lost-wax bronzes by robyn erbe

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    It is a strong curiosity for the lost-wa

    x process of ca

    sting bron

    ze that has kept me working in the foundryand driven me to experiment prolifically. An approach of trial and error has led me to explore old andnew technique

    s, while all the time te

    sting the limit

    s of what intricate forms the molten bronze can be

    persuaded to create.My work aims to blur the boundarie

    s between sculpture and the decorative art

    s that utilise craft

    smanshipin multiple materials, often combined in one ornate piece. My goal in the foundry has also been to strive

    for finer, thinner, more delicate forms, and the structural form of f

    lowers, plants and leave

    s have recentlybecome the main focus of my attention. Drawn to the intrinsic fragility of f

    lora, in addition to it

    s beautyand transience, there is an abundant array of diverse forms to challenge me: as with Easter Lily(page 28)or Fuchsia Ballerina (page 34). Each plant pas

    ses through many stage

    s and so has many guise

    s, eachaccording to their own season, f

    lourishing, fruiting, seeding, dying and resurrecting.

    With so much choice, my method ha

    s been a delicate balance of selection and serendipity. Some plantshave caught my attention a

    s I pass them everyday in the street: like the aromatic Elderf

    lower(page 20)and the attractive Buddleja (page 22) that grow abundantly, yet are often lost or overlooked in the urban

    environment of our busy day-to-day live

    s. Wouldnt it be nice to cele

    brate them and shine a light on alltheir usefulne

    ss to mankind over our history?

    Introduction

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    This is the point when the wax inside melts away and is lost, leaving a hollow ceramic shell mould.After the molten bronze is poured into these moulds they are destroyed in the process. My regular use ofMolochite in this way made me curious as to whether it would be strong enough when very thin to create

    sculptural objects directly. I experimented by directly coating flowers with fine layers and firing them ina kiln.

    Opium poppy petals are extremely flimsy and papery with fine creases and folds. Coating them directlyin molochite made for a surprising transformation: although the fine detail has been captured in the

    finished piece, the flower has become solid and saucer-like (page 16). These petals are a ceramic jigsawclamped together by the molten bronze poured over them. This construction method adds to the precarious

    feeling of fragility and accentuates the idea of the opium sap seeping from the seed head. All these ceramicshell works are not only extremely fragile due to the thinness of the material but also because the planthas been burnt out and the structures are hollow. They can bee seen as an antithesis of the bronzes, moredelicate to the touch than the original specimen.

    The combined effect of this series of work is an eclectic collection of botanical curiosities that embodies

    an historic aesthetic; influenced by Georgian homes and gardens, 19th Century museums, and even thegreat exhibition held at Crystal Palace in 1851.

    Prices on request

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    I have also researched and been influenced by the ideas of Carl Linnaeus and Charles Darwin, as well asthe Fibonacci sequence of numbers that is so prevalent in nature.

    Working at Sothebys for seven years I was fortunate to be exposed to many prestigious artworks spanning

    centuries, in a variety of media, and I felt constantly inspired by what I learnt and saw during my timethere.

    Considerations of time and history are an important aspect of my work. It is a natural consequence of castingbronze to effortlessly evoke a sense of antiquity and nostalgia, as it is a sculptural medium that has beenused for thousands of years. The metal itself has a warm and earthy quality, which, left untouched, naturally

    oxidizes to deep browns or verdigris. I have chosen traditional colours such as these for my patinas, each isapplied as a different combination of chemicals to the heated surface.

    Perused and examined for their form and aesthetic value, these flora are no longer items of fleeting beautythat will wither and die; light no longer permeates but bounces off them. Now simply appreciated for theirunity with the surrounding space or enjoyed as a well-proportioned aesthetic object, they become merelyan idea, an interpretation, of the living things they once were. The process has frozen a moment of life into

    never-changing permanence. The flower has been preserved for longevity as a symbol and a relic.

    a5

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    a6

    Aralia (Fatsia japonica)

    Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper42 x 32 x 26cm

    Exhibited:

    Snapshot, The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    Casting this Aralia leaf in bronze proved challenging due to the

    combination of its thinness and wide span, yet was ultimately

    successful.

