (I am still going to moan about re-using and reprocessing the clay which took hours. I did, however, learn to use my pug mill that I have had for four years and was scared to use. I am now a pug mill expert!)

sculpture one



Sculpture one.

This started out in life as a thrown form., (see above) I threw a cylindrical pot with about 12lbs of clay then threw a large cylinder with no bottom of a similar size. I waited for  the thrown pot to harden up then  put the thrown cylinder on top. I tried to close the form at the top but found it easier to make an inverted pot and put it on top. If the form is enclosed then it is possible to alter the form by hitting it.The air caught inside it gives it strength and once the enclosed form is broken and the air is let out, it can collapse. I had made a big monolith. I tried to bring it to life by putting a a spiral into it. I was not happy with this so i tried to hang it in a cloth to make a bend in it. While doing this , the enclosed form was broken and when I unwrapped the cloth the next morning it had collapsed.

This was the most interesting form so far.

Not to be disheartened, I tore the clay apart and found a beautiful pattern inside, made by the clay molecules as they moved and aligned themselves in a circular pattern.(please see my sketch and the photo at the bottom of this section)Peter Voulkos used pieces from thrown work for his piece ‘comeback mountain’ too.

My son has moved to Ireland and is in the process of moving to West Cork.  I have spent a long time looking at Google maps and imagining the possibilities he has in the tumble-down farm with seven acres.I drew a contour map of the area that my son has moved to.

I have seen what look like relief maps done by other artists, Roger Hiorns’ installation at the Ikon gallery being one and Laddie John Dill (sand sculpture above) being another. Linda Benglis’ sculpture ‘Blatt’ looks like Africa to me (see photo above). I wanted to make a fantasy land, full of possibilities and using the textures I have discovered in my new way of working with clay. The final contour of the piece was not important to me. I wanted the sculpture to be a piece that you could imagine walking around and climbing over.



After a hesitant start I feel that I have produced a sculpture with interest.It is like a fantasy land. There are turrets, undulating hills, paths to walk down. It works well in the round and has life force in it. As a whole composition I do feel that it came across as lacking in a bold outline form and looked messy but that is the imprsssion I was aiming at.

sculpture two



Rebecca Warren ‘Regine’ 2007 bronze

assignment3 - 60

For this sculpture I was going to try to drip clay slip into mounds and create a sculpture similar to  Rebecca Warren’s work. Unfortunately I got waylaid and decided to do my second sculpture in a taller more architectural way. I found that the tops of the tall forms had to touch, or have buttresses to support them.

I found this quite pleasing and very architectural.

In August last year I visited Barcelona and saw many of Antoni Gaudi’s buildings.

As the sculpture developed it became more and more reminiscent of Gaudi’s ’Sagrada Familia’ basilica. I decided to put buttresses all round the edge to accentuate its architectural qualities.

I wanted the sculpture to have more contrast and definition in it so I added white paint from one side.

assignment3 - 61




I felt that this added a snowy look to my sculpture that I liked.

I placed it on the plastic cover to my work shop and it was too delicate to move. Unfortunately the surroundings intrude into the photographs.

I feel that this sculpture has movement in its twisting towers and a certain vitality there too. I like the detail that can be seen in the close up. I like  the small dome-like structure which could be the entrance to the basilica.

sculpture three

Let’s go to New York

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While i was in New York in October, I walked across Brooklyn bridge at sunset. It was the best thing we did in New York. We saw the Manhattan skyline in daylight, sunset, dusk and night. The skyline is a product and an emblem of the extreme wealth in the USA and it made me think of all the ‘little guys’ that  enabled it to be built. ’Little guys’ being both men and women of course. On Tuesday, November 8th 2016 we learned the news that Donald Trump was to be 45th president of the USA. The ‘little guys’ in America were to be let down again.

My sculpture features the Empire State building and Trump tower with its terraced gardens like the ‘ziggurats of Ur’

To emphasise the opulence of the buildings I sprayed them gold.

I then had a fantasy that the ‘little guys’, symbolised by paper strands would destroy those symbols of extreme wealth and build a monster woman.

There is a poem by WB Yeats called ‘Easter 1916’ (I have included the full text of the poem in my chapter on research.) It is about an attempt by the Irish to gain control of Ireland from the English. When describing  the Easter rising, he says ‘a terrible beauty is born.’

I want the female form, which was created from the Empire state building and Trump tower, to be that terrible beauty.

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Let’s be honest. I love this piece of work. I think it works really well as an individual piece of work and even better as a series of sculptures being broken down and re created (see the slide show directly above).

I think that the buildings are fairly effective. I like the way they throw a shadow. They work fairly well in the round. I was not happy that they were a bit lumpy and bumpy but it could be said that that gives them character?

I think the gold paint worked well. I have not sprayed clay, either fired or non fired, with (Christmas) gold spray before and I think it works well.

I like the progressive movement to the shredded paper over the sculpture and I like the destruction and the creation of the terrible beauty.

I am very disappointed in the the photographs of the terrible beauty. She is indistinct. The shredded paper gets in the way of the viewer seeing her form. This was much less apparent ‘in the flesh’.

I have made a small  a flip book out of the pictures. With more work to it, the flip could be really good.The clay has been put through the pug mill and been turned into sculpture four.

sculpture four


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When I looked at my pugged clay that I had spent all afternoon in a freezing garage making, I thought it would be a good idea to use the extruded forms to create a sculpture. This sculpture could be a sphere, as suggested in the course guidelines and could reflect back to the pregnant abdomen of assignment 2.

Many artists have used extruded materials.

Anish Kapoor used extruded concrete in his one man exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

I like the look of the extruded clay. It looked clean and smooth.

