the artlog exhibition of maquettes: part one

Welcome to the first exhibition at the Artlog. It evolved out of the interest of regular visitors in my practice of making articulated paper maquettes for use as compositional aids.  A few of them felt encouraged to produce maquettes of their own, and thereafter everything just blossomed. Some contributors have submitted a single maquette, and others many. Limited room has meant that I’ve had to be selective, and I apologise for the maquettes that didn’t make it online. Enjoy the posts. (There are going to be quite a few!)


Zoe Blue: cat dances

Liz Sangster: sleeps, eats, plays, sleeps

James Hood: beastly tales

Philippa Robbins: deconstructing Velasquez

Zoe Blue: cat dances. Zoe was the first to write asking my advice on the making of maquettes, and her enthusiasm suggested that others too, if invited, might give the idea a spin. She produced these wonderfully versatile tango dancers and lithe blue cat. The lively constructions have since figured prominently in her paintings, two of which are illustrated below. These are everything one might wish for as examples of maquettes as stepping-stones to easel-work. Something that strikes me forcibly is the foregrounded and dynamically leaping cat of the first painting, because I have a feeling Zoe wouldn’t have come to that particular pictorial arrangement without the preliminary work that produced such an interesting maquette of a feline.

Liz Sangster: sleeps, eats, plays, sleeps. Liz and I first met each other back in the early 1980s, when she was head of the scenic department at Welsh National Opera and I was the designer of a production that she was about to supervise through her workshops. We became close friends and remain so to this day. She and her husband Graham live in France, where Peter and I occasionally visit them at their beautifully restored historic house just outside Bergerac. (Artlog regulars may recall that we spent last Christmas there with them.) Liz has made delightful sequential images using her maquette of Meg the Welsh Border Collie.

 Liz Sangster

James Hood: beastly tales. James is a visitor to the Artlog who one day mused in a comment box that he might take part in the exhibition. Later he probably rather regretted that, because I hounded him until he did. James gained his degree in illustration at Stockport College, and I greatly enjoy his illustration-themed blog Cardboard Cutout Sundown. (Well I would, wouldn’t I, with a name like that?) He ‘s produced three maquettes. There are two boldly conceived shadow-puppet style tigers, the first designed and assembled digitally and the second cut from paper. However his last maquette was submitted at the eleventh hour. James called it simply ‘Beast’, and I think it quite wonderful.



Hard to pin down why I like this quite so much as I do, but it’s probably because through form and texture the artist has captured something dark and mysterious, qualities not common in the large submission of work for the exhibition, but evident too in the maquettes of Philippa Robbins. No matter how hard I look at James’ creature, I’m not quite sure what it is that I’m seeing. The face is visible though hard to read, wiped of recognisable expression like a burns victim. The huge eye ringed with gold  is black and unnerving, the nose a blackly gaping wound. An ill-fitting and bulky jacket has sleeves long enough to give no more than a tantalising glimpse of the ornately fluted claws. He looks tormented and uncomfortable in his man-clothes, fearsome and yet poignant, as of course all great beasts must. I’m drawn back to the figure over and over again. James has used collage elements. I’m pretty sure that’s an engraving of a sea-anemone forming the serpentine mane. I find the densely etched-texture of the tight trousers appealing. The shoes seem far too narrow and constraining for a beast’s paws, and that too adds pathos, as though he’s bound and crippled his feet like a Chinese courtesan. While I’m reminded of Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête and Angela Carter’s The Tiger’s Bride… associations clearly signposted for us with the Tiger’s bipedal presentation and the Beast’s leonine appearance… James’ Beast remains uniquely and compellingly itself. It haunts me.

Tiger 1

Tiger 2

Philippa Robbins: deconstructing Velasquez. Philippa has thrown herself into the making of maquettes with admirable enthusiasm. The first set are part of an ongoing project in which  she’s exploring and deconstructing the painting Las Meninas by Velasquez. Picasso, too, went head-to-head with this masterpiece, and it rewarded him with rich pickings. (His Las Meninas sketchbooks alone show that he riffed on the theme with dazzling virtuosity.) Philippa has kick-started her exploration of the Velasquez with an engaging cast of paper maquettes and a set of small, simplified papier mâché figures. I’m only showing the former on the Artlog, as this project is about flat maquette form. However you can see the papier mâché models on her blog, HERE.