    1,800

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    Castor Oil Plant

    Molochite ceramic shell, carbon, varnish9 x 29 x 24cm

    Exhibited:Snapshot, The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Description:

    An imprint of the leaf in ceramic captures the fine-veined detail

    which has been accentuated with a layer of carbon applied tothe surface. Because of the similar leaves, it is often confusedwith Aralia (Fatsia japonica) which is also know as the falsecastor oil plant.

    400

    a8

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    Magnolia Fig Leaf (Ficus brunswick)

    Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper34 x 21 x 21cm

    Exhibited:Snapshot, The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    The fig was the first plant to be cultivated by man. Its leaf hasbecome a symbol of expurgation in art where it has been usedover centuries to censor nudity including, famously,Michelangelos David when presented to Queen Victoria.

    700

    a10

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    Constantine Fig Leaf (Ficus carica)

    Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper34 x 23 x 19cm

    Exhibited:Snapshot, The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    The Constantine fig is an ancient variety of fig that has a morebasic three-lobed leaf structure than later cultivars.

    700

    a12

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    Gerbera (Gerbera hybrida)

    Patinated bronze35 x 7 x 7cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    A large ornamental relative of the daisy, the gerbera has been

    cultivated in a multitude of colours and sizes and is widely usedin flower arranging. Placed in a tiny bronze vase, it becomesreminiscent of ikebana the Japanese art of minimal floralarranging.

    500

    a14

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    Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

    Bronze, Molochite ceramic shell16 x 26 x 16cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    The white poppy has been worn since the First World War as a

    symbol of peace and the desire of an end to the loss of life causedby war. Opium is extracted from white sap that is bled from the

    flowers seed head.

    Not for sale

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    Hog Weed (Heracleum lanatum)

    Molochite ceramic, mahogany, etched copperInstalation with shelf: 60 x 48 x 22cm

    Alone: 56 x 20 x 24cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    Hogweed sap is toxic to the touch and can cause irritation of theskin. It is commonly found in English hedgerows and can growto great size. The hardy plant has been turned into adelicate, hollow, ceramic vessel just a few millimetres thick.

    500

    a18

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    Elderflower (Sambucus nigra)

    Molochite ceramic shell, mahogany, etched copper22 x 20 x 20cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    The aromatic flowers of early summer can be used to make

    cordial and medicinal remedies to treat colds and flu, while thejuicy black berries were once considered to bring relief fromrheumatism.

    300

    a20

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    Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)

    Molochite ceramic shell, mahogany, etched copperInstallation with shelf: 54 x 48 x 22cm

    Alone: 42 x 33 x 22cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    Buddleja means robust in Latin, it is found attracting butterflies inurban environments such as wastelands and along train tracks. Herethe plant has been encapsulated in industrial ceramic liquid and

    fired in a kiln, giving it a coral-like appearance where each flowerhead is hollow.

    600a22

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    Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)

    Molochite ceramic shell14 x 30 x 10cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Description:

    Like a poor relation of the daisy, in yellow or pink, overlookedon the side of the road, this weed has been entombed and

    transformed into a haunting, monochrome, coral-like ceramicshell.

    200

    a24

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    Asiatic Lily (Lilium asiatic)

    Molochite, Patinated bronze, mahogany,etched copper42 x 15 x 15cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    This lily is a hybrid of a robust bronze stem and a fragile ceramicflower that merely hangs from its support.

    500

    a26

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    detail

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    Spider Chrysanthemum(Chrysanthemum morifloium)

    Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper132 x 28 x 22cm

    Exhibited:Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    A preposterous hybrid taken to the extremes of possibility, thisflower balances precariously in its attempt to defy nature.

    2,000

    a30detail

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    Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulanger)

    Patinated bronze, molochite ceramic, coconut wood20 x 42 x 33cm

    Exhibited:Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:One of the first blooms of the year signalling the approach ofspring. The bud is made of robust bronze, yet the flowers, recreated

    in ceramic and wood, are less eternal and very fragile in comparison.

    Not for Sale

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    Fuchsia Ballerina

    Patinated bronze, woodEach: 12 x 4 x 4cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:A delicate study in bronze, these tiny flowers dance in celebration

    of existence.

