The Human Form
SKELETONS, TENDONS, MUSCLE
Perhaps inevitably, my work on structures caused me to consider the anatomy of organic forms. Beginning with a study of basic structures, left, which corresponded to different types of locomotion (quadrupedal, bipedal) I added volume using clay, string, etc. The latter particularly interested me, for it resembled the fibrous appearance of muscle. Using a gelatinous fixing agent, below, I was able to wind twine around a wire base such that it might assume rigidity once dry.
Above, a crouching bipedal structure compared to a standing quadruped. Volume added to the latter using quick-dry clay.
An alternative method was to let the skin grow naturally, or rather, chemically. Sodium acetate, when supercooled, reacts exothermically when exposed to an impurity. In this case, I used a small bull-skeleton maquette, below. While very interesting to watch, I was left with a small bull-cloud, which was not terribly useful.
One of the primary ways we identify one another is by our faces. Despite the great diversity in shape, colour, and expression, however, the underlying structure remains the same. Left, I began to consider what might happen if the surface was cracked open, like a shattered vase or mask, to reveal the skull below. To what extent would a person still be recognisable?
Below, building on the concept of masks, I inverted the concept by obscuring a (my) face with an amalgam, a bone-white mass of clay combined with inorganic materials like chicken wire to suggest the anonymity of modern, industrial
materials. The sketch, left, was a rough illustration of my concept, primarily done as an exercise to apply multimedia sculptural techniques to a flat surface.
Below, uniting structure and skin on the form of an exoskeleton. By studying the basic shapes of first, a skull, and then the human body, I attempted a cubist reinterpretation thereof. Though I considered the latter
more artistically successful, I was intrigued by the three-dimensional rendition of features the former required.
TANGLED BONES. A look at the limits of the recognisability of the human form, as an abstraction of both structure and skin.
Of the first life drawings I did, I was not entirely satisfied with the result, though they did seem to have potential as a canvas for further experimentation in their own right. Below and left, the development of "Skeleton to Skin". This is a re-imagination of supporting skeleton, a symbol of death, as an external force, which simultaneously engages and sculpts the living human form below. The contrast was interesting to me as skeletons are generally shunned, hidden away
not only beneath our skin, but oftentimes in our cultures, too. Nonetheless, we all have them, and they symbolise an essential and primeal unity.
WIRE AND SHADOW
Above. In the same workshop, one of the challenges set us was to do a drawing without lifting the pen from the paper. Later, I replicated this continuous line using wire, lifting it from the page into three dimensions, where I fitted it with additional details so that I might suggest volume using paper and cling wrap. The head I left two-dimensional, as I focused on shifting identity from face to form.
Studying the shadows led me to develop an accompanying drawing, left, a snapshot of the interplay of light and sculpture. The approximate nature of the lines reflects the changeability of our perception and our dependence on context, just as skin is often dependent on, but not limited to, the skeleton below.