I built it up in circles on top of each other, leaving holes between some of the pieces in an irregular fashion so that the light could get in (or out) to add interest to the form. It would be great to make it 50 foot tall and be able to walk around in it, or add ropes and ladders to climb up and down it. It could have a helter skelter running inside it and outside it if it were even bigger. It could be similar to Carsten Höller’s helter-skelter slides!

I put a candle inside to see how light coming from inside would look. I liked the warm glow which suited the terracotta well. I placed my sculpture on a large circular mirror. This has given the sculpture more of an hour-glass look to it when seen with the reflexion in view.

Appraisal sculpture four

This sculpture was made quickly and is a simple form. It does not really have much life force in it. I think the reflexion in the mirror worked quite well. The light inside gave a warm glow that I liked. The photographs with the candle light in are interesting in the way that they show the clay, roughened and indented by being handled and the pieces that have been caught by the light show the  circular pattern inside the sculpture.

It works well in the round. It is my least favourite piece. It is perhaps perfunctory.

It could have been improved by turning it into a coil pot, worked into a beautiful form such as made by Magdelene Odundo. It could have then been smoke fired. Gorgeous!


Sculpture five

I wanted to do a bust. I could explore all sorts of styles and facial features. I started on my bust. I made the bust very roughly and realised that the distance from the face to the back of the head was too great. This often happens to me when doing heads because I work the features by adding clay to the face and eventually I’ve put so much on that I have to cut the face off and cut a slice off the head then re attach the face. (Thank goodness I don’t work in stone!) I cut the face off and found that it was an awful lot easier to work on a flat surface, particularly with the light in my work shop.

The face took on a slightly spooky look when flat on the work surface. There are two things that went through my head when i saw the head.

The first was the work of the Della Robbias. I love their terracotta reliefs with the classic white, blue green and yellow.


The second thought I had was of Salome, the young woman who danced for Herod the King.

Salome was the daughter of Herodias, Herod’s wife. Salome danced so beautifully for Herod on his birthday that Herod promised her anything she liked to have, up to half of his Kingdom. Salome asked her Mother what to ask for and her Mother said ‘ask for John the Baptist’s head on a plate.’

Horrific. I decided to make the face similar to mine and put it on a plate just in case President Trump came for afternoon tea. I would do anything to persuade him that his policies are dreadful. I would give him my head on a plate. This head would ask him to stop his evil ways. I thought he could drink from a giant cup. It would say ‘drink me’. In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Alice drinks a bottle labelled ‘drink me’ and shrinks to become very small. I don’t know what the effect of the potion in the cup for the president would have. We will have to wait until he drinks it.

I wanted to lay the head on a plate and the cup on a table traditionally laid out, English style, with a white cloth and cut glass etc. I do not have the space to do this.

I need a house empty of extraneous objects to photograph my work in.assignment3-1-4


Appraisal sculpture five

Sculpture five is a bit weird. It could be called contrived and preposterous. I like it. The large plate is well thrown and good to look at. It is slightly domed in the middle so if the president were to eat the head, the gravy would collect around the edge of the plate, which is not ideal.

I like the fact that the plate, the head and the cup are all giant sized.  The cup was thrown as part of the tableau, not for drinking from in everyday life. It was made much heavier than my domestic ware so is now heading for the recycling bin.

I am pleased with the head. I used my book  ‘Modelling the head in clay’  text by Malmstrom and sculpture by Lucchesi.

I made measurements from my face and put my deviated nasal septum into the face. I learned about the importance of the underlying structure of the eye sockets and the structure above the eye fits into the face. I have never done an open mouth before and was quite pleased with the effect.

sculpture six


My first sculpture using expanded polystyrene and plaster of paris.

I wanted to do so much with this medium. In particular, I wanted to make a sculpture based on a mixture of my sketches of the 93 year old conductor, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Elizabeth Frink’s harbinger bird sculptures.frink I also wanted to make a sculpture of a guitarist. I have seen and admired the work of Jacques Lipchitz and would like to do some work in this style.

I would like to do work in the style of Henry Moore and the lovely curvaceous works of Jon Isherwood


I took this photo on my iphone. I love the tilt of the head to the right, the bent right leg being vertical and the left leg being bent and horizontal to the floor.

I decided i needed to make a maquette and do a lot of measurements to get the proportions right in my sculpture.

Next, a great deal of cutting and gluing, binding with plaster soaked fabric and general messiness happened.


I have finished the plastering and painted the sculpture dark brown.


I need to finish my acrylic brown painting then, to make the surface look less flat, i will spray with added colour. I have sprayed him with bronze spray paint. Expensive and full of volatile substances.



I think that this work is ambitious and I learned a lot from it. I had to carve the expanded polystyrene and i have not carved before. I did a lot of body measurements to try to get the proportions right. i only had that single photograph on which to base my sculpture. I wanted to get the pose more than anything else. I feel that I have got the tilt of the head well and the relationship of the chest, arms and guitar are good. The guitar is, however too small, more like a ukulele in proportion which is  a shame, although this is not supposed to be an accurate representation. I wanted to get a sense of the main planes in the sculpture and this I have achieved to a certain extent. I am disappointed that I made the left leg straight instead of having that lovely relaxed bend as in the photo.

I am pleased with the texture and the complete change in materials and style compared to my previous work. I like the rich colour .

sculpture seven

There are so many beautiful bird sculptures out there that i wanted a bit of the action. I feel that the medium of plaster, fabric and expanded polystyrene is ideally suited to my project. I have studied Germaine Richier’s bat and love the intricate work on the wings. The Bat 1946, cast 1996 by Germaine Richier 1902-1959I love the feeling that the bat is slightly decaying which can be seen in close ups of the wings. I love the gold. I love all Elizabeth Frink’s harbinger birds with their crumpled and a little sinister old man look. Her dead hen is wonderful in it’s deadness.Look at the texture in her wings and body. I want to make a fantastical bird.


