‘Untitled’ wood, perspex, rabbit fur.40 x 40 x 40 cm (box). 25 x 15 x 20 cm (rabbit).
(First explorations of fur/taxidermy.)
‘Untitled’ wood, perspex, rabbit fur.40 x 40 x 40 cm (box). 25 x 15 x 20 cm (rabbit).
(First explorations of fur/taxidermy.)
‘Untitled’ rabbit fur, pillow, wire. 40.0 x 25.0 x 13.0 cm (Moving into surrealist works, responses to Rauschenberg.)
‘Untitled’. wire, tape, feathers, paint, fimo. 5.0 x 12.0 x 4.0 cm
‘Outrun’. fur, tape, glass. 21.0 x 11.0 x 8.0 cm 2012
Began work using a rabbit/hares mask (offcut of fly fishing products) It was fascinating working with this part of the animal even though it wasn’t the easiest materials to work with. Ordering a few more masks in, I’m looking forward to developing ideas with this particular material/product.
Over the duration of my time on the Fine Art course at Falmouth I have developed an interest into realist sculpture. I’ve set out to explore materials and processes in which I can create ‘real’ feelings and textures in my sculptures.
For those that encounter this piece may understand this perpetual feeling of anxiety that the material and overall sense of reality the sculpture creates. It is a feeling that exists because we instantly recognize these ‘real’ textures or materials. Sculpture is so rich in a sense that we can inflict different emotions on people. I have been looking into what emotional links we as humans have with animals and how we react to materials, such as fur, whilst looking to question the depths and understanding of what we see as natural and what naturally exists in the world.
Initially I set out to display this piece in the gallery setting. By bringing something real into the gallery I felt would I could create an experience and feeling of the uncanny. However, the piece developed and became involved with the museum style case. Traditional museum displays typically exhibit work of the natural world. The focus lies on nature and culture. Exhibitions educate the public on natural history, dinosaurs, zoology, oceanography, anthropology and more. Evolution, environmental issues, and biodiversity are major areas in natural science museums; consequently, I felt by setting my piece in this context would reinforce the attention to the realism and the nature of the piece.
I have presented ‘my deer’ in this way, in a display case in the museum, to allow and give the animal its own space. In a sense of it being viewed upon, seen and displayed. However, I felt the ambiguity of the sculpted animal reminds us that it isn’t and never was real. I have tried to use the movement of breathing in the piece to veto this notion, attempting to take attention away from it being a sculpted form, and instead trying to create something brutally real.
I feel abject deformation of the animal allows for vulnerability to coexist with the weighty brutality of the piece. Creating tension between what the object represents and what it actually is.
Evaluation: I do feel it was a success, and it really complemented the piece, both in context and in its physicality. But right now I can’t say I’m fully satisfied with the whole museum presentation of the piece.
Overall I have found the exhibition at Truro Museum really worked well. I feel it fits in well amongst all the other dead animals and taxidermy works. It has been successful in the sense of the display and animal context of the natural history museum aspect. People seem to expect the animals to be dead, stuffed and to be familiar; I feel ‘my deer’ was almost disguised in with the displays but the initial feeling of uncertainty hits the viewer, and with the abject deformity it shouts out.
One thing I was uneasy about was the natural history section of the museum, it is very child friendly, it has activities for kids etc. I figured having my sculpture in this section might of upset the children. Interestingly the kids that did see the piece weren’t troubled by it at all, less so than the adults. Adults I guess have a fixed idea of how things should be where as children seem to be more curious and innocent. I think this is due to the usual expectations older people generally have.
I am pleased with the outcome, but feel it hasn’t fully satisfied me. I believe my deer will be better suited in the gallery setting. As I believe it will be viewed more as an art piece and less of a model (like in the museum) the language in the piece will be valued more.
I know with this piece I set out to create a sense of brutal realism etc. I just wont be satisfied until I see this is an art gallery context/setting.
I am excited about this direction of work and want to explore further into ideas based around The Uncanny. ‘my deer’ and all my work leading up to exhibition has been some of my favourite and the most enjoyable so far. I am delighted with my art this semester and keen to continue with more realist sculptures.
‘my deer’. Deer Hide, Polystyrene, Wood, Glass, Metal. 110.5 x 44.5 x 101.8 cm (overall). Installation views, Truro Museum, 2013.
The uncanny, “the opposite of what is familiar”, is a Freudian concept of an instance where something can be familiar, yet foreign at the same time, resulting in a feeling of it being uncomfortably strange or uncomfortably familiar.
Working primarily in sculpture and drawing, my work explores themes that surround the uncanny and the unnaturally weird. Questioning the depths and understandings of what we see as natural and what naturally exists in the world. Combining of the familiar and unfamiliar. It involves feelings of uncertainty, in particular regarding the reality of the work and what is being experienced.
I draw from animals and sometimes borrow themes from myths and fables. Using these drawings, I then sculpt and deform the animal, adding authentic and vivid textures from the real world. I am concerned with getting a lifelike feel to the sculptures, as I want to bring an experience to the viewer in which the uncanny appears.
Berlinde De Bruyckere’s work with horsehide has influenced a taxidermy approach into working with deer hide and rabbit fur. This has made me consider the emotional links we as humans have with animals and how we react to materials, such as fur.
My realistic animal sculptures also give me the opportunity to raise awareness and are in part response to issues based round our contemporary impact on the natural world, including climate change, toxic pollution and bio-chemical research on animals.
New Years photo shoot with ’my deer’.
