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Introduction It is a strong curiosity for the lost-wax process of casting bronze that has kept me working in the foundry and driven me to experiment prolifically. An approach of tr ial and error has led me to explore old and new techniques, while all the time testing the limits of what intricate forms the molten bronze can be persuaded to create. My work aims to blur the boundaries between sculpture and the decorative arts that utilise craftsmanship in multiple materials, often combined in one ornate piece. My goal in the foundry has also been to str ive for finer, thinner, more delicate forms, and the structural for m of flowers, plants and leaves have recently become the main focus of my attention. Drawn to the intrinsic fragility of flora, in addition to its beauty and transience, there is an abundant array of diverse forms to challenge me: as with Easter Lily (page 28) or Fuchsia Baller ina (page 34).. Each plant passes through many stages and so has many guises, each according to their own season, flourishing, fruiting, seeding, dying and resur recting.

With so much choice, my method has been a delicate balance of selection and serendipity. Some plants have caught my attention as I pass them everyday in the street: like the aromatic Elderflower (page 20) and the attractive Buddleja (page 22) that grow abundantly, yet are often lost or overlooked in the urban environment of our busy day-to-day lives. Wouldn’t it be nice to celebrate them and shine a light on all their usefulness to mankind over our history?


The process of layering a flower or plant in wax is the first stage of the transformation into bronze. This wax coating takes away the finest details of the surface and texture, and gives the forms a fleshy, robust and sturdy appearance like a succulent hybr id. It creates an impressionistic interpretation of the original. The original form is ‘lost’ in the process making each successful piece a unique creation that cannot be replicated. I have encouraged the process and materials to influence the final form: the characteristics of molten wax have been translated into bronze. I’ve had some failures along the way but all have helped inform my subsequent work. Even unsuccessful pours can prove useful; in their incomplete state these fragments of bronze allow me to incorporate other materials to finish them. This encourages me to explore different combinations of complimentary materials. For instance, constructing a magnolia branch (page 32) with fragments of mis-cast branches enabled me to finish the petals with ceramic and wood and use bronze welding to construct the bud. My use of Molochite, a refractory ceramic mater ial, as an integral sculptural mediu m is slightly unconventional as it is normally used to make temporary ceramic moulds. Applied directly to the surface of the wax in liquid for m, Molochite has been industr ially designed to capture every minute surface detail. As the layering process is repeated, the dried Molochite shell grows thicker and stronger and the underlying wax for m becomes unrecognisable. The mould is then fired in a furnace to give it its strength.


This is the point when the wax inside melts away and is ‘lost’, leaving a hollow ceramic shell mould. After the molten bronze is poured into these moulds they are destroyed in the process. My regular use of Molochite in this way made me curious as to whether it would be strong enough when very thin to create sculptural objects directly. I exper imented by directly coating flowers with fine layers and firing them in a kiln. Opium poppy petals are extremely flimsy and papery with fine creases and folds. Coating them directly in molochite made for a surprising transformation: although the fine detail has been captured in the finished piece, the flower has become solid and saucer-like (page 16).. These petals are a ceramic jigsaw clamped together by the molten bronze poured over them. This construction method adds to the precarious feeling of fragility and accentuates the idea of the opium sap seeping from the seed head. All these ceramic shell works are not only extremely fragile due to the thinness of the material but also because the plant has been burnt out and the structures are hollow. They can bee seen as an antithesis of the bronzes, more delicate to the touch than the original specimen. The combined effect of this series of work is an eclectic collection of botanical curiosities that embodies an historic aesthetic; influenced by Georgian homes and gardens, 19th Century museums, and even the great exhibition held at Crystal Palace in 1851.

Prices on request


I have also researched and been influenced by the ideas of Carl Linnaeus and Charles Darwin, as well as the Fibonacci sequence of numbers that is so prevalent in nature.

Working at Sotheby’s for seven years I was fortunate to be exposed to many prestigious artworks spanning centuries, in a variety of media, and I felt constantly inspired by what I lear nt and saw during my time there.

Considerations of time and history are an important aspect of my work. It is a natural consequence of casting bronze to effortlessly evoke a sense of antiquity and nostalgia, as it is a sculptural medium that has been used for thousands of years. The metal itself has a warm and earthy quality, which, left untouched, naturally oxidizes to deep browns or verdigris. I have chosen traditional colours such as these for my patinas, each is applied as a different combination of chemicals to the heated surface. Perused and examined for their form and aesthetic value, these flora are no longer items of fleeting beauty that will wither and die; light no longer permeates but bounces off them. Now simply appreciated for their unity with the surrounding space or enjoyed as a well-propor tioned aesthetic object, they become merely an idea, an interpretation, of the living things they once were. The process has frozen a moment of life into never-changing permanence. The flower has been preserved for longevity as a symbol and a relic.