The fantastical bird


This is how she started out. Tall and unbalanced. She was unbalanced in this form, she tried to fly and ended up immobile on her back on the floor. I then gave her a large abdomen to counter-balance her tail and she still made a bid for freedom and landed in a crumpled heap.


I chose the black fabric for her wings that made her look more prehistoric and bat-like than the net and lace. I wanted to make a pelican but was concerned about being able to make the capacious beak and large wings etc. I feel that the fantastical bird does have elements of a pelican.

After the bird fell over for a second time, I and my friend Eyasu did major surgery by putting long pieces of steel through the base of the sculpture and up into the legs and body. The neck had a lot of barbecue sticks in it.  I thought she may end up in the bin at one point because she would not stand up.

I decided to spray her gold like Germaine Richier’s bat. I was hoping that the impression of her decaying might be accentuated by the gold. I found that the gold started to eat away at the polystyrene in a pleasing way.



I am pleased with her shiny gold and her decayed effect.

I like the heavy feet.

I think it works well in the round and the leathery wings, looking almost like a man’s jacket that is too big, is effective.


The fantastical bird has lived up to my expectations. Building her was challenging and I did not know whether she would create the desired effect if I did manage to finish her. She is about five foot tall, bold, and her open beak gives her expression and personality. I would like to pursue the theme later in the course.


Development of technical and visual skills.

I believe that my drawing skills are improving. I have managed to draw the 93 year old conductor from different (and difficult ) perspectives. I feel that my drawings of hands are improving. I was pleased with the rough maquette of the guitarist considering I only had a single photograph with which to work. I was pleased that friends immediately recognised my version of the Manhattan sky line from my interpretation of it. I need to make short films to demonstrate my work. I would have liked to make a really good time lapsed series of photos of the destruction of Manhattan. I need to learn to use photoshop.

I have not worked with plaster before except to make a slab to dry clay on. I have learned how to use plaster to create sculpture. I have learned how to cut expanded polystyrene. I need to learn to work with both in a less messy way.

I feel that I have demonstrated design and compositional skills. Sculptures 1 and 2 could have had a better final contour but i think there is a balance between being experimental and making an accomplished final sculpture which is a ‘safer option’ I have opted for more experimentation.

quality of outcome.

I feel that the content of my work is good for my first module. I have read widely and visited many exhibitions which I have applied to my work. I feel that the presentation of my blog is adequate. I have struggled with this module in particular, and have not put enough sketches in my sketch book. I need to improve this in the next assignment. I need to get into the habit of sketching my ideas rather than just making. I feel that I have communicated my ideas.

demonstration of creativity

I feel that my ideas are imaginative. I particularly liked my Manhattan sculpture and my head on a plate. I am constantly changing my creative voice because I am experimenting with different media. I want to try a lot of different ways of expressing myself.


I have worked hard to put my work in context and have quoted many artists work in doing this.

I need to make more sketches and notes while I think, work, read and visit art works. This will help me stick to more rigid time frames and stop me having to re-visit work to document what I have learned.

research assignment 3

Donatello (1386-1466)

Of the many works I have seen by Donatello there are two works I would like to write about


I first saw Donatello’s David some years ago at the Bargello in Florence and at that time I was struck by the contrast between it and that by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo’s sculpture is huge, was done much later then Donatello’s, and was a rework of a piece of stone that was started by another sculptor years before and then abandoned. It is large, imposing and striking in it’s scale .

Donatello’s David was made using the lost wax method perfected by the ancient Greeks and was just starting to be used again in the early Renaissance in Italy. It involved making a sculpture in wax then making a mould for it. The mould could then be heated, the wax would melt and the mould was then ready to have molten bronze poured into it, thus making a hollow statue. The bronze comprised copper and some tin for strength.(1)

The  sculpture is about the size of a prepubescent Italian boy of the time.

This was one of the first naked sculptures to be made in Italy in  Renaissance  times. Prior to this, art had been more concerned with spiritual things rather than bodily beauty. The use of the ancient concept of contraposto helped bring the sculpture alive, unlike the stiff figures of earlier sculptures that preceded it.

  • He is very handsome with his soft hat and downward gaze. The sculpture has some homoerotic element although nothing is known of Donatello’s sexual orientation. The feather from Goliath’s severed head has a feather running up David’s leg in a seductive fashion.
  • He was an important symbol to the Florentine people because of the symbolism of a physically weak boy conquering a fully grown strong giant of a man.
  • At the time , Florentines were a mercantile people and they had managed to conquer the war-like people of Milan. Similarly the Borgias were attracted to this symbolism too.
    He was made as life-like as Donatello could make him and his proportions are faultless

Penitent Magdelene


 Mary Magdelene is situated in a single room by herself in the museum of the cathedral in Florence. She is six feet tall and made of wood. On superficial examination of her, she looks like a contemporary sculpture. I think it is the elongated body, stylised hair and the haunted face that appears so unusual for that time.

Many art critics including (1,2) say the she is ‘difficult to look at’ or ‘ugly’.

Yes, the flesh is falling off her face, but I think she is really very beautiful. She is old but has strong, muscular arms and legs. She is clothed only in her hair, which is wonderful. Traditionally , Mary Magdelene is portrayed with long flowing hair which is how the viewer would know who she was among other figures.

In her I see wisdom, penitence, sorrow and power. It is said that her hands are held in such a way as to portray a cathedral. I think they are strong, wise, capable hands. She is a bold portrayal of an old woman.

