Article by: Dave Roberts - First Published: 21 March 2011
Crown is a 6' 6" figurative sculpture by Faith Bebbington, constructed of stone on resin. The piece was commissioned in 2002 by Nuffield Hospital (now Nuffield Health) to commemorate the opening of their hospital at 2 Leighton Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3EB. It is mounted on a circular brick roundabout outside of the main front entrance to the hospital.
Faith Bebbington: Bio:
BA Hons Degree in Fine Art Sculpture from Winchester School of Art in 1986.
Postgraduate Teaching Certificate in Art from Liverpool John Moores University 1992.
Member of Bridewell Studios, Liverpool & Black Arts Alliance, Manchester.
Faith Bebbington has been established as a professional sculptor since 1994. Based in Merseyside she has a studio in Liverpool, and works mostly in the North West of England but exhibits nationally.
Crown by Faith Bebbington
A stone resin piece which at first glance you could be forgiven for thinking of it as a symmetric work reflective of the location - it adorns a circular brick structure outside of the front entrance to the Nuffield Hospital, Leeds. However, it is far from symmetric, each of the four figures are unique, being individually hand crafted using metal armature, resin and stone.
Faith Bebbington's Crown was originally inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's iconic image: The Vitruvian Man: 'Man inside a square inside a circle'. The commissioner wanted a bold piece with impact and also promoting good health. Leonardo's drawing is traditionally named in honour of the architect and is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry.
The piece is indeed a bold and powerful figurative sculpture which for reasons of their own, the Nuffield Hospital have called it 'The Human Spirit'. A plaque is attached to the brick mount gives this name, it also includes a spelling error: (By Faith Babbington). This highlights one of the main reasons for recording and archiving these public exhibits of fine art which we have undertaken. To some extent we are not only providing greater awareness and access to these outstanding objects of art, we are also where possible setting the record straight.
Faith Bebbington has developed her own method of making resin sculpture over many years. Coating with resin allows for greater flexibility to create permanent sculpture without compromising the chosen pose due to technical limitations.
The works are not cast from an original but are made as follows:
A basic metal 'armature' or framework is welded together then packed and padded out with various materials ( E.g. Newspaper & Cardboard) to create the final shape of the figure. The piece is not hollow but packed solid to ensure strength.
Then a first layer of fibreglass matting or strands with clear resin is applied all over the piece and left to go off for 24 hours.
This layer is then sanded smooth before a second layer is added. This coating includes fibreglass resin mixed with stone, metal or colour powders. After hardening again for 24 hours this layer is sanded smooth.
The third and fourth layers are brushed on using clear resin to protect the coloured layers below and ensure the details are prominent.
After hardening and sanding repeatedly the piece is complete.
Depending on the overall scale of the piece and the size of any flat areas the coating method is adapted slightly. The coating can be between 50 - 200mm thick.
Faith says "I like to invent characters for my figurative sculptures such as superheroes or prima donna's. My work has been inspired recently by 'free-running' an exciting sport involving running and climbing all over urban buildings and structures. With Spiderman overtones my dynamic figures cling to the wall like something you see out of the corner of your eye! Freezing a process of movement - such as climbing, sliding, crawling, stretching.
"My suspended and wall mounted work concentrates on making patterns by repeating a figure or grouping figures in space. I also mount figures on poles and revisit this way of working regularly.
"My freestanding sculptures tend to be extrovert 'performers' full of drama and theatricality. Figures pose precariously on tiptoe, highlighting issues of balance. I enjoy the challenge of creating pieces for unusual or awkward spaces and sites. My sculptures are purposely universal with genderless figures set in space, so the viewer focuses on the action or movement of the figure, rather than small details.
"I often use a metallic, sometimes reflective surface to increase the fluidity of a piece. Working with fibreglass gives me the freedom to achieve positions that wouldn't be possible in traditional materials such as wood or stone. Coating an armature or casting from an original means works are suitable for both interior and outdoor settings."
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