Photo Credit: Pak Keung Wan
Ascending the Deity consists of six headless/half torsoless brass figurine deities that have been physically transformed by the lost wax method of metal casting. The work was made whilst on a Commonwealth Foundation Fellowship in Gujarat, India. The fact that brass like water evaporates whilst boiling formed the catalyst for the work. Purchased from a religious shop each figurine began the process in their original forms. After the preliminary stages peculiar to lost wax making replicas of the figures in wax, adhering a heat resistant mould around each wax figurine, building the kiln I set about ascending each deity by boiling them individually for the required period of time via a hand-powered wind furnace. Through the intense heat that is generated the brass would evaporate, resulting in the dematerialisation and part ascendence of each figurine.
I wanted to incorporate the process into the life of the work. A kiln is an integral part of lost wax casting. Initially a wax replica of each figurine had to be made which was then coated in a heat resistant mould. Placed inside, the kiln is used to melt the wax out of the mould resulting in a god-shaped void for molten brass to be poured into. A peep-hole is always designed into a kiln structure to allow you to check on the progress. So I fashioned the hole in the form of a Yoni, a yoni being symbolic of the female vulva and is found in religious sculptures in India. I felt a sense of the earth mother being inherent to this part of the process, in the image of the molten wax flowing out and the body of the kiln with its hot, fertile womb-like interior.
This stage, the melting of wax out of the moulds, took place over the course of twelve hours and ran through the night. The heat inside the kiln had to be built up slowly to avoid cracking the moulds. This primeval experience remains with me, working in the darkness, feeding its fire, peering through the yoni.
From a series of 6 figurines 4 - 12cm high