She was made towards the end of Donatello’s life. He was capable of making perfectly proportioned figures yet chose to elongate her body in Gothic style, perhaps to emphasise her spirituality instead of her physicality as was done in the Gothic style.

Originally she was painted in rich colours then gilded. I love her in her natural muted wooden tones. I find her extremely moving.

Auguste Rodin(1840-1917)

Rodin was the first artist I fell in love with. When I was 17 my boyfriend bought me a large leather bound book on him. Of course I still have it.

Rodin was not a rich man and had to work hard for other sculptors while doing his own work in his spare time. He was not loved by the art world at the time and endured many rejections.

This changed when his work ‘The Age of bronze’ was exhibited in 1877 Salon in Paris.

Rodin could be purely classic as in his work ‘the kiss’. His work is always representational but it was often very free such as his sculpture of Iris, messenger of the gods.


(picture courtesy of the

His sculptures of Nijinksi dancing to Claude Debussy’s  ‘apres midi d’une faune’ are spontaneous, impressionistic and full of movement.

Rodin in his later years was a bit of a dirty old man. He was going to do a sculpture of Isadora Duncan, but it never came about. He groped her all over. Louise Levene (4) also mentions that Rodin only worked in clay. He made maquettes in clay and got people in his work shop to work them in stone etc. He also got his workers to make press moulds of his work at the end of each day so that he could revert back to an earlier sculpture if he wanted.(4)

He was an extremely quick worker in clay and described himself as a ‘journeyman modeller.’ This was a man who had served his apprenticeship but was not yet a master sculptor. It is a word derived from the French for day because these men would be hired by the day. 

Another exciting thing he did was to have press molds made of 2 figures of the dancing Moreno  that were divided up into their separate parts of limbs, torso, head etc. ‘The dancing Moreno’ was a Spanish woman who, when Rodin was 63, danced on his restaurant table! Moreno means ‘the dark one’. She liked to put her foot behind her head while standing on the other leg, as I do every morning.


These were not maquettes but just little sculptures which he delighted in doing. I would love to make some sculptures like this, in that manner.(5)

I cannot leave Rodin without first discussing ‘she was once the helmet maker’s beautiful wife’ .


This sculpture is very poignant. In our appearance-obsessed society she looks ugly. This is not a positive image of old age. This woman has lost all the elasticity of her skin so her breasts are flat and sagging. She has osteoporosis which can be seen in her forward flexed spine and head looking down to the ground. She looks sad as if her life became futile with the loss of her youth and beauty. A very different image to that of ‘penitent Magdelene’. Having said all that, at least she is a portrayal of old age. The only sculptures of the elderly that are modern that I can think of are those commissioned of famous old people. I would love to be able to make such a moving sculpture.

Willem de Kooning (1904-97)

The first I heard of this artist was when I visited the Royal Academy’s exhibition on abstract expressionists.

woman as landscape

woman-as-landscape‘woman as landscape’1964 courstesy of the Royal Academy’

This painting comes from an important series which redefined how women were portrayed in art. I find it difficult to like this painting because I do not like the colour palate he uses.

de Kooning was a well respected artist in New York. His opinion was valued and thought to be academic. In the 1970s he was thought to be passé and to be out of favour.

Suddenly he exhibited some extraordinary sculptures which were greatly acclaimed.

Clamdigger, 1972, bronze, 59 1/2 x 29 5/8 x 23 3/4 inches (151.1 x 75.2 x 60.3 cm.), Edition of 7, with 3AP
© 2015 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

de kooning

What a lovely clamdigger. He is beautifully organic and looks as if he were originally made of dripped plaster of paris and then moulded and cast in bronze.  I love his dribbliness. Rebecca Warren appears to have been influenced by his work.  I would like to experiment with this form.

William Tucker


I have a lot of respect for William Tucker after reading his book ‘The Language of sculpture.’ I saw this work in the Pangolin gallery London. I can see that the work has weight and volume. It works well ‘in the round’ and certainly has life presence. It looks muscular like ‘le serf’ by Matisse where the muscles are not anatomically correct but, as Matisse said ‘l’exactitude n’est pas la vérité’ (9)

I like this bronze horse’s head (just don’t think of ‘the godfather’!) I like the way Tucker has made the viewer concentrate simply on the head of the horse, rather than the whole body. It reminds me a little of  ‘Still Water which is a 2011 outdoor bronze sculpture of a horse’s head by Nic Fiddian-Green, located at Marble Arch in London.’ I suspect Tucker’s horses head was moulded in clay then a mould was made then cast in bronze. it would be so exciting to make a sculpture like this and get it cast.


Anish Kapoor (b.1954)

“you can’t set out to make something beautiful…but what you can do is recognise when it’s there & say ‘ahh that’s something I can go after’ or ‘that’s something I can leave alone.’

Born in India in 1954 , he attended a prestigious boys school. He loved making things, as did his mother. She would dress-make or paint but was not good at finishing things off, so Anish would do it for her. He did not consider being an artist at this time. Anish’s Mother was Jewish and after he left school he and his brother were sent to a Kibbutz to live and work. He loved this. He then went on to attend Hornsey school of art in London. He says that his parents enjoyed western art and it did not come as unfamiliar to him.(6)

Anish felt in his element making things at Hornsey. It was, however, not until he went back to the colourful world of India that he decided to use and appreciate colour more.

here is a brief c.v. from the Royal academy london :-

‘Anish Kapoor studied at Hornsey College of Art, London from 1973 to 1977 and at Chelsea School of Art, London from 1977 to 1978. He went on to teach at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in 1979 and in 1982 was Artist in Residence at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

Kapoor’s first solo exhibition was held at Patrice Alexandre, Paris in 1980. His international reputation was quickly established, with a string of solo shows being held annually in countries around the world. He represented Britain, along with Stephen Farthing and Bill Woodrow, in the Paris Biennale in 1982, and again in 1990 at the Venice Biennale, for which he was awarded Premio Duemila. The following year he won the Turner Prize Award. Kapoor’s work has also been included in many key international group exhibitions since 1974.

