Art about oppression – contemporary political sculpture

political oppression art hammer sculpture

The Oppressor. A sculpture about oppression.

Hammer, nails, wood. 18x34x26cm. May 2023.

This sculpture is a work of political art, as it is partly a metaphor for oppression and rebellion.
The work shows a hammer empaled by nails.
Part of the concept behind the sculpture is that the hammer is being impaled by the objects that it normally hits – the nails. The hammer is a symbol of oppression and the nails are symbols of the oppressed.
But the sculpture poses the question – how did the nails manage to impale the hammer? Nails by their nature need a hammer, or a stand-in for a hammer, in order to be effective and to fulfil their purpose. Were the nails hammered into the hammer by another hammer? In that case the nails are not a metaphor for the oppressed rising up against their oppressor (the hammer) using their own power, but are more like the followers of another power (another hammer?) that may turn out to be as oppressive as the hammer that they’ve empaled.

This sculpture is a development of an idea that I had in 2010 when it started life as a drawing of a hammer with three nails in it.
Since then it developed into a 3D sculptural work composed of a hammer nailed directly onto a flat surface as though pinned down.
This further version has the hammer suspended above the surface and with many more nails driven into it so that it’s starting to resemble a nail fetish figure.

art about oppression - hammer sculpture
political art - sculpture about oppression

Contemporary sculpture – pliers and plaster (and paint)

Contemporary sculpture in the Arte Povera genre

Pliers Piece I

Pliers, plaster, acrylic paint. 12x1815cm. 2020

A sculpture composed of a pair of splayed handyman’s pliers and a painted plastercast of the inside of a coffee filter cone.

Pliers and other handyman’s tools such as hammers and spanners are recurrent features in some of my constructions.

The work is probably influenced by the Arte Povera movement, and the plastercast of the inside of the coffee filter may owe something to artists such as Rachel Whiteread (although I don’t think that she’s known for adding colour to her casts).

Contemporary sculpture – clothes rack stack

Contemporary sculpture constructed from household objects

Clothes Rack Stack

Commercial clothes racks. 2022

An installation composed of three clothes racks forming a pyramid.

The pyramid of racks is this size purely because I only possess three clothes racks. Given a larger space and a larger number of racks the pyramid can be huge. You may notice in the photo that as well as a pausity of racks the low ceiling in the room mitigates against the construction of monumental artworks.

This is a typical example of a work that almost created itself (I thought of it while I was moving the racks so that I could dry my washing). I have often admired the interplay of the horizontal and diagonal lines in the racks while I was using them for their proper purpose, but it was only recently that the idea of stacking them occurred to me.

This work is probably partly inspired by the art movements of constructivism, dada and arte povera.

Contemporay art sculpture inspired by constructivism, dada and arte povera

Contemporary ceramics – organic cones

Contemporary ceramic art - organic handmade clay cones

Organic cones

Glazed ceramic. 2007 30 x 30 x 40cm

A cluster of organic forms, possibly resembling aquatic lifeforms. The small indentations in the top of some of the cones adds to the organic effect. The worm-like appearance of the cones makes them a slightly disturbing.

The cones are hand-rolled clay.

One World – globe sculpture

Contemporary art environmental sculpture using globes

One World.

Sculpture composed of commercially bought globes. February 2023.

A sculpture composed of one large globe with several smaller globes attached to it.

One of several interpretations of the work is that it shows that on the one physical planet Earth there exist multiple cultural world-views.

The theme of planet Earth in the sculpture also reflects my interest in the state of the planet and my concerns for environmentalism (which has been a concern of mine since the 1960s).

Different artists having the same idea

Humorous contemporary text-based art

An example of the same concept by different artists.

Drawing. 2019. Photo: Harrison and Wood, Frieze, London. 2022

An example of different artists thinking of the same idea independently.
My cartoon drawing is a joke about text-based art from a book of cartoons that I produced on the subject of contemporary art and humour in 2019 ( See here ).
The photograph is of a sculptural text-based work by Harrison and Wood that was exhibited at Frieze London in 2022.

Shadow rings – contemporary light sculpture featuring cast shadows

contemporary light art sculpture with cast shadows

Shadow Rings.

Card, acrylic paint, LED light source. 30 x 15 x 20cm. 2022.

A light source shining on painted and folded card cut-outs in the form of rings.
The shadows cast by the light shining on the rings form half of each full ring on the base of the artwork.
The video above shows the light turning on and off to show the effect.
An example of contemporary light sculpture. The piece is deliberately low-tech, using a cheap commercial table lamp as a light source and simple folded card.