My First Sculpture Made Me Very Happy

Clay sculpture

This month I made my first sculpture

One of our assignments this month was to look at an artist and re-interpret their work. I chose the artist Anne Ryan. Ryan is a contemporary artist who creates figurative paintings and sculptures drawing on observations from everyday life. Charged with energy and attitude, her colourful works are always in motion – they dance, writhe, and mosh. 

Ryan loves music, the movies and mythologies, and these cultural references fuel her work. Born in Limerick, Ireland in 1964, Ryan lives and works in London and Kent. 

Ryan makes cutouts from paper, card, canvas, clay and metal.

Ryan has said of her work that she loves the freedom of not being restricted to the four walls of a canvas.

I was inspired to try to create a sculpture with the energy, colour and movement I see in Ryan’s work.

One of Ryan’s Cut Out Sculptures

Mosh Pit by Anne Ryan artist
Mosh Pit – Anne Ryan – 2019

It Didn’t Quite Go To Plan

I was unable to go into Uni as I contracted Covid-19 so decided to work at home with some air dry clay I had to hand. I started off by sketching some ideas of characters to use in the sculpture inspired by the seascapes where I live in Brightlingsea.

sketches for sculpture
Initial Sketches

I cut out the sketches and placed them on the clay then cut out the shapes. I added some shapes as I went along such as the bird and fish. I used a brayer to roll out the clay. I used a paint brush to make marks in the clay. This was quite frustrating as I have a lot of pottery tools in my studio, but as I was in isolation I couldn’t use them.

components of the sculpture
Making the elements to go in the sculpture

This turned out to be very fiddly!

When the clay had completely dried out, I painted the pieces with acrylic paint.

painting the sculpture with acrylic paint

Constructing the Sculpture

Once the pieces were dry I constructed them into the finished sculpture. This did not go quite to plan! When I made the pieces I put holes into them, my plan was to attach wire so that some elements could stand up adding variety and height. Unfortunately the holes were not big enough and I couldn’t attach the wire. I did manage to attach the cloud by putting the wire through the hole and wrapping it around the seat in the boat, I had to do it very carefully as the clay felt quite fragile.

I created a place for the sculpture to inhabit using a painted cardboard box. I photocopied a map of Brightlingsea and surrounds to place underneath the sculpture. 

To be honest I got much more involved in constructing the sculpture than I had planned, I enjoyed painting the box , adding beach huts, waves and a sun, I was quite caught up in the whole experience!

finished sculpture man and woman in boat with cloud
The finished sculpture.

Where next?

I really enjoyed making this little sculpture, I can visualise it as a life size installation, complete with sound, a really immersive experience for the audience, think I’d need a lot of clay or other materials to make this happen.

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