Anish Kapoor was elected Royal Academician in 1999 and has been awarded Honorary Fellowships by the London Institute and Leeds University (1997), University of Wolverhampton (1999) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (2001). He lives and works in London.’

Kapoor’s love of colour is exemplified in many of his works including:

anish kapoor R.A

‘The show begins with pieces made from wood covered in gesso and powdered pigments such as you see sold in neat conical piles in Indian street markets for use in dyes, cosmetics and at Hindu festivals. They look so fragile that you fear a sudden gust of wind could blow them away’

6:26PM BST 21 Sep 2009

Picture: AFP/GETTY


His work is expansive, often brightly coloured and often not representational.

(Having said that, his work called ‘the bean’ in Chicago really does look like  a bean!)

I love his use of bright colour.  His work is such that it appears that his imagination and his ability to express it know no bounds. I was interested to see in the documentary programme about him that he is quite happy to wield a pencil to create his sculptures and is extremely exacting as to how he wants his technicians to make his work but appears to have no desire to create the work himself. When he had his exhibition at the Royal Academy he invented a massive cannon type instrument to fire bolts of red paint through the building. If I had been there I could not wait to have a go at firing it, but he was happy to watch it being fired.

Another of his works is ‘the bean’ in chicago. It is a large bean shaped sculpture in a square surrounded by tall buildings. It has a reflective coat so the buildings can be seen in it and the people walking under it can see themselves reflected in it. It is so loved that it is polished every day. What a stunning sculpture.

Jon Isherwood.(b.1960)



Singer of Tales, 2008, granite, 79 x 120 x 90 inches. Reproduced fro Jon Isherwood’s web site


Emergence Series, 2009, wax and acrylic on paper, 42 x 31 inches

I like Jon Isherwood’s rounded, fecund forms. I love their subtly textured forms. The two granite forms above are very pleasing in their simple, organic lines, reminiscent of ripe gourds.  I like his textured paintings as well. Both the simplicity of form and the beautiful textured surfaces make me want to grab a 12.5 kg bag of clay and throw a beautiful pot that i can alter and decorate.

I feel his work is similar to that of the ceramicist David Roberts , whose work i saw years ago and want to make raku forms like his. He hand-builds large forms and Raku fires them.

david roberts

david-roberts‘weeping landscape vessel’ by David Roberts

Adrián Villar Rojas (b. 1980)


The Argentinian sculptor’s work is varied, prolific and diverse. This sculpture called ‘where the slaves live’ has a lot to offer.

To me it could be a sarcophagus where  slaves are entombed, or, more likely , a slave ship trapped out at sea with no sail. He has used many materials for this including earth, concrete, plastic and plants. It is supported by concrete in a manner suggestive of the way in which a ship is supported in a dry dock. The rope appears as a nautical motif also.

This is a powerful but not beautiful sculpture.

villar.2This, on the other hand, is beautiful , colourful and fascinating for me. What is the story behind it? Did the slaves eat from it? Did they carry it away from their homeland as a precious momento ? I think the title adds a lot to the mystery and intrigue of the piece.

W.B. Yeats

Easter, 1916

 I have met them at close of day

Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.

I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent

In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.


(1) Donatello David





 (6)htm10. interview with Alan Yentob.

9.catalogue of a retrospective of matisse’s work held at the Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1948

stacked sculpture

My first stacked sculpture



For this sculpture I decided to work with cardboard.At first I was not happy with the medium and the only sculpture that I have studied which has any relation  to it is Peter Startup’s falling figure ( Although his figure is wooden I feel that the vertical ,almost tubular wooden sections are similar to the effect of my cardboard tubes. The figure has been reduced to just his sinews as Giaccometti does.



“Alberto Giacometti, “L’homme qui chavire’. photo courtesy Sotheby’s

Conceived in 1950 and cast in 1951. Inscribed with the signature A. Giacometti and with foundry mark Alexis. Rudier Fondeur. Paris, and numbered 5/6. Painted bronze. height: 23 3/8 in”

What I really enjoyed about doing this work was how the cardboard took on an anthropomorphic persona which would be present even without the insertion of the scarecrow like hat. I love the transformation that the colour I used in my ink and pastel drawings created.

By picking out the cardboard tubes in contrasting colours to the rest of the flat cardboard, the interpretation of them as representing a man is further enhanced.

As part of assignment 2 , I have been asked to ‘consider the weight, form, balance contrapposto ,life presence and nature of the piece.’I have also been asked to consider the sculpture ‘stance’.


What I understand to be the concept of ‘weight ‘ in a sculpture is not so much being 2.2 kgs ( or what ever weight it may be) but the overall perception of weight. William Tucker’s sculpture ‘Frenhofer’


William Tucker
Frenhofer, 1998
210 (h) x 210 x 250 cm
82½ (h) x 82½ x 98½ in
looks extremely  heavy because of the material used, the size but also its shape and how it sits on the floor.
My sculpture looks light because of the cardboard it is made out of and the fact that there are  spaces under the legs and the arms which convey a sense of air and space.


