Free Research: the Hole in Sculpture

Every so often I free wheel through the internet, stopping to investigate new makers. new galleries, new works.  Sometimes, like to today, it turns into an exciting voyage of discovery. Spontaneous holes have appeared in my new maquettes, so I started looking at holes to use them in a more considered way. ‘The hole’ lead me to the several interesting finds, the first being Mari-Ruth Oda.

Mari-Ruth Oda

Oda is Japanese and studied 3D Design at MMU. Her studio is in Manchester, where she works in ceramic and Jesmonite:


I was intitially interested in her Barbara Hepworth-like pieces and those resembling bones.  But I also love her other work.  Repetition, square tiles contrasting with natural form, subdued and cool colour, quiet and contemplative:


One of the possible Maquette challenges for Day 5 was to investigate intersecting shapes a la Oughtibridge, so I was interested in Oda’s early work:

I love the grey pieces with the intersecting forms.

Moving on….. 

Mari-Ruth Oda to a selection of mid to late 20th century sculptors working in stone, my favourite being Antoine Pencot.  I’ll come back to Monsieur Pencot in a minute.  He led me to Paolo Scheggi, who is more relevant at the moment.

Paolo Scheggi

The relationship between Oda and Scheggi is obvious.  Scheggi was an Italian artist who died tragically young. He foregrounded the canvas, turning the painting into an art object by layering 3 canvases or boards, painted with a single colour of acrylic and incised with intercepting holes.  I’m more interested in his earlier work, the “Intersuperfici”  seiries, which have organic forms and unstructured arrangement.


As the 60s progressed, his work focused on the circle, geometry, repetition, progression and grid arrangement in his “Strutture Modulari” series, presumably in response to Pop Art and Minimalism:


I love the colours of his work, and think his process of layering would be very interesting to explore in clay. Excited to have a go and see what happens.

Antoine Poncet

Now 89 and still working (hope for me yet!) the Swiss sculptor, Poncet was an important figure in post-war European sculpture.

Holes were the intention, but once again, there’s so much to appreciate. 360 degree interest, holes that are an integral part of the form – negative space, positive formal contribution. Sabine Classen says she plays with the concave and convex elements of the form, and this is very evident in Poncet’s work. My preference is for holes that are an integral part of the form, rather than ‘just holes’ – negatives it would be impossible to fill without changing the form of the positive. Another thing I enjoy in Poncet’s work, appart from his amazing sense of form, is his attention to edges.  Great edges!

A good day’s research.  Looking forward to our trip to Hepworth Wakefield, to visit Barbara and Henry.  The featured image is The earliest of Barbara Hepworth’s Pierced Forms I have found, 1932. 1932 was dubbed ‘the year of the hole’ by Moore, although Hepworth created her first pierced work in 1931. At the time she was still making abstracted figurative works, many featuring mother and child.  Isn’t this a child being born?

Barbara Hepworth Pierced Form 1932


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