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Ken Martin

In 1975 Ken Martin was driven by aspirations of expressing life energies through sculpture, wood seemed the logical choice of medium, itself a living thing. Early in his career he joined forces with two other young men to form Constantia Furniture in what was to become an intense and prolific period, creating handcrafted furniture. During this time (1977-86) he specialised in wood carving and wood sculpture his respect for the medium (wood) and its place within world cultures, historically and now was greatly enhanced.

A significant study of the history of furniture woodcarving and sculpture evolved into new interpretations of form drawing from the natural environment. Two constant threads running through the development of his work has been organic natural form and the human figure.

Leaving the collaborative environment of furniture making Ken returned to a solo sculptural practice in 1986. Wood remained his primary medium although in 1983 the first bronzes were cast from his wood masters. He continued to cast bronze sculptures from wood masters up to 1997 from which time all bronzes have been developed in clay and other primary mediums. In 1987 wood was his favoured medium and bronze was a means of extending prolificness through small limited editions.

Developing new techniques using a variety of electrical tools in addition to traditional chisels etc. the wood sculptures (human, animal, oceanic and surreal organic form) became increasingly fine in detail and original in aesthetic. From 1987-2002 commissions to sculpt in wood numerous portraits within Australia and overseas proved both a blessing and frustration.

Individual full body portraits would consume from 350 hours to 800 hours thus inhibiting time available for the development of new work. It was initially for this reason and minor health problems that in 1997 he sculpted his first figurative study in clay which was subsequently cast in bronze. It was obvious that he could be more prolific in these mediums and having embraced the beauty of bronze he felt like an adulterer cheating on his long time partner. The transition away from wood to bronze was complete in 2003.

This is an exciting time artistically and Ken will continue to explore genres of conceptual organic - figurative sculpture.

The next 2 decades hold the potential of a renaisence. The changing world we live in is causing reassessment of values generally, not least humanities interaction with the natural world. Woodworkers internationally have been confronted by a growing awareness of the impact of human activity on indigenous forests. The challenge is to preserve the gift of life and a way of life. Ken believes the woodcraft/art movement will rise to these challenges with renewed vigour.

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