What’s the appeal of sculpture? What does it have that other art forms don’t have? Why would one choose to make a sculpture rather than a painting, say?
The Oxford Dictionary defines sculpture as ‘two- or three- dimensional representational or abstract forms’ , so pretty much anything. It goes on ‘especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster’, but in contemporary art we would consider a much wider range of material as now ‘mainstream’, ceramic, textile, plastic, glass etc. Also, the traditional view would be craft based but Rauchenberg turned that notion on its head with his ‘ready-mades’ where a manufactured article presented in the context of a gallery becomes a sculpture.
Sculpture is defined in the artist’s mind by allowing extra dimension or volume – why would we want that? It allows a piece to be imbued with extra qualities over paint, say (at least, traditional painting). A sculpture has an extra physicality, it exists in a different way in its space to a flat piece hung on wall. We can perhaps walk around it, view it from different angles of watch the light move around. We might be able to touch it and appreciate its surface textures. It has a presence in a place and it alters that place by its presence. Actually, I think that is true of all true art but additionally so with sculpture. It enhances and informs its environment, especially in the context of public art and art designed for a specific place.
Sculpture celebrates its materials and the hand of its creator. Traditionally, a sculpture might make a piece in clay, subsequently cast in bronze, but retaining the history of the sculptor’s hand, even, possibly, a finger print. Even when transmitted through a toll, say a chisel, the hand and intent of the sculptor is evident. With modern, mass produced materials the hand, and possibly the intent, is more hidden and we have to read a commentary ir exhibition guide to understand what the sculptor is saying.
These thoughts lead me to form some objectives for my own sculpture:
A piece should have clear intention; that is I want to be trying to say something, make some point or convey some feeling.
I wish to show and celebrate the materials I use; not hide or disguise them.
I would choose, where possible, to , as my maths teacher would have put it, show my workings. That is, I will try to include fixings etc as part of the sculpture.
Wherever possible, I will to to use materials of character and interest because the physicality of the materials matters to me. I will explore reclaimed or recycled materials which have a previous history.
Where the course allows, I want to consider a work in the wider context of location and, in particular, changing light.