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For the love of making: Site-specific Sculpture

For the love of making explores the breadth of creativity being practiced across NUA’s courses in a bit more detail, aiming to shine a spotlight on particular methods and interests. Here Year 2 BA (Hons) Fine Art student Carl Durban takes us through his first venture into site-specific sculpture.

As I progress through BA (Hons) Fine Art, I find the idea of creating three-dimensional art more interesting. Previously I have  ‘doodled’ with my hands and explored material ‘talk-back’, but this year I am looking to develop my thinking and explore themes that interest me. 

This workshop on site-specific sculpture was something I hadn’t really explored previously. The brief was very open and the opportunities so varied that initially I found it hard to commit to a site, let alone any, reaction. It could be small, large, tiny, permanent or only present for a moment. I found myself scanning potential sites. It was important that we not only sourced a site but also took measurements and produced sketches of our proposals.

We were given a full briefing and discussed various artists and pieces of work such as Cristo and Giuseppe Penone, Cornelia Parker and Doris Salcedo amongst others. I wanted to create something with meaning, not just a physical reaction to the chosen site but something that conveyed a message.

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My initial idea was to use a space on St George’s Street- it would have originally been part of the Dominican Friary dating back to 1226. However, I recently had an issue at home where we lost the phone lines for nearly a week, which meant no phone, no internet and barely a mobile signal. I discovered there was a BT ‘Hotspot’ not far away. I could get 4G, I even joined a Group Tutorial, sat on an old fishing stool, phone and earphones, notebook on my knee. Open to the elements. The whole experience seemed very strange.

I started to focus on the issues of being remote and lack of communication. In comparison to other parts of the country and indeed the world it did highlight the constant need for communication and networks. I felt adrift and very restricted, limited in what I could do and access.

I started to look at the site and observe the space and location. I sketched a few ideas, I looked at the negative spaces between the wires looking to represent these as solid areas. I made a maquette to see how it could look and any issues it may present. I cut a selection of pieces of aluminium into random shapes, found a pole, cut, sanded and stained it before cutting slits into it, I inserted the aluminium segments.

I photographed the final sculpture to deceive the scale and give it presence. I feel it conveys what I wanted to but also it looks like a dangerous weapon, sharp, barbed, cutting-  adjectives that could be applied to certain communication; social media trolling, cyber bullying, extreme media, comments made at a distance that would not be made face-to-face. Maybe it is better to be isolated and remote and not be subjected to something that is very difficult to filter.

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