Thursday, 7 July 2022

Biped (& Yoshi)

My new sculpture, 'Biped', made from reclaimed wire, stands on a base of 300-year-old reclaimed English oak. The oak is reclaimed from floor boards from an old farm house, here in Shropshire. The boards all have very long and very rusty, hand-made nails sticking out of them. I'm acutely aware of this because when I accidentally stood on one of them (and it went straight through the sole of my trainer, and deep into the ball of my foot) I wasn't able to walk on that foot for a few weeks. Talk about suffering for one's art.

'Biped', found materials sculpture, 2022, artist: Wayne Chisnall

When I initially started making Biped I had intended for it to be a much simpler wire structure, that would act as an armature onto which I could apply other materials; materials that would form the outer shell. However, as I progressed I quickly realized that I preferred the wire as the sole material for the figure. I see Biped as much as a three dimensional drawing as it is a sculpture, because even though the piece is a sculptural object I found the process as akin to drawing as it was to sculpting.

'Pelvis', found materials sculpture, 1995, artist: Wayne Chisnall

Even though I've used old bits of wire in previous works, I think that the only time I've previously made an all-wire sculpture (discounting the stand and coating) is when I made a piece called Pelvis, way back in the mid-90s.

'Biped', found materials sculpture, 2022, artist: Wayne Chisnall

When I was constructing this Biped I was reminded of a conversation that I had with, Yoshi, an old friend from my London Biennale (a London-based art collective set up by the artist, David Medalla, and comprising a wide mix of mostly international artists) days. I had once visited Yoshi in his South London flat (a flat that was so crammed with materials, artwork and Yoshi's strange inventions, that if it wasn't for Yoshi's amazing organisational skills, it would have been impossible to navigate) and there he showed me an articulated T-Rex that he'd made out of wire. From what I remember, if you pressed a wire lever on its back it either opened its mouth or flicked the 'V' sign (or possibly both). He asked me to guess how much wire was used in its construction. I think I guessed something like 23 metres, to which he replied 'almost spot on - no-one ever thinks it used that much wire'. I wish I'd thought to keep a tally of the amount of wire I'd used to make Biped before I started.

Yoshi and Adan Nankervis (international coordinator of the London Biennale), Crystal Palace, 2004

Sadly, a few days ago, I learnt that Yoshi had been suffering from stomach cancer and had died in King's Hospital, London on the 21st April 2022. He was a wonderfully eccentric character, and even though I'd not seen him for some time, I'll miss him. The world could do with more Yoshis.

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