Oxmarket Open Sculpture Competition 2009 – Judge’s notes

The works I see selected for final exhibition have a real breadth. Technical competence and freshness is much in evidence. My considerations have been warmth and sensitivity, honest observation, true credit to the base materials used and the mass conveyed, along with rigour tempered by ambiguity. I make no apologies for the prizes going to the more raw clay works. Sculpture needs a fine balance between the artist’s intention, the base materials chosen and the subject, to affect us in some way. Where additional complexity is added, the sculptural form has to work even harder to live. The qualities of the glazed ceramics and wood carvings are also recognised and appreciated in their own right.
First prize sculpture
Warmth, naivety and sensitivity; balance and good tonal qualities in the work and base. All angles have visual interest. Rigour evident in the consideration of form, but not overworked. Uneven base/shadow weakens the mass and also draws attention to the feet, which for me are perhaps the least strong part of the composition. Will be interesting to see if works on larger scale will be as affecting. 

First prize 3D
Raw use of material. Light, fresh and exciting organic forms which would benefit from the ability to see the group properly in the round on a background with even more contrast. Will be interesting to see how three-dimensional experimentation progresses.

Second Prize
Subtle use of colour that doesn’t overpower the forms or the surface texture. All the elements work well individually and mass is evident in the complete forms. The group composition does not weaken and the tonal balance of all elements including the base is pleasing. Needs to be viewed at eye level and in the round.

Highly commended – wax and wane
Utilitarian in construction, but fresh, simple and with good balance of materials, forms, tone and colour. I’d like to see it displayed slightly higher, perhaps against a window.

Highly commended – ram’s head
A strong study. The glaze doesn’t undermine the hand of the artist and helps unite the diverse forms.

Highly commended – stone carving
Fine tonal balance, exquisite colour and contrast of base. Ambiguity and the occasional suggestion of figurative form; pleasing leanness in parts of the carving.

Highly commended – portrait head
Despite inconsistent patination, this head has emerged from honest observation and I feel there is some inner strength to it. It seems to live and I can forgive its weaknesses.

Oxmarket award
This work has potential for the future – the surface feels over shiny, but I feel that with 12 months weathering outside, it will improve greatly. It works well in the round as well as having some interesting ambiguities which one takes time to warm to.

Jon Edgar  March 2009