Jacob Chandler is one of the UK’s most exciting sculptors. He has exhibited around the world, in Moscow, Athens, New York, London and Philadelphia. Jacob was invited to exhibit at the RBSA at the age of 21, the youngest artist to be given this privilege. He works in a range of media, from chalks and paint to steel and bronze.
ART BLOG met up with Jacob at the recent Friends Exhibition, where his Poise and Elegance I was exhibited…
How did you get into sculpture?
I still recall the moment I realised I wanted to be an artist. It came at Gormley’s ‘Lost in Space’ exhibition at the Hayward, at that point art became alive for me.
The fact that art wasn’t just something to look at but something you could interact with, made it somehow more tangible.
I knew it was something I wanted to do.
My welding wasn’t the neatest but I could make beautiful structures and this naturally led me to look towards a career in architecture, in many ways sculpture on the grandest of scales.
I started my study at Birmingham City University but a few weeks into the course, I had several allergic reactions and was forced to defer study. I took a year out to pursue my career in art, and feedback from the art world gave me the drive to continue.
When the time came to reapply for the architecture course, I had built so much momentum and had developed such a passion for creating large metal sculptures that there was no option but to continue following my dream.
Did you grow up around art?
I’ve always had a passion for art and creating, it runs in the blood: my father is an award-winning product designer, my mother a woodworker and my eldest brother a film editor. As a result, I’ve grown up surrounded by the arts.
Right from the start, I was encouraged to develop and articulate my view point.
How do the great artists inform your work?
Knowing what I don’t like is as important as what I do in helping me to shape my pieces. Visiting a gallery is never a wasted experience if you take some emotion away.
Be it the beautifully undulating form of Henry Moore’s work, the movement captured in the sculptures of Giacometti or Boccioni or the angular work of Subirachs, in all art I am drawn to unique use of line.
The contrasting works of Naum Gabo, the brutal human form juxtaposed with flowing curves created by wires under tension, fascinates me.
This inspires me to push the boundaries of technology, embracing technology, be it optical scanning, 3D printing or laser cutting. The Futurists were influenced by advances in technology and I embrace it too, using processes that hitherto would have been unimaginable.
This liberates my work.
Tell us about your equine works. How do you capture motion and the essential essence of a horse?
Horses trouble me… they are peculiar. I didn’t realise this until I really started to study them properly. They are hugely powerful animals but their calves are disproportionally skinny.
At a young age I learned to ride, as one of my schoolmates had a pony. My respect for horses has grown ever since. Being based in Shropshire, I’m never too far from a field with a few horses.
Whenever I struggle, I go and spend some time in the field and try to get photos of the areas that are proving difficult.
I often find myself assuming the pose of a horse on my hands and feet. It can be a startling revelation when I realise that the fundamental bone and muscle structures are remarkably similar to that of man.
The whole rationale of my work is about movement, creating a dynamism by capturing fleeting moments and holding them in a forever-enduring structure.
Right through to the choice of materials, I try to capture this sense of movement, be it the rust forming on one of my large steel sculptures, or the chemical patination of the bronze work: both show the ability of the medium to change and ‘move’.
Studies of the anatomy helped shed light on the muscle structure of the animal. I have a book of Leonardo’s sketches that I love turning to at these times.
Emphasis and exaggeration of the most powerful muscles of the animal help to depict the forces at play. The hind quarters can become like coiled springs, waiting to power the animal forwards, in a surge of pent up energy. The front legs, which on initial inspection appear unable handle this power, move into huge shoulder and chest muscles.
I often consult with professional riders. Their insights direct me to subtleties and help me to become more familiar with the form. Constant modification and refinement go on; at times I will decapitate, take limbs off and fundamentally change the sculpture.
Eventually the form appears in a very definite way. It conveys the movement initially intended and the animal is clear.
Jacob Chandler is exhibiting at Fusion Gallery, Ironbridge, as part of the Secret Severn Arts Trail until 17 September.
My work focuses on the transient, capturing the most dramatic point of an action, the tipping point from one moment to the next, be it physical or mental. Ordinarily this fleeting change would be gone in the blink of an eye but to hold it forever in a solid yet ethereal design creates strong emotional impact. The use of metal, particularly steels such as corten, adds another dynamic to my work as the oxidisation means the surface is constantly changing.
Being self taught has allowed me to gain mentorship from artists and sculptors across the country, who have successful full time careers. It has also given me the opportunity to forge working relationships with leading industry experts in metal fabrication, computer aided design and manufacture and galleries. This informs my practice in a direct and dynamic way as when new technologies become available I am best placed to capitalise on the new artistic freedom they provide.