mon 27/05/2024

Visual Arts Lockdown Special 4: sculpting like Rodin, watching artists, and more | reviews, news & interviews

Visual Arts Lockdown Special 4: sculpting like Rodin, watching artists, and more

Visual Arts Lockdown Special 4: sculpting like Rodin, watching artists, and more

Current highlights from the world of visual arts

Abigail McGourlay, 'Thalia Dorme': one of the entires shortlisted in The Arts Society's Isolation Artwork Competition

For many, lockdown has not been the opportunity for self-improvement it was billed to be. Lack of inspiration is unlikely to have been a factor, however, even if you have discovered that watching others being creative is an entirely satisfactory end in itself, rather than a call to action.

Many weary parents are freshly grateful to the BBC for its educational programming just now, but of course its remit during lockdown has been much broader, with a series of masterclasses with artists including Antony Gormley, Paul Smith and Rana Begum a highlight under its Culture in Quarantine banner. A favourite is a scant half hour with Es Devlin (pictured below), an artist who in normal life works collaboratively, producing large scale sculptures and performance works, often as stage sets for the theatre, opera, and performers like Beyoncé or Adele. Now, alone in her studio, she has made a film, exploring her own working processes to inspire others to find solace in creativity. Using paper, scissors and a pencil, she follows an idea from seed to fruition, producing a set of paper sculptures that evoke the branching structures of trees and lungs. As she draws and cuts, she reflects on the way that such activities preserve memory, and forge connections across time and place. This and other Get Creative at Home Masterclasses can be accessed here:

Es Devlin in her studioThe working methods of Auguste Rodin, the father of modern sculpture, are explored in a series of short films now available online, at the inexhaustible treasure trove that is the Artists Studio Museum Network. The films have been made by the Musée Rodin in Meudon, where Rodin lived and worked from 1895 until his death in 1917. At no more than six minutes long, each of the five silent animations explains the making of a particular sculpture, so highlighting a technique or process. The Duchess of Choiseul serves as an example of marble carving, while The Urn Caryatid is used to explain lost-wax bronze casting. A narrator would make these handy guides to often complicated techniques even better. The films can be accessed via this link:

Meanwhile, there are artists hard at work as we speak, eight of whom have made the shortlist of the Arts Society’s Isolation Artwork Competition, which asked 18-22 year-olds from across the country to take lockdown life as their inspiration. Portraiture features heavily in the judges’ selection of ten paintings and drawings, with several artists taking themselves and their families as subjects (main picture: Abigail McGourlay, Thalia Dorme). Others have looked to their immediate surroundings, and to the natural environment (pictured below: Toby Richardson, St Bartholomew's) The successful entries are online until the end of June, and members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite work by visiting the Arts Society website. The winner will be announced on 7 July. You can view the works, and vote for your favourite here:

Toby Richardson, St BartholomewsSo many young people have had their lives turned upside down by the virus, and competitions like this have helped to provide focus and motivation. Different people find different ways, and one young student, who has like so many found herself caught in a limbo between (untaken) A-levels and university, has started a wide-ranging, and hugely enjoyable arts blog: Clearly begun for its author’s own self-development, the blog manages to be both personal and entirely outward looking, covering topics that range from 5 Ways to Continue Learning During Isolation – apparently the Open University are running free courses at the moment – to African American Artists You Should Know About. It’s thoughtful and well-written and worth a visit, whatever your age.


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