by Lesley Samms
‘Sculpture is the art of the intelligence’ – Pablo Picasso
Sculpture is one of the oldest of all art forms. It is often referred to as one of the plastic arts, because it involves physical manipulation of a medium that can be carved or shaped. Historically sculptors created their artwork by either carving or modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood or other malleable materials. Contemporary sculptors however have pushed these boundaries to their limits and today artists have complete freedom over materials and process in the creation of their artwork, often now utilising found and/or synthetic materials in the process and construction.
This has resulted in the descriptive term assemblage becoming a recognised term in this context, used to describe a sculptural work that has been put together, or assembled, from diverse elements. Artist Gavin Roweth employs stone carving in his practice. Many examples of Gavin’s work can now be seen in and around historic Battle, as part of the Heritage Art Trail. These sculptures tell stories from the past, gathered as part of a community project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and linked to the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 2016. For more information and trail guides, please visit the Almonry or Battle Museum of Local History, High Street, Battle.
Trained at Ravensbourne and Chelsea art colleges, Gavin has been carving full time for the last decade, creating many bespoke commissioned pieces including headstones, memorial plaques and garden sculptures, alongside his fine art practice. His fine art sculpture is guided by the essence of the material he uses, principally Portland Limestone. Carving directly into the stone, Gavin creates simple and complex abstract forms designed around the intrinsic nature of the material. The marks where life on the planet have left fossils embedded in the stone often become essential parts of the finished piece. He looks to create a harmony between stone and sculptor where texture and form lead to the finished piece.
Gavin owns WING Art Gallery in Wadhurst were his artwork can be viewed and commissioned. He also regularly exhibits at the PURE Autumn Art Fair, which takes place annually in October at the PowderMills Hotel, Battle.
Modelling is an additive process, which means rather than scraping a material away as in carving, the artist works with a soft material, normally clay, wax, plaster or plastercine to build up a shape or form. Casting involves making a mould from the final shape or form and then pouring a liquid material, such as molten metal, plastic (resin), rubber or fibreglass into the mould. 19th century French sculptor Rodin expected that his hand-sculpted models would be cast into bronze many times. It was not unusual for him to have several different foundries cast the same work over the span of his life, and since his death the French government has routinely issued new editions of his works.
Artists who utilise modelling and casting in their practice include well-known names such as Joan Miro and Antony Gormley, who famously utilises his own body as the starting point. Other artists who use model and cast methods include Jonathan Hateley and Svetlana K-Lié, both of whom have exhibited frequently as part of the Battle Festival of Arts and Music, which takes place annually in October.
Born in the West Midlands and now living and working from his studio in Kent, Jonathan Hateley’s sculpture is exhibited widely, both in the UK and internationally. Having created props for the musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and the English National Opera, Jonathan spent many years sculpting for models and effects in TV and film and illustrating children’s books. In 2003 he began creating his own work, thus turning his passion into a career.
All aspects of the natural world inspire Jonathan. Working initially in clay, he enjoys the challenge of creating from both the real and imagined. Through his close observation and manipulation of materials, Jonathan is able to create detail and texture or surface bas-relief on his sculpture, which are cast in resin or bronze before being hand finished and painted to accentuate the relief.
Svetlana K-Lié is a Russian artist living and working in Brighton. Born in Moscow where she graduated with a MA from the faculty of applied arts completed by additional studies at the famous I.I. Nivinsky Etching Art Studio and Babushkinski Ceramic Studio, she works with a broad range of materials and techniques. Her practice includes sculpture, photography, printmaking and drawing.
Gavin, Jonathan and Svetlana will all be exhibiting as part of the PURE Autumn Art Fair 10th Anniversary exhibition at the PowderMills Hotel, Battle, 5th–13th October 2019. Visit www.pureartsgroup.co.uk for further details.