A Commemorative Bronze Sculpture of Sir Kyffin Williams in the Making by David Williams-Ellis
I am excited to have been commissioned to make a large commemorative sculpture of Sir Kyffin Williams, one of Wales’ most celebrated artists.
This project is one close to my heart since Kyffin was family friend who was also supportive with the development of my artistic career having bought several of my early works.
I first met Kyffin when I was twelve growing up in Porthmadog and he made a lasting impression on me. I remember this tremendous character – he was a larger than life figure.
I have been photographing the working process of the bronze in making and below are some images and a description of the work as it has progressed.
Having started with an armature (skeleton) made of mild steel rod which is then bent and welded, I squirted builders’ expanding foam into moulds (made out of kitchen towel and masking tape) around the armature. The advantage of the foam is that it supports the clay and reduces the weight of the sculpture. The foam is convenient as you can remove, at will, any parts which interfere with the surface of the clay.
The next stage is to build up the clay with large slabs in order to achieve some volume (to get the hips, the feet, the hands, the extremeties) in the right place and to get the correct balance.
You then really start to see the sculpture. Although the original steel armature has an element of the sculpture, when you add the foam it distorts this making it difficult to imagine what it is going to be like. Therefore, when I apply the initial clay, I aim to pull back what I hope the essence of what the final sculpture will be.
Then it is just a matter of using one’s skills and energy, everything that is needed to make a good sculpture. To capture the physical form, the nuances and idiosyncrasies. Creating a sculpture works on a subconscious level! It is difficult to explain this in words but somehow my hands become an extension of my thoughts, and I always know if a sculpture works because I feel it in my stomach.
As an artist you are constantly digesting visual information and you are translating this to capture an essence of the subject. Being simply able to copy perfectly does not make you an artist. An artist has the ability to give you that much more.
The bronze statue, depicting Kyffin at work outdoors, is being funded by the sale of 25 maquettes (12” high). Please contact me if you want any further information on the project.