I consider ‘form’ as a description of the shape of the sculpture.
The sculpture comprises a cuboid cardboard box which is stood upright so that the longest measurement of the cuboid is vertical. On top of that are layers of cardboard which are glued in a pile. Each layer is glued with the direction of the corrugations always laid at right angles to the corrugations of the previous piece in the pile. this is to give it interest and strength. Balanced on this is a series of cardboard tubes, tied together with wire and placed on the pile of glued cardboard. Lying at an angle from above the layers of cardboard to the floor in front are two bent cardboard tubes, bent at jaunty angles. The sculpture is topped by a hat made of woven paper.


I understand balance to be more about the composition of a sculpture rather than if it will fall down or not. I began to learn about balance when flower arranging. if the arrangement has a group of flowers that go to the top left of the arrangement then it looks much better when another group is placed at the bottom right. This creates harmony rather than tension. Of course, it is moderately disastrous if your sculpture or even your church flower arrangement falls over. ( You don’t have to take my word for it, the vicar knows this to his cost!)
I like the balance of my sculpture. The head (which is represented by the hat) is leaning back and balanced by the legs which are outstretched.


this concept is mainly used in relation to the human form. The word is Italian and means ‘counterpoise’ The concept was first employed by the ancient Greeks to make their carved figures look more lifelike. As seen in in Michelangelo’s ‘David’ the red lines highlight the tensed muscles and the blue highlight the relaxed muscles. The tensed right leg and left give a beautiful pose counterbalanced by the relaxed left leg and right arm.


Strangely , my sculpture obeys the rules of contrapposto. The right arm and left leg are both straight. This is counterbalanced by the bent left arm and leg.

Life presence

This is present in my sculpture, despite being a pile of cardboard!

Apart from having a human presence, there is no more ‘nature’ in it than that.


The stance of a sculpture is the way in which the sculpture stands.

Contrapposto is a form of stance.




This statue, sculpted by H. Phillips,was commissioned by the c.e.g.b.and sited at Richborough power station in 1966. it was relocated to this site, beside the former Kent national coal board and national union of mineworkers offices for Kent, following the closure of Richborough power station in September 1997. The statue was donated to Dover district council by Powergen.

I love the sculpture of the waiting miner. It was made in bronze and put on a concrete base which was treated to make it look like coal.

The stance is of a man crouching and resting his his arms on his knees with his his head upright, giving him a sense of dignity.

I need to consider my sculpture ‘in the round’

From the front, my sculpture has interest and looks three dimensional. From the side the torso of my sculpture leans back a little more than would be expected of a seated figure but I like the angle that it has; the back view is not very interesting but this is to be expected.

My second stacked sculpture

For this sculpture, I chose to use some classic shapes and put them in differently stacked arrangements. I used two spheres. One is a glass fisherman’s float, the larger is a flower arrangers’ dry oasis. I chose to make two hemispheres out of it. Next I chose a square copper sheet. The final object was a balsa wood, lidded, cylindrical box.

I really like the combination of these shapes. I like the combination of a hemisphere placed on top of the cylindrical box.(photo of sculpture 1) I think that the 2 convex surfaces of the oasis gives a pleasing effect as well. The reflection of the glass globe looks ethereal when reflected in the copper sheet.

On rotating the sculpture, it looks the same from all views which means that there is no ‘back view’ which is boring. The down side of this sculpture is that it has no ‘surprises’ in as much as it looks the same from all views. The view from above shows the glass ball reflected in the copper. The arrangement is predictable and reminiscent of something which might be found in the garden of a stately home. On the positive side, two convex surfaces abutting was used by Brancusi with great success in his sculpture entitled ‘table of silence’.

Photos of sculpture 2 show the arrangement which has a definite front and back view. I do not like the effect of the hemispheres resembling Micky Mouse ears. I do not want a sculpture anything like KAWS sculptures that were displayed in the Yorkshire sculpture park when I was there. ‘Good intentions’ and ‘final days’ were 2 that I saw. It looks unappealing from the side and the back. I do, however, like the front view  where the glass globe is seen echoing the circle made by the rim of the cylindrical box and the reflexion of both of these in the copper sheet adds interest and works well. I would like to employ the technique of using a reflective surface in my larger sculpture.

Sculpture 3 shows a further arrangement which necessitated the use of a plate to stop the hemisphere disappearing inside the cylindrical box. The structure is unstable and I don’t like it. The plate does not fit well with the other objects.

Sculpture 4 has the hemispheres joined once more into a whole sphere. I do not like this arrangement. I think the large sphere is more effective when cut it two.

Sculpture 5 has the objects arranged to form a pyramid. This arrangement does not hold my interest.

Sculpture 6 surprised me when I saw it. When I first viewed the sculpture I did not like the effect. On reflection I think that this might be because it is unstable and thought it would fall down. However it has some interesting features. Imagine the balsa wood to be marble, the large sphere to be  a hollow hardwood sphere. The copper and glass would remain as copper and glass. It would then be interesting and be very tactile. Now imagine it 50 foot high so you could walk around it. Walking between the copper and glass and seeing one’s self reflected in the copper would be amazing. To feel the cold marble then look up to see a massive wooden sphere there which might just fall on you ( but of course wouldn’t) would be thrilling.

Still, there would be little interest when viewed from the back of the cylinder or from the back of the copper sheet.

Sculpture 7 just looks as if a stacked sculpture had just fallen down. The sculpture holds no interest for me.

I like sculpture 8. I like the flat, cut sides of the hemispheres being opposed but kept apart by a wooden tooth pick. I like the reflection in the copper and I like the echo of the larger spherical shape by the smaller glass globe.

I like the slightly re arranged view in sculpture 9. It has a corner of the copper sheet pointing at the glass globe instead of it being opposite a flat side of the copper sheet.

