Steven John Wilkins’ bronzes capture the subjects’ movement and unique character
Steven John Wilkins on his sculptures
Tell us about your artistic background. I started sculpting as a teenager, mostly assemblages in various metals, but this was put on hold while I trained as a goldsmith and worked in that field for 12 years. I returned to sculpting when gallery owner Christopher Greig asked me to sculpt a pangolin. I was given 24 hours to do it and I stayed up all night to complete it.
Where did you learn to sculpt?
I learned the manipulation of materials from various sources and assemblage from a remarkable teacher while at school. I’m always learning new techniques, as each piece teaches me something. Did your experience as a goldsmith inf luence your art? I think if anything sculpting inf luenced my work as a goldsmith. However, through the people I met and my personal growth, the experience was valuable. But I’m still glad I returned to sculpting.
Tell us about your process. I take inspiration from textures and light, from the perceived character of the subject, and from the emotions it evokes. Before I start working, I study the subject as much as possible. Once I begin to sculpt, I don’t look at references again, rather allowing the distortion of memory to manifest in it. I work in wax first and then the figure is put through the lost-wax process, resulting in a bronze sculpture.
What are you trying to express? As I mostly sculpt animals, I want to convey their nature and character. I like to show movement and unique textures. Actually nature does most of the work; I just copy what it has already created. A good example is the Pangolin Nocturn (pictured above). I’m pleased with how it shows the secretive, shy nature of the animal and the way the light ref lects off the scales.
Where can the public see your work? My sculptures are displayed at the Charles Greig Gallery in Hyde Park Corner, Jo’burg.