This – ta dah – is Phi. Or rather a few parts of it… in the studio prior to the final coats of finish that gave it’s metallic sheen. I can’t show you much of a pic because it has yet to be displayed – as I would like it – in a place with good lighting. Soon…

Sculpture Phi 1


The media is plaster and the illusion of rusty cast iron the result of lots of layers of oil paint. Needless to say Phi was many months in the making. I was mighty chuffed at the opening night of the exhibition when I watched a visitor taking a glance around and then give it a little tap – obviously trying to find out what it was made of. I couln’t resist introducing myself and offering an explanation. It turned out that he was an exhibitor too – a metal piece – a real one – and he a qualified boiler maker. 🙂

The shape if it were fully assembled would be a rhombic triacontahedron. The rhombus is in the 5:8 or Golden Proportion – hence the name Phi.

Sculpture Phi 1 detail


Each of the rhombus was cast from a wooden mould which was laminated and carved – the tricky part being the 144° angles on the underside which when assembled form the triacontahedron. Accuracy was essential here – out by just a couple of degrees and Phi wouldn’t have worked.

Sculpture Phi 1 detail

Making plaster sculpture - cast piece


So why isn’t Phi fully assembled? The honest answer being that it simply became too heavy for me to lift and turn over after the first 16 pieces. I took a long coffee break and a good look before calling for assistance. I didn’t call. I decided that I liked Phi better in pieces. Five in all. The one large one and then four other smaller groups. I could leave the viewer to decide whether this was a ruin or something had hatched or a kit in making…

Making plaster sculpture


The comment from the judges recognised that:

This work presents us with an industrial, weighty tessellated broken shell, providing a sense of consipicuous absence in the space it once contained. The allusions of its manufacture are hard to place – at once gothic and alien, organic or artificial, an article of aggression or protection? A resonant work, well done.

I really can’t wish for more than that. It’s a huge encouragement to continue making work that I really love. And it seems to find viewers who either love it too or think it odd. My work is like that – it seems to evoke a response – rarely a middle ground blah. In a perfect world Phi would find a home other than mine at the end of this exhibition – but that I expect is asking too much. Weighing in at around 40kg in total and I think (I didn’t measure him yet) around half a metre across he doesn’t exactly fit on the average mantlepiece…


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