I often make a sculpture in separate body parts. This allows for more freedom in experimenting with the juxtapositions of pieces in marriage to one another, providing endless options.
For example, a head can more easily be modelled separately and when posed in different positions with the crude form of the body, I can readily read the changes in body language as the two elements react in various spatial alliances to one another.
Once the position is resolved aesthetically, both parts are drilled and pinned together. When sculpting a bird with a long neck, such as a wader, this pin can be twisted to shape and act as an armature to unite all three elements.
I treat bases in the same way; these are not merely secondary devices to keep sculptures upright but are equally important integral parts of the whole concept. Nature is re-invented in the bases by not describing the birds’ environment with twigs, leaves and the like but in stark geometrical forms which contribute to expressing a symbiotic, coherent whole.
Geometric forms underlie all natural phenomena and geometry can lend supremely powerful effects in sculpture. It can strengthen and unify a composition to afford balanced structure and visual harmony.
I understand from my peers that my methods are somewhat unorthodox to say the least and I presume that being self-taught has led me to discover my own logistics. I have found that all of my sculptures reach a stage in the making when they assume a presence of their own.
Primarily and naturally I am obliged to assert my will over the materials and the development of each image being created. As a work progresses I gradually and increasingly adopt a more measured, balanced approach, allowing the forms to influence my thoughts and actions in a mutual dialogue.
How do I explain a preference for finishes? Well, imagine two artists go to the seashore
together. One will absentmindedly pick up and admire pebbles washed smooth by the
friction of the tides. The other may well turn to marvel at the coarse texture of the cliffs
abutting the beach. So we have it. Neither is right or wrong in their preference, both are
merely drawn differently. We all know birds have a multitude of feathers but if you close
your eyes and stroke a bird it feels very smooth. A blind person would fully understand a
bird’s structure by using their refined sense of touch without the awareness of feathers
which others can see. I love smooth, tactile surfaces but can readily appreciate heightened
texture in other sculptors’ work. Acquiring the smooth finishes I prefer is unfortunately
laborious and tedious in the extreme and I have so far failed to discover a short cut. I paint
my ‘finished’ plasters prior to moulding. This has the effect of making the form easier to
read than in the white plaster. It exposes faults which are inevitable from the numerous
tool marks which occur when forming the work. I use my thumb nail as a palette for a
filler and with fine dental tools, correct all these countless annoyances. I then sand the
whole piece down and paint it again. This procedure is repeated over and over until the
entire surface is immaculate, pristine.