Why sculpture?

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.





About starrybird

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts. My passion is printmaking.
This entry was posted in Part 1 Construction and Drawing, Reflection and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why sculpture?

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m considering enrolling at OCA to study sculpture and I have just discovered your blog. In only three posts you have convinced me to go for it. I was doubtful a course like sculpture could be studied successfully online. The quality and depth of your work is beyond what I thought possible through distance learning. I’m now convinced that this is the right path for me. Thank you for the wonderful blog! Looking forward to reading more.


    • starrybird says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      There are challenges to doing this from home, for me space was the biggest issue. Casting plaster required access to outside space, taps etc. The course is pretty non-prescriptive, and I think if you found yourself required to use a material that you could not manage, you could propose your own path. The sculpture tutors are really enthusiastic, supportive and open to different ideas. I was really pleased I chose it. Let me know how you go on. All the best, Steve


      • Jennifer says:

        I was concerned about space. Thanks for the warning. I suspect I may need to rent a studio at some point. Luckily I live in an area with no shortage of artists so hopefully I can find space at a reasonable rate. I’m happy to hear the tutors have been encouraging and great to work with and that you’ve enjoyed your studies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s