Creek Head 1, 2007
Sculpted from the clay remains of the first Creek Man
Bronze, this sculpture is unique and an erosion of the first Creek Man
Overall Height 56 cm., 22 in., Width 25 cm., 9 ¾ in. Depth 19 cm., 7 ½ in.
The first clay giant, the first Creek Man is finished. I will cast him into bronze and his clay remains, which under other circumstances I would discard, I will keep, revive, repair and work on again to create a second giant. This giant will represent and evolution, and advancement; one that I realize will mirror my own evolution. If I keep saving and rebuilding the clay figures after every casting, I will end up with a series of figures, all derived from the same sculptural gene pool. They will develop with me through time, retaining elements and physiognomies. A tribe or dynasty of figures will emerge.
I have always had the idea that I could make a series of sculptures from one figure; a figure that would never be finished.
Sometimes I think this is because I have always been frustrated at finishing a bronze and realizing as I complete it, that I have filed and polished the story of its making away. In my imagination this figure has always been bigger than me, so that it isn't just continuous and unfinished, but large enough to carry the weight of the many things I haven't yet worked out.
The idea of creating such a figure daunts me, because I have never made or cast anything before on the scale I invisage, and I do not know if the foundry I've built will cope. But it feels like this is the right time.. I begin to make a giant. I build a steel armature which will support the clay, and begin the long process of modelling. Making a figure of this size is physical. I see the clay as mud, I like it sloppy, I prefer to squelch and squeeze my shapes letting them dry and harden over time. Once the clay dries to leather hard, I set about beating its shape with whatever is handy, hammers, lengths of wood, fists, shovels. Over next few days a large figure emerges. I feel strange, beating on the chest of something bigger than me. This larger than life sale changes the relationship I usually have with a sculpture; it is somehow beyond me. I find strange white fungi called 'leather strop', growing from dead silver birch. I like their oozing , globular shapes. There is something interesting about the way this fungus takes the death from a tree and converts it into life. Apparently these leather stop possess knife-sharpening properties. I start to cast and arrange these curious fungi, and out of the corner of my eye, the giant's massive presence feels like that of a tree. I try placing the fungi on the ma, and see that beyond the obvious associations of death and decay one could make with fungal growth, there is also a connection with this ancient sense of power. One could argue that this man is undergoing a conversion. As the fungus grows out of him, the man could be emerging from a sort or torpor, projecting a sense of survival and self-reliance. I like the territory this opens up, how it introduces into the giant and ancient culture and the natural world.
True to my idea, I resurrect the remains of the first man, and work on them to create the second Creek Man. I have emphasized the nicks and incisions on his face to remind me of the strange scent glands found on the deer in the woods around me. The glands interest me; usually the heads of animals have our equivalents; eyes ears, noses, but these glands present a means of communication which we do not hav, a sort of animal signage. I see them as sensors allowing the giant to tune in, in a way denied to us. The fungal growths have been absorbed by his growing body; now and again you may see the remains of one in the epicormic growths that surround them. The trunk of his body lenthens as if being pulled to the ground.
The third Creek man incarnation again emerges from mud, and from the ancient woodland nearby. He is smoky black scorched by a thousand-year history of burning. Half his head peels away, like bark, breaking away from rotting stumps. His head is swollen and battered, not only is it a reaction ot the abuse of the casting and my treatment, but also the effluvial swellings seen on these oaks, stretching the body of the tree and the giant to painful extremes. The arm is a dead branch taken from the top of an old stag oak. The giant stares out of a crueler environment, a witness to trauma and uncertainty.
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