MAG­I­CAL MENAGERIE

Steven John Wilkins’ bronzes cap­ture the sub­jects’ move­ment and unique char­ac­ter

South African Garden and Home - - Contents - SOURCES Charles Greig Gallery thecharles­greiggalle­ry.com Steven John Wilkins in­sta­gram.com/steven­john­wilkins

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.

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