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Philip Spelman: Carmen and Untitled

The Artist

According to the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery website, Philip Spelman was born in the United Kingdom (1962) but has called Australia home for most of his life. A practicing sculptor for the past 25 years, Spelman works across the mediums of bronze and steel.

Spelman began his training at the Queensland College of Art with a Certificate of Applied Arts in 1982. He later completed a Bachelor of Arts (visual) with a major in sculpture (1987) at the Canberra School of Art Australian National University (ANU) under the tutelage of respected Australian sculptor Ron Robertson-Swann.

After graduation Spelman steadily worked away, refining his style and processes. He became the Technical Officer for the glass workshop at ANU in 1991, a role that he still holds today. In the early nineties he taught Sculpture at the Goulburn College of TAFE (1992,93) and was invited as a guest lecturer in Sculpture/Landscape Design to the University of Canberra in 1993. By the mid 1990’s Spelman was exhibiting frequently in commercial galleries in Canberra and Sydney.

Spelman’s sculptures are usually large geometric metallic structures, which are strong enough to complement and draw on their surroundings while carving their own vistas. They come to life via Spelman’s time tested processes of building up works with common components, an approach that is similar to that of a modeler or assemblage artist. He favours the addition of at least one element that challenges the viewer’s sense of balance, gravity and movement. The final stage of his process is to set up the interplay between surface and light. Spelman’s works are almost synonymous with the use of bright, primary colours which give luminosity to the surface and leave a powerful memory cue with the audience.

Carmen by Philip Spelman

The Work of Art

Carmen is a sculpture fabricated from mild steel sections that were seam welded and reinforced with webbing. The sculpture was commissioned  through funds as part of the  construction of the Cooper Lodge  Student accommodation block.  The fact that the sculpture has a musical theme in its name (after Bizet's opera) and what sees to be musical notes within its form is deliberate. Cooper lodge was named after a  lecturer  with an interest in music.

Corresponding to this work of art is  Michael Le Grand's  Yo Yo which was acquired for UC Lodge  close by.  Of similar size, the works were acquired to complement each other.  In fact both artists  work closely together in their studios close by in Murrumbateman and both have had sculptures represented at  Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach in the past fifteen to twenty years.

The University of Canberra's Art Collection  also has a smaller model by Spelman that is  untitled but made from the same mild steel and painted in the same manner. The work of art, though quite weighty, allows viewers to handle contemporary sculpture and gain a sense of the material used.