When they said “let your imagination run wild,” this artist took it literally. Artist Ellen Jewett combines plants, animals, and man-made devices to create mystical sculptures. She refers to her work as “natural history surrealist sculpture.”
This talented sculptor is based in Canada creates this unbelievably detailed and delicate looking creatures that personify our wildest dreams or perhaps nightmares. Jewett says her inspiration comes “from animal physiology and a love of the fantastic, grotesque and absurd. Each sculpture is handmade and painted with no more tools than fingers and a paint brush. The process begins with a handmade metal armature over which light weight clay is sculpted. The painting executed with acrylic, mineral and oil pigments and the embedded eyes are glass. When complete the whole piece is glazed to intensify color and strength.” An interesting aspect to her work is that she avoids using toxic materials; “This, unavoidable, excludes most of what is commonly commercially available, and has sent me on a journey of unique material combination and invention.”
When Jewett began constructing her sculptures, she used an additive technique and layered from the inside to out. Over time, however, she found that subtracting elements – increasing the negative space – led to a greater emotional presence. “The element of weight, which has always seemed so fundamentally tied to the medium of sculpture, is stripped away and the laws of gravity are no longer in full effect,” she says.
Created with clay, polymers, and glass, these sculptures of animals captivate you and you can sense their transformational lives. The artist’s experiences with anthropology, medical illustration and exotic animals are integrated into her magical creatures. So many themes are explored throughout her work. Jewett is looking for perfection in her works. She intentionally leaves traces of her fingerprints to keep a trace of naturalism. She explains: “I find my sculptures are evolving to be greater emotional presence by using less physical substance.”