Saturday, 21 November 2009

Something New at UG

We are always on the lookout for new and different sculpture for the gallery.  I have especially been trying to find some really high quality glass work to display.  There is a lot of blown glass around, but I was looking for something a bit special, and I am really pleased to be able to say I have found it.

Jessica Irena Smith is a young glass sculptor from County Durham who has been introduced to us by artist Trevor Jones.  Having seen images of her work online, I knew we were looking as something special and, when she came in this week to show us her work, that was confirmed.  Jessica casts her glass bases in a kiln, using the ancient lost wax process.  Without going into excessive detail, this is very similar to the process of making a bronze sculpture, although somewhat more risky as you are working with glass.  To put things into perspective, a larger sculpture like 'Large Sheep Column', below, lives in the kiln for fully 6 days to ensure that the piece cools evenly and therefore not creating stresses in the glass.

The glass is then hand finished, to create a perfect, smooth, beautiful finish, and then the small cast bronze scultures are added.  Jessica has the lovely little bronzes cast for her by a specialist foundry in Birmingham, and then hand finishes them herself.

So you end up with a sculpture of charm and humour, created with real craft and real perserverence.  The sheep are Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep which look somewhat similar to goats.  A trip to the Rockies, seeing these lovely beasts in their natural environment, proved to be the inspiration. 

We have 3 different examples of the series: the Large Sheep Column, above, and:

Small Sheep Column (a trio), and:

the brillant Wall of Sheep

The detail in the work, along with the quality of the finish, is really astounding.  You only have to look at Jessica's working drawings, which she has been kind enough to share with us, to get an idea of the toil and the creative process that is required to produce such beautiful figures:

I love these sketches... they are fun, but they also tell you quite a bit about the thought process and the work that goes into creating these sculptures.

I can't wait to see more of her work next year.

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