Category Archives: Sculpture

Leonardo Da Vinci: The Perfect Human Body

After watching a short documentary called ‘The Beauty of Diagrams: Vitruvian Man’ presented by Professor Marcus du Sautoy, I have discovered that the aim of the Vitruvian Man diagram by Leonardo Da Vinci was not just a beautiful drawing but it was to show through science and art the perfection of the human body.

Da Vinci came from a small Tuscan village who constantly travelled like most artists. He worked in many places such as Florence, Mulan and Venice. It is hard to define what he was exactly. Was he an artist? Musician? Botanist? Anatomist? Engineer? Architect? Turns out he was all of these things. He painted the iconic Mona Lisa, designed military hardware and was the first artist to cut open a human body, dissect and draw human organs and bones. He possessed a strong thirst for knowledge: feet, skulls, and hands, hearts, and lungs, muscles, and sinews, buildings, bridges, and machines. He obsessively dissected, drew and examined like no other artist had done before. For him science and art were one. His aim for dissecting and drawing the body obsessively was to find the perfect geometric proportions that ruled the natural world – and God’s greatest creations was man himself.

Da Vinci: ‘Man is the model of the world’


There are so many meanings to the Vitruvian Man diagram. Yes it is about the body and human anatomy but as you look in depth you can see mathematics and geometry. It is in fact a solution to an early arch itectural problem. The problem, about buildings and mans’ proportions. Other artists in the past tried but failed. Da Vinci’s diagram is one which conveys that man is the ideal geometric model for architecture.

Da Vinci’s inspirations came from the classical works on architecture by the Roman writer Vitruvius. Vitruvius said ‘For any building to be beautiful it must have perfect symmetry and proportions like those found in nature’, thus, resulted in Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

The task laid down by Vitruvius was to position a man on his back with arms stretched out and have his fingers and toes touch the circle’s circumference pinpointed on the mans naval and also to plac e the same man inside a square. When observing the Vitruvian Man you can see lines situated on certain places the body. These lines represent the different proportions that the body possess. For example: four fingers make up a palm, six palms make up the distance from the top of the finger to the elbow, then four times the distance from finger to elbow makes up the height of the man. The diagram indicates the proportions of the human body and its link to architecture.

But what does the circle and square mean? They were seen as perfect shapes in nature in the Renaissance. They were also important to Vitruvius. He thought temples were the perfect buildings as they were a close link to God. A square formed the floor and the circle – the dome.

At last, the final layer – movement – captured in Da Vinci’s diagram by the man’s unique double pose. Martin Kemp and graphic designer Steve Maher collaborated and took the task in exploring movement to create an animation. The idea was based upon Da Vinci’s drawings as he sketches sequences poses and a single drawing captures the feeling of movement. He analysed movement like animators would do to understand how beings move. However, Da Vinci did not have the tools to create movement out of his drawings, thus created series of them.

There is a sculpture of the Vitruvian Man in London’s Belgrave Square which captures the diagrams 3D potential. This proves how iconic Da Vinci’s drawing has become. For me, it is not as effective as Da Vinci’s diagram – it looks like there are two men merged together rather than the one man in motion. However it is striking to the eye through its large scale.

I personally can’t think of any other diagram which has had so much publicity and success. The Vitruvian Man has been given a lot of iconic treatment. His drawings are very popular with today’s artists, thus, I think will truly remain an iconic and remembered piece of art for many years to come.

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Anton Cepka

Ok so I here a violin being played downstairs and it is making me feel like wanting to take it up again. But to distract my sorrows I have been reading about a very interesting jeweller relating to my present project which I will explain in a future post.

Anton Cepka (1936) is a representative of Slovak jewellery design and graduated from Secondary Schools of Arts & Crafts, Bratislava and from the Academy of Arts & Crafts in Prague.

In 1990, the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava is where Cepka established the metal & jewellery studio. That year, he became a co-founding member and the chairman of the Association of Jewellery Designers AURA. He worked as an associate professor at the Academy for 6 years.

“I have always employed my special artistic language, the geometric constuction, that is never-ending inspiration for me. I have always worked in silver. I believe that silver is a material I know very intimately and I have learnt to work with. By working with silver, I demonstrate my respect for it. It is the material that can return what I put into it”

Cepka’s jewellery is complex in construction, I believe his work is absolutely for displaying and looking at the different stuctures of each piece. You can tell that Cepka clearly enjoys making his pieces, especially with silver, they are expressly made.

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Make Things/Makes Sense

Our lecture on friday was held by Hazel White, who was previously a Jewellery & Metal Design student of Dundee and now runs the Masters programme there. She explained that once you put a piece of jewellery on it should say something about you – your IDENTITY. It changes how other people look and behave around you. It creates an EFFECT.

