Archive for Sculpture

Dream No Small Dreams, Ronchini Gallery

Posted in Art, Landscape, London, Photography, Sculpture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2013 by mysearchformagic

This week I stumbled across a rather intriguing exhibition at London’s Ronchini Gallery, entitled Dream No Small Dreams. The show features the work of three artist; Adrien Broom, Thomas Doyle and Patrick Jacobs. All three share an obsession with small-scale fantastical worlds, each using different techniques to create their own miniature, magical alternative realities.

An installation view of Dream No Small Dream, Ronchini Gallery

An installation view of Dream No Small Dream: The Miniature Worlds of Adrien Broom, Thomas Doyle and Patrick Jacobs, Courtesy of Ronchini Gallery

Broom’s Frame of Mind photographs portray imagined landscapes inhabited by tiny ‘Borrowers’ style figures. They are cinematic in their scope, if teeny-tiny in their execution.

Left Over Things, Adrien Broom, 2010

Left Over Things, Adrien Broom, 2010, digital C-type print, 60 x 40 in, courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

Thomas Doyle’s sculptural scenes of destruction, disaster and mayhem are intricately detailed and beautifully executed, all of them housed in elegant glass domes. They present a bizarre, unsettling world where typical suburban homes are swallowed up by sink holes, lifted off the ground by hurricanes or smothered in overgrown Cinderella-esque vines. Meanwhile, the pint-size protagonists who inhabit them seem blithely unconcerned by the strangeness that surrounds them.

Beset, Thomas Doyle, 2013

Beset, Thomas Doyle, 2013, mixed media, 17.5 x 14.5 x 14.5 in, Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

My favourite exhibits in Dream No Small Dreams were without a doubt the hyper-realistic sculptures by Patrick Jacobs. Embedded into the wall and viewed through tiny ‘fish eye’ portholes, these glowing landscapes have more than a hint of the fairytale about them. Jacobs’ teeny weeny dioramas feature sublime vistas of trees, meadows and rolling hills, and are created from an unusual selection of media, including styrene, acrylic, ash, talc and hair. The skill involved in creating these unfeasibly realistic scenes, with each leaf and blade of grass perfectly and fully formed, is astonishing. It isn’t an overstatement to say that I could almost feel with warmth of the summer sun on my face as I gazed through the tiny windows into these magical, miniscule panoramas.

Stump with Curly Dock and Wild Carrot Weed, Patrick Jacobs, 2013

Stump with Curly Dock and Wild Carrot Weed, Patrick Jacobs, 2013, Mixed Media, Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

Check out Patrick Jacobs’ website here for more wonderful works. It’s hard to get a true impression of their impact from photographs, so if you ever get the chance to see his sculptures in person I recommend you take it. You won’t be disappointed.

Stump with RedBanded Brackets and English Daisies (detail) , Patrick Jacobs, 2013

Stump with Red Banded Brackets and English Daisies (detail) , Patrick Jacobs, 2013, Mixed Media, 77 x 123 x 80cm, Courtesy of the artist and Ronchini Gallery

Dream No Small Dreams, curated by Bartholomew F. Bland will be at Ronchini Gallery London from 6 September to 5 October,

Choupatte, Claude Lalanne

Posted in Art, Design, London with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2013 by mysearchformagic

I wandered into Ben Brown Fine Art in Mayfair this week, and discovered an exhibition of the work of art/design duo Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne.

I was already aware of their fun animal sculptures, such as their woolly sheep, which also double up as furniture. Works like these are highly collectable, and have sold for huge amounts at auction, also gracing the homes of collectors including Yves Saint-Laurent and Tom Ford.

But on this occasion I was particularly enchanted by Claude Lalanne’s Choupatte sculptures. Made from bronze, the Choupattes come in two sizes – a cute little life size version to sit on a table top, or a huge rather scary version which stands on the floor.

Choupatte (très grand) 2008-2012, Claude Lalanne (Image courtest Ben Brown Fine Art)

Choupatte (très grand) 2008-2012, Claude Lalanne
(Image courtest Ben Brown Fine Art)

The Choupatte sculptures encapsulate Claude Lalanne’s love of the surreal, tinged with a subtle dose of humour. They made me smile. And they are definitely rather magical, don’t you think?

Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne at Ben Brown Fine Art until 21st September

The Glyptothek, Munich

Posted in Art, Germany, History, Museum with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2013 by mysearchformagic

Originally established in 1830 by Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I of Bavaria, the Glyptothek in Munich houses one of the world’s greatest collections of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture.

The exterior of the building is starkly classical, and while the interior was once richly decorated with elaborate plasterwork and boldly coloured walls, it’s reconstruction following bomb damage in the Second World War has resulted in much more muted modern galleries. The interior walls are now bare brick, the domed ceilings are stripped of their decoration, and the resulting atmosphere is much more airy, calm and cool.

The the interior of the Glyptothek, Munich

The the interior of the Glyptothek, Munich

The Glyptothek is a bustling place, with a busy little cafe, a well-stocked bookshop and the usual stream of school groups trailing through its echoing rooms. However, during my visit earlier this year, I managed to snatch a few moments of magical solitude it these hallowed halls. Outside it was chilly, the ground covered in thick snow, but inside the museum I found a warm, peaceful haven.

I was especially taken with Room XI, which contains portrait busts and heads from the Roman period. To find myself in this bright, spacious gallery surrounded by so many illustrious faces, some well-known and instantly recognisable, some whose identity is now lost for ever, was a wonderful experience made even more special by the way that the sculptures are exhibited here, with row upon row of ancient eyes staring right back at me.

Roman portraits in Room XI of the Glyptothek, Munich

Roman portraits in Room XI of the Glyptothek, Munich

It’s an experience that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Portraits of Empress Julia Domna and Emperor Septimius Severus in the Glyptothek, Munich

Portraits of Empress Julia Domna and Emperor Septimius Severus in the Glyptothek, Munich

A Tau tau, the Wellcome Collection

Posted in Art, History, Superstition with tags , , , on January 12, 2013 by mysearchformagic

Until last weekend, I had no idea of what a tau-tau was. Now that I have seen one, I won’t be forgetting it in a hurry.

A tau tauImage courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London

A tau tau
Image courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London

I discovered this tau tau in the current exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, which is simply and snappily titled Death. The exhibition features the private collection of Richard Harris, which includes a plethora of strange and magical items, all of them relating to that most taboo of subjects. Despite the fact that it is going to happen to all of us one day, death is something most of try to avoid talking or thinking about. The way that it has been viewed over the centuries and throughout the world has varied immensely, hence the array of amazing objects included in Death.

Tau taus are unique to the Toraja people of Indonesia. They were created to sit outside the rock-cut tombs of the wealthier Torajans, guarding their remains and acting as symbols of their wealth and status. The arrival of Christian missionaries in the early 20th Century almost wiped out the practise, and in more recent times the remaining tau taus have been regularly plundered by grave robbers.

Tau taus in situ, an image taken near the village of Lemo in 1971

Tau taus in situ, an image taken near the village of Lemo in 1971

For any visitor to Death, it’s hard to miss the tau tau. It sits silently in the centre of one of the galleries, spotlit and staring. Its presence is unsettling, and despite its simple carving and rudimentary accessories, it has a real sense of personality. This tau tau looks like it could get up and start shuffling towards you at any second, which is a distinctly unsettling thought.

I’m not sure about the morals of display such items, which have obviously been stolen from their rightful location at some point, but the tau tau is certainly an object of wonder. Standing next to it was a rather sinister experience, one which will I suspect haunt me for a long time to come.

Medieval Sculptures, Malestroit

Posted in Art, Brittany, History with tags , , , , on December 2, 2012 by mysearchformagic

Sitting on the banks of the river Oust in south east Brittany, Malestroit is a charming little town. Its historic quarter is made up of a maze of narrow streets and alleyways lined with crooked medieval houses, and at its heart sits the imposing church of Saint-Gilles, parts of which date back to the 12th Century. Despite its picture-postcard perfection, Malestroit doesn’t get much of a mention in guide books, and retains the atmosphere of a sleepy French market town. As a result, it is a place still filled with little pockets of magic.

One of the most remarkable features of Malestroit is the strange sculptures that decorate many of its oldest buildings. Depicting biblical figures as well as fantastical creatures, these carvings were intended to be both decorative and informative, designed to amuse but also to remind the locals of the pleasures and pitfalls of sanctity and sin.

