The Human Condition

Why the human condition?

When I began to make the figures we were firmly in lockdown. It appeared to me that many people were struggling with the uncertainty fear and in some ways grieving for what they maybe considered ‘normality’ to return.

As an ex-social worker I have always been interested in observing peoples behaviour and so I decided to make some figures to represent the various human conditions I was witnessing.

I chose to use paper mache as my recycling bin was full at the time and I wanted a new challenge.

GRIEF


Grief was the first figure I made. It has a sense of loss not just in feeling but also looks lost, as though unable to comprehend what has happened/is happening, something I think grief imparts on all of us at some point. The antennae feel every sound and vibration, as often those grieving feel everything at a much increased level. Finally grief is stuck, it’s feet sinking into the situation unable to escape

Materials:
wire coat hanger
newspaper
bubble wrap
paper mache
PVA Glue
black bag
cardboard
acrylic paint
glue gun
heat gun

FEAR

Fear seemed to me to be the commonest feeling. Fear of the unknown, fear of the illness and/or death, fear for our livelihoods, fear for our family and friends and I am sure you could all add your own.
Fear is raw, its grabs us at a very primitive level, some of us can unhand the little monster better than others.

Materials:
Garden wire
paper mache
Fimo clay
tissue paper
cardboard
acrylic paint

DEPRESSION

What I noticed as the pandemic progressed was people’s body language and what I heard was a sense of hopelessness. Depression certainly knocked on my door and I know many others.
Poor Billy, he’s a little bit like the Humpty Dumpty of covid. He sits on his wall thoroughly depressed and alone. Mental health services were underfunded and overwhelmed and the kings horses and men were to busy making PPE deals to help him. Billy has two masks to choose from, his sad face which he doesn’t think anyone wants to see and his happy clown face, which others prefer but Billy has to nail it on to hide his real feelings …. sound familiar?

Materials:
Garden wire
masking tape
cardboard
bubble wrap
tissue paper
newspaper
paper mache
PVA
Acrylic paint

FREEDOM

Freedom, or ‘Charlie Kite’
Running without a care in the world, except to launch his kite.

The major challenge with Charlie was to make his clothing out of tissue and to build it around him to give the figure movement.

Materials:
wire coat hanger
tissue paper
paper mache
PVA glue
acrylic paint
garden wire
driftwood

INNOCENCE

I chose a little girl with ice cream in one hand about to take off, as she concentrates on the ice cream not realising what is happening with the balloons.

The difficult aspect of this figure was maintaining her balance as the figure developed, which is why she had three balloons and not the four I made.

Materials:
garden wire
jewellery wire
paper mache
water bombs
PVA glue
tissue paper
wool
acrylic paint
Turkish delight box

THE BULLY

Underneath the pig mask is a blank head, as bullies come in various guises. I have suggested some on the balloon, which he carries to ridicule him and warn people of his presence. Sadly he also carries a knife and comes complete with alcohol, as well as a tattoo on his chest, stating we should do as he says and not as he does. The boots don’t show left and right but instead, sexist and racist.
I made this figure due to the horrific rise in domestic violence during the pandemic.

Materials:
wire coat hanger
paper mache
tissue paper
PVA glue
tin foil
water bomb
cotton gauze
driftwood
acrylic paint

COMPASSION

I feel that Compassion was made to be the antithesis of the bully, to represent all of those who worked tirelessly for the benefit of others, whether paid or voluntary to just help those in need. She was time consuming to make with her reflective heart, open embrace and mirrored face. The point of the mirrored face is so that the viewer may see their own compassion reflected in her.

Underneath her delicate feather like finish is a pile of absolute junk, including toilet roll inners and a plastic coke bottle, to demonstrate that compassion can come from anywhere. Her outer finish was made from approx 2,500 pieces of torn tissue paper which were glued into place using tweezers over a structure of paper mache.

Materials:
cardboard
plastic coke bottle
paper mache
PVA Glue
Silver leaf
tin foil
tissue paper

THE INNER CRITICS

The final figures of the series so far, are the bane of many peoples creative and other endeavours, ‘The Inner Critics’. I based the group on my own experience and chose to ridicule them, as that is all these creatures deserve.
The thing about inner critics is that their constant negative attitudes soak in, they get their hooks into you, hence they don’t have hands but fish hooks. I used animal skulls to render them like small dinosaurs, as they are now extinct as far as I am concerned. My lasting insult was to dress them in black bags for being the rubbish they are. Art can be fun and cathartic.

Materials:
cardboard box
garden wire
black bag
crow skull
rabbit skulls
fish hooks
paper mache
aluminium foil
acrylic paint
sense of humour
necklace

The figures are very time consuming, each one has taken about a week to make including drying time. I do intend to make more in this series but at the moment my time and recycling bin contents are being focussed on the production of the creatures that inhabit the enchanted woodland ….. perhaps ready for January 2023.

Gail Curry
Artist

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