As Oxfordshire Artweeks celebrates the human figure with today’s virtual art trail, we look at the figurative pieces of sculptor Laura Jane Wylder https://www.artweeks.org/galleries/2020/laura-jane-wylder whose work is inspired by a love of dance.
‘As a child I wasn’t particularly arty: my passion was dancing,’ she explains. ‘From the time I was tiny I took classes in tap, modern and contemporary dance, and ballet which was my favourite! Dancing was fun and it made me feel liberated. I found it almost meditative because when I was dancing I became totally absorbed in the moment. Everything else fell away. It was almost as if I was flying above the world and it was the most wonderful feeling.’
‘As a dancer you have an incredible mental and physical awareness of every movement you make, and you’re aware of the energy flowing through each part of your body with every step. Ballet is incredibly precise although it looks so quietly elegant and relaxed,’ she continues, and it’s exactly this feeling that Laura Jane portrays with her figurative sculptures. They look wonderfully natural and yet it was, she explains laughingly, her academic grounding in maths and physics made her very exact and analytical, perfectionist qualities that one needs to apply in three dimensions as a sculptor!
Although set on a career in ballet, at 18 a serious injury suddenly prevented it and so when she met her husband Seb, a mould-maker, whose trade is facilitating sculptors to make their pieces through the
making of the moulds they use for their casts, she began creating simple sculptural forms. ‘Amazingly, I discovered that when I am sculpting I am full of the freedom and joy I once felt dancing,’ she grins.
‘I was eager to make beautiful pieces,’ explains Laura Jane, ‘that would appeal to everybody. They are characters with gently-softened features so that rather than being an exact likeness of any individual they instead represent the best of humanity in general. First I made a single lady, sitting twenty centimetres tall, and then – because she looked a bit lonely – I made her a companion, a male figure to sit alongside her.’
As a pair these figures are called ‘Together’ and have become Laura Jane’s iconic piece available in both life-size and table-top versions.