John Summers



Gallery One


Standing Figure

Plaster bandage, compost, epoxy

resin, glitter, oil paint, gold and silver leaf,

wood, pine tree, plaster

of paris, acrylic metallics

220 x 187 x 180cm





Gallery Two


Reclining Figure

Plaster bandage, compost,

epoxy resin, glitter, oil paint,

gold and silver leaf, wood,

spray paint

180 x 190 x 67cm





Gallery Three


Before The Gods

Oil on canvas, gold leaf, silver leaf

183 x 167cm





In my spare time I am constantly in museums. Constantly looking at things that were made hundreds or thousands of years ago. I revisit the same museums again and again, revisiting the same pieces over and over. I quite often visit The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci. The arrangement between the landscape and the figures is endlessly inspiring. The Burlington House Cartoon, also by Leonardo, I find pretty scary. The Virgin Mary and Saint Anne's faces are terrifying but somehow peaceful. Their bodies are draped in robes. A flow of folds carries down each figure from the shoulder. I think this thing of a highly defined head and a clothed body has provided a sort of subconscious inspiration regarding the skin of armour/suit my pieces have. I cast my own body and the wriggling, impatient bodies of my children. It is never the case during the making process that all the component parts - the casts - fit together beautifully. What works best is to accept most of the imperfections as I go along. This helps me to discover new ways of conveying a thigh or a buttock.


I think of the body and the head as somehow divided. Two parts of one whole. This perhaps explains why I cast the bodies in plaster bandage and sculpt the heads in clay. I refer to photographs I take of myself and my sons to help me create the faces. The bodies become virtual reality-like, the limbs pixelated - but the head remains focused, high-definition.


I think the pieces can refer to all sorts of things, and I like to leave them open to interpretation but I think my interest in ancient sculpture with all those cracked bodies and missing limbs is pretty upfront in the mix. I regularly dip into Homer’s The Odyssey, too, and I read passages from its pages to my youngest son at bedtime. I also share the fascination today’s global culture has with video games and Marvel comics and I think this is evident in the work I do. I have been playing the latest version of Zelda with my sons pretty intensively. Video games are massively inspiring and I really enjoy exploring their digital scapes. I love how old-school video games with the big block pixels are being revived.


The painting is a useful way of filtering out ideas and pinpointing what it is I am interested in. Working on a two-dimensional plane is very different from building the sculptures but there’s still a sense of precision and its opposite - or, if you like, high-definition and pixelation. I think the clear figure situated in a scuffed and murkily painted background is how these contrasts manifest themselves in the painting.