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Les Parisiennes - plaster busts

Paris is surely home to some of the most iconic buildings in the world - and the Eiffel Tower is certainly my favourite landmark of all landmarks.  I like it because of its totally original shape and because it was such a ground-breaking feat of engineering.  

Everyone told Gustave Eiffel that his bizarre structure would never stand - well they got that wrong!  And as a tribute to his imagination and daring, I've titled my bust 'L'Ingenieure' 

Looking around my studio I can see I've collected 7 Eiffels so far - of all different sizes; I have a tiny one on my car key ring and a 1 ft tall one I'm waiting to use in my sculptures.

From a fabrication point of view it's certainly not an easy shape to use when it comes to making a mould of the bust and I was concerned it would snap off when I cast it - but with a bit of metal armature inside for strength, it worked perfectly, to my relief.

I've moved right away from using fabrics and haberdashery for the costumes and I'm now constructing them mostly from discarded packaging materials, paper and card.  Part of her bodice is cast from a broken off piece of polystyrene. 

It took me a long, long time to decide on the right angle for the placement of the tower - composition is absolutely one of the most crucial factors in the success of the sculptures.

 I created the net pattern on the hat from one of those net bags they use in supermarkets to package tangerines (which I always snack on at teatime in my studio). I was pleased that the netting underwent the kind of transformation I was aiming for when I made the hat - i.e. a reference to those chic black veils Parisiennes wore on their hats circa 1960

I thought  a square plinth would complement the geometric form of the costume and it was interesting to work with a shape other than the cylinders I've used so far.

The weird 'collar' is part of a small cardboard box with lid - I like its angular, sculptural form.

Paris wouldn't be Paris without the Arc de Triomphe!  My second favourite French building icon. 
Introducing:  'Etoile'...................

Her costume is also mostly packaging material - the 'collar' is made from another version of those tangerine bags - and the 'shawl' shape below that is cast from the metal foil used to seal containers of coffee.

The placement of the arch on the hat was difficult on this one too - it was a matter of getting all these angles to work together and against each other in an unpredictable way.

It's impossible to predict what affect the transformation of the original materials into monochrome plaster will have on the look and atmosphere of the finished bust - this has a rather medieval I think.

Actually, I made a trio of 'Parisiennes' - the first one is 'Lafayette' ( I already posted about her) she was inspired by a giant hoarding on the side of Galerie Lafayette in Paris - check her out!

I've got a major challenge on in the studio at the moment as I decided to make some much larger busts and I'm currently just finishing the first of this new series - she's about 3 times the size of all I've made so far. I thought it would be easy! Duh!!  Having to learn to use a whole new visual language. 
I'm hoping to finish 4 large ones for my solo show at Pitzhanger Manor, London, in April - of which more later.


  1. These pieces are stunning! They make a great trio. I'm looking forward to seeing the larger pieces.

  2. Paris is home to the most iconic Sculptors too Kathy, I have been thinking about Alberto Giacometti lots and made a decision to buy some monographs, really as a mark of respect, so I ordered three of what sounded the best, the first two arrived a couple of days ago, brilliant books full of photos of Paris in the 1950's in the evening I saw a Facebook link Alberto had died on that date in 1966, 11th January, what a strange coincidence, the third book is previously unpublished photos and that should be here in a few days.


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