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Backstory - Swag-Drape Frieze

Swag-Drape Frieze is from my collection of wall friezes cast in plaster and concrete. The imagery is created by casting from real life materials, in this case swags of silk taffetta.
Below I've shown the architectural motifs which are the inspiration for the design.

Swag-Drape Frieze (above) - the motifs are indented to the surface.
for more images of this and other friezes follow the link to my website

I'm fascinated by this kind of sculptural ornament and the stylized way in which it is interpreted by the sculptor. I photographed lots of facades and experimented with ways of re-creating the imagery by casting from actual swags of fabric.
Apologies for the blurry photos - the ornament is usually very high up on the building and the shot has to be taken on zoom.

This and the first image are some of my favourites - they adorn Methodist Central Hall (near Parliament Sq) The fabric looks so crisp and real and in contrast the tassels are strangely flattened and stylized. I think the sense of design and compostition is great and the skill of the sculptor amazing. I did try to sculpt swags in clay - and quickly gave up! But to carve this kind of realism in stone is impressive.

My friezes are made up of a series of tiles and are purposefully mis-aligned at the junctions, creating an element of unpredictability and friction.

Showing the silk taffetta I cast from - working out twists and drapes which echo the sculpted swags seen on building facades

I don't think people often look up to the tops of buildings when walking down a city street - but if you do you will see masses of this amazing ornament.

A bow tied in fabric. I can never tell until I cast from the fabric shapes whether they will work well in reverse - i.e. indented to the surface. Often what looks great in real life doesn't read at all as an indentation. There's a lot of trial and error in developing the designs.

The swags are often combined with leaves, fruit and garlands - elements I've used in other of my designs like my Concrete Planters and Urn Sculptures

I found that the key to the success of the freize design was to keep the swag in each tile quite simple - the sense of undulating movement is created by lining up a long row of them.

This was another 'swag' idea I worked with - making a photographic image of swags and tassels and digitaly printing them on to ceramic tiles - each one different but creating a long continuous row like the plaster friezes. Never enough hours in the day to work through every idea!

Methodist Central Hall again.

It's interesting how each architectural period often takes the same imagery - i.e. swags and drapery etc - and interprets it according to the fashion of the time. In this case (Methodist Central Hall) a Sessionist version of the Baroque (I guess)

Looking up at some swags one day I noticed that they had finished them off with flat discs so I created an indented version.

Swag Drape Frieze in situ. For more see the post Friezes in situ

In a way what I've done is to update the traditional swag with a modernist aesthetic. Much of my work has focussed on the idea of taking historical figurative imagery and giving it a contemporary interpretation.

Also see the story behind my
Tudor Frieze
and my Tassel Friezes

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous...it does undulate. Amazing in a medium that is so heavy that you can create such lithe movement. Thank you so much for communicating your thought process with us. Trish


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