There was a time when the idea of starting sculpture did not even cross my mind. Yet, I will tell you how that experience allowed me to reconnect to myself.
The idea of sculpting came to me overnight, one evening of 2017. During a dinner, my friend Victoria showed me several sculptures that she had exhibited few days before. While I was observing them and touching them, I thought the practice seemed nice and that me too, I wished I could do that. Coincidence said that the next day, she had a practice session and she proposed me to come so that I could discover the activity. Why bothering to wait for an other time? Let’s do it!
So, on the day of the initiation, I arrived at the workshop, a kind of big shed formerly sheltering the firefighters of the city. There, I found my other friends of Belfort, Federica and Eleonora, and I met a dozen of regular sculpture enthusiasts.
After the usual presentations, I started a first work that I chose in browsing a folder with few models. I was not so inspired, but I found that the hedgehog was quite cute. The model was a simple sketch, but it was good enough to help me imagine the hedgehog that I wanted to shape. Then, I had to choose the material on which I wanted to work. I chose the clay.
After getting some tools, I could start kneading the clay and then I started the modelling. This work was similar to what you did when you were kid, while you were kneading the playing modelling clay. The only difference with childhood was that I was more aware of what I was doing. Kneading the clay and focusing to shape the body of the hedgehog was a genuine breath of fresh air for me.
I remember, we were an evening of November 2017 (Tuesday the 21st precisely). At that time, I was insanely (and unconsciously) working, finishing most of the days between 7 and 8pm. Moreover, I spent my days to manage plannings, perform computer aided calculations, drive meetings with suppliers or colleagues from around the world. The life at the office was very exciting, I was passionate, but I spent the most of my time to speak, convince, think about solutions which involved a huge number of stakeholders, answer questions, write e-mails and most of all, I was multitasking. Apart during the lunches, my brain was continuously boiling.
And all of a sudden, I stood in a brand new environment, without busyness or technologies, in front of a wooden table. The sensation was incredible. I found myself alone in front of my piece of clay, trying somehow to shape the head of my hedgehog.
All of a sudden, there was no more urgencies, no more people who requested me a task, no more e-mails, I was all by myself in my bubble and my little pile of clay, without any disturbance from the outside world. And it was kind of a relief! I think there was noise around me, but I did not hear anything anymore. I rediscovered the sensations of being in contact with the cold earth and its texture. My mind was appeased and my hands came back to life. I could navigate along my creativity, I thought about nothing but that piece of earth and how I would reproduce the spikes of the hedgehog.
Those few months of initiation to sculpture allowed me to reconnect to essential things. That is how I could find myself back, very focused on a unique task, allowing me to create my bubble with my piece of earth to which I tried to give life. What a happiness it was to knead and to leave the flow of imagination; I felt like anchored in something natural and true. A little bubble of oxygen which enabled a total reconnection, after a long day of work where things were totally crazy at the office.
Doing sculpture was like rediscovering the amazement and the taste for simplicity through the art. The taste to be anchored in the present moment. The taste to be able to realize that slowing down was a possibility, a right, almost a duty in a world that never stops and that is oppressing with all the stress generated by the daily tumult. It is ultimately the taste to concentrate and to have a mind focused on a noble material, directly originating from the nature – the earth – allowing a total reconnection to ourselves.
On the left, the thinker shaped by some sort of balls. On the right, the thinker with a shaped face (before it lost his face).
Below, my collection of sculptures (except the monk which is the work of Federica).
For more examples, you can have a look at the album, gathering some photos of the exhibition in Valdoie (France), with the contribution of the members of the Val d’Oye association: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmwq3mDb
I thank here all the members of the association for their teachings and advise all along that great initiation. Techniques and adjustments, which guided me along my work, and which contributed to the feeling of amazement that I felt all along that road.