Jon Buck - Senior Lecturer in Visual Arts
Ship to Shore
Public Art Commission
Portishead, North Somerset, sited spring 2007
Ship to Shore is a commissioned 3m high bronze sculpture on Portishead Headland situated at the edge of the North Somerset coast. The research rationale for the sculpture was to produce a visual statement that connected the seaward Portishead entrance to the contemporary architectural development on the site of the old dockland and its environment. The brief required a dynamic and exciting work of art that acknowledged the historical identity of the Bristol Channel area, whilst also pointing to the future. In response I researched the history and social identity of the area in order to produce imagery that resonated with its environment. The sculpture was developed in close liaison with representatives of the local community, members of the Local Authority, developer's agents, and architects of the surrounding buildings. The visual concept that I developed was also adopted by the Local Authority, who use it as their logo on publicity material and supporting literature for the dockland development. A primary pigmentation technique was developed for this bronze casting, which has never been used before in a public commission of this type.
Odd Birds and Other Selves
Gallery Pangolin, Gloucestershire and Art London, Chelsea 2005
Odd Birds and Other Selves consisted of one large and twenty-five medium-sized multicoloured bronzes and a series of drawings. This body of work was developed over the previous five years and continues my long-standing research into the use of past and present animal metaphors, as ways of representing and signifying the 'alter ego'. The work in the exhibition was informed by intensive studies of 'Outsider Art', carried out during research trips to the Collection de L'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland; Le Musée de la Création Franche in Bordeaux; La Fabuloserie de Dicy de l'Yonne in eastern France; and the Musée d'art Moderne de Lille Métropole a Villeneuve d'Ascq in Northern France. Anthropological studies of art by writers such as Professor David Lewis-Williams, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and Stephen Mithen, Professor of Early Prehistory at the University of Reading, have also influenced my art practice, as have research visits to several of the Palaeolithic caves of Western France. In addition to the use of animal imagery in a contemporary context, the work is also technically innovative. In collaboration with foundry technicians I have developed unique colour combinations of pigments, chemical patinations and paint surfaces applied to cast bronze sculpture. The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue: Odd Birds and Other Selves, Gallery Pangolin, 2005. It contained an introductory essay on my work by Dr Colin Rhodes, Head of School of Arts, Sydney University, Australia, (author of Primitivism in Modern Art, 1998 and Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives, 2005 published by Thames and Hudson and Marginalia).
Gallery Pangolin, the Sigurjon Olafsson Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland and The Royal Academy of Art, London 2003
For this exhibition fifty contemporary sculptors, including Anthony Gormley, Damien Hirst and Alison Wilding, were invited and sponsored by Rungwe Kingdon the director of Pangolin-Editions, to reflect upon their practice by producing a small-scale work to be cast in sterling silver. My contribution to this exhibition was Early Bird. The research question posed by the curatorial brief relates to the fact that silver is more commonly associated with decorative objects rather than with fine art. Early Bird necessitated solving the sculptural problems posed by using such a highly reflective material, whilst also retaining sculptural monumentality on such a small physical scale. In addition to connecting with my ongoing research on animal imagery and alter egos, my contribution to this exhibition can be understood in terms of materials research carried out in collaboration with foundry technicians. As well as casting in bronze I have also experimented with a wide range of metals and alloys such as lead, copper, tin and iron. This exhibition provided an opportunity to experiment with silver. I was particularly interested in how this metal created new possibilities for textured and reflective finishes. A catalogue accompanied the exhibition: 'Sterling Stuff', Gallery Pangolin, 2003, introduction by John McEwen, Art Critic and author of several monographs including John Bellany, Paula Rego, Patrick Proktor and William Gear. A wide range of artists were chosen including: Kenneth Armitage, Ralph Brown, Lynn Chadwick, Ann Christopher, Angus Fairhurst, Antony Gormley, Nigel Hall, Phillip King, David Mach, William Tucker and Glynn Williams.
Thinking Big: Concepts for Twenty First Century British Sculpture
The Peggy Guggenheim Museum Venice 2003
The exhibition consisted of maquettes for large-scale sculptures funded and realised by the Sculpture at Goodwood Foundation. I produced a bronze maquette for a full-sized bronze sculpture, Goddess (2m x 2m). The concept for Goddess was developed from research for a body of work named 'Intimate Connections' and closely relates to an earlier large-scale bronze titled Back to the Beginning, first exhibited at an exhibition in Holland Park, Bronze: Contemproary British Sculpture, 2000, along with the work of Zadok Ben-David, Lynn Chadwick, Nigel Hall, Druva Mistry, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Bill Woodrow, and as part of the Fantastic Animal Exhibition in Paris, 2002. The Goddess maquette incorporates inlaid gold leaf patination in its detail and was the result of research into the history of human/animal and animal/bird motifs in art. The thesis behind works such as Goddess and In the Beginning is that animal images were developed as part of a visual grammar that was laid down very early in human evolution, and these archetypal images and residual motifs retain an innate potency in our visual language today. The exhibition was conceived by Sculpture at Goodwood, a charitable foundation dedicated to supporting contemporary British Sculpture, in collaboration with The Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, Venice, Italy. The exhibition received support and additional funding from the Würth Museum in Kunzelsau in Germany and in Italy from Carrier della Sera and Apple Italia. The exhibition was accompanied by 'Thinking Big' published by Sculpture at Goodwood, 2002. [ISBN: 0-9537794-3-2]. It contains an introduction by Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Venice, and essays by Tim Marlow (writer/broadcaster) and Rod Mengham (fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge).