You have to hand it over to the sci-fi films to have created some grotesque alien beings that have left an impression on many artists. This is borne out by Ellen Jewett, a talented Canada-based sculptor, who is not only inspired by such grotesque creatures, but also by animal physiology, in creating her delicate handmade clay sculptures.
In her own words, Jewett elaborates, “(My 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 lightweight clay is sculpted. The painting is executed with acrylic, mineral and oil pigments and the embedded eyes are glass. When complete the whole piece is glazed to intensify colour and strength.”
Jewett rightly refers to her work as “natural history surrealist sculpture”. The fantastic blend of plants, animals and sometimes human-made structures or objects in her works is something that has taken the social media by storm. Her knowledge of anthropology, medical illustration, exotic animal care and even stop-motion animation is plainly evident in her creations.
Her eye for detail is on full display in her works with the accentuated biological structure of each part blending with her imagination and abstract ideas. Her emphasis has now shifted to minimizing material and stressing on negative space. Says she, “I find my sculptures are evolving to be of greater emotional presence by using a less physical substance.”
What is great about her sculptures is they don’t use any toxic mediums like paints, glazes and finishes, but are based on more natural and locally-sourced materials. Little wonder her works with traces of fingerprints and slight imperfections leave a more authentic impression on viewers.
You can also buy her structures at her website.