I don’t know if I’m a modeller or a carver or a constructor, or whether I need to limit myself to those concepts, although I do appreciate all the formative ways through which sculpture comes about. Paul Selwood
Born in 1946, Paul lives and works in Wollombi in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. His long, successful career is continuing to define him as one of Australian sculpture’s most respected senior figures.
A former student of Lyndon Dadswell, Selwood attended the East Sydney Technical College (1964-65) briefly before leaving Australia to travel and work overseas. During his early twenties he spent most of his time in London, with intermittent trips across Europe.
In London, Selwood worked as a Technical Assistant at the Royal College of Art, England (1965-68), while there he observed much, worked on his own sculpture and also worked for Sir Anthony Caro. He also made connections with students and lecturers at the St. Martin’s School of Art, London, often attending seminars and discussion groups. Like many young Australian sculptors the philosophies of Caro and St. Martin’s School of Art engaged Selwood and stayed with him throughout his career. Selwood also taught sculpture at the Bath Academy of Art from 1969 until he returned to Australia in 1971.
Over the next two decades Selwood took up various teaching positions in New South Wales and Queensland, including several semesters at the National Art School (NAS) in Sydney. In the mid 1980’s he purchased some land two hours north of Sydney in Wollombi, NSW and established a studio and his own sculpture park where he has lived and worked ever since.
Selwood’s way of working, like many artists, is dominated by intuitive decisions based around material, space and practicality. Many works begin life as sketches on paper or a sheet of steel. If an idea is ripe, Selwood will often work the paper into a maquette. The composition of planes and volumes in his sculptures form discussions between each other, discussions about positive and negative space, surface and form. Spring blossom (2003) (featured right and in HEAVY METAL: Sculpture from the Permanent Collection) is an excellent example of Selwood's unique approach to exploring material, form and surface.
His first experience with metal was in the mid 1960’s in Greece while he worked carving marble in the Lit Nitus Marble Quarries. He came into contact with blacksmithing practices through necessity as the carvers would reshape and sharpen their own tools. Once back in England, Selwood would pursue welding and fabricating techniques and begin working in metal.
Since 1971 Selwood has had over twenty-six solo exhibitions and has been included in numerous Group Exhibitions. He has received many awards for his sculpture including the winner of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi in 2011 and the prestigious Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize the same year. In 2007 Selwood was selected in the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Hill End Artists in Residence Program.
Paul Selwood’s sculptures can be found in many regional galleries and private collections in Australia. He has been represented by Watters Gallery in Sydney since 1972.
Examine the surface of Spring blossom (2003) (featured above and in this exhibition) and discuss what was used to ‘draw on’ the metal. Collect several different materials from around the school and home, both manmade and natural, and use a crayon to draw on the surface. Which material has the most interesting surface to work on?
Why do you think the sculpture displayed above is called Spring blossom?
Research other sculptors who use corrugated iron.
I don’t know if I’m a modeller or a carver or a constructor, or whether I need to limit myself to those concepts, although I do appreciate all the formative ways through which sculpture comes about. Paul Selwood. Discuss the other formative processes which can be used to create sculpture.
Visit Selwood’s page on the Watters Gallery website and compare his past and current work to Spring blossom (displayed above). Discuss how Spring blossom fits or does not fit into Selwood’s body of work.
IMAGES: Portrait: Artist Paul Selwood with his piece Transfigured Night. Photo: Lannon Harley. Paul Selwood Spring blossom 2003. flattened corrugated iron with crayon. 18 x 14 x 17 cm. Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Small Sculpture Collection Purchase. Photo: Clare Lewis. Paul Selwood Slopes and Tablelands 2007. painted steel. 67 x 64 x 12 cm. Gift of Mrs Penny Coleing under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Photo: Clare Lewis