Dancing Figures and Natural Elements Coalesce in Jonathan Hateley’s Elegant Bronze Sculptures
May 16, 2023
Immersed in nature, female figures dance, reflect, and rest in Jonathan Hateley’s limber bronze sculptures. The subjects commune with their surroundings, greeting the sun or leaning into the wind and merging with patterns of foliage or lichen. “I was drawn to create a sculpture reflecting nature on the surface of the figure, which could be better highlighted with the use of colour,” he tells Colossal. “This has evolved over time from the shapes of leaves to fingerprints and cherry blossoms to plant cells.”
Before he began an independent studio practice, Hateley worked for a commercial workshop that produced sculptures for television, theatre, and film, often with rapid turnaround. Over time, he was attracted to slowing down and emphasizing experimentation, finding inspiration in regular walks in nature. Although he’s focused on the human figure for more than a decade, he originally resisted that style. “I began with wildlife, and that began to evolve into organic forms with details illustrated onto the sculptures,” he tells Colossal. Between 2010 and 2011, he completed a remarkable 365-day project of tiny bas-reliefs that were eventually composed onto a kind of monolith.
Hateley initially began working with bronze using the cold-cast method—also known as bronze resin—a process that involves mixing bronze powder and resin together to create a kind of paint, then applying it to the inside of a mold made from the original clay form. This naturally led to foundry casting, or lost-wax, in which an original sculpture can be reproduced in metal. The initial design and sculpting process can take up to four months from start to finish, followed by casting and hand-finishing, which usually takes around three months to complete.
Right now, Hateley is working on a series based on a photo shoot with a West End dancer, a reference that helps him achieve the anatomical details of extended torsos and limbs. “The first of those sculptures has a figure reaching upwards, hopefully towards better times,” he says. “I saw her like a plant growing out of a seed and eventually flowering, (with) oblong, cell-like shapes gradually merging into circular reds and oranges.” And currently, he is modeling a ballet pose in clay, evoking “a person in a calm restful state, like she is floating in a calm sea, thus becoming the sea.”
Hateley will have work at Affordable Art Fair in Hong Kong with Linda Blackstone Gallery and will be included in Art & Soul at The Artful Gallery in Surrey and Summer Exhibition 2023 at Talos Art Gallery in Wiltshire from June 1 to 30. He will also have work with Pure at the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival from July 3 to 10. Find more on the artist’s website, and follow on Instagram for updates and peeks into his process.
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