Anthropomorphic sculpture

Contemporary sculpture anthropomorphic found objects

Anthropomorphic sculpture from found objects.

Mole wrench and oil can cap. October 2023.

A mole wrench and an oil can cap create an anthropomorphic sculpture suggesting an embracing couple.

The sculpture came about when I was about to put teak oil on my kitchen worktop, which was something I’d been putting off for the previous five years. The cap of the tin of teak oil was rusted in place due to lack of use and I had to take it off using a mole wrench. Holding the resulting wrench and cap combination instantly I sensed the potential for it to be a work of art in some way, partly because the oil can’s cap resembled an eye when the light struck it. At first I thought that the assemblage perhaps resembled a fish, but after a bit of turning it round in my hands I saw human forms emerge.

This is a good example of the way that people can interpret objects differently to the nature of the objects themselves. I believe that our brains interpret things based on a hierarchy of significance. The brain sees something and then scans down a list of likely possibilities for what the thing is, with highly significant things at the top of the list. At the very top of the list is ‘human being’. Very much lower down the list, if it’s on the list a all, is ‘mole wrench’. When you see a mole wrench in a tool box you automatically go straight to the ‘mole wrench’ item way down your brain’s list, because the context in which you see the wrench is strongly suggestive that it is indeed a mole wrench that you’re looking at. However, in the context-free setting of the photo above your brain has to work harder and has to consult its built-in list of possibilities, at the top of which is ‘human being’. The wrench possesses something of the shape of a human form, and thus the connection is made. The fact that the wrench is standing in a way that no mole wrench in the real world could do without support helps to amplify the effect.

Bicycle Saddle

Contemporary sculpture bicycle saddle

Ceramic vessel with bicycle saddle.

Sculpture. 2021.

A ceramic pot with a bicycle saddle. The bicycle saddle is attached to a conventional bicycle seat pillar which is inserted into the narrow opening at the top of the ceramic vessel.

Contemporary sculpture bicycle saddle

In the context of the sculpture the shape of the bike seat automatically evokes the form of an animal head.

Whenever the words bicycle seat, animal head and art are mentioned in the same sentence the name of Pablo Picasso and his 1942 work, Bull’s Head, inevitably come to mind. But we mustn’t let the great man’s work prevent the rest of us from using the same idea. He probably wasn’t the first person to think it up anyway, just the most famous. Remember, it was him who said “Good artists copy. Great artists steal”

Contemporary sculpture bicycle saddle

In my sculpture the bicycle saddle doesn’t only suggest an animal head. Something about its shape also evokes the concept of a sail or of some form of crest shaped modern architectural structure.

Below is a variation of the sculpture where I’ve cleaved the saddle firmly to its animal head incarnation by adding a pair of headphones. The headphones have the pleasing effect of looking like a weird pair of eyes as well as a pair of headphones. The idea of adding the headphones came to me simply because there was pair of headphones lying on the floor next to the sculpture.

Doll

Doll

Sculpture. Found objects. 2023

An anthropomorphic sculpture made of found objects.

The doll’s head was found buried in my garden and the empty custard carton was found in my kitchen.

The custard carton has been squeezed to extract every last bit of custard from inside. It was a simple matter to create a ready-made sculpture by attaching the doll’s head to the cap of the carton, especially as the head was rather sinisterly only the front of the head, thus it possessed a convenient rim that could be gripped by the carton’s screw cap.

With the doll’s head attached, the custard carton is instantly transformed from being a crumpled piece of consumer waste into a doll’s body or a baby’s body. A quite disturbing body at that.

Contemporary sculpture found objects doll

 The interpretation of the carton as a body in this sculpture is the result of the phenomenon of pareidolia, which is the tendency to see significant forms where they don’t exist (Faces in clouds and such-like). The presence of the doll’s head helps of course. Art, especially modern and contemporary art, is hugely reliant on pareidolia, as it allows a circle with a couple of dots inside it to become a human face.

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.