By Kenneth Ruxton
The passion for art had been there since I was a child though I hadn’t created any works of art since I was fifteen years old, thirty-three years ago. In early 2012 I was sitting on my mother’s couch, unemployed for over a year and I decided to start creating some art work. I began to create colour pencil drawings, three a day, A3 in size, and did so for the entire year. At the end of the year I had created one thousand drawings.
On seeing this collection, a family member decided to get my art appraised to see if the drawings were worth anything and if so, to get an estimated price range. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome, the appraiser priced the A3 drawings at between 175 and 185 each. The feedback I received about my work was a great confidence boost.
Around that time I began reading a book on ancient Egyptian tomb discoveries and eventually completely lost myself in it. I even went as far as using a magnifying glass to look deep into the artwork sculptures illustrated in the book. The inspiration took hold and I started to design and execute sculptures. My first project was to mould a block of plaster of Paris into a hand. I prepared the lump of gypsum but had to wait about three months for it to dry. While I waited, I honed a horse out of a rump of teak hardwood – my first wood carving. This item turned out surprisingly well for a first attempt.
I decided on regular wood chisels for the wood, and sandpaper to achieve a smooth finish. I then coated it with a varnish called “itch”.
When the plaster block was completely dry I began to carve it and it took about three weeks to finish. I again used wood chisels to fashion the hand and then glazed the finished limb with fibreglass resin to strengthen it, giving it a bone colour. It is called “Archaeology Dig”.
At that point I decided to create a sculpture of Tutankhamun’s mask. I chose a “terracotta das air dry” modelling clay, which I mounted on a glass plate standing on a teak base. The stand of the sculpture is key to the entire design of this project. From previous experience in construction work and time spent doing architectural drawings, I was able to design and build the stand. I wanted the stand to be a strong structural feature of the sculpture piece. which is called “Sleeping Tut”.
My next project was the horse’s head, also made from “das air dry” modelling clay. When this item was finished and dried I painted it with a white paint. It is called “Sleeping Beauty”.
All these sculptures are my own designs and I did not use drawings or images to copy from. My technique is: prepare the plaster and then recreate the design in my head on to the plaster. I found it compelling to work on projects without a plan or drawing and to await the outcome of each creation.
As a novice sculptor I did reach a point where my experience let me down, and cheap modelling clay resulted in various problems.
For example – I made a base structure out of foam, copper and sculpture flexible metal. I used a metal bracket which I covered with the cheap clay, not knowing that the clay would shrink 15%. The metal and foam prevented the clay from sinking so the clay simply cracked everywhere. This was the start of the girl with the water jug sculpture.
I did not give up, at this point I decided to change clay (I had an idea what the problem was due to my construction work experience). I bought the expensive clay and it was worth every penny. I covered the entire frame and began to shape and form the piece, the water pot on her head was made separately and placed on top when she was complete.
The original sculpture design was just the head and the jug on top. After it was finished I decided to give her arms to hold the pot, she was than painted white. It is called “Water Girl”.
Not knowing what to do with the leftover cheap modelling clay, I had to think of something that I could sculpt without needing a wire frame, that was when I chose to create the abstract Pharaoh piece.
This has no inner frame and it was created on a flat surface. It was much bigger in size when it was first shaped but duly shrank the 15%. It is called “Abstract Akanaton”.
The hand with the ball is a sculpture that I created when issues of global warming were being heavily discussed. I created the ball first and sometime later added the hand. It was made using a metal bracket I got in B&Q that was angled perfectly for the hand to hold out the ball, like a snowball in a hand. It is called “Ice Age”.
The final piece was created while Britain was deciding whether to change the law about altering human DNA.
This subject is interesting to me since, for deep-space exploration, it would be impossible for humans to endure long flight, but it would be possible with the use of changed human DNA.
Anyway… this subject inspired the creation of this last piece: an angel hugging an egg. The ball was created first and the angel was then added later, it was originally painted white.
After all the individual items were created and finished I decided to paint the collection a gold colour.
This turned them into an art installation piece, an abstract tomb discovery collection from ancient Egypt. It’s an artist’s abstract impressionism of “ Tuts Tomb”. •
This Art Sculpture installation is on public display at “The Oar House Restaurant” on the west pier Howth harbour