All About My Narrative Animal Clay Sculptures
XXXXI started this body of work in September of 2005. It was first exhibited in a solo show at Vision Gallery. Various pieces have been juried into shows and received recognition, as hand modeled earthenware sculptures using animalized human forms, animal or animal/human groupings.
Surface decorations are built up through successive firings, similar to painting, using both matt and gloss glazes, stains and lusters. When glazes seemed too restrictive to convey the subtle mood of some of the pieces, I have taken to treating the sculpture as a canvas to paint with oils.
“When an established artist with a life long portfolio of work takes a new direction it’s sometimes hard to tell where the work will end up. Andree’ Richmond did just this and has drawn from her established patterns and introduced some new interpretations. Animals still figure heavily in the themes of the work but the new work speaks with a larger voice than ever.”
“This new work has been attracting attention. ‘David’ a rhino with a man’s body, was the first piece she made, that won the Irene Glover Forbes pottery prize at the Beaufort fine Art show last year. This year ‘All in a days work ” took first place 3D, at the same show.”
Vision Gallery hosted a solo show for her in June, showcasing 12 animal people narrative pieces, an exploration of attributes and commentary on people’s inner selves. Thoughts on the way we are.
She blends human and animal forms to illuminate our foibles and our attributes. The pieces speak in metaphors all can readily understand. We’ve all felt as stubborn as a mule, as meek as a lamb or as strong as a bull. This is a vocabulary said to comment on how we are, so we can all ‘show ourselves’ if we dare.”
In terms of inspiration, my day to day life spills over into my art.
The people, events and images get reshaped and combined into a blend of my view and my style. More and more it has become clear that my work is less made than found and by following a concept over time, more and more is revealed to me about the work. This is not always a comfortable process as it forces me far out of my comfort zone but work made inside the comfort zone usually has no “life” in it. So this discomfort is a necessary evil.
My lifelong interests lie with animals and what makes people do what they do. As a kid I got an animal encyclopedia for Christmas which I proceeded to read from cover to cover. That interest has continued as I have observed and trained different animals and experienced their personalities.
About the ‘What Elephant’ series
On starting the ‘what elephant’ series my interest focused on elephants, what a miserable relation they have had with humans. I have noticed as the series continues and I read more elephant books, the more the elephants I make look beleaguered and express the elephant’s hopelessness of being involved in human affairs. (This was not a conscious decision on my part) Elephants are extremely intelligent and social; the females stay in their family group their entire lives which are as long as human ones. But large mammals and humans an incompatible on this planet and soon elephants and the large cats will go the way of the mammoths.
The title ‘what Elephant’ refers to the expression ‘there’s an elephant in the living room ‘ that nobody is acknowledging is there whilst walking around the obstacle. Often used in reference to family dynamics. A variation on ‘the emperor has no clothes” which seems to apply to social issues. As far as the “nuts and bolts” part of my work for a long time I worked with a specific set of materials and techniques for the vast predominance of the work I made but over time this list has grown bringing in great deal of non ceramic materials and expanding on the articulation and mechanical elements of my work to the point of making totally articulated and mechanically operated pieces.
Exploring psychology and myth
I have also devoted a lot of time exploring Psychology and myth. The latest incarnation of this blend of interests is the ‘what elephant series’, my observations of the ‘unsaid’ in human interaction.
Animals are useful symbols for portraying non-verbals, for instance to me, cows are placid beasts that follow the crowd and are happy with the mundane, if their stomachs are full life is good and there is no reason to venture farther.
As subject matter animals tend to be less threatening, therefore they can be used to caricature human traits and personalities.
Animals have a much higher degree of variety in their appearance and personality than humans. They also are much more straight forward than people typically are and can often be taken at face value. Using them as subject material allows me to access the deep subconscious and traditional symbolic power they convey.
When I do commissions it is rare that an animal does not present itself as a subject for the depiction of the person. I have often thought the animal that is suggested might not be flattering but people always laugh and say the choice is perfect.
So psychology, myth and animals swirl and blend in my consciousness and I build the result.