Emergence – Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop

Emergence – Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop – first look

Sculpture is frankly a closed book to me, but I dropped by the Emergence show at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop on Friday night, an exhibition of work from last year’s courses.     It is open today [11/07/15] and continues on Sunday, with some demonstration workshops in the afternoon.

The Sunday event gives a taste of the variety of ESW’s  sculpture courses in the autumn, including stone and wood carving, which sound very tempting for the wandering mind of a 52-year-old.   (They are also hiring a new education officer to broaden the mix.)

Standing out in the crowd,  for me, was ‘Crowd’, by Sylvie Stainton.   Perhaps because while most of the works in the room were single-faced busts of various descriptions, this work was a cluster of abstract figures huddled together.

On  offer for sale at £400 it seemed crudely speaking value for money, and liveable in scale.   It was made in a pale alabaster, with an internal light.  If it looks a little toothy in this image, I blame it on back light from the window.


Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Sylvie Stainton, Emergence

Crowd, by Sylvie Stainton, in alabastar, lighted from within

The sculptors showing their work included both first-timers on the courses and experienced old hands.

The figures’ heads on the top of the piece were natural features, Stainton explained.  “The piece of alabaster, I saw these nodules, they are all natural, they gave me the piece.   I always look at the stone I choose, and I find the whole thing, they manifest it.”   She bought the piece by weight, for £32, which was quite cheap, and worked on it over about 12 weeks.      “I really knew it, in my heart, and I really enjoyed it.”

Stainton has been working and studying at ESW about eight or nine years, though her accent is still heavily French.   She more often works in limestone; she showed me a second piece,  ‘Wave’, in pale limestone,  on a piece of blue Kilkenny limestone.   This considerably larger piece showed a nude male figure plunging into a curled sea wave,  with  and I would say was of more romantic French character, quite markedly different from Crowd, with a nude female figure nestled into the other side of it .

Sculpting “is fantastic, when you find the being, manifesting,” she declared.   “It’s very social.  I just saw the wave, and I did it.   I often choose pieces that are not square, that have a shape, and I see a being in it, and I manifest it.”

There were torsos, and tortoises, and abstract bird, all showing signs of increasingly skilful handling.  Another work that was getting a good deal of attention was Marlene, by Elaine Sosinska, a first time student.

Elaine Sosinka, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop

Marlene, by Elaine Sosinka, limestone; ‘offers considered’

The smooth-faced figure is apparently inspired by Marlene Dietrich, though I puzzled over the resemblance to a woman I usually imagine as much older.

Maybe my tastes are sentimental, but I also enjoyed Nicky Davidson’s Leila,  a clay portrait that was hard to miss, looking out from a back corner.

Nicky Davidson Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.

Leila, by Nicky Davidson, NFS

With its new Creative Laboratories buildings launched in November, including the 22.5 metre triangular tower, ESW is prepping for its Edinburgh Art Festival show Thresholds, by Toby Paterson, bringing  together a series of pieces for the Maggie’s Centres for cancer support.

The course teacher, Alex Lopez,  explained how he encourages students to imagine the final piece from the original piece of wood or stone, with students working first in clay to prepare ideas.   He showed several pieces he admired, including a tree trunk table and John Thomson’s technically original attempt on a Hermit Crab.   When students use fresh wood, which has not been kiln-dried, there is the practical problem of carvings cracking, as one or two pieces showed,  but they can be repaired with drilled dowelling or glued inserts, he noted.

Emergence, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop