Study of cadavers helped artist Sophie Dickens create Masterpieces
Life-sized Judo sculpture of the perfect Morote Seoi Nage by Sophie Dickens
in turn about is fair play - just as medical students are using a study of art to help them in diagnosing patients, ( See Broadway To Vegas column of April 22, 2005 ) Sophie Dickens the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, used cadavers to help her create lifelike sculptures.
Sophie has created a special Olympics sculpture which is on display through May 30 at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum before transferring to the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath for a May 26-July 1, 2012 exhibition. Then the life-sized Judo sculpture of the perfect Morote Seoi Nage throw will be shown at the ExCel centre, the venue for the judo competition during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Profits from the project will be used to benefit disadvantaged or disabled young people through the life changing work of the Youth Sport Trust and ParalympicsGB.
The 45-year-old worked closely with the European Judo Union.
"I had to watch a lot of judo bouts and meet the athletes but thank goodness I didn’t have to do a throw, or get thrown," she says. "Two experts demonstrated for me over and over again. It looked agonizing."
Jan Gosiewski, British Judo Squad member repeated the throw dozens of times for Sophie when she visited Team Bath, at the University of Bath, to sketch and take photographs of the sport before starting work on her impressive creation, She constructed the artwork from shaped pieces of seasoned oak, which really capture the movement in one of the classic winning judo throws Morote Seoinage or the two arm shoulder throw.
Before launching her career as a sculptor Sophie Dickens, who divides her time between England and Mexico, studied art history at the Courtauld Institute, sculpture under Clive Duncan at the John Cass Foundation in White chapel and anatomy at The Slade, where she would study cadavers.
"I never stopped going to life classes. I was always trying to get to grips with anatomy," said Sophie.
The artist admitted that a miserable point in her life was when she was "working at a Bond St Gallery, selling Victorian paintings to tourists. It was awful. One day, I just walked out."
Fortunately, she received a commission from a museum in Plymouth to sculpt the head of Walter Raleigh. "I had to make him out of clay," she recalled. "Doing it was just instant happiness. It gave me the feeling of well-being which comes when you realize, immediately, that this is what you must do."
In addition to mulling over cadavers, she also studied those still breathing - sometimes being the only person in the Life Drawing Room. "It was great. I could get the model to do whatever I wanted. I used to get one man to act just like a chicken."
"For me, the wonderful thing about relating sculpture to the human figure is that nobody is excluded from it," Sophie explains. "Through the application of pieces of wood onto a steel armature I can convey emotions and preoccupations that are meaningful to me - vulnerability, spiritual energy and the Don Quixote-ness of man’s struggle with his own humanity."
"My technique evolved from the traditional modeller’s practice of packing out armatures with pieces of wood before applying clay to the form. I started using curved pieces of wood, creating an interplay of concave and convex surfaces that relate to anatomy and movement. The faceted surfaces translate very well into bronze, accentuating the jutting reliefs and airy voids that inform the momentum and physicality of the sculptures."