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Aralia (Fatsia japonica)

Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper 42 x 32 x 26cm

Exhibited: Snapshot,The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012 Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: Casting this Aralia leaf in bronze proved challenging due to the combination of its thinness and wide span, yet was ultimately successful.

ÂŁ1,800

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Castor Oil Plant

Molochite ceramic shell, carbon, varnish 9 x 29 x 24cm

Exhibited: Snapshot,The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012 Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Description: An imprint of the leaf in ceramic captures the fine-veined detail which has been accentuated with a layer of carbon applied to the surface. Because of the similar leaves, it is often confused with Aralia (Fatsia japonica) which is also know as the ‘false’ castor oil plant.

£400

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Magnolia Fig Leaf (Ficus brunswick)

Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper 34 x 21 x 21cm

Exhibited: Snapshot,The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012 Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: The fig was the first plant to be cultivated by man. Its leaf has become a symbol of expurgation in art where it has been used over centuries to censor nudity including, famously, Michelangelo’s David when presented to QueenVictoria.

ÂŁ700

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Constantine Fig Leaf (Ficus carica)

Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper 34 x 23 x 19cm

Exhibited: Snapshot,The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012 Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: The Constantine fig is an ancient variety of fig that has a more basic three-lobed leaf structure than later cultivars.

ÂŁ700

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Gerbera (Gerbera hybrida)

Patinated bronze 35 x 7 x 7cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: A large ornamental relative of the daisy, the gerbera has been cultivated in a multitude of colours and sizes and is widely used in flower arranging. Placed in a tiny bronze vase, it becomes reminiscent of ‘ikebana’ the Japanese art of minimal floral arranging.

£500

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Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

Bronze, Molochite ceramic shell 16 x 26 x 16cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: The white poppy has been worn since the First World War as a symbol of peace and the desire of an end to the loss of life caused by war. Opium is extracted from white sap that is bled from the flower’s seed head.

Not for sale

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HogWeed (Heracleum lanatum)

Molochite ceramic, mahogany, etched copper Instalation with shelf: 60 x 48 x 22cm Alone: 56 x 20 x 24cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: Hogweed sap is toxic to the touch and can cause irritation of the skin. It is commonly found in English hedgerows and can grow to great size.The hardy plant has been turned into a delicate, hollow, ceramic vessel just a few millimetres thick.

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ÂŁ500


Elderflower (Sambucus nigra)

Molochite ceramic shell, mahogany, etched copper 22 x 20 x 20cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: The aromatic flowers of early summer can be used to make cordial and medicinal remedies to treat colds and flu, while the juicy black berries were once considered to bring relief from rheumatism.

ÂŁ300

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Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)

Molochite ceramic shell, mahogany, etched copper Installation with shelf: 54 x 48 x 22cm Alone: 42 x 33 x 22cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: Buddleja means robust in Latin, it is found attracting butterflies in urban environments such as wastelands and along train tracks. Here the plant has been encapsulated in industrial ceramic liquid and fired in a kiln, giving it a coral-like appearance where each flower head is hollow.

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ÂŁ600


Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)

Molochite ceramic shell 14 x 30 x 10cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Description: Like a poor relation of the daisy, in yellow or pink, overlooked on the side of the road, this weed has been entombed and transformed into a haunting, monochrome, coral-like ceramic shell.

ÂŁ200

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Asiatic Lily (Lilium asiatic)

Molochite, Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper 42 x 15 x 15cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: This lily is a hybrid of a robust bronze stem and a fragile ceramic flower that merely hangs from its support.

ÂŁ500

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Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum)

Patinated bronze, mahogany, terracotta, etched copper

With ceramic plinth: 127 x 24 x 24cm Alone: 59 x 25 x 20cm

Exhibited: Snapshot,The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, February 2012 Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: This flower represents the botanist’s specimen, placed on a pedestal to be perused and examined under close scrutiny, at the same time holding religious significance as a symbol of purity. Art meets science and religion.

ÂŁ2,000

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Spider Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifloium)

Patinated bronze, mahogany, etched copper 132 x 28 x 22cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: A preposterous hybrid taken to the extremes of possibility, this flower balances precariously in its attempt to defy nature.

ÂŁ2,000

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Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulanger)

Patinated bronze, molochite ceramic, coconut wood 20 x 42 x 33cm Exhibited:

Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: One of the first blooms of the year signalling the approach of spring. The bud is made of robust bronze, yet the flowers, recreated in ceramic and wood, are less eternal and very fragile in comparison.

Not for Sale

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Fuchsia Ballerina

Patinated bronze, wood Each: 12 x 4 x 4cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: A delicate study in bronze, these tiny flowers dance in celebration of existence.

ÂŁ400 each

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Romanesco Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)

Patinated bronze 12 x 12 x 12cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: This pair of fractal vegetables, from the cabbage family, provoke wonderment at the elaborate diversity of nature and agriculture.

