- Your incredibly beautiful art impresses and inspires millions of art lovers and artists. What made you think about creating hyper realistic sculptures of people? How did it all start?
I started out drawing when I was a kid, and got into sculpture in my mid teens. When I left school I worked as an illustrator, and then got some work sculpting for TV and film.
I did that for a few years and enjoyed it, but wanted to make my own work. One of the inspirations for me to make realistic work was Chuck Close. I was mesmerized by these sorts of works, and I think that the combination of this and movie special effects led me towards silicone sculpture.
- Does your family play a role in your success today?
My family is a great support for me. They often don't understand my obsessive nature, but they have always supported me. My mother sometimes makes outfits for the sculptures (she’s a very good dressmaker/patternmaker).
- You live and work in the beautiful city of Melbourne in Australia. Can you tell us about the art scene in your country? Have you ever thought of moving to another city?
The art scene is quite strong here, there are a lot of artist-run spaces, which make for a very exciting atmosphere. We are lucky in Melbourne to often be able to make a living from art, there is a great art-loving audience here, and there’s always a new show on somewhere.
As for living in other cities, I guess the obvious choice would be somewhere in Italy, with a strong tradition of figurative art history. I know of someone who is about to study anatomical life drawing in Prato, and I’m absolutely green with envy!
- Pale skins, closed eyes, skinny nude figure, distorted appearances; all those aspects of your work create a fragile line of tension and sympathy between the viewers and the sculptures. How do you feel when you are looking at your work in a gallery setting? If money were not an object, how would you exhibit your art?
I love seeing my work in a gallery. In the studio I get so close to each piece, and often get a little blind to it by the end and am unable to see the whole image. When I walk into the gallery after a few weeks away I’m able to get a really good overview of the work. It often brings a new element to the work that I wasn’t aware of previously.
If I could exhibit the work anywhere I would choose a church.
- Your sculptures have an extreme level of detail. Can you talk a little bit about your process from the very beginning to the end?
The process to create a work from start to finish usually begins with some rough drawings and small maquettes (small versions of the sculpture).
I then build an armature from steel and timber, which is strong enough to support the weight of the modelling clay. I begin by quickly pushing blobs of clay onto the armature, blocking out the form of the piece. I rough in the shape and once it's satisfactory I smooth it off and add some texture.
Once the clay sculpture is complete I make a mold from either silicone or plaster, and brush in layers of tinted silicone into the mold.
I usually back the silicone skin with fiberglass to support the shape.
The silicone sculpture is then removed and cleaned up ready for a little paint and hair. Each hair is inserted with a reversed needle.
- We think that you are a scientist as much as a fine artist. That being said do you see any common ground between your work and the "Bodies Exhibit" by Dr. Gunther Von Hagen?
I think often the reaction people have can be quite similar. I don’t really think there is much similarity other than the curiosity aspect, and of course the subject matter. I'm only speculating because I haven't seen the bodies exhibit other than in pictures. It does look interesting though.
- You used to work for the film industry for quite a bit. As a watcher, what kind of movies and which movie directors do you find closer to yourself in terms of visual comprehension?
This is difficult because it changes constantly.
As far as design and aesthetics I really like Guillermo del Toro's aesthetic for a contemporary style. Chris Cunningham is quite extraordinary also. I hope he does a full-length film one day.
- We know that the Renaissance artists inspire you the most. Italian master Leonardo da Vinci says; 'The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.' As an artist who creates hyper realistic sculptures of human beings, how do you describe the human body?
The human body is a complicated and intricate moving object, a soft exterior with hard bones underneath, which is both exciting and challenging to form in clay. I have always admired artists who successfully capture a dynamic form in a static pose, while still conveying movement and fleshiness.
- Theme of Bak Magazine's 16th issue is 'City'. What does this word mean to you?
I grew up in a country town, and know that I would prefer to live in the city, but I only really engage with the city centre sporadically, usually when my family and I go out for Japanese or some event.
To be honest I am such a hermit at the moment because I'm flat out making new work, that I rarely venture into the city. I live and work in a great inner-city neighborhood, which provides me with pretty much everything I need. Having said that, it’s a very cosmopolitan area, which generally only occurs in a big city.
I am such a hermit at the moment because I'm flat out making new work, that I rarely venture into the city. I live and work in a great inner-city neighborhood, which provides me with pretty much everything I need. Having said that, it’s a very cosmopolitan area, which generally only occurs in a big city.
- Sam Jinks / Bak 16