Tuesday, July 11, 2017

First post this year.

I have not posted in a long time. I seem to always be trying to catch up with work these days and have neglected to post what I have been doing.

My figure from Cristina Cordova's figure workshop February 2017

At the end of January this year I was able to attend Cristina Cordova's Figure in Clay Workshop
at Australian National University Ceramic Campus in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

We spent five days working on a female figure made using a series of  clay cylinders working over five full days in the Ceramics Department of ANU before the full time students began their first semester for the year.

We used a series of photos to scale to look at the pose and use the model's measurements.
By Friday afternoon I was able to pack the almost leatherhard clay to travel back to my home state of South Australia.

I flew on two flights about two and a half hours total nursing my figure and it arrived home undamaged much to my relief,

Since then I have been working on a series of figures to show during SALA (South Australian Living Artists) at St Ignatius Art Show in Adelaide from 9th to11th August this year.

I wanted to produce a series of these sculptures as new work by me as I had never attempted to make a hollow figure before. I have always worked in solid clay and then at the leatherhard stage, cut the figure open and hollow it out and slip the pieces and join back the pieces, or else if it was to be cast as a bronze, it would be built on an armature and then moulds made of the piece, and cast by the foundry.

So this is totally new way of working and I found it very exciting to work this way.

Cristina demonstrating.
The modelling photos
4th day of working on my figure.
Cristina demonstrating.

White slip added and some printed oxides added last day.
All wrapped ready to travel home by plane. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sculpture of St Anthony of Padua

Father Tony Frey from the Holy Trinity Catholic Church,in Curtin, Australian Capital Territory,  commissioned a sculpture of St Anthony of Padua in 2013
St Mary MacKillop
 I had previously sculpted a bust of St Mary MacKillop for the church and Father Tony had two plinths made when St Mary MacKillop  bronze was finished.

St Anthony of Padua


I researched the subject and made some sketches for the sculpture and also made several small maquettes to work out the possible placement of the Baby Jesus.

Maquette 1 in clay

Maquette 2 in plasticine

Maquette 3 in Plasticine
After the general sculpture was approved I then welded  a basic armature to begin the modelling.
The sculpture needed to be about the same size as the Mary MacKillop sculpture as the plinths were the same size.
I proposed to have a life sized bust of St Anthony wearing the traditional habit of a Franciscan Monk.
He would be depicted in his early 30's with a tonsure hairstyle and would be holding the Christ Child in his hands and be looking at the child whilst the child would be looking forward with his hand lifted.

I began with St Anthony and worked on his habit and the tilt of his head.

Beginning work
Working Habit
 began the child's body

                                                       and attached it to St Anthony

Working the child to fit with the body of the monk

Back View

Modelling hand and arm positions
                                                    Looking at hand positions
Whilst working on this piece I worked with two families with young boys 12 months old.
I needed the fathers to hold their sons in a comfortable position. I was able to photograph them and work out the best position for the sculpture of the Christ child.

The work had to be shipped to a foundry in Victoria so the sculpture was photographed then wrapped  in Gladwrap and foam to be picked up by a carrier to be shipped 900km to the foundry.

Happy with hands

The foundry received the sculpture in good order and began moulds of the sculpture.
I flew to Melbourne to look at the work after casting.

St Anthony at the foundry
Here Cameron welds on the hand

Sand blasting before patination

The cast is sand blasted before patination .

Heating St Anthony for further Patination

The colours of patination need adjusting.
St Anthony is packed and shipped to the church at Curtin, ACT.
The blessing of the sculpture was  on March 29th 2014.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


 This is a sculpture of my granddaughter, Erin, at 7 years of age. She is now 16 years and is competing at  Australian National Women's Gymnastics at level 8. How time flies!!!

"I Can Do That" Bronze and Stainless Steel 207cm .

 Her last competition at Nationals saw her team from Tea Tree Gully, SA compete and come 3rd Team overall and she achieved achieved third place individually.

I have just been through the motions of costing the above sculpture to be hired as an artwork for a public place to add interest to the area for a 6 month duration.

I really wasn't sure what the normal charges would be but found help through NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts, Australia) who have a series of booklets  that give fees and other advise. I rang them as I am a member and they were very helpful over the phone. I also took advise from Arts SA who were also helpful.

I also needed the sculpture to be sound and Martin Murray , an engineer from George Street Studios, is able to make the sculpture more public friendly and would be able to install the piece if needed.

It was amazing just how much time was needed to complete this exercise  but at least I keep learning about procedures and what needs to be done before a quote can be written. There is some cost to the artist (hiring an engineer for work involved)  and looking at General Property Insurance for the sculpture but I was amazed how costs added up as I initially did not look at everything involved.

Another exercise is sending sculptures off to cities around the country and also sending unfired clay sculptures to an interstate foundry.  These are usually around the 70 kg mark  so they require care and manpower to lift them.

 I have just sent a Mary MacKillop CC bronze  bust to St Gertrude's Primary School at Smithfield NSW. They will build a reflective garden with the bust as the centrepiece of the garden.

I am finding it rather hard to blog about my practice of late as there have been commissions which require me not to disclose the work until it is installed and with large bronze work this often means that the work will not be completed for 8 to 12 months.

I have 2 such commissions at the moment. The first one is now at the foundry so I can focus on my new one.

I usually take from 2 to 4 months to model the work in clay and then the foundry work requires another 4 months to complete the work.

Commissions usually take several months before they are signed up and ready to go.
Often they begin with an expression of interest and a visit to my studio to see current work.

There are discussions on what the client is proposing and work then often takes the form of research,  the historical content and reading of contemporary accounts , especially when there are no photos available. Paintings are also a source of information and I am so happy to have the internet for research as it would take many, many more hours to research at the library.

Because of this, I do not post often.

I have however seen some wonderful sculptors from sites such as   www.figurativeartists.org
I saw this site on facebook and have visited it often.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Gawler Commission.

I was approached last year to sculpt a St Paul for a lovely old Federation Catholic Church in Gawler, South Australia. The town itself is one of the earliest towns after free settlers came to South Australia to live and there is many fine old examples of early cottages and business buildings in the area.

The church itself was built around 1900 and is predominately red brick and features four niches across the front of the church and were probably meant to house statues of the saints.

After researching the history and clothing and symbols for the saint, I began work on a half life size
saint in clay.
I had a large job as a sculptor for two war figures for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial which was to begin soon but I was waiting on the go ahead for this job which had been held up, so I took on this smaller job whilst I was waiting for the larger job to go ahead.

The niches were rather tall but shallow and were fancily shaped with cut brick.

The figure needed to be raised as the space was too tall for the figure so wood was added under the feet for height.

I decided to change the book for a scroll denoting letters. St Paul is dressed as a traveller with a cloak.

Details of the feet,

head, sandals and sword.

TUT foundry came to the studio and wrapped the soft clay sculpture to transport it back to their foundry where they would proceed with the mouldmaking , waxes and the lost wax method of producing a bronze.

St Paul in bronze, coloured at the foundry

Preparation for installation

Installed in the niche

Michael with his generous gift to the church, myself and Tim from TUT Foundry

The blessing on St Peter and Paul Feast Day, 29th June 2013

Thick fog going home after the service