W. Shaun Gray

 

BACKGROUND

My art practice has moved through sculpture, computer-graphic film / video, other conceptual projects, painting and back to bronze casting and fabricated metal sculptures. (Lack of funds, or concepts temporarily outstripping technical thresholds, have been the main catalysts for the shifts in practice).

While studying at East Sydney Tech. in the 1970's, I discovered an affinity for bronze casting, though I found the economic imperatives for small scale, combined with traditional expectations for works in the medium stifling. The classical critique of the welded steel tradition was also challenging, but the usage of heavy steel plate seemed to mandate cumbersome heavy pieces that for the most part crawled across the landscape.

After working with the various other mediums I stuck on my current solution to my sculptural aesthetic dichotomy. The involvement in a number of mediums also tuned my understanding of the appropriateness of different subject to medium combinations. Finding sculpture particularly apt for capturing spiritual concerns as architecture has historically done so well, or talking about the dehumanisation of the post-industrial society.

 

AESTHETIC STRATEGY

I am interested in evolving motifs, that draw on the spirit and iconography of my Celtic ancestry, fusing these with the broader spiritual expression of the more universal architectural / sculptural forms of Indo-european culture to be poured out as an uniquely Australian expression of late twentieth century concerns.

By way of illustration it is an attempt in the visual sphere, what has to some degree been so successfully accomplished with Bush Dance Music, where one has the Celtic musical roots, flowing through the broad Indo-european instrumentation, to combine into something uniquely Australian, more so today as didgeridoos and other native devices have influenced what was primarily a white 19th century music.

The strategy is to utilise common design primitives like the 'spiral' to defocus the boundaries of the individual cultural sources.

 

THEMATIC CONCERNS

The post-industrial age is often characterized by a sense of futility at the overwhelming complexity and suffocating volumes of data spawned by the information revolution. This bewilderment drives many towards the crudest characterizations and base value systems (typically utilitarian or monetary one), in a panic to get some handle on the chaotic world they find themselves in.

I am concerned with making works that highlight the dehumanisation of this process on humanity, or other manifestation and products of this bankruptcy of value systems.

A counterpoint theme in my oeuvre turns on the power of art ( particularly sculpture in the three dimensionality of it's experiencing) to impact on the viewer in a non-rational / a-rational way or at an intuitive level. Experience and understanding can only ever be imputed as opposed to replicated for another. Through the leverage of the work as an entity and it symbolic references, I'm striving to provide the viewer an insight into my spiritual matrix and the liberating power it has provided for me in a post-industrial age.

The themes I am currently working with address the post-industrial condition with a transfusion of firstly Celtic, then other Indo-european spiritual heritages.

 

CURRENT STATUS

 

Since 1977 I have been developing these concerns in notebooks, project outlines and partially completed waxes. I currently have over fifty distinctly different pieces of sculpture I could start today (given time, materials & space). The majority of the ideas having evolved in the last two years, while working on the examples supplied.

 

 

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