Ellen Jewett, a renowned sculpture artist from Canada, creates amazingly detailed and delicate-looking handcrafted clay sculptures of animals that appear to come right from our wildest fantasies or worst Nightmares.
Jewett’s work is as daily and realistic as the everyday life of her characters. However, it does seem to represent a kind of dream-logic that is more eccentric than it appears. This would suggest that Jewett’s vision belongs to the surrealist genre (sur’ + ‘realism’), which was originally intended to convey something distinct from materiality rather than suggesting subversion. Perhaps here lies Jewett’s home.
Jewett focuses on the animals’ negative spaces, which she then eliminates the weight of her objects. She employs an additive approach in constructing her ceramic pieces, beginning with the sculptures’ innermost regions and working outward. As you add exterior elements to the piece, a narrative begins to develop. These additional elements, according to Jewett, are beautiful, monstrous, or fantastic and contribute to the object’s exploration of domestication, death, maturation, visibility, and wildness.
According to Ellen Jewett, the inspiration for the sculptures comes “from animal physiology and a love of the fantastic, grotesque and absurd. Each unique artwork is handmade and painted with no more tools than fingers and a paintbrush. The process begins with a handmade metal armature over which light weight clay is sculpted. The painting is executed with acrylic, mineral, and oil pigments and the embedded eyes are glass. When complete the whole work of art is glazed to intensify color and strength.”
She also avoids using any harmful chemicals to create her fantastic creatures; “This, unavoidably, excludes most of what is commonly commercially available, and has sent me on a journey of unique material combination and invention.”
More info: ellenjewettsculpture.com