I like the juxtaposition of spheres, cylinders, rectangles and circles. I think that the sculptures by and large work well ‘in the round’. I want to use this element of my sculpture in my larger sculpture.

My third stacked sculpture



There is only one earth

In this group of sculptures I have been considering the environment. When I was in my 40s I was keen on gardening and I came across a photograph of two cross-sections of earth taken out of the ground with a large spade. One section was from his organic garden. this was beautiful dark, humus filled earth which had been tended and cared for over the years and had a dark richness to it and had interesting shapes , textures and a range of deep earthy colours in it. The cross section of earth in  the next photo looked like glorified gravel. there was no humus and all the stones were of a similar hue. there was little sign of life in it. The way the farmer got things to grow in it was to spray chemicals on it and plant one type of seed in it.

I spend a long time recycling food and garden waste. I am excited by the magical process done by micro organisms in my hot bin and by a myriad of plants, animals and micro organisms in my compost heap. Marvelous.

Abraham Cruzvillegas did some work on this theme in Tate Modern.

It is certainly impressive in its ambition and scale which spread across the turbine hall.


This is a description of it published on the Tate’s web site.


Empty Lot is a large geometric sculpture created using scaffolding, a grid of triangular wooden planters, and soil collected from parks across London including Peckham, Haringey and Westminster. Nothing will be planted in the soil, but it will be lit by lamps and watered throughout the six month display. The unpredictable nature of the work, which may grow and change from one week to the next, provokes questions about the city and nature, as well as wider ideas of chance, change, and hope.

I wanted to do a sculpture that would highlight the differences between my lovely hotbin-made compost, inorganic gravel and sand. I also intended to emphasise the negative effect of putting inorganic matter, such as slate, on the earth. I had ideas of extending this to a large sculpture with identical blades of wheat made of a combination of green plastic, wire and threads. This would be put into the gravel. In my beautiful rich humus I would place an enormous number of different plants with representations of a lot of the life forms that I have noted down in my sketch book. These include the organism that causes tetanus ‘clostridium tetani’, slugs, mice, small organisms called amoebae etc.

I have looked at the work of Cathy de Monchaux and would like to use similar techniques. I watched a video of a lecture she gave in 2015.  In it she describes a sculpture of a battle involving lots and lots of pregnant females fighting. She then explains how she has been making it for four years! I don’t think I have time to do my detailed sculpture, well ,not yet!


Cathy De Monchaux, Detail of Battle Scene no. 7, Leather, copper, brass, bandage, perspex, gesso, silk, wood and glass, 86 x 154 x 11 cm, 2007


My sculpture comprises five different cuboid glass receptacles on two rectangular slates that are placed with the long edges adjacent to each other. Each has its own contents of my hotbin compost, gravel, sand, water and garden soil covered with slate. It is the fashion to cover gardens with inorganic materials such as slate as weed suppressant and buy peat-based compost compost to make life easy ( yes I also buy peat based compost, may my soul rot in hell!)

I have placed a piece of dead grass plant in among the slates to represent how infertile the slate is.

the sculpture is 48x43x24 cms in dimension.

I think that the work is thought provoking and interesting. I think it works well ‘in the round’. It combines lots of textures, it is well balanced and ‘has weight’. I like the way the glass reflects light especially in the thick bases and in the water filled form.

In its present state there is little in the way of ‘life presence’ but if you wait four years for my grass blades and my slugs to be made.

My fourth stacked sculpture.

I went to Barcelona and visited the Fundació Joan Miro .

I had seen some of Miro’s bronze cast sculpture in the Yorkshire sculpture park. I did not understand nor appreciate where he was coming from with these sculptures and could not identify with them.

In Barcelona there is a large body of his work and it was fantastic to see it all in context. I loved his jovial ‘royal family ‘ made out of farm implements.


I loved his Japanese influenced work. I likes his narrow  paintings of day and night.

He was influenced by Japanese culture and in particular, Japanese poetry. He based some of his work on Japanese poems. He was attracted by the classic art form of ‘kakemono’ painting and its calligraphy.

Kakemono paintings are long and thin, normally in scroll form with a frame of patterned silk. Miro had two paintings on exhibit that were influenced by this art form.


I have written a poem in the style of a Japanese Haiku.

The form comprises three lines of poetry with 5 syllables in the first line,  7 in second line and 5 in the third line.

My Poem.

The stacked clouds rise high

carrying my hidden dreams

silently away.

I have made 2 scrolls to paint on but sadly I ran out of time and have not painted them yet. I have used pastels to do a large study in kakemono style.

late - 1


late entry - 3 of 8late entry - 4 of 8late entry - 7 of 8late entry - 8 of 8



It sounded like a good idea at the time. Many artists have painted clouds and one artist actually makes clouds in large buildings and photographs them.

Indoor Clouds by Berndnaut Smilde


I would love to make a cloud. I have been to this amazing Turkish baths but the cloud had moved out by the time I got there.

There are cloud sculptures that have been made. Most of them make it obvious how hard the task is.

Frank Gehry the architect has made a good light fitting that is a representation of clouds.

Belux Objekt 171

Mama Cloud 2012 & Gehry Mama Cloud XL Light | Vitra Mama Cloux XL

I would like my clouds to resemble this in some ways.

I like the apparent simplicity of Georgia O’Keefe’s cloud painting. I like the way the clouds disappear towards the horizon, although it looks to me as if the painting is upside down. I also like the vivid blue and the pale pink, hinting of sunset.


‘The sky above. clouds 1V

clouds are complex things. A dictionary definition is :-

a visible mass of condensed watery vapour floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the general level of the ground.

