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Adding another dimension

If you’ve been to my last couple of shows last year, you’d have seen a few new creatures in the bestiary that are unlike anything I’ve done before.

Well so far I’ve done several and I’m enjoying the process of creating them. They are SCULPTED beasts!

Sculpture, mixed media assemblage, collage: using found objects, wood, metal, plastic, 2 part resin, balsa foam, finished with paint and pigments and attachments. Once I started thinking about it I realised a lot of my creatures would translate well. And I think subconsiously I had been intending to do this kind of thing as I’d been hoarding all kinds of junk over the years…chains, watch parts, bits of wood and rusted metal, beads, cords, tubes, wires and the list goes on. I already had some woodworking tools and a Dremel, and after a few more trips to Bunnings and the Hobby shop for some miniature tools and supplies I was ready.

It started with this painting:

I thought about full 3d but I didn’t want to make something that I couldn’t put on the wall. So I decided to go for a relief sculpture…and I had about a month to put it together to get it into my solo show Exoskeletons last July. A skullcopter but using a macaw skull…

The skull was plywood with a top layer of 2 part resin that I pushed a sponge into while it was wet to create a bumpy texture in parts. I made the tail and propeller stand out of plastic, I used a couple of actual propellers from a plastic helicopter kit, I made the metal stand out of pieces of piano wire that I soldered together and the rest is random bits of plastic and cord, wires and chains, watch parts and jump rings.

Here’s a shot without the flash to show how it stands out from the wall a bit, the shadows create cool shapes:

Close ups:

It was heaps of fun putting it together. So I thought I’d try for a 2nd one before the show opened…a vulture skullcopter…

Same as the first, this one had a ply body with resin top layer, plastic and metal bits…though the bottom ‘jaw’ is loose and held on with chains so it swings. And of course some gorgeous black feathers. Close ups:

They’re not huge, they’re each about 40cm across. Here’s a pic of them on the wall at my solo show:

After my solo, I was busy getting work together for Post Apocalypse. I wanted a sculpted creature that would fit in with the aesthetic of the show…gas masks, layered armour, stuff in jars, straps and chains…

My Masked Flyer was ply body with resin on the top, the face mask was made with a piece of painted leather and metal and plastic tubing, the 3 layers of armour were strips of thick rubber, I had a go at making chain maille (what was I thinking!) and I finished the piece with cogs, jars and straps. I had made some wings for him but ditched them at the last minute. He’s a bit smaller, about 27cms across. Close ups:

At the end of last year I had some free time finally, so I wanted to make another sculpture based on an old piece. I had done this coloured pencil work a while back:

I thought it would be fun to create another bird skull, and make the sails out of real fabric and have rigging and stuff like that. I also tried out a new material for sculpting – balsa foam! It was a lot of fun to sculpt with. After a few months of very slow sculpting (and a fair amount of faffing)…

The skull, beak and boat are painted balsa foam. The Spine is polymer clay and wire, the sails are dowels, wire and calico fabric. I found an old illustration of a sailing ship and made transfers for the sails by printing on a clear acrylic ‘skin’ and gluing it to the sails. There are tiny bird skull transfers on the blue flags too, and I made a little figurehead for the front of the boat out of polymer clay. Close ups:

I painted the beak and boat with a bronzy paint which was quite shiny, then rubbed a blue patina antiquing medium over the top of it to give it that aged look. I also painted the skull and spine with a super matte varnish to give it a finish more like bone.

It’s about 33cms long:

Pretty happy with this one, partly because I didn’t have any time limit on finishing it.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. There will be more sculpted beasts in the bestiary over the next few months!


Currently listening to:
Kaitlin Beckett

About Kaitlin Beckett

Kaitlin is originally from New Zealand, currently living and working as an artist in Melbourne, Australia. Visit her full site here: www.a-curious-bestiary.com

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‹ Previous post: Live painting in NGV studio photos Next post: The pied piper…