The sculptural form, especially the human body, has always been of particular interest and I am very excited that, although rather later in life than I would have wished, I have finally been able to concentrate on the form of art that really inspires me.
I work mainly in clay because it enables me to capture the details of the figure more easily than in a harder material. I do not smooth my work but use sculpting tools to lay on and cut back to form shadows. I feel that it is important that these marks remain in the clay to give texture, light and depth to the finished surface.
Movement inspires me, however small, and I try to capture it in all my work. Even with a head and shoulders portrait I will show a slight twist or bend to the head, a turn to the eye, a raised eyebrow, the beginnings of a smile or perhaps the slight opening of the mouth in speech. I also feel that it is important for a sculpture to have a flow of form, an echo of shape and portraits should not only capture a likeness but also the spirit and personality of the person.
With portraits I feel it is very important that I get to know the person well and it is just as important that they get to know and trust me. Therefore the first sitting is usually very relaxed, a time for discussion and finding out more about each other. At the end of the first sitting I take photographs and first measurements which allows me to spend time deciding how I am going to depict that particular person.Working on Olympic sculptures has been an amazing experience. In particular making the sculpture ‘Winning Shot’ which is a portrait of Paralympic Basketball player Ade Adepitan MBE. This gave me the opportunity to not only capture the person, with all his athletic strength, but also depict the lightness of the wheelchair, which becomes an essential part of the body of the athletes enabling them to move fast, spin round and even land on each others laps.
With Ade I was initially going to do a portrait head, but after spending time with him I realised how important it was to show him in his wheelchair, in action. He had to spend quite a time doing ‘wheelies’ on my lawn while I photographed him from all angles before taking measurements. He kept falling over as the wheelies were so high, but he just bounced back, smiling his famous smile.
Since 2000 I have been able to concentrate on my career as a sculptor and have already undertaken over 40 Private and Public commissions. Certainly I feel I am making up for lost time and hope that I will continue creating sculptures for many years to come.
I welcome visitors to my studio, where a large selection of work is always on display.
CHRISTINE CHARLESWORTH SWA MRSS