MM Part Three – Research

Part Three – Research

Eduardo Paolozzi

Paolozzi is renowned from working in many different media and styles over the course of his artistic life. His studio, recreated at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh reflects this. There are different areas assigned for work with different materials, and an eclectic mix of items and books lining the room walls.

Paolozzi made may sculptures whose surfaces contained marks and impressions made from machines and other metal parts. These marks would have been pressed in to the mould used to produce the sculpture and gave a more interesting surface to the bronze that was eventually cast. This can be seen in the sculpture of St Sebastian (National Galleries Scotland). There is a familiar, human shape to this work but the impressions and marks on the sculptures surface leave almost scars on the work.

I found two works Paolozzi works on the Tate website that I felt were interesting. Hero as Riddle is a screen print of a head made up of intricately drawn lines, dissecting the head in to a series of squares. Mondrian Head is a plaster sculpture of a head made up of many squares, in homage to Mondrian’s often grid like works. These works were produced in 1963 and 1989. I find it interesting that these were produced many years apart but contain a similar theme in the heads made up of squares. I like the idea that Paolozzi may have revisited work many years later or had it in his studio and began working on it again.

Victoria Ferrand Scott

Yorkshire-based, abstract sculptor working mainly in Industrial materials, fluid in origin such as concrete and plaster.

Scott makes moulds, often tubes, of latex or other stretchy fabrics and then suspends these before filling them with concrete or plaster. The tubes are held together with tape and often bound with elastic to create impressions in the final pieces surface. These tubes are often intertwined so that the resulting plaster casts can be fitted around each other when dry.

Due to the liquid nature of these materials some settling occurs as they are drying leaving marks as different layers of the material dry out. These almost geological marks add to the finished surface of the pieces.

Scott also produces pieces where several casts of the same mould are displayed together, such as ‘Restraint’. I like the idea of displaying multiples of the same thing together. By doing so a new surface can be created from many smaller elements.

Rachel Whiteread

Whiteread uses traditional casting methods but using materials that are more often used in the preparation of finished sculptures rather than in the finished object. She makes sculptures from the spaces inside or around objects, casting them in such a way that the objects used are still recognisable but their function has been removed.

Whitereads most famous sculpture is ‘House’. This was the Turner prize-winning entry of the interior of a terraced house in London, made by spraying concrete in to the buildings empty shell before the external walls were removed. This piece was still recognisable as a house but was totally unuseable as one. The house was eventually demolished in 1994.

Two other sculptures I found interesting were Untitled (nine tables) and Untitled (twenty-four switches)

Each of nine tables is the cast of the space underneath a table. These were achieved by building boxes around a table and then filling it with concrete. It is an interesting idea as this is the space that is usually occupied by a persons legs, hence making these ‘tables’ useless , or at least very difficult,to work at.

Twenty four switches was interesting as it is not a direct cast of a switch box but a composite of two casts, one positive and one negative.  These were then combined to give a single mould from which the final piece was made.

I like the random placement of switches in this piece, they aren’t all on or all off, and the details of the crew head that has been retained in the piece, making  a good contrast to the smooth surface of the switch box itself.

When reading more about Whiteread  it came across well how much emphasis she puts on sketching and drawing. Some of her drawings capture the minute details of floors or stairs and are often produced on squared or graph paper, possibly in an effort to retain the scale of the original subject.

Some of these drawing have been displayed in their own right as they are so well produced.

I particularly like this work as it makes items that are often overlooked such as floors or functional objects  the feature of the work but also make visible the spaces we occupy every day.

Rebecca Fairley

Artist that exploits the form finding behaviour of concrete and other fluid materials to create new surfaces. Cement powder, aggregate and water is mixed together to form a fluid material. This can then be contained in a vessel and placed on a surface or object. The concrete will try to find a flat level and so will move within the vessel to fill any indentations in the surface it is sat on.

It is surprising the level of detail that the concrete can retain. There is one picture I retrieved where a single stitch line has been formed in the concrete surface after being laid on a stitched fabric surface. Some of the fibres from the fabric used have also been retained in the concrete surface.

There is another series of samples there items have been trapped on the surface of concrete that looks to have been moulded in a cup. These samples are all the same size but have different surfaces. These look impressive when viewed together but is also a good way to compare different samples. I particularly like the round samples where a line from a glue gun has been trapped in its surface. There is a good contrast between the shiny glue and the dull concrete surface.

Susan Benarcik

Very little definitive information is available about how Benarcik’s work is produced or what materials have been used.  However there is a horticultural look to much of her work.

There is much evidence in this work of the artists hand. Each of the examples I have chosen is made up of many smaller repeating units. All of which appear to have been hand crafted in some way. It feels like a case of more is more as many of the works contain many tens, if not hundreds, of the same item.

I particularly like ‘Disperate Memories’. These appear to be coiled baskets or vessels. They remind me of wasp or bird nests, as if their inhabitants will appear at any minute. There is less random placement of materials in these pieces than in some of the other artists work. Composition has been thought about and placement of items is important in making up the whole piece.

Karin Ruggaber

Ruggaber combines building materials such as concrete and plaster with fabric scraps. This gives deliberately unpredictable castings as the concrete, for example, cannot complete its conventional setting process and encase all the material surrounding it. Fabrics used are chosen for their properties and combined with other materials that contrast with them to give combinations such as hard and soft, heavy and light, light and dark, bright and sombre.

This work was interesting to find as there are some pieces where holes have been cast in to them. These have probably been achieved by casting materials around forms, rather than the majority of the other work I have found where the surface cast remained uninterrupted.

Also there was as large series of work where small sections had been cast independently and then placed back together to form a larger work.  Again this was a deviation from much of the other work I have found in this research where the casting of an item or surface was made in one complete piece.

Ann Goddard

I saw the work of Ann Goddard at an OCA study day at the Silk Museum in Macclesfield earlier this year. This piece on view was ‘Hostile Landscape’, a work where cotton seeds had been grouped together and trapped in a cube of concrete.

This work seemed to fit well in to this part of the Mixed Media module. There is a good contrast between the soft cotton seeds and the hard concrete surface.  It is also interesting to see that the concrete has moved to encase the seeds but where they were pressed up to the vessel used to contain the material it has left a gap around them. Also in one sample the concrete has been poured over a mass of the seed and filtered through the mesh of fibres leaving some small pockets where air has been unable to escape and be replaced by the concrete.


I think that my research shows many different possibilities for the use of industrial materials such as concrete and plaster to form new surfaces. There are many different approaches to working with these materials with some artists choosing to work with the materials characteristics and some against them.

I have chosen many samples where a large work has been made up of many smaller units. This has appeared before in my research and in some of my previous samples. It is interesting to see that this type of work has appeared again here.

This research work is held in a notebook and will be submitted to my Tutor for assessment.


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