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Statsminister & Art Lover

Introducing my two latest plaster busts..................

             Statsminister    and       Art Lover

who wil be d├ębuting soon along with the rest of the
plaster bust collection in my exhibition
'Secret Society - a Ballroom Banquet'

at the Holburne Museum, Bath
14th Feb - 21st April
The show will be a more decadent and trashier version of my banquet at Pitzhanger Manor

With these two sculptures I was determined to edge back towards abstraction which is where I was firmly and happily entrenched before I got sidetracked into figuration - don't know how that happened!

I got the model building during a recent trip to Berlin and thought it must be one of the government buildings - hence the title 'Statsminister' - but turns out it isn't in Berlin at all. I have no idea where it is in the world - any suggestions??

No prizes for surmising that the other reference regarding the title is my new heroine - Borgen!

Fixing the bust to the plinth. The two bond together when the the plaster in the plinth mould is still wet.

Talking of abstraction, it dawned me after I'd made Statsminister's hat that I had quite closely referenced one of the designs in my 'Setsquares' collection of tiles 

The angled shape in the design top left is one I've often used in my Modernist designs of planters and tiles and lo and behold I found I'd created a version of it on this hat. 
Habitat design store commissioned my 'Setsquares' designs for a collection of relief tiles and vases

In making the original sculpture, I constructed the hat and collar from folded and creased paper and card. 

What I find fascinating is how the silicone mould I take from the original, and then the plaster cast itself, so exactly replicates the quality of the original material. I roughly folded and creased card for the top of the hat and the complete character of that material comes across in the cast. In fact, in this picture if you didn't know the bust was plaster surely you might think it is actually made of card.
I know creased card is a very low-key material and why should we be intrigued by its characteristics? But the more I cast from real materials, the more intrigued I am to explore mundane, everyday 'stuff'- and by transposing the creased card to pure, white, beautiful plaster, its characteristics are elevated to altogether another level.

It's very strange how the busts adopt a particular style and identity once the original sculpture is cast in plaster. I'm never sure exactly how they will look once colour and texture are removed. This one has a rather Renaissance look I thought, costume-wise.

To date with the larger busts I've concentrated on the hat which has dominated the sculpture, but this time I wanted to make the 'collar' an equally strong part of the overall composition. I think this has resulted in a much more strongly sculptural object - rather than just a head stuck on a plinth.

The projecting corner is the shape I'm most pleased with - I like asymmetry and planes of different angles juxtaposed.

Stastminister is one of the large limited edition busts - edition of 20.

Art Lover....

.. a homage to art lover extraordinaire, Peggy Guggenheim. This one has her eponymous New York museum on her hat.

Making a silicone rubber mould from the original sculpture.

When you buy all kinds of products and gadgets these days they come encased in specially constructed cardboard packaging, designed to fit them - and their accessories - exactly. These card structures are very sculptural and I've used them often in making the busts. I can't remember what this packaging contained - could have been my new phone - but I loved the shapes and the recessed hole and it was very easy to construct a hat from it!  I like it when the found packaging suggests the form - of the hat or costume - one good reason not to try and design everything in advance on a computer - which I NEVER do,

For some reason I've found myself increasingly obscuring parts of their faces - I suppose it's a mystery thing but also, from a purely visual point of view, faces are quite boring as 3-dimensional forms, totally symmetrical and endlessly similar.  Cutting across the face with shapes and flat planes as well as creating intrigue, introduces very different sculptural elements to the human face and head.

It's quite a while since I've made the hair on the busts from 'hair' (fake obv) - latterly the hair has been created from all kinds of random materials like corrugated paper, takeaway cups and drinking straws.  For Art Lover I thought it would be a good contrast to the abstract, simple shapes of the hat and costume for the 'hair' to be intricate and detailed and real-hair-like.

The NY Guggenheim is a fantastic building. I would really love to use more modern buildings in my sculptures but it seems impossible to find them, all the souvenirs are of old buildings. Contributions gratefully received!

Her 'cape' is also a piece of cardboard packaging, ready designed for me! I reckon it would make a very cool real outfit - maybe those fashion designers should be checking out my plaster busts rather than the other way around!!

I've just finished packing the last of 50 boxes and crates to be transported to Bath next week for my show. The installation is going to be fun after months up to my ears in plaster!
Watch this space for pictures of the show and the new film I'm making of the installation.

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