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Image: Lucia Hierro - El Costo de la Vida -Independent Art Fair - LatchKey Gallery

Sam Tufnell Artist Statement: My workspace is more like a factory than an atelier. I order materials from the same steel supplier as a construction worker, use the same tools as a mechanic. The steel sculptor must find a way to carve individuality out of the uniformity inherent in the medium. I conceive each of my sculptures within a particular room or landscape. I think in terms of ‘life-size’ rather than a monumental scale and in specific materials, rather than concepts. In each work, I seek the discovery and presence of the everyday rather than the announcement of the extraneous and overwhelming. 

I began my work with trees and roses because I was concerned with getting away from abstraction and minimalism. I want to mold the cold rigidity of industrial steel into something mortal and romantic, conveying a sense of loss. My work is as much about the delicacy of industry as the mortality of nature — the technical challenge is to make steel appear fragile without sacrificing structural integrity. The steel arrives in flat sheets and lengths and is formed into three dimensions. The roses and leaves are a planar exercise, whereas the branch and stem are linear, like line drawings. I enjoy this factory-like process and the conflict of trying to convey human experience through a regimented, more impersonal, assembly line system. 

Similarly, casting and mold making are also mechanical, replicative, processes. Traditionally, sculptors first rendered their work in clay or wax, and then made a mold before creating a more permanent casting in stone or bronze. Contrarily, I do not sculpt or model an original and prefer to use ‘ready-made’ pieces to make castings. Most of the items I cast are bought at the super market and I have chosen objects that are easily identifiable. Pop art and still life painting have always fascinated me and I am interested in creating sculpture that draws on pictorial composition. Very often, a sculpture is a singular object; I would like to create work that conveys the relationship between objects much as in painting.