Tales of Romance and Heroism
observed by a Stuffed Bird
1.11.2023 – 13.1.2024
Wednesday, November 1, 2023, 5 – 8 pm
Tales of Romance and Heroism Observed by a Stuffed Bird
My studio walls are filled with sketches, photos and torn out pages of books: images of 18th century pastoral cotton prints, chinese vases, photos and drawings from trips to the natural history museum. I’m drawn as much to dramatic highs as to absurdity. Often these images stay on the wall for months or years till I can finally work out what sculptural possibilities they contain.
Movement i, ii, iii, & iv were modelled in stray moments in the studio – each pair balanced on a cut out circle of wood reflecting the circling movement of the dance. They were based on a sequence of photos taken at the end of the 19th century by Eadweard Muybridge, who developed the first motion photography. Each set of figures shows a different moment in the same dance – some dynamic, others romantic, others awkward. Sometimes one of the dancers is only visible as a stray arm or head. Cast in glass, the figures merge further into one another. I deliberately wanted to take a hackneyed subject – couples dancing, the classic theme for figurines – and see if something could still be made of it today.
The bronze works also deal with the relationship between pairs of figures. In Two Fighting Men the fencers are balancing on the end of a children’s circular stacking toy, the curve echoing the lunge of their movement. Into the Woods and Tis time; Descend were also built around a curve. These were made through laminating thin strips of wood together. Into the Woods has the figures merge together with the foliage, one springing away up into a tree, the other facing the monstrous beast coming out of the woods with his sword outstretched. In Tis time; Descend a different conflict is taking place: the two topmost bird figures are grappling together. One has its wings outstretched prepared for flight upwards. The other is pressing down on it towards the floor. The birds‘ movement echoes the fight within the sculpture itself – there’s a movement upwards created by the arch, and sustained by the metal rod running through the work. This is fought against by the heavy bronze material, that presses down towards the floor.
Lucy Teasdale in October 2023
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