Artist Martin Pierce creates larger-than-life bronze fantasy sculpture. See more of his captivating portfolio by visiting his website.
I do not recall a time when I was not obsessed with nature.
As a young boy I was a poor student, preferring to look out of the classroom window at birds and squirrels than at books. Thankfully, my basic education did include a woodworking class where I learned simple carving techniques and began to think and draw three-dimensionally.
When I was 16, my father, realizing my talents were more practical than academic, helped me find a position as an apprentice woodcarver at a furniture restoration company. This was my only formal training, but it taught me to be an efficient sculptor.
Sharing my father’s sense of independence, at age 21 I started my own business sculpting innumerable owls, squirrels and other critters commissioned by local patrons.
I met my future wife, Anne, when I was 23 and we travelled to Sussex in southern England where she attended university. The move south was pivotal as it introduced me to a variety of artists, academics and one etymologist.
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I also began reading fiction and was immersed in the fantasy writings and alternative worlds as seen through the eyes of monsters, hut dwellers and seagulls in books like “Grendell” by John Gardner, the “Titus Groan” trilogy by Mervyn Peake and “Johnathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach.
All of these influences aided in the growth of my imagination. I began sculpting abstract themes and insects, the latter portrayed as larger than life to better show their beautiful mechanical elements and texture. These sculptures formed part of an exhibition at the Portal Gallery, London, a gallery known for embracing artists who lacked formal training.
In order to grow as an artist during the 1980’s, one needed connections and education to open doors. Finding this stifling, Anne and I moved to Los Angeles. At first, we began focusing on creating four different furniture collections which incorporated textured plants formed in gesso and small bronze plants for use as cabinet handles.
In 1999 I entered the casting world and began designing and casting functional art (also known as door hardware) in silicon, bronze and stainless steel. While my eclectic door hardware continues to occupy much of my creative time, it has allowed me to dig deep into lost wax casting. As I now make my own molds and produce wax replicas, I have greater flexibility to make changes to a piece up to the final stage when it is shelled and cast.
The end result is a collection of sculptures on an evolving journey into a fictional world of insects and insectivorous humans with the occasional bird acting as observer and judge. These fantasy creatures exist in a world of distorted mangroves, tree bark and mushrooms where texture and contrast are central.
I like to group these pieces together to tell a story, and am currently sculpting a collection for an insect race where a raven will judge the finalists. As this is a work in progress, I expect the characters and story will take many twists and turns.
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