Tuesday, 21 December 2010

3. Newel Post - the palms

This sculpture began with what to me was the most beautiful piece of steel that I had to work with, a 3" x 3" x 67" solid, mild steel square section. The difficulty with this piece was starting at all. I didn't know if it would work with this piece, but my previous experience with carving heavy steel revealed to me the natural tendency it has to bend as a result of the action of heating and cooling, specifically when worked on only one side. I had the aesthetic of the small palms that were everywhere in mind and I started this piece with one long, strong, continual cut along the length of one of the faces to represent the textured surface of the palm trunk and left it to cool, hours or a day I don't remember. This created the almost imperceptible bend in the piece, something that would have been impossible to do with my own two hands. Subconsciously the 'explosions' of the palm leaves were added and the piece was welded to its base after it had balanced itself with some toying. I located this piece right away, near the staircase where it now lies, but not in it's exact location. I felt this area of the garden could use, or more precisely, warranted, a strong vertical in the environment. The problem with the first location was that against the textured stone wall the eye couldn't pick up the bend, but when moved into the position of a newel post, in front of the heavy horizontals of the stair treads, closer to the palm trees that inspired it, the subtle bend became apparent, particularly when viewed from above, a few steps up the stair. For me, this piece cleanly encapsulates three to four clear ideas about sculpture and succeeds on many levels. Also, it is the sculpture that one sees when standing at the barbecue, very important.

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