Jenny Clayden Figured Out ImageCelebrated Island artist Jenny Clayden is to present her handcrafted papier mâché figures made over the last 20 years at Quay Arts this month.

These character studies range from life-size to thumb-size, from the hilariously comical to the beautifully poignant. Mimicking the freewheeling effect of Quentin Blake; they are designed to enchant and create intrigue, all with an air of spontaneity. These celebratory and dramatic sculptures express humour and compassion in the numerous situations and individual journeys presented.

Inspired by comic situations, Clayden feels the medium is perfect for evoking comedy and serious considerations; combining sculpture with colour and character study.

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Her technical approach employs 6mm metal support rods inserted into life-size figures, medium-sized sculptures are supported by 3mm fencing wire attached to an MDF base. The contours of the body are then built with decreasing sizes of wire. The armature is then enclosed with chicken wire to strengthen the substructure and to give a good base for the next stage.

The armature is covered with strong paper strips applied like bandages and pasted with wallpaper paste; muscles are formed by molded pulp, which is again bandaged. All kinds of textured papers are used including kitchen roll and industrial papers for clothes. Sugar paper and unprinted newspaper are used for strength, brown paper to represent leather and tissue for old skin. On larger models, parts of the costume i.e. skirts, voluminous trousers, coat tails etc are all supported by chicken wire.

When the model is complete, the whole surface is covered with a mixture of white emulsion paint thickened with Polyfilla and finally decorated with designer gouache colours. To protect the model from dust and sunlight, the surface is sprayed with a mat UV lacquer.

Figured Out will run from Saturday 6th December 2014 until Saturday 28th February 2015 in The West Gallery at Quay Arts, Newport.. Galleries open: Monday – Saturday, 10:00-16:00. Entry to all galleries is free.

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