The met. office divide clouds into the following categories.:-

Cloud level (ft)Cloud type

High clouds (CH)

Base usually 20,000 ft or above, over British Isles

altocumulus (2)altocumulus-floccuscirrocumlus

Medium clouds (CM)

Base usually between 6,500 and 20,000 ft over British Isles.


Low clouds (CL)

Base usually below 6,500 ft over British Isles.



altocumulus floccus


I think these are similar to Georgia O’Keefe’s ‘head in the clouds’ clouds.


I like these nimbus clouds.

I decided to stack clouds in a rectangular box so that they would look like a three dimensional Kakemono painting.

I used a preformed box and some polyester cushion filler. It started ok.

The bottom right hand photo is the finished article.

I am not sure that this sculpture works on any level. The wisps of polyester which are seen in the wooden rectangle in the images in the centre have a certain cloud like effect. After that, step by step, the sculpture gets worse and worse until it appears in all its glory in the top right hand photograph. I don’t think the wooden box looks good. I don’t like the clouds. In fact I like nothing about this sculpture.

I have, however , had a letter pushed through my letter box from Father christmas asking if he can have it to make his beard out of !

Undeterred, I have made a large sculpture based on my Haiku.

After seeing Frank Ghery’s clouds I decided to work with thermal curtain lining fabric. It has a fluffy side and the reverse side is stiff so will keep a 3 dimensional shape.

I decided to keep the Kakemono theme by using 3 rectangles around which the clouds and my dreams would  hang.

I sewed the clouds with a machine then gathered them by hand to look more cloud-like.


My first large sculpture


the Oak tree



I made a frame using 4 foot long canes bound with raffia. I suspended them from light fittings and hung my stacked clouds on the frames and raffia. I placed my dream-like trees on the clouds.

There are five trees. A cherry, an oak, a wind-swept hawthorn, a willow and a silver birch.

I made them using wire and pliers. I studied the Collins concise book of British trees and was startled to see just how different these trees are. My dream is that all these five trees would stay together in the same copse. As you can see, the trees are travelling into the sky.  Before they did, I photographed them on the copper backed glass in the sun.

from left to right. bent hawthorn,DSC02467

From left to right;- bent hawthorn, silver birch, cherry, oak, willow.

I think they work well as a representation of the dream.

What went well.

The trees were successful in representing the dream. The clouds looked plausibly fluffy!

I liked the Japanese flavour that the bamboo and raffia gave the sculpture. The sculpture worked well in the round. It was light and airy. It was well balanced and the trees gave it life presence.

What needed to be improved.

The main problem with the sculpture was the intrusive surroundings in which the sculpture was photographed. I really needed to take it to a bare hill top where the background could be sky and grass. My house is brilliant because I have so many materials in it that can be used for sculpture. My house is terrible for sculpture because there is no place to photograph my work.

My final sculpture



I spent a long time thinking about the portrayal of women in art. It started when I was studying Brancusi’s torso of a young man. This took me to the idea of what a powerful representation of a woman would look like. I considered making a large uterus with a contraceptive coil in it as a symbol of woman having control over her body and her fertility. I discovered some powerful images of women in art . I went to a lecture on the portrayal of women in art over time. I was fascinated by a photograph taken from an art performance. It was of the artist, naked, removing a scroll from her vagina then reading it.

Carolee Schneemann, “‘Interior Scroll” (1975) c26b320ba024b0ad7c69b8b43f9dd2cb

This would make a a beautiful sculpture. The pose more or less obeys the rules of contraposto.

I saw photographs of  ‘the pieta ‘, based on Michelangelo’s ,and of a powerful strong woman holding a child as if he were a gun, by the same photographer.


I found these images stimulating and exciting.

I wanted to use the suffragette colours green, white and violet. the initials of the colours are G.W.V. and were code for ‘give women votes’.

I was getting more and more ambitious and more and more out of the realms of what i could achieve when I returned to Brancusi.

I decided to concentrate on how he stacked his sculptures and how he reduced forms to what he called ‘pure form.’ I found William Tucker’s book ‘The language of sculpture’ really informative regarding information about Brancusi.

I decided to portray a pregnant abdomen. I remember when I was pregnant that people felt that they had the right to come up to you and stroke your pregnant belly. Very strange.

Pregnancy represents, for me , the strength of woman and also her vulnerability.

Brancusi loved to juxtapose different textures of materials together. Smooth wood, as found in his native Romania, with rough stone etc.

branchusi torso young man

I wanted to do the same. For the pregnant belly I threw 12lbs of clay into a hemispherical bowl shape, then threw another identical one. I waited until they were leather hard then joined them together making a sphere. I threw a conical form, cut it in half and made 2 breasts. I spent a day looking on the internet to learn how to burnish pottery then spent a day burnishing the pregnant belly. I eventually burnished with oil which was the most successful method.

I wanted a rough concrete base which would show my roots were in Birmingham, not the woods of Romania. I wanted a very smooth plaster of paris block instead of Brancusi’s limestone. A toughened glass rectangle with copper leaf on the back would echo Brancusi’s bronze rectangle and be similar to the effect of the copper sheet in sculpture one.

I have made a rectangular mold of ply wood with the help of a furniture maker, David Moore. I have used a table saw, a cross cut saw, a band saw, a pillar drill and a headless brad nailer.I liked the headless brad nailer the best. I mixed 5.5 bags of concrete, greased the mold and put a conical galvanised planter inside to reduce the weight.

I made a cube of plaster of paris and plunged a plastic dish in it. When I removed the dish there was a very pleasing shape which resembled shapes that Barbara Hepworth has used.

I have written a critical appraisal of Brancusi’s torso of a young man in the category ‘ research assignment 2’