Clay modelling with the medics

I want to say a big thank you to The Medical Arts Society and in particular my friend and neighbour, the sculptor Sally Joyston-Bechal, for inviting me to join their group for a weekend clay modelling from life.

Iona Stern with clay model

As an artist and painter, I am used to creating the illusion of depth and space in two dimensions but this is the first time that I have worked three dimensionally. The course was held at The institute of Fine Arts in East Finchley and included the model’s fee, superb tuition and the cost of firing.

Our goddess of a model was reclining on a mattress with her back supported by an old chest and cushions. I found the structure of this back support as interesting as the model herself. The contrast between the box shape, soft cushions and rounded flesh made fluid shapes and the basis to create a strong composition.

What I enjoyed most was the feeling of clay beneath my fingers, the molding, pushing, slapping and scraping. It somehow felt primeval – as if I was joining my ancient ancestors, creating the most fundamental art in the most human way.

I went along with the aim to produce a contemporary work – with influences from Henry Moore and Lynne Chadwick – but when I was actually there in the studio, I felt that I shouldn’t run before I walk – especially when I’ve not really walked yet. What i did discover was that my interest was drawn to the structure of the model’s support as much as the model herself, with the planes making up the whole. Of course two days is such a short time to complete a model. I felt as this stage was the start and would have welcomed far more time to finesse, simplify and lighten.

The experience taught me to look in a different way and should I be fortunate enough to be invited back to clay model with the medics, I will start to explore angles, planes and curves.

If you would like to look at my two dimensional paintings, you can see my work at ionastern.com/portfolio

Iona Stern_ clay_model

Ready for firing

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