Exhibition: Reflections on the world around us by Sally Dunham
Fri 13 - Wed 18 AugustFree Event
The Quay Gallery
This ‘reflections ‘ exhibition brings together Sally’s human and animal sculptures and her collection “A moment with Mister Herbert’. Made to make you smile and make you ponder.
“I am very proud to be entering my 23rd year of business as a sculptor, with my own work style which is unique and distinctive as a Sally Dunham creation. Over this time I have been privileged to work with a range of fantastic galleries and private customers.
My passion for creating is as strong as ever and I still get excited each time I pick up the clay to create something new, whether it be for a new idea I have had or to realise a bespoke design for a customer. I hope that my work brings the viewer as much enjoyment to see and own as it does to create! My main constraint is finding time to produce all the ideas I have as I am continuously inspired by the world around me, things I see and people I meet!
My love for art started much longer than 23 years ago, right from a young child I would spend hours creating models from fimo and fabric. My first real introduction to clay came when I started Sixth Form College in Cambridge and was given a choice of media in which to specialise. As soon as I touched clay I was hooked. I remember carving into a block of clay to create my first figure, and my wonderful teacher, Neil, saying to me, “Remember, the figure is in there, you just have to discover it”. This has always stayed with me. When I started my degree course at the University of Wolverhampton, I spent two years experimenting with a range of techniques. Towards the end of my second year and the duration of my third year, my current style began to evolve and continues to develop to this day.
I create each sculpture from my home studio in Soham, which overlooks my garden. In 2014, I was proud to open a small gallery next to my studio to showcase my work, this is open to visitors all year by appointment. I enjoy creating a range of human and animal figures using my patchwork style of building with clay and have fun thinking of new adventures for Mister and Mrs Herbert!
All of my work is unique and is individually handcrafted from clay using a mixture of Earthstone and Porcelain clay. Each sculpture is constructed hollow using NO moulds or interior supports, using small slabs of clay pieced together almost like a patchwork quilt. The individual pieces of clay can be seen in the finished sculptures giving them a lively, distinctive finish and tactile surface. I enjoy working with a range of themes including figures and animals captured in a realistic way and in a more light-hearted, simplistic approach within my ‘A moment with Mister and Mrs Herbert’ collection.
Within my figurative sculptures (unless personalised to order), I base my work on an onlooker’s view of others existence. I intend to capture a moment in time of a situation or circumstance experienced by ordinary people, without becoming involved with complex human politics. My work is narrative; my intention is not to portray a specific person but an anonymous characterisation of a collective type. Each piece captures a tiny segment of a day in the life of somebody’s life experience. The source of my work comes mainly from memory, photography or quick on the scene sketches.
I have created a wide range of animal sculptures including domestic, farm and wild animals and also sea creatures. Each piece continues my patchwork style and I add texture to the slabs to represent animal skin and details of fur where appropriate. I study the animals where possible and take photographs to work from in the studio. Within each sculpture, I strive to capture the animal in a natural pose that best reflects the character of the species. I aim to use my construction method to enhance the sense of the animal skin and feeling of movement, almost as if the animal will move at any time.
Mister Herbert was born from an idea I envisaged in 2010 and named by my son who was 5 years old at the time. Mister Herbert started as a small figure 12cm tall. This ‘mini’ Mister Herbert is joined by a larger version and together they continue his adventures; I have great fun thinking of new ideas for him. Mister Herbert can also be seen joined by Mrs Herbert and their family and friends!
The wall mounted pieces in this collection often feature words. I love reading and think that words can really brighten our day and make us think about things in a different way. I use the wording as a background, something you can ‘dip into’ as you walk by to hopefully uplift you. I also make use of photos on the background of canvases, these are applied using a special technique, the idea of the finished effect being that they are slightly faded, almost like a memory of a scene rather than a perfectly clear picture.
Many of the pieces in my ‘Mister Herbert’ collection have a thoughtful, thought-provoking sentiment, perhaps to make you reflect, or as a reminder to look for the positives when life throws its challenging days. I hope you find a piece that makes you smile!
Some of my recent work features pieces of shipwrecked timber. The opportunity to work with this inspirational material, which holds its own stories, has inspired me to create some more nautical and sea themed pieces. The timber used within my sculptures has been collected from various shipwrecks off the North Norfolk Coast, the majority in the vicinity of Wells Next the Sea, where it has been salvaged or collected by the present day Harbour Master. Some of the timber has been dated early as the 1600s ranging to the late 1800s.
I hope you enjoy my work and find a piece to ‘Make you smile, or make you ponder’.” – Sally Dunham