Sculpting for me is re-discovering the art of play,
but with heavier machinery and a lot of heat!
Discovering that I could cast bronze in my back garden opened up a world of opportunities to make beautiful works of art. There is an alchemy in turning everyday objects or hand sculpted forms into a precious metal. In its raw state bronze is not that interesting, but add colour and polish it, and it takes on a new life, highlighting the different textures and shining with an inner glow that no other material can match.
The forms mainly originate as a wax object, which can be worked on in many different states, from pouring as a liquid, modelling like clay, or carving when solid. This allows a myriad of different mark making techniques to be used and the casting process can capture the tiniest detail.
Cast conventionally, the resulting form is identical to the wax object. However, I often harness chance in my work by using thin wax originals, or use wood which is not fully burnt out. This creates imperfect and fractured pieces that make a solid permanent material seem fragile and in the process of disintegrating. I use this in my work to mirror the impermanence and vulnerability of the environment around me.
My latest work aims to express the fragments of remembered views and experiences built up by travelling through my local landscape. I also highlight my concerns about the ecology of the areas I travel through and their fragile nature.
For a video showing me at work, see https://youtu.be/p3gGz8xYiFM
I’m not sure if you would usually see an environmental statement on a sculpture website where metal is used, but environmental issues are important to me and the dilemma of using such materials in a climate emergency has weighed on my mind for a long time.
My carbon footprint outside of my artwork is as close to zero as I think I can get it to be at the moment. I am vegan, have solar panels and 100% dark green electricity (no gas), have insulated the house as much as possible, don’t drive much and drive an electric car when I do, don’t fly, grow a lot of my own food, buy very little, etc. So the majority of my footprint comes from my artwork.
Even so, to date I think this usage amounts to around 3 tonnes Co2 (UK average is 12.7 tonnes CO2 per person per year) for my sculpture work to date (2017-2021). It is not easy to calculate this as the materials I use don’t publicise their carbon footprint, but this is my best estimate at the moment.
My main carbon footprint comes from the materials I use and transport in the delivery of these.
I use bronze (recycled material) and steel for many of my sculptures. I try to keep the steel content to a minimum and in many of the bronze pieces use very thin castings. The bronze casting is done using propane gas and I cast multiple pieces at once and as efficiently as possible to try to minimise the amount of gas used. This could be done using electricity, but that would require additional space and equipment, the carbon cost of which would outweigh the savings for a very long time. That will be kept under review though.
I try to buy in bulk to reduce the amount of deliveries and the electricity I use is generated from our solar panels, or from the grid using 100% dark green energy from Ecotricity.
In many of my pieces, I highlight environmental issues and I hope that the impact of this outweighs that of my consumption in materials and processes.
Offsetting is not the ideal way of dealing with carbon consumption, but in the absence of anything else I can find which is better, I have chosen to do this through Make it Wild to offset 10 tonnes which is probably 3 times what I have used to date. That said, I still hope to do much more than this in the future.
I have declared emergency with Culture Declares Emergency. I will focus the majority of my work on environmental issues, bringing them to people's attention and encouraging action. I will also examine my artistic practice to reduce consumption.