The south facade of the church of Saint-Gilles

The south entrance to the church of Saint-Gilles offers its most spectacular aspect, the bright crimson doors surrounded by a mass of beautiful, sometimes bizarre sculptures. On the left side Sampson struggles with a lion, attempting to pour honey into its mouth as an act of charity, on the other a large Ox sits quietly, proudly displaying its impressive horns. Below Sampson, an acrobat tumbles head over heals, a symbol of those who have fallen from the path of goodness.

An acrobat somersaults into sin

Round the back of the church, in a quiet, shadowy alleyway, can be found the Fountain of the Golden Lion. The water that fills its deep basin emerges from a spring which was has been venerated since Celtic times, its importance probably leading to the creation of the town of Malestroit itself. Today it has an air of gloomy neglect, the carved Romanesque head which decorates it covered in moss and mildew.

The Fountain of the Golden Lion

Just a few metres away in the town’s main square stands a tall, oak beamed house known as the Maison des Singes, which is covered with more weird and wonderful sculptures. Carved in wood, these figures are even more bizarre than those on the church. Most famous is the bagpipe-playing hare which looks anxiously over its shoulder, while a nearby pig sports a bulky buckled belt.

The famous bagpipe-playing hare of Maletroit

The pretty Rue des Ponts leads down to the river, an impressive sight with its wide weir gushing noisily alongside a large mill. Next to the site of one of the town’s now demolished gateways stands one of Malestroit’s most historic houses. Along the base of its balcony sits a row of cheeky faces carved into the end of the ancient oak beams. Grinning devils with stubby horns and lolling tongues stare out defiantly at the Oust, an attempt perhaps at holding back the yearly floods which play havoc in this part of France.

Its reassuring to see that our ancestors had a sense of humour just as strong as their belief in the power of magic!

A cheeky devil

Find out more about magical Malestroit at

Nihilistic Optimistic, Tim Noble and Sue Webster

Posted in Art, London with tags , on October 24, 2012 by mysearchformagic

Anyone who enjoys a bit of magic cannot fail to be enchanted by the shadow works of art duo Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Their latest exhibition at London’s Blain/Southern gallery, entitled Nihilistic Optimistic , features six large-scale shadow ‘sculptures’. The exhibition is their first major solo show in the capital since 2006, and the pieces included in it have been years in the making.

Noble and Webster in the studio

The works, which boast titles such as Self Imposed Misery and Nasty Pieces of Work, may at first appear to be piles of junk. Splintered planks of wood are attached precariously to one another, hung in weird forms from the frames of old step ladders along with other scraps of worthless detritus. Typical modern art, you may think. Quite literally a load of old rubbish.

But shine a powerful spotlight at the correct angle across these messy, angular forms and something entirely magical emerges, because the shadows that these intricate constructions cast form stunning shadow portraits of the artists themselves. Standing in defiant punk poses, the monumental dark figures produced are bold, intricate and awe inspiring.

Nihilistic Optimistic
Image courtesy of the artists and Blain/Southern
Photographer: Peter Mallet

I first discovered the work of Noble and Webster at the opening night of the 2008 Statuephilia exhibition at the British Museum. The private view offered a rare opportunity to visit the galleries by night, crowd free and candle-lit. The discovery in a dark corner of the Egyptian Hall of the striking Noble and Webster piece Dark Stuff, in which the impaled heads of the artists were recreated in shadows by lights shone across two apparently chaotic clumps of mummified animal corpses, is an experience that has stayed with me ever since.

   Dark Stuff, 2008  Tim Noble and Sue Webster     © The artists

Perhaps the most magical creation by the two artists is their portrait of the late English eccentric Isabella Blow, known for her distinctive style and avant-garde hats. This work, which is now held in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, recreates Blow’s unmistakeable silhouette from a mass of stuffed animals, including the sinister forms of a snake, a rat and a crow. A fittingly complex representation of an intriguingly complex woman, this shadow portrait transforms something ostensibly chaotic into a crisp portrait which perfectly captures the very essence of its subject.

Isabella Blow
By Tim Noble; Sue Webster
Isabella Blow, Tim Noble and Sue Webster
Photograph by Andy Keate, © National Portrait Gallery, London; sculpture
© Tim Noble and Sue Webster

In these shadow works, Noble and Webster utilise the power of light and darkness; the simplest idea, executed with absolute perfection. The results are pure magic.