Former TBSHS Art Student Thrills with University Sculpture of Mr Pearson-Phillips
A former TBSHS Student, now in her final year of an Art Degree at University, has thrilled & delighted Assistant Headteacher and Art Teacher, John Pearson-Phillips with a life-size portrait bust of himself, in resin with a black graphite finish.
Talented Naomi Hargraves, who came to TBSHS in 2012, especially to study art A Level, is currently in the final year of her degree course in Model Design at Hertfordshire University and the pathway she has chosen to study is called “Character Creation”.
Naomi was already showing promise when she was at TBSHS, winning a prestigious local prize from the Bishops Stortford Decorative and Fine Arts Society, (BSDFAS) recognising her work during her final year at the School as the most talented A-Level art student across Bishop’s Stortford from all of the secondary schools.
After leaving TBSHS Naomi studied for her first year in London, before transferring to the University of Hertfordshire, and taking a BA Honours course in Model Design. She had a choice of three pathways, and decided on Character Creation which typically involves a lot of sculpting.
The specification for the piece, was that the sculpt had to be a ‘Professional Context Model.’ Mr Pearson-Phillips (JPP) was Naomi’s Art Teacher when she was in the sixth form, but last summer she was aware that he had been ‘Promoted’ to Assistant Head, meaning that he would be spending less time in the classroom. Naomi felt that the piece was a way of him being present in the TBSHS Art Classrooms, even when he wasn’t. She feels that his character can be seen through his face and in the “Look around his eyes”.
The bust is currently basking in JPP’s office and many students and staff have been startled on seeing the extraordinary likeness through the office window.
Mr Pearson Phillips, said, “When Naomi popped in last term and told me of the task set by her tutor, I was flattered. She took some photographs, made a few measurements and then off she went with all of the information she needed. Two months later she turns up with what is in effect a fantastic image, beautifully modelled and all of the teachers and students frankly keep gawping at it as it is so utterly tremendous. I keep looking at it and can’t believe I share an office with my twin!! Once she’d left and I started to take it in, I was utterly overcome. Knowing a thing or two about sculpture, and having taught her a range of modelling and casting processes at A-Level it is wonderful, truly wonderful to see that she has progressed so much further and has created such an astonishing image. Naomi has a glittering future. She is brilliant, utterly brilliant and I am so grateful that she chose to sculpt me for this task.”
How it was done
She began in July by taking a series of photographs for reference, from all angles around his head.
From there, she constructed a steel armature based on a measured scale drawing. The armature was the ‘fleshed out’ with chicken wire, scrim and plaster, followed by a coating of shellack.
The shape of the jumper was then built up with plasticine, and a real jumper was added to the structure to provide texture, and was coated in Vaseline prior to receiving several layers of silicone. Naomi wanted the jumper to closely resemble the jumper that Mr PP was wearing in her photo.
The head and hand were sculpted by eye in a material called plastiline. The whole sculpt was then divided into sections using brass-shim before a fibreglass jacket was added over the top.
The most nerve-wracking moment was breaking open the mold to view the impression for the first time.
To finish the cast, Naomi had to apply by hand apoxie clay to fill the seams and any air pockets. She then sanded the lines to give a flawless result. The sculpt was then primed and spray painted, with graphite powder added to give a metallic finish, which Naomi felt reflected an HB pencil and is part of the character of JPP as an art teacher.
Naomi doesn’t yet know what her final marks for the piece will be, as she doesn’t get her degree results until June, but everyone in her department at University feel they know JPP well, as he has been in evidence there for so long!
Naomi’s final assignment is to do a piece that shows her at her best, and she has chosen to make a carved and jointed wooden rod puppet which will form part of her degree show at university and in London, and will be accompanied by a bronze of Mr Pearson-Phillips.