Torso sculpture – consideration of anatomy and armature

I was approached to run a course on modelling the torso in clay. I try to keep away from armature use wherever possible just because of the freedom it removes from the sculptor. We must remember that modelling from life is just that – training the eyes to see with greater perception, but resulting in studies of the human form, rather than “sculpture”. It is an essential harvesting exercise for the sculptor that feels they draw upon or use the human form in their creative work. Continue reading “Torso sculpture – consideration of anatomy and armature”


Where there is form, add clay

After all, it is not ignorance which damages the clarity of our portraits, but the accumulation of knowledge. Alain de Botton – ‘Kiss and Tell’, 1995 The Amesbury Preparatory School in Hindhead is unique in being the only purpose-built school by Edwin Lutyens. It had an arts festival in March 2012, the final day of which saw the development of a sculpture with all 231 pupils in Years 1-8, aged 5 to 13. Seven months ago, arts teachers Mark Reynolds and Susannah Colborn discussed my idea of a communal portrait head, and we secured the Headmaster, Nigel Taylor, as a generous sitter for the day. This was to … Continue reading Where there is form, add clay

Sculpture stimulating the creativity of young people

Looking back to Summer 2006, this short film reminded me just how essential it is to be working with children from time to time. Jigsaw worked with several Herefordshire schools for those with special needs. We introduced elements: Fire, Water and Wind, and young people responded to aural stimulus. The results were fresh and lively: this picture shows some of the studies from listening with eyes closed and working with clay. Continue reading Sculpture stimulating the creativity of young people

Smooth, yet not complete

One perennial issue with clay sculpture seems to be the pre-occupation with the smooth – perhaps aimed at some form of ‘finish’ – with less attention to the completeness of the sculptural form or plane, by which I mean where the surface should attempt to be visually consistent – read as one – in whatever texture or idiom is used. A shiny rubber ball is a smooth, complete sphere. A single  compound curved plane exists – a simple and yet complex sculpture. An orange’s form is relatively complete whilst not being overly smooth. Its surface has a regularity in its irregularities that … Continue reading Smooth, yet not complete

Large Clay Sculpture: Improvisation course at West Dean

4 day course at West Dean College, West Sussex led by Jon Edgar – abandoning the use of the armature as stifling to creativity, students construct random clay elements (left) and then free-build with them… turning the clay matrix and continuing to add until forms start to emerge. This technique was devised by veteran sculptor Alan Thornhill, who found this way of working allowed ‘absolutely anything to emerge’, rather than using the constraining hand of the pre-conceived idea.  This course was last run in 2011 (you can download the detailed course notes here: ) For more information on forthcoming courses by Jon Edgar … Continue reading Large Clay Sculpture: Improvisation course at West Dean