Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Nail Head

All of the sculptures that Sharon Griffin and I exhibited at the Crafts Council's recent Collect art fair, at Somerset House in London, are from a series called 'Unlockdown'; a collaborative project that we started at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown in 2020, and which relate to the issues that people are facing during this time. 

'Nail Head', 2021, ceramic & metal, artists, Wayne Chisnall & Sharon Griffin

The sculpture, 'Nail Head', utilizes a material that has been a prominent feature of some of my earlier works; namely the rusty nail (as well as of rusty items, e.g. screws). Whereas, in previous pieces, the use of rusty nails were initially inspired by my interest in their use in the animated films of The Brothers Quay and Jan Švankmajer, and later by my fascination with Minkisi (the totemic carvings of the peoples of the Congo), with 'Nail Head' a different set of meanings come into play. 

'Nail Head', 2021, ceramic & metal, artists, Wayne Chisnall & Sharon Griffin

In these troubling times of Covid, where we've all been forced to protect one another by wearing masks, the sculpture's balaclava of collected nails also acts like a mask, but one where the ominous array of nails form a barrier, warning people not to get too close. It points to the psychological side effect of living with the restrictions placed upon us because of the virus; where we cannot socially interact the ways we used to, and highlighting how, for such a highly sociable species as ourselves, this prolonged restricted interaction has greatly exacerbated problems of mental health issues. 

Credit: CCO Public Domain

What has also not gone unnoticed, is the similarity between the head of this sculpture and the familiar image of the corona virus, with its protein spikes, as portrayed in the media. As is often the case with sculpture, things reveal themselves after the creation process. So I'm not sure whether this similarity is because I was subconsciously thinking about this when I worked on the sculpture, or whether it's merely a coincidence and I'm reading too much into it.