Ellen Jewett is an animal sculpture artist with a unique vision, and profound skill, when it comes to mixing animal forms with surreal and fantastical elements. She graduated from McMaster University in 2007, but she started her “Creatures from El” series of work in 2005. Upon graduating, she’s continued to create this fantastic fauna full time.
Her artistic journey with three-dimensional forms started at a very early age. For Ellen Jewett, “sculpting has always been about life; biological narratives, emotions, movement, balance and observations about life’s subtleties and overtures [… and] the tedious hours of labor act as the mysterious foundation from which each sculptures’ personality springs forth.”
There’s no surprise in discovering that her post-education background is in Biological Anthropology and Fine Art. The merging of nature and art seems to have no limits. The detail in her animal sculptures are hyper-real; the shapes are organic, and the creatures are full of personality. But growing out of them are inorganic shapes: copper cages, misshapen wheels, stone beads, tangles strings… and yet these inorganic objects flow, and merge, seamlessly, with meandering tree branches, rustling leaves, flowing fur and feathers.
Ellen’s description of her process is wonderful, through and through:
Each animal sculpture is handmade and painted with no more tools than fingers and a paint brush. By virtue of this primal process, each creation is completely unique and produced in a fluid and intuitive manner. The process begins with a handmade metal armature over which light weight clay is sculpted. The painting is done with acrylic pigments and the embedded eyes are glass. When complete the whole piece is glazed to intensify colour and strength. With inspiration derived from animal physiology and a love of the fantastic, grotesque and absurd, each sculpture is unique and personable. The immensely detailed craftsmanship is rich and thoughtful and never molded or replicated.