The main concepts behind my sculpture are impossibility and childhood. As we grow older, we often forget about small things, and regress to childhood when such objects are presented in adulthood. In a world where we are forced to grow up, why should we not be able to play with childhood toys? My sculpture is a part of these questions; childhood and impossibility.
My work presents a three foot tall wooden Jenga tower, partially played, surrounded by a large crowd of miniature clay figures. The processes used included cutting, moulding and sanding. I was initially inspired by the work of Nic Joly, and his pieces Why Not? (Joly, 2015), and London Calling (Joly, 2017). These are highly detailed pieces depicting a story between giant and miniature, through the use of miniature clay figures. From this, I began to experiment with clay, wire, and paper to create miniature figures. This led me to the work of Antony Gormley, Field (Gormley, 1991), a room filled with small handmade terracotta figures. This inspired me to create a large number of clay figures for the sculpture. Gulliver’s Travels, a 1726 book (Swift, 1726), and a 2010 film (Gulliver’s Travels, 2010), and The Borrowers (The Borrowers, 1997), further informed me of ways in which miniature figures interact with their larger environment, and connected me back to my childhood.
In my own work, I wanted a significant size difference between the figures and Jenga tower. This surrounds the theme of impossibility as the sculpture is a 1:50 replica of a playable Jenga tower, the blocks inspired by Debuilding, Aurelien Froment (Froment, 2001). This would be impossible to play at the larger size, as the pieces would be difficult to move, and a hazard if played too high. The inspiration came from Claes Oldenburg, and his vision to create impossible sculptures, including bowling balls down Fifth Avenue (Oldenburg, n.d.). Through the use of giant versus tiny, I want the viewer to interact with the piece, to bend down, to view it closely, and to think about smaller things in life.
In addition, I wanted each figure to be plain and inanimate with minimal detail, showing we are all the same in society. However, each figure is handmade, and gives the sense of individual personalities, and connection to a community, all with the same fear of the impeding fall of the Jenga tower. A lack of identity with a contrast of large personalities comes from the inspiration of Antony Gormely, Field (Gormley, 1991), and Anita Mandl, with her simplified animal forms Young Elephant (Mandl, n.d.), and Little Blue Penguin (Mandl, n.d.). Not only do these miniature figures interact with the Jenga tower, but also of those pieces displayed around, and allows the viewer to interact closer these.
My piece presents ideas about the illusion of impossibility and the connection to childhood through the contrast of size and displaying on the floor. The sculpture depicts a giant, half played wooden Jenga tower, surrounded by miniature clay figurines. The contrast between the size of the blocks, tower and figures distinguishes the impossibility of the project in a real size. Displaying on the floor regresses the viewer to childhood.
Froment, A., 2001. Debuilding. [Art].
Gormley, A., 1991. Field. [Art] (Tate Liverpool).
Gulliver’s Travels. 2010. [Film] Directed by Rob Letterman. Ireland: Davis Entertainment; RatPac-Dune Entertainment.
Joly, N., 2015. Why Not?. [Art] (Castle Galleries).
Joly, N., 2017. London Calling. [Art] (Castle Galleries).
Mandl, A., n.d. Little Blue Penguin. [Art] (Curwen Gallery).
Mandl, A., n.d. Young Elephant. [Art] (Curwen Gallery).
Oldenburg, C., n.d. Untitled. [Art] (Frieze).
Swift, J., 1726. Gulliver’s Travels. 1 ed. s.l.:s.n.
The Borrowers. 1997. [Film] Directed by Peter Hewitt. United Kingdom: Working Title Films.