ÂŁ500 each

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Curly Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Patinated bronze 37 x 14 x 17cm

Exhibited: Amplified, Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011 Description: Another cabbage relative, whose leaves seem randomly chaotic, yet the underlying structure is as repetitive and precise as that of its brother the Romanesco. The frizzy leaves are imitated in the frozen bronze at the base, that flooded into the cracks in the mould when poured.

ÂŁ700

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Tree Coral (Nephtheidae paralemnalia)

Patinated bronze

Varies between 6 x 4 x 4cm and 20 x 10 x 7cm

Exhibited: Material-Process-Concept, CSAD, Cardiff, September 2011

Description: A delicate and fundamental part of marine life rendered durable in bronze.These proved a perfect subject to experiment with a multitude of coloured patinas.

ÂŁ200 each

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Nostalgia (Rosa grandiflora)

Bronze

12 x 54 x 18cm Exhibited: Front Room Art Trail, Bristol, November 2011 Objet d’Art, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, July 2010 NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000 Description: One of the most symbolic of flowers paired with the gloved hand, representing offering or receiving, and executed in the style of a 19th Century antique, this piece is a gesture from the past.

£2,000

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Melancholic Rose

Lead

4 x 4 x 32cm Exhibited: Objet d’Art, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, July 2010 NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000 Description: This is a cast of the bronze rose (Nostalgia), not a direct lifecast.The transformation into lead, a soft, dull and toxic metal, makes this rose replica appear cool and melancholic.

£200

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Fuchsia Doilly

Lead, shellac

2 x 12 x 12cm Exhibited: Objet d’Art, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, July 2010 NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000 Description: Lace and flowers, in a delicate composition, contrast with the sinister overtones of the toxic metal used to execute it.

£300

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www.robynerbe.co.uk 07979 54 64 10


A Curiosity

Patinated bronze 6 x 34 x 10cm

Exhibited: B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Description: A curious object raises the question of possible function or if there ever was one. Maybe it’s an archaeological find or a fragment of something larger...? The imagination is encouraged to wander.

ÂŁ1,500

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Rags to riches

Patinated bronze 15 x 14 x 8cm

Exhibited: B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Description: Only partially abstract, rags cast into bronze become ambiguous and cross boundaries of definition.This one seems shell-like yet its variegated brown patina makes it appear more bark-like with a Baroque aesthetic.

ÂŁ500

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Rags to riches

Patinated bronze 16 x 11 x 5cm

Exhibited: B.V. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Description:

The bronze shows through the patina of this piece giving it a distinct feeling of being a fragment of a baroque curlicue.

ÂŁ500

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Moon cutters

Polished bronze, soda glazed ceramic 30 x 30 x 20cm

Exhibited: B.V.. Open Studios, Bristol, October 2011 Description: In Arthur Rackham’s 1905 illustration for RipVanWinkle the Queen of the fairies uses sugar nippers to cut the moon into pieces while her fairies hang them in the sky as new born stars.

Hanging the Moon and Stars from RipVanWinkle, by Arthur Rackham. (1905)

ÂŁ900

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Hanging the Moon and Stars from RipVan Winkle, by Arthur Rackham. (1905)


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Les Loupes

Lead, glazed wooden box 15 x 15 x 4.5cm

Exhibited: Objet d’Art, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, July 2010 Description: Directly cast from an old brass magnifying glass and now partially wrapped in the soft lead flashing from the mould, these objects have become obscuring rather than illuminating and are encapsulated out of harm’s way.

£400

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Hanger

Bronze, steel

16 x 42 x 2cm Exhibited: Objet d’Art, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, July 2010 NSAD Degree Show, Norwich, June 2000 Description: Infinitely more interesting than their wire or plastic counterparts the wooden coat hanger often shows signs of ware on its surface.These marks have been captured and enshrined on the surface of the bronze.

£300

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Eat Lead II

Lead, glass jar 20 x 20 x 12cm

Exhibited Luxury Goods IV -The Role of Art,The Courtyard Theatre, London, April 2010

Sotheby’s Staff Exhibition 2004, New Bond Street, September 2004. Description: Working with lead is hazardous and anti-intuitive, this is the last piece I made from the toxic material and is a reaction to living in London and the growing awareness of the threat of pollution .

ÂŁ300

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Make a wish

Bronze 2 x 6 x 4cm Exhibited

Hidden Talent, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, July 2010 Description:

I tried to cats a tree of twenty or so bronze wishbones and believe it or not exactly three were complete which will teach me not to be greedy. One wish granted should be enough.

Not for Sale

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www.robynerbe.co.uk 07979 54 64 10

robyncerbe@gmail.com


Robyn Erbe Bronze Casting