New Years Eve in Weymouth is very fancy dress orientated, my friends all dressed up as ‘Noro Virus Extremists’. all in their disposable overalls and bio-warnings/virus symbols etc. I snapped at the oppertunity to see take some photos of them with my deer. I felt it would be interesting to see my sculpture in a cadaver context/bio-chemical site. Taking the poor lighting conditions and a bad camera phone (and the bad costumes). I feel the event was a real success. Here are a couple of favourites but overall I find the images to be really striking. It was good to see my work in a different context however I feel the whole shoot made the sculpture seem like more of a prop than a sculpture.
Interview between Faron Calder and Chrissy Walters.
Studio visit: Chrissy Walters talks about his recent sculpture in relation to his learning on the course.
So what can you tell me about your work? What new learning have you discovered?
Very often when I try to translate my work into words, I miss a lot, I’m learning more about sculpture with each piece I make.
What brought you into sculpture?
I have always seen myself as a sculptor since I started my art practice. It’s only recently, through the creation of ‘my deer’ that I have discovered my full interest in realist sculpture. I am attracted to the intensity of it. Sculpture is a physical experience, which we can do anything with. Learning sculpture is a mind-opening experience that can be both challenging and delightful.
What is ‘my deer’ about? What are you trying to show?
I have been looking into what emotional links we as humans have with animals and how we react to materials, such as fur. For those that encounter ‘my deer’ may understand this perpetual feeling of anxiety that the material and overall sense of reality the sculpture creates. It is a feeling that exists because we instantly recognize these ‘real’ textures or materials.
What have your influences been for this piece?
Berlinde De Bruyckere has been a big influence in my studio practice; her work has taught me a lot, especially with the visual language she uses. ‘my deer’ was a direct response to De Bruyckere’s works with horsehide. I was exploring different materials and how they affect us or make us feel.
You say her work has taught you a lot. What has her work and your sculpture taught you?
It’s hard to explain, she has been such a heavy influence on the piece. Her work has taught me how the world of sculpture can affect us, and through this piece I’ve found that sculpture is so rich. In a sense that you can go round a sculpture and from each angle you can feel something else.
I like that one sculpture can give you all the emotions and feelings, realistic or vivid sculptures can make you feel unsettled or make you very unstable.
Once I had learnt this, my work completely changed. I began this exploration into realist materials, working with animal forms and how we relate the two together.
When did you find you had learnt this? And how did you art change?
I guess I was developing a context for my sculpture; I was exploring the effects that something real, or real feeling could create. Whilst questioning what we see as natural or what is unnaturally real.
Although through recent events I now understand what I want to show. I can say I am doing this, or I want to show this etc. I feel my current context isn’t so much about exploring anymore but much more about actually showing something I have leant. I now know its at the point where I want people to understand my development and what I’m saying. Its quite hard to explain.
It all happened quite recently when I went up to London to see an outdoor publication of De Bruyckere’s recent sculptures, ‘Rodt, 6 Januari, 2012’. The information about the piece quoted De Bruyckere along the lines of, ‘I want to show how helpless a body can be, which isn’t something you have to be afraid of – it can be something beautiful’,
My work changed in a sense that it’s become less about how ‘real’ it is and instead becoming more involved with the experience the materials and form bring. It excites me. I guess you could refer to this as the fur being a visual language and the deformation of the animal together, create this feeling and experience.
I now want to explore other languages, feelings and forms in other animals and/or even humans.
Most artist’s work has information of some sort following why or what made them do the piece, what was so enlightening about what Berlinde said?
It doesn’t seem like a huge deal but it really helped me. I suppose it doesn’t have to be something monumental to help you understand your own work, but it was after reading this and through the creation of ‘my deer’, it got me thinking, mostly about what I want to do within my work. I became more involved with these vivid details and textures form the ‘real world’.
Do you mean to say you see the world of sculpture different to this world?
I’ve learnt that sculpture is a world where we can bring something we are not used to or haven’t experienced before into the real world. There is an un-bridged gap between nature and culture. What I’m exploring is the connections we do have. By creating something ‘unnaturally real’ and introducing it into the gallery setting, I can create an experience between the viewer and sculpture, where it becomes less about what the sculpture represents and what the sculpture is, how it makes you feel.
By the ‘real world’ what do you mean?
The real world is full of life, and I guess all life is in tune with survival. So far I have learnt we all have an emotional link with animals and they are something we are familiar with but we don’t have a full relationship with. We are so far from knowing them completely, how close have you been to a deer? Better yet, a brutally deformed deer. How do they make you feel?
Did you discovery on life come though the making of ‘my deer’?
Well the main idea behind ‘my deer’ was to introducing something real to the gallery space, something real and breathing. So I guess there is a part of the work that has made me think and taught me about life, yes. However I look to question what we recognize as natural, if something has life, is it natural?
Taking everything into account, where do you think this learning will take you with your next piece?
I suppose I would like to do a piece that is a bit more surreal; I do plan to draw more ideas with my next piece. I find thought flows freely from pencil to paper so I think I may get a few new interesting ideas if I sketch them out. With the new insight into the visual language that De Bruyckere uses, I feel I want to move away from fur and look towards developing my own language that I can merge in with a new sculpture. The thing that I like most about Berlinde’s work is her use of colour and wax. She gets these real fleshy feelings in the material. So I guess something that looks into colour more, skin has that translucency that you don’t seem to get anywhere else.
Talking about my recent sculpture and what I’ve learnt has really clarified what I actually want to do with my art from here. Discussing the logic of the details and textures from the real world and also, the topic of life in sculpture has defiantly refined my approach in how I will go about creating these relationships between the viewer and creation. It’s only now I’m beginning to see the strong connections between my work and the work of Berlinde De Bruyckere’s.
I do feel my next sculpture will bring another field of emotions and a new experience; experiences that only sculpture can give.