Thursday, 28 February 2013

Size isn't everything


When I was carving a massive and grotesque face for a water-feature of a new grotto at Leeds Castle some years ago, the most helpful guidance given to me by the sculptor who was commissioned to build it (Simon Verity) was, "Whatever you do, don't make it Disney" I immediately understood what was not required.

H.I. (a painter since childhood) often used to say that she was always tripping over sculpture at mixed exhibitions, when stepping back to look at paintings. I sort of understood her disdain - a bad sculpture just takes up too much space, like a man with a rucksack in town.

It is very difficult to make a sculpture good enough to be worth exhibiting, and it is difficult to make any sculpture which doesn't attract ridicule.

I know I have said this before, but it is a subject which is always cropping up amongst non-carvers: Why do classical male figures always have small willies?

When carving classical figures with the aforementioned Mr Verity (who also carved all the figures on St John the Divine, N.Y.C. with the help of some untrained locals), we tried carving an average sized penis onto a full-sized figure of Apollo, but found that the eye was immediately drawn to it, to the detriment of appreciating the thing as a whole. After a few seconds, the figure became grotesque - almost obscene - so the poor bloke's willie was whittled down to a 6 year-old's, and balance was restored. Everything looked normal again.

Those Greeks and Romans knew what they were doing.

18 comments:

  1. Dear Tom,
    yes, you're right. On everything said here. Wondered about the sculptures on a fountain at the Wittenberg Platz, but those poor figures are always standing naked in the spray of cold water, so no wonder.
    Love especially the remark about those people with a rucksack in towns - here in the underground they throw it over their shoulders, but forget to throw a look first around who might be behind or beside them (and husband gets mad at those train trolley-owners - walking they forget that they exist, cruising erratically from one side to another).

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    1. It's like when young men put their baseball hats on back to front and decrease their I.Q. by 50%.

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    2. They can keep their hat on... sometimes intelligence is not the only asset :-)
      Vive la (glorious) différence!

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  2. I must say Tom that although I love sculptures my eye is not drawn to their willies (when you have seen one you have seen them all) but it did remind me of some years ago when my previous husband worked in a young offender's institution. In the hallway was a beautiful bronze statue which had a beautiful patina, apart from the willie, which had been fondled so many times by the inmates that it looked as though it was polished daily with Brasso.

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    1. Max Faxtor Knacker Lacquer - adds lustre to your cluster.

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  3. And look what happened to Eric Gill when he did that job for BBC Broadcasting House.... Reith made him reduce it!

    I once took my youngest son to an expo of kinetic sculpture at The Brighton Art Gallery; he loved it. The next time I took him to a sculpture show, I asked him how he liked it. He replied 'they don't do much, do they!'.

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    1. Eric Gill worked up a ladder, wearing a kilt with no knickers underneath - I think that's what His Lordship was complaining about.

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  4. I am shocked ! and here was I thinking that the small willie was just due to standing out in the cold weather :)

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    1. Especially in a fountain. Gerry Adams will be more likely to share something with you if you add him to your circle of friends, you know that don't you? I am inviting Pope Benedict, on the premise that he needs as many friends as he can get right now. 'Brown shoes don't make it' they said, and how right they were. 'Red hat, no knickers' as well, but I don't know about that.

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  5. My friend and I did have the fit of the giggles when wandering down one of 'The Halls of Willies ' in the Uffizi Gallery, much to our husband's disgust ........ and, I have been known to drag my feet at the Zoo when there is a paticularly amorous animal ......... my husband has had to come back to get me, as I have tarried a little too long ...... the complete opposite to the sculptured classical males meat and two veg!! XXXX

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    1. ........... don't we know someone who jokes around with rude shaped vegetables in Waitrose !!!! XXXX

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    1. You'll be ok soon. Bloody February, eh?

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  7. Is it me or did you do a blog post on the same theme of sculptural willies a few months ago? If not you, then deja vu. Curses.

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    1. Yes I did, Elegance, and I admit to it above. At least - for the time being - I am aware of repeating myself, but thanks for reminding me anyway.

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  8. But the one you show can hardly be seen at all. (I mean show in your picture.) Brilliant sculpture by the way, extremely disconcerting. Is it a real one or photoshopped? Whichever, it's eye catching.

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    1. I am guessing it is photoshopped - even if you could buy a block of white, Italian statuary marble of that size these days (you can't) the cost would make your eyes water, even before shipping. That would be one hell of an expensive joke.

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