Artist's mythical animal sculptures are chimeras of the imagination

Ellen Jewett
© Ellen Jewett

One of the constants of nature is change. You can see it in the transformational life of plants, the seasons, and in the never-ending cycles of life flowing into death and back again. Created with clay, polymers and glass, these ephemeral sculptures of animals by Canadian artist Ellen Jewett captivate the beholder with various stages of unexpected transformation.

© Ellen Jewett

Jewett, whose experiences with anthropology, medical illustration and exotic animals are integrated into her magical, hybrid creatures, explains the themes behind her work:

I seek to achieve flow states while working to create a fluid progression of unconscious imagery. That imagery, as manifest in tiny ephemeral shapes and beings, forms relationships and dialogues organically. In the spirit of surrealism, this psychological approach to artistic expression creates a rich network of personal archetypes and motifs that appear to occupy their own otherworldly space. Within this ethereal menagerie, anthrozoology meets psychoanalysis as themes of natural beauty, curiosity, colonialism, domestication, death, growth, visibility and wildness are explored.

© Ellen Jewett
© Ellen Jewett

Powerful, subconscious archetypes seem to flow breezily around and through these seemingly ever-changing forms: a sacred crown of antlers emerges as a flowery outgrowth; a snail's shell becomes a bird; a ghostly fox ponders itself; there's a re-interpretation of home as it's carried on fur and shell.

© Ellen Jewett
© Ellen Jewett
© Ellen Jewett
© Ellen Jewett

Added on layer by layer, the meticulous, hand-wrought filigrees of Jewett's works evokes a strong illustrative aesthetic, almost as if these pieces come straight out of a storybook, encapsulating some wild, mythic essence that's timeless yet new.

© Ellen Jewett

But there is no perfection sought: Jewett intentionally leaves traces of her fingerprints to keep a trace of their creatrix; she also uses no toxic glazes or finishes. For Jewett, the aim is to dematerialize form into its barest, suggestive essentials, while keeping their spirit, as she explains: "I find my sculptures are evolving to be of greater emotional presence by using less physical substance."

© Ellen Jewett

Drawing the viewer into a world where all life is expressed as flux, these otherworldly creatures are of nature, yet they also seem to come to life in that mysterious, eternal space between imagination and reality. Lovely stuff, more over at Ellen Jewett.

Tags: Artists | Arts

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