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OU on the BBC: Personal Passions - Russell Stannard's personal passion: Sculpture

Updated Friday, 24th June 2005

Professor Russell Stannard talks about his passion for sculpture

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Professor Russell Stannard & Sculpture

Professor Russell Stannard first became involved in sculpture nearly thirty years ago,around the same time as The Open University started. He’s a fan of sculptor Henry Moore after first seeing his work at the Tate Gallery in London, but he thinks you should see Moore’s work out in the open which is where Professor Stannard believes it belongs.

Henry Moore sculpture in Yorkshie Sculpture Park [Image: Benn Photo under CC-BY-NC-SA licence] Creative commons image Icon BennPhoto via Flickr under Creative-Commons license
Draped Seated Woman, a bronze by Henry Moore in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park [Image: Benn Photo under CC-BY-NC-SA licence]

He likes Moore’s work because it’s three dimensional and meant to be looked at from all angles - unlike classical sculptures of people which he thinks were only meant to be viewed from the front.

Because Moore’s work is often abstract you have to put more of yourself in to it according to Professor Stannard.

Russell’s Process:

(If tall) use drain-pipe to give sculpture rigidity

Expanded Polystyrene (the same material that’s used when packing computers)

This is cut to the required shape. This is a chance for fun and artistry.

Covered in a layer of Car-Body Under-seal and allowed to dry (for a day or two).

A layer of Car Body Filler (e.g. Isopan or Plastic Padding) filed and sand-papered to required textures (usually smoothed over convex surfaces, rough over concave surfaces, this is for artistic reasons, it emphasises the overall form).

Paint a layer of French Polish (Shellac) mixed with opaque polyester pigment, super black (attainable from specialist shops e.g. Alec Tiranti).

Another layer of French Polish, this time mixed with bronze powder (also available from Tiranti) and applied with a cloth wrapped around a sponge so it only touches the raised surfaces.

Then ship your art to the Tate!


"Half the joy I think of a sculpture is to feel it and that’s why I get very cross when I go to something like the Tate Gallery, and you know you’re not allowed to touch them, and it, these sculptures are just dying for you to touch them, and that’s what’s so wonderful about the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. You know you’re out there on the hills, and there’s no one around to stop you from touching them."

"It’s got nothing to do with atomic physics it’s a ways of, if you like, reaching a part of my personality which the science doesn’t. You do the science with your brain and this is… well another part of my anatomy I suppose."

"I personally get irritated with people who automatically say that anything that’s tall is automatically phallic, I think that’s a stupid way of reasoning."

"…one of the great things about sculpture, when I feel it, I feel as though I’m having an experience which is similar to Moore himself, when he was making it because if you think what he was doing, he was sort of sand papering it and, sort of rubbing it… Now when I’m doing that I’m getting the same kind of experience that Moore originally had."

Tips On Sculpture

Look in the Yellow Pages, you’ll probably come across sculpture shops and other shops which sell materials for sculpture.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You don’t have to use bronze for sculpture, you can use a variety of cheaper materials from all different places - scrap yards, car shops. Be innovative.

Buying your material in bulk also saves money.





First broadcast: Thursday 8 Oct 1998 on BBC TWO





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