Possibly it’s the sensory memory of playing in dirt as a child that makes this experience so delightful, but more likely I just love the feeling of mud squelching between my fingers.
Another habit was carrying around a large sketchbook, trying to imitate the beautiful nude paintings on my childhood home walls. There was something so much easier about not having to bother with drawing clothes and something alluring about the opportunity to explore the naked bod in such a permissible way – much to my grandmother’s disgust!
What began as an idea of something new to try for this column became an amazing combination of the two most gratifying occupations of my childhood, and a truly wonderful morning.
I am not the most confident when meeting new people and this became quite obvious to the darling woman who had so generously offered her time to me, so we started off with a good strong coffee and a chat to get the morning started. I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to get to know the remarkably talented Kay Bazzard, wizard of the human form.
Shortly after, feeling completely at ease and more than a little excited about the morning’s plan, I followed my tutor down through her garden to the studio. The surrounding trees and bush made it easy to feel inspired and I kept catching glimpses in the undergrowth of moss-covered works of art calling me over to discover their history.
Already having come to terms with the likelihood that my work would be abstract in style, and not for a moment thinking that I might actually be able to create something believable, I was thrown to discover that my morning mission would be sculpting a female torso.
With my clay in front of me, a lumpy tubular, thing, I felt as though I was at kindergarten with no idea where to begin. The starting point was a lesson in the skeletal structure of the human body, which I quickly came to see as being quite crucial in the process. As a result of this, and expert guidance, to my utter shock a lovely shape started to emerge.
After a while I felt something was a little off-balance, but standing back to see things in perspective I soon realised that being so generously endowed myself made the pert little boobs look out of place and unrealistic. The problem was easily fixed with a bit of extra clay and a gentle touch – a very gentle touch!
The naked female form is just so beautiful to me and I was completely entranced with the process; how when one really studies the form of a body part it becomes the same as any other.
One shoulder was looking as though it was suffering from some pretty severe muscle wastage, and although at first I had anticipated the need to be a lot freer with my interpretation, my competitive side was rearing its head and I could see by this time that I was creating something not too shabby. Realising that the proportions that felt the most right to me were my own was a heartening revelation. Although I have a penchant for the female form, this feeling doesn’t necessarily always extend to my own.
A little bit more clay, and more gentle touching and I was done. I couldn’t have imagined that I’d come away from this morning having made something that I loved, but I did.
I’m also grateful that the memories of things I loved as a child were awoken in me again. Everyone needs to remember the uncluttered pleasures of childhood.