Jamie Frost MRSS
he Way of All Flesh presents an exhibition of elegantly crafted and powerful figurative sculptures. Artist Jamie Frost brings the tradition of wood carving into a contemporary gallery setting. The smell, textures and colours of the sculptures make this exhibition a multi-sensory experience, where bark, saw marks and energetic splinters contrast with fine craftsmanship.
Following recent exhibitions of epic figurative drawings, these are the artist's first sculptures of such complexity and scale. They are shown alongside a number of smaller pieces and a selection of works on paper.
The exhibition launched at The Artworks, Halifax and will be touring to other venues into 2020, including London, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Chorley, Scunthorpe. The launch exhibition was made possible with generous support from Arts Council England. Find out more via social networks or Jamie’s mailing list (links at bottom of page).
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Artist’s introduction to the exhibition catalogue:
The Way of All Flesh is a phrase indicating death, so it’s fair to assume that is the theme of this exhibition. I've come to see this title as a broader statement about the commonality of living things, how we are bound by our shared experiences. I believe art has the power to narrow the gaps between us all, in this case between subject, artist and viewer. A line drawn quickly will be read quickly: The eye moving as the hand did; the hand following the eye over the body. If my eye should pause, so will my hand. Your eye is sure to follow. Imagine the model's body as your body, engage your senses with the handling of the materials.
I have been working with life models for over a decade. A breadth of physiques is useful for academic training but I choose to focus my work on people I believe I know. It may only be imagined, nevertheless I am drawn to a sitter for the understanding I've reached of them. The process of modelling is one of giving permission. Ask yourself how often you truly look at a person without being poised to look away.
Once permitted to look, it is difficult not to muse upon the thoughts and feelings of the sitter. A model may be composing tomorrow's 'to-do' list or meditating. I find it impossible to see a dispossessed physical form and my mind wanders. The placement of fingers, the narrowing of eyes, the upturned mouth, the tension in muscles, all suggest something more. Rarely does a full narrative appear but a tangible emotional framework on which the work can hang. I have asked sitters to respond to my drawings and maquettes. This works best when that person takes ownership of the pose. Jenny muttered and suggested she was sneaking something into her mouth. Was it drugs? Food? Poison? It stayed with me as I made drawings, resulting in I Don't Know Why She Swallowed a Fly, a sculpture to do with self-destructive behaviour.
The words we use with trees: limb; heartwood; trunk, are the language of bodies. The smell, warmth, weight, moisture, the sounds, are analogous with human flesh. They are heady and visceral. These sensory qualities heighten my relationship with the work and I see no reason to suppress this. I wish you to experience it. I love the qualities of wood when it is worked viciously- split, cleaved, dented and splintered, particularly alongside delicate sculpted forms. It's a material of superb contrasts which can also be shaped with tenderness, revealing it's vulnerability.
I speak about making connections with my work, of a desire to make a difference. That's something best done in an emotional manner from the outset. It's possible to analyse a facial feature or gesture and reach conclusions on the mood it captures. I've learnt to immerse myself in an emotional state and be led towards the incremental changes that affect an artwork's power. The shape of an eyelid can make all the difference. I have to trust that I can guide the work by simply 'feeling' my way there. Relying on instincts and eschewing the cerebral sounds dangerously mystical to me, a confirmed cynic. We rely on muscle memory to perform actions. Perhaps it follows that a certain amount of emotional memory might be required in the making of art, to draw upon a recollection of things felt.