I’m not sure whether this as yet unpainted wire-hair terrier is to be a part of the Las Meninas project, but the little chap certainly has a lot of character.

Finally, two thought-provoling images to round up this first post of the Artlog Maquetteers, and they exhibit a streak of darkness that is right up my street. A doll, one of P’s favourite leitmotifs, and a strange, semi-flayed self-portrait, in which the artist has reinvented herself as a ghoulish Red-Riding Hood, exposing her inner architecture as she skips through the woods bearing the blood-red cloak that lends its wearer her name. I love the oddness of her little skirt with its appliqué of an x-rayed pelvis. In the second image her almost ecstatic expression casts her as a martyred saint throwing off the bloodied, discarded shawl of her skin. It should be said that Philippa thinks I’ve invented rather sinister scenarios for this last maquette, which in her own eyes is quite a cheerful little character.

More Maquettes in Part Two, tomorrow.

18 thoughts on “the artlog exhibition of maquettes: part one

  1. Pingback: Maquettry | lizkingsangster

  2. Pingback: Toy Theater | Zoe in Wonderland

  3. Gosh….such a wealth of fabulous images and ideas….really exciting to see! As another dog addict I’m really enjoying the canine visitors to Clive’s blog….oh dogs – all the virtues of humans (and more) and none of the vices! (well, apart from destroying toy dinosaurs (mentioning no names Suki)….not many humans do that. Do they??)

    Thanks for this inspiring collection of maquettes, everyone….I am SO enjoying them!

  4. First I agree with Clive, Thom should give the snippers a try.

    That said, such a great offering, thanks to Zoe for being the first ( and bravest) to give the aforementioned snippers a try. I love her cats, I have a skinny cat (alas NOT blue) named Antigone, Chloe has captured her wily dances perfectly . I enjoy seeing Zoe’s maquette then being able to see one of her lively compositions.

    I frankly just smiled through the parade of Liz’s rather lazy pooch, again someone who really observes, i have 5 little insane dogs (I know , madness), Liz has expressed with paper and brads their zaniness. Her own dog must be a delight.

    I agree with you Clive, James’ work is beguiling, and I am also intrigued by Beast. Its murkiness is intriguing, like poking into an antique shop and being just not sure of what you are looking at, but drawn in nonetheless. The shadow puppets are quite skillful, eager to see the tiger pounce.

    Phillipa’s work is always very inspirational, I have been following her posts since you “introduced’ us. Her little odd baby-doll is indeed odd and wonderful. The skeleton girl is so familiar to folks who live close to Mexico (as I do), that love of youth and acceptance of fate. Super. Her spin upon Valasquez is inspired, I’ve mentioned to her I have never been fond of that painting, her deconstruction of the work has helped me gain a new perspective. I am particularly drawn to the dwarf courtier, Phillipa really captured that one.
    This is a great service you have put together. I doff my hat to you sir.

  5. I’m still studying all these and find continued fascination with, not only the way in which they have been painted and constructed, but also with the ways they can be moved and positioned. Especially appreciate the cat and dogs… our “familiars.”
    Bravo, bravo!

  6. I’m still absorbing the maquettes- they all differ so much that I need a rest every so often- I love Philippa’s deconstructing Velasquez- I assume she has’nt used brads, keeping the shapes free, giving her more freedom, but a nightmare if she accidentally knocks the pieces onto the floor ( a frequent occurence for me) also I love the terrier. James’s tiger is amazingly powerful. Zoe’s paintings- brilliant! And there is more to come!

  7. wow, the range of styles is really something! i love that collie, and how clever to have made his ears so expressive! he’s exceptionally lively on the pink background with the drawn couch, i love the contrasts. and his tongue 😀 i also like the style of painting, with the blue shadows on his fur. and i also like the cut fur, it makes his tail really alive-seeming…

    james’ beast is certainly spooky–the formal coat against those paws and the pants are almost like soldier’s mesh, aren’t they? clever to use collaged elements, it adds another layer….i’ve toyed with digital maquettes, too, but i think they do more for me as paper–his paper tiger, for instance, that face is so distinctive and striking! and so absolutely his own!

    that last girl, the red riding hood, makes me think of the day of the dead 🙂 i love the way she holds her cape to her chest in the one above 🙂

  8. Brilliant Clive. Thank you for showing us such a wide variety of talent. I love the surprised face of Meg the Border Collie, obviously a fun loving, four legged friend.

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