1988 Shima


Sculpture in three parts, lost wax bronze casting, mdf. Height 90 cm, Width 254 cm, Depth 58.5 cm

In 1987 I had become involved in the regeneration of the garden at Eagles Nest where I grew up. There had been an unusual frost and many of the trees and shrubs were dead above the ground level.

‘In the garden it was hard to know what was alive and away from it I began to work on a series of bronze sculptures, working directly in the wax that creates the mould. They concern things unseen, buried, underground, internal, subconscious; involving sources of energy, generators, messengers, nerves and roots.’

Three bodies of work came out of this experience – the bronzes, a series of cibachromes and the artist’s book of the same name containing reproductions of the photos, a prose poem and a series of charcoal drawings. Together they established the ground for my work that followed and remain as relevant to my current work as it did at the time.

‘Shima’, is a Japanese word for ‘island’ and ‘garden’ bearing reference to both boundary and containment.

I made the waxes by handling the hot wax using touch and inner gut senses but denying the eye, I didn’t look at what I was doing until after the wax had hardened. The works were uncomfortably inward looking, sensual and sexual, emotive and psychological. The bronzes were small and domestic in scale, intended for the home, to lurk provocatively amidst the clutter of everyday domesticity.

I introduced a table to enable these small domestic works to be shown in a gallery space. The table was designed as a rational construction to articulate a calm space and ‘contain’ these overactive, libidinous works, bringing too a domestic scale to the gallery.

Shima was exhibited at Camden Arts Centre in 1989 and in the Southbank Centre touring exhibition The Tree of Life, where it won first prize.

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