    400 each

    a34

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    Romanesco Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)

    Patinated bronze12 x 12 x 12cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    This pair of fractal vegetables, from the cabbage family, provokewonderment at the elaborate diversity of nature and agriculture.

    500 each

    a36

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    Curly Kale (Brassica oleracea)

    Patinated bronze37 x 14 x 17cm

    Exhibited:

    Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:Another cabbage relative, whose leaves seem randomly chaotic,yet the underlying structure is as repetitive and precise as that ofits brother the Romanesco. The frizzy leaves are imitated in the

    frozen bronze at the base, that flooded into the cracks in themould when poured.

    700

    a38

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    backfront

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    Tree Coral (Nephtheidae paralemnalia)

    Patinated bronzeVaries between 6 x 4 x 4cm and 20 x 10 x 7cm

    Exhibited:

    Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

    Description:

    A delicate and fundamental part of marine life rendereddurable in bronze. These proved a perfect subject to experimentwith a multitude of coloured patinas.

    200 each

    a40

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    Nostalgia (Rosa grandiflora)

    Bronze12 x 54 x 18cm

    Exhibited:

    Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011

    Objet dArt, Sothebys, New Bond Street, July 2010NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000

    Description:

    One of the most symbolic of flowers paired with the gloved hand,

    representing offering or receiving, and executed in the style of a19th Century antique, this piece is a gesture from the past.

    2,000

    a42

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    Melancholic Rose

    Lead

    4 x 4 x 32cm

    Exhibited:

    Objet dArt, Sothebys, New Bond Street, July 2010

    NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000

    Description:This is a cast of the bronze rose (Nostalgia), not a direct life-cast. The transformation into lead, a soft, dull and toxic metal,makes this rose replica appear cool and melancholic.

    200

    a44

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    Fuchsia Doilly

    Lead, shellac

    2 x 12 x 12cm

    Exhibited:Objet dArt, Sothebys, New Bond Street, July 2010

    NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000

    Description:

    Lace and flowers, in a delicate composition, contrast with the

    sinister overtones of the toxic metal used to execute it.

    300

    a46

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    www.robynerbe.co.uk07979 54 64 10

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    A Curiosity

    Patinated bronze

    6 x 34 x 10cm

    Exhibited:B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Description:

    A curious object raises the question of possible function or if thereever was one. Maybe its an archaeological find or a fragment of

    something larger...? The imagination is encouraged to wander.

    1,500

    2

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    Rags to riches

    Patinated bronze

    15 x 14 x 8cm

    Exhibited:B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Description:

    Only partially abstract, rags cast into bronze become ambiguousand cross boundaries of definition. This one seems shell-like yetits variegated brown patina makes it appear more bark-like with

    a Baroque aesthetic.

    500

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    Rags to riches

    Patinated bronze

    16 x 11 x 5cm

    Exhibited:

    B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011

    Description:

    The bronze shows through the patina of this piecegiving it a distinct feeling of being a fragment of abaroque curlicue.

    500back

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    side view

    front

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    10

    Les Loupes

    Lead, glazed wooden box

    15 x 15 x 4.5cm

    Exhibited:

    Objet dArt, Sothebys, New Bond Street, July 2010

    Description:

    Directly cast from an old brass magnifying glass and now par-tially wrapped in the soft lead flashing from the mould, theseobjects have become obscuring rather than illuminating and areencapsulated out of harms way.

    400

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    Hanger

    Bronze, steel

    16 x 42 x 2cm

    Exhibited:Objet dArt, Sothebys, New Bond Street, July 2010

    NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000

    Description:

    Infinitely more interesting than their wire or plastic counter-parts the wooden coat hanger often shows signs of ware on itssurface. These marks have been captured and enshrined on the

    surface of the bronze.

    300

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    Make a wish

    Bronze

    2 x 6 x 4cm

    ExhibitedHidden Talent, Sothebys, New Bond Street, July 2010

    Description:

    I tried to cats a tree of twenty or so bronze wishbonesand believe it or not exactly three were complete whichwill teach me not to be greedy. One wish granted

    should be enough.

    Not for Sale

    16

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    www.robynerbe.co.uk

    07979 54 64 [email protected]