n. pl. cor·po·ra (-pr-)
1. A large collection of writings of a specific kind or on a specific subject.
2. A collection of writings or recorded remarks used for linguistic analysis.
3. The main part of a bodily structure or organ.
//Reviews of art. Art and language. Art and the body.
Sunday, 22 November 2015
Interview with Alice Cunningham at the Royal British Society of Sculptors
Interview: Alice Cunningham
Alice Cunningham: Brian Mercer 2014 Stone Carving Residency Exhibition
Royal British Society of Sculptors 22 October – 18 December 2015
Alice Cunningham (b1983) was the
winner of the 2014 Brian Mercer Stone Carving Residency, awarded by the Royal
British Society of Sculptors and the Brian Mercer Charitable Trust. Having very
limited experience with marble, her three months spent at Studio Sem, in
Pietrasanta, Italy, were an invaluable – and rapid – learning opportunity. During
her time there, Cunningham was able to engage with, and learn from, both local
artisans and international artists, as well as to collaborate with a robot.
As the quarry from which
Michelangelo sourced his marble (he believed it to be superior in quality to
the nearby Carrara) Pietrasanta has an imposing history. Sem Ghelardini, who
founded the studio in the 1950s, was famous for his openness to younger artists
and can be thanked for giving Henry Moore his first block of stone to work with.
Cunningham, whose work embraces both conceptual art and more traditional,
formal sculpture, was a perfect candidate to spend time at the studio and
continue its tradition.
Cunningham’s initial introduction to stone carving
came during a two-week residential workshop as part of her degree at the University
of Brighton (2003-6), when she worked in the Portland stone quarries in Dorset.
In 2007, she had her first brief encounter with marble, when she spent a month in
Zambia. The four pieces she made during her time in Pietrasanta, which,
together with photographs and film footage, constitute her exhibition at the
Royal British Society of Sculptors, are therefore ambitious and impressive.
Conception, a wave-like form crashes down – fragile
yet full of power and solidity – while a large boulder, Dialogue, cut into to
create various shelves, contrasts the natural markings of the rock with
Cunningham’s human interventions. Unravel was made from a piece of marble
Cunningham chose from the river – the place sculptors often go when they cannot
afford to use the quarry. Finally, Perspective, which stands tall like a totem,
revealing faces and expressions that seem to alter the more you look at them,
is actually a representation of the quarry on one side, and the nearby
mountains on the other. The work was created from a 2D photograph, which was
fed into a computer and rendered into a 3D model, which was then first carved
by a robotic hand, before being finished by Cunningham. An interesting
collaboration, reflecting the interface of nature and artifice, or the organic
and the manmade or man-altered.