While I was bringing boxes to storage, visiting flat after flat, riding in trains, wearing out my shoes in the streets of Glasgow, and then flying across the sea, something amazing was going on over at Clive Hicks-Jenkins' blog. In fact, I only mention these little pursuits of mine as a way of framing an excuse for not having mentioned Clive's incredible online exhibition of maquettes sooner. More than twenty far-flung artists took part in the show, creating a truly marvellous and extremely varied body of work. I will just be sharing my contribution to the show here, but do have a look at the excellent maquettes that the others have made. The show is in five parts (first, second, third, fourth, fifth) and I promise it is very worth your time.
The exhibition grew out of Clive's own use of maquettes as a compositional tool when planning his paintings. Visitors to his website and blog were interested in the maquettes and some, notably Zoe Jordan, started to adopt the practice themselves, which led Clive to invite other artists to do the same.
When Clive first contacted me about making a maquette I thought it might be interesting to use the mobility of a maquette to bring to life the sort of people you find carved into the sablières of old churches in Brittany. I thought that way we could place them up in the corners of the room and move them about from time to time, to make with them a sort of slow, ongoing story written across the walls.
However, all at once we found that life had a lot of changes in store for us and that idea was put aside. It seemed important to make something strong and changeable, something not-of-this-world, something able to overcome all adversity. And so I took advantage of the maquette's ability to move and hide or reveal different parts of itself.
I designed it so that its cape could hide different heads, a halo, and wings, and made it so that the cape could also spread open very wide or hide extra arms between its folds. Of course, it is easy enough to remove unwanted arms completely so there is not any trace of the extra ones at all, as I did for most of the photos. Still, it seemed important to make it so that everything could just be rotated around and hidden away, rather than disassembled.
Just to be sure everything would work, I made a quick mock up of my maquette. I suppose that is a little bit funny, since these maquettes are generally used as a sort of preparatory study for other artworks, but still, I wanted to see how everything would go together before drawing and painting all the bits and pieces.
Even before everything was done, some of the pieces started to come together and form rudimentary people:
How lucky to find that I could add horns and ears to the male and female heads as well!
This maquette is wholly a creature of change and transformation, further proof of which is the backdrop which it was photographed upon -- one of the many cardboard boxes that was taking over our living space at the time the maquette was made. It really was so much better to transform obstacles into something that worked for me rather than getting dragged down by them.
But like I said before, this maquette is only one out of the many maquettes that were made for Clive's online exhibition. If you haven't already, go and see the other contributions to this project and the surprising and wonderful interpretations of it. There were beautiful submissions from some talented artists who are also friends in bloglandia, such as Leonard Greco and Rima Staines, and Zoe, mentioned earlier. Clive himself also included some of his own lovely maquettes at the end of the show. I hope he knows how much we all appreciate his hard work and encouragement.
Go see, go see, go see!