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Morgan Shimeld challenges Structure and Form

A recent exhibition by Sydney-based sculptor Morgan Shimeld challenges the way we look at structure and form. Stephen Lacey writes.

 

Stepping in to the Defiance Gallery for the Morgan Shimeld sculpture exhibition, the first thing that strikes you is how strikingly heroic his pieces are, regardless of their size. And with the smallest work standing just 30cm tall, achieving such an air of monumentality is certainly an achievement.

Shimeld has become one of Sydney’s most well respected artists, and his talent for bronze casting are often in demand from other sculptors. This is surprising when you consider he graduated from Sydney College of the Arts in 2000, majoring not in metal, but in glass.

“The glass has had an influence in the work that I’m doing now,” Shimeld explains. “Because when working with glass I was also working with solid forms that were quite grounded and had that monumental sense.”

 
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Shimeld decided to move away from using glass when he realised he could express the same heroic forms in metal, so he began tracing the forms of his glass pieces in mild steel wire, usually finished with a powder coating.

His initial pieces were quite linear and heavily influenced by modernist architecture and pure minimal form. In fact some of his wire pieces have been likened to the work of fellow modernist sculptor, Robert Owen; such as for example Owen’s New Constellation 2009, hanging in the MLC Centre, Sydney.

“I only recently discovered those pieces at the MLC,” Shimeld says. “And while they are certainly similar to my work, I think Owen’s work is a bit more fluid and a bit more open, while I concentrate on tracing the three-dimensional form.”

 
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In 2007, Shimeld held his first solo exhibition at the Brenda May Gallery. And last year he was one of the finalists of Sculpture by the Sea with Triplex; a tumbling 2.3 metre steel in Yves Klein blue. His work can be found in Artbank Australia and is included in numerous private collections.

Shimeld works out of a small studio in Sydney’s Alexandria. Generally speaking his work is characterised by attention to structure and form, realised in cast, welded and fabricated steel and bronze. “I love working in bronze; it has a wonderful warmth about it and the colour variations are fantastic,” he says.

Through applying heat to the exterior of the bronze, along with a water-based chemical solution, Shimeld is able to achieve a variety of coloured finishes (patina). Pieces in the current exhibition range through black, gold and silver nitrate. “I avoid shiny, glossy finishes; I like the way that light is sucked into the matt surface.”

 
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MORGAN SHIMELD Sculpture exhibited until March 7 at Defiance Gallery, 47 Enmore Road, Newtown.
Gallery hours Wed-Sat 11-5 Ph: (02) 9557 8483 defiancegallery.com

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