She then began talking about one of her designs called the ‘Second Wedding Ring’. The piece consisted of two rings which were attatched together with a smaller ring. She asked us what messages this piece gave out. Replies came back with: ‘been previously married?’, ‘partnership?’, however the real story is very straightforward: they married with a bought ring then White decided to make her own but instead of throwing away the original ring they joint them together.

In my opinion, this clearly conveys how people can interpret things differently, but did not interpret the simplest of messages – thus is ambiguous. The ambiguity is also unleashed in the title of the piece “Second Wedding Ring” which is something a jeweller might want to do. On the other hand, some jewellers may definately not want to do this. This is because if it is published in a newspaper and the wrong message is sent out public, it would be a catastrophe! Not only for the piece but for yourself as you wouldn’t want to live a lie all your life.

White then went to talk about body adornment – fastening things to the body. She had done a piece which there were small conal fixtures screwed into the vertabrae and exposed sticking out of the skin. She then thought ‘what if a wedding ring was a permanent fixture to the finger?’ – thus making a screwed fixture into the bone of the ring finger. She said it would be a metaphor for marraige, make the couple unable to separate. Sad.









I like this idea of body distortion and adornment, it reminds me of how people get inplants in their cheeks to look like cats or pointy ears to look like a pixie. It allows you to change your look. However it can go wrong or you  may not like it and it is difficult to fix eg. Michael Jackson. White’s idea of a permanent fixture for a wedding ring I do not approve of as what if your husband/wife is being the one cheating on you? Then you would have to live with this cheating lie on your finger that would be extremely not just painful but dangerous to get removed! All that for a person you hate? No thanks. Just use surgical glue to stick things on!

My last point is when White talked about creating a piece of jewellery which had a secret life of it’s own – it moved about the body. For example, when people do not like to be disturbed. Coud you act out that you have been disturbed? Her example was a flock of birds would fly away creating noise to emphasise the annoyance of being disturbed. Yes this is a smart and witty idea great for animation or video but jewellery? Where does that come in? Maybe the noise in a jewellery piece would work.

Karin Kortenhorst

Karin Kortenhorst is a Dutch designer and makes mainly wire jewellery and head garments. Her pieces are made for all parts of the body. She makes use of volume, scale and form. They appear large, bulky and heavy yet they are completely the opposite when worn – they are actually light, dainty and transparent.

(Crown – copper wire and wooden beads)

In my opinion, this piece captures the idea of protection through the way of enclosing the figure with the wire as if gaurding her from danger. The piece looks so delicate with the intricate structures however this fragility contrasts to the bulbous, heavy-looking forms hanging from the wire structures which is effective in portraying more visual impact and creates an illusion which is that the piece looks stronger than it actually is.

(Air Ornament – aluminium staff, kitefoil)

I like the distorted form in this piece, it changes the whole shape of the human figure. This is definately not a piece you would go on a night out in! I think this is more like sculpture and the shear volume makes this piece for me.

(Blue Crown – coated metal wire)

This piece really encapsulates Kortenhorsts love for wire. The layering and skill into creating this amazing form! She has made it look nest-inpired as the wire actually looks like twine tangled together.

(Turtleneck – twine, metal wire)

This piece, to me, looks like a high-fashion piece. I could see this on a fashion runway and being modelled. I can’t believe how thick the wire is that she knitted!


Rebecca Barton and Kate MccGwire

Rebecca Barton is a jeweller born in Alton, Illinois in 1985. She focusses mainly on plants in her work to symbolically illustrate a state of being. I love looking at her jewellery. Barton really emphasises the true beauty and vulnerability of nature through intricate details and detailed portrayals.  I like her use of colour as it creates visual interest and stands out on the wearer.

“deals with a plant that has been uprooted and is therefore vulnerable,” she says. “However, the emotion of the flytrap is one of seduction in order to attract and allure prey; prey that it will use for nourishment and strength.”

(Trapped Neckpiece)


Kate MccGwire is a little different to Barton. MccGwire was born in Norwich, 1964, the majority of her work is sculpture. She gathers materials from various sources over a period of months, even years. I look in awe at her pieces. She works great with feathers and layer them till they produce lovely flowing, sensuous forms. The viewers’ eye is drawn into the work through the use of continuous rhythmic shapes and the use of unusual material which some observers may find a little disturbing.

as  illustr

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First Year Jewellery Block

We were allowed to choose 2 two week blocks at the end of First Year. I chose Jewellery as my first block.

We were told to go out and look at form, line etc, working in our sketchbooks. Initially I drew architecture and statues but didn’t find inspiration. So I looked outside windows and saw ivy growing on walls. Thus took nature as my inspiration. I created little 3D paper models and stuck them in my sketchbook.

