A long time …
2016 was a time of doing some really good work at UAP (Urban Art Projects). I’ve been continuing to develop and refine my skills, evolving and finally realising that I can now call myself a sculptor. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an artist but maybe that’s the next part of this process. But first to backtrack a little…
My Apprenticeship Indentures from 40 years ago
It’s now forty years since I started my apprenticeship as a patternmaker, so I’ve been making things for a very long time and I’ve learnt a few things on the way. Sometimes I forget and even I’m surprised when I’m reminded.
Pattern making is a foundry trade, primarily in timber, which had it’s heyday during the age of steam, declining towards the end of the 20th century. It still exists but with the advent of CNC machining and lately rapid additive manufacturing, die casting metals and development of plastics to replace metal castings, there’s little need for patternmakers and all the associated foundry trades. However for someone of my era, I managed to get some wonderful training from the old die-hards of the trade, as it was fading away. These skills I have used all my life, in associated fields from building my own home and many furniture pieces, through to working on films and my own small manufacturing business.
But it’s not personally creative.
It’s the general approach to creativity through the discipline of patternmaking which has assisted me to approach all manner of tasks, including the audio and video production which I also like to play around with. It’s more an approach for many aspects of creativity rather than just in the production of metal castings.
The issue with patternmaking is that it’s highly technical. I’ve often referred to it as, ‘industrial sculpture’. We are given detail drawings which we have to follow. No creativity! No development away from what is asked! Just follow the drawing to the letter and don’t vary. There is no room for creativity, there is no room for art. But at the end of the process there is always some form created and often very beautiful.
From patternmaking I moved into associated trades and this is how my working life was through my early twenties. Basically making things in joinery and cabinetmaking shops. No real free form creativity.
Can I sculpt organic shapes?
Then in 1987 I worked building components for World Expo ’88 with a small creative team at John Underwood’s Art Busters.This was my first experience at organic sculpting and I was thrown in the deep end to sculpt an oversized beetle to be installed on the Expo ’88 site. I had no idea what I was doing but slowly, and I mean very slowly I started to see the world of shapes differently. This has been a very long process. Off and on for, something like 30 years. I’ve had elements of creativity along the way but I used my more, technical skills which involved the discipline of patternmaking rather than the free form required for many art components. In recent months things have changed significantly.
One of two cast aluminium jelly fish for a children’s playground.
Earlier last year I was asked to sculpt a 2m jelly fish. Nothing too difficult, a hemisphere with some detail in it. The issue with creating something like an organic hemisphere is, it’s too easy to make it perfect and miss the nuances of an organic form. It has to be made smooth, even, balanced and imperfect. Getting it just ‘wrong’ enough that it’s right is challenging and I managed that with considerable ease. Confidence Level One; – achieved! Continue reading