May 10, 2021

Figures in Metal

blog_dancer_rightby Charles Ross / Black River Media

It’s the internet. How many people are actually going to see this, or care? However I have been punched in the arm (figuratively and physically, all by good artists) for not sharing more about my metal sculptures. So here goes.

It has been quite a while since I made anything of this nature and I don’t presently live where I have the facilities to do this kind of work, but here are two of my favourites.

Running Wild

The horse sculpture “Running Wild” is an image that popped into my head and wouldn’t go away. Running from a barn fire? Running for freedom? Not sure then or now what drives this imaginary creature, but I had to learn how to use an oxy-acetylene torch for it to take form.

It was a pretty loose concept that could only come together as I went along, learning what could be done with the newly adapted methods of brazing and welding. Up to then I had been held back to soldering, which is very weak by comparison and only applies to copper and its alloys.

Now I was able to manipulate steel sheet and rod into something more durable, but still maintain the appearance of copper based finishes that appeal to me more than anything else. This was my first effort with this method and with a concept inspired by a living subject. Up this point I was making geometric two dimensional shapes into abstract objects and wall hangings. They were not pop art but they didn’t achieve the organic effect I knew would be possible with time and technique that were yet to come.

Dancer

A few years after “Running Wild” I was looking to do something special for a someone special. Again it was a matter of a snapshot in my head but this concept was more solidified since it came from a “freeze frame” moment locked in my mind from one evening.

I’d never done a human form before. Gathering up an amalgamation of poses that I scoured from magazines (it would be another ten years before the internet), I was able to get the visuals I needed for the hair toss, the hand on the hip, the raised leg. Those were all key points in my memory’s image that needed to be reproduced to make it genuine.

I think attempting a face would have not done justice to the work or the person, (in truth I think I would have botched it) so I left it blank. I am also one of those ‘less is more’ kind of artists. I came to appreciate that this faceless dancer could then be young, old, black, white, joyful, deep in thought; what ever the viewer could see in it for themselves. The full sculpture is approximately 12″ (30 cm) high; copper foil, steel and bronze, mounted on an acrylic base.

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