(small dried flowers)

(under part of pine cone)

(Small paper models inspired from drawings)

My drawings of the pine cone reminded me of bird beaks, thus made me immediately think of making a bird nest. I used ivy (as I’d been drawing it previously) and began wrapping it into a bowl/nest shape. I wanted to incorperate a contrast of materials as it creates visual interest. Using wire, I wrapped it round parts of the vines of the nest, it was a nice contrast of textural wood against a shiny surface which captures your eye. The paper beak models were then placed into the centre of the nest as if they were little chicks tweeting for food.



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Vessel Project

Yay! Just been spending four weeks on my vessel project. The brief was to create a vessel out of metal using at least one texture. We had to make at least 10 metal samples by the end of the first week.  My vessel relates to the vessels inside your body. Blood vessels. I actually bought a heart from the butcher to dissect, photograph and sketch from. Very interesting… I’m terribly squeemish as well! I focussed on the textures and shapes. There is a type of vessel in the heart called the mitral valve, it is a dual-flap which controls the flow of blood in and out of the heart. There are tiny branch-like tendons attached to the flap. I took sketches of this valve and developed them as I liked the delicate and intricate lines the tendons possessed.




I then thought of how the heart is surrounded and protected by a rib cage and lungs. The lungs have intricate tree-like bronchioles that look delicate and fragile. I wanted to convey this idea of ‘protection’ and ‘fragility’ in my piece.



So for my final piece I wanted to enclose the heart in some kind of cage. A lung cage. I saw pierced four flaps of copper – took ages! Oxidised the flaps and sprayed clear laquer. For the heart pendant I fly pressed a small heart, hammered it to create more texture, oxidised it, rubbed red acrylic paint into it and sprayed clear laquer to make it all shiny.

There is one hinged flap which makes it easier to take out the pendant inside. The cords are red and blue for a reason – because in biology books and pictures for organs etc they colour code  the vein and artery so you don’t get confused. The veins are coded blue and the arteries – red.

(Above picture: with the flap hinged close – protected)

I also like the shadows the cage produce, creating more visual impact.

I really enjoyed this project, it let us experiment on different materials and techniques. We learnt how to hinge, score, oxidise and much more through a series of work shop tutorials. I am pleased with my final piece as it makes viewers aware that our hearts are important to us. We need to keep it healthy and ‘protect’ it from bad foods and substances. If we didn’t no blood would be pumped throughout our body’s thus the cells would get no oxygen and we’d die.





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Visual Journey

For this project we were told to take photos, collect objects and sketch things we get inspired by. Somehow we had to try and link (or find a link) between all our findings (photos, objects etc). It took me a while to actually find something which linked together. I came upon a small abandoned house. In the garden I found objects. Weird objects. Questions began to arise. What kind of people lived in this house? Why did they move out?

I took these odd objects back to the studio and decided to put my own ideas as to why this house was abandoned. Making it personal. However for some of the objects I asked other pupils what they would relate to that particular finding. Some opinions were suprising. For instance, one of the objects was a small bottle of ‘head cleaning fluid’. Any ideas as to what that might be? Yes, some people did relate it to fluid which cleans the inside of a printer, yet some people suggested topics like sex and underage pregnancy. I was open to all suggestions. To convey this through into my narration of the house I cut out words from newspapers, magazines, etc, and  glued them onto polystyrene balls – as if it were a ‘bubble’ of words. At the back of the house there was shattered glass everywhere – maybe relating to aggression or even abuse? To make all these objects relate to the house I nailed blue rope to the front door (contrasting to the red), tied the found object to each rope and finally attaching the individual ‘bubbles’ along with the object it related to. Overall, I believe this installation is not only interesting to look at but tells a story about a house which has been left empty for some time now.

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Paper, Tone and Scissors

For this Paper project the brief was to create a piece made from only paper. You could use scissors and glue etc. To find inspiration a few friends and I drove to the Dundee Botanic Gardens and took sketchbooks and cameras. I was interested in the drooping forms, tangled vines and dangling tree branches. When we got back to college I immediately started sketching ideas and developing them. We didn’t have a lot of time so I went straight to finalising and making my piece. I got hold of a shredder and shredded bag fulls of the paper. I bundled lots of strips together and tied them with invisible thread and hung each bundle from a wire frame attached high to the ceiling to create the drooping and dangling relating from my sketches. I repeated this process until I had established a mass of  paper. This is how it would capture the viewers attention – through quantity. Whilst I was at the botanic gardens there was a slight breeze, the rustling of the leaves from the trees. To achieve this atmosphere I placed a fan adjacent to my piece, thus, creating a light breeze which stirred the paper achieving the noise from rustling trees.

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The Rainbow Fish

For this 2 week project our brief was to find a book which hadn’t yet been changed into a film and create a piece from it. We worked in pairs. My friend and I chose the book ‘The Rainbow Fish’ – a favourite children’s book. We decided to choose choose the two main characters in the book and create a piece inspired from them. My piece is based on the friendly octopus who gives the Rainbow Fish advice. We first had to draw out a storyboard, work out ideas and research in out sketchbooks then eventually create our final pieces.

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