Venue: McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park
Speaker: Terrance Plowright
Topic: People’s Choice Award Winner McClelland Survey 2013
Terrance Plowright has worked professionally as a sculptor for over 30 years and has undertaken various public and corporate commissions both in Australia and overseas. He was recently invited to represent Australia at this year’s Florence Biennale.
What is interesting about Terrance is the way he became the artist he is today. That is one of the great things about going to an art chat, you get to discover things about practising artists that you may not find out anywhere else, as all the information comes directly from them without interpretation. Terrance for example, began at the age of twelve or so, asking about the bigger picture of life. Why are we here and what is a lifetime for? Through his early years, this led to exploration of philosophy, science and even music – his great interest being with the composer Beethoven. He later went on to study film editing and worked briefly at the ABC until he suddenly decided to leave what looked like a good secure career in search of something more. He travelled to Scotland for a while then came back to Sydney to start up an “awareness centre” which looked into an exploration of human existence and potential and went to the USA for research.
Around this time he was asked by a friend to design and build a stained glass window, which having no training in this area he was not sure he could take on, but gave it a try anyway. He learnt the techniques needed for the job and people were very impressed with the result. So impressed in fact that he got further orders from other people and businesses. He ended up making a business from this himself, until asked to take on a sculpture. This led to more research and training in such things as stone cutting, bending glass and the creation of large sculptures. He was also asked to do a talk about his work, which he hadn’t done before, but took on, learning as he went again.
Terrance believes that his lack of formal training and natural aptitude, gave him a unique view on how to create his work. Anything new he has taken on, he has gone out and learnt as he went and consulted and cooperated with others to complete projects. This later applied to bronzes and polyurethane and stainless steel.
Terrance’s life long love of music has led him to the place he is at now with his sculptures. He has taken the inspiration from Classical cathedrals, pan pipes and chimes to work with musicians, electrical engineers, IT consultants and welders to create a piece for the Survey that not only creates the look of movement but is interactive with viewers. As you walk around it the sensors pick up that and unique sounds are created for each person. In the ideal spot under a canopy of tea trees this work is so engaging and “zen” that it makes you want to stay and relate to it as well as enjoy the gorgeous sounds that it makes. As I looked at it (and I have been through the survey several times) I imagined the ocean waves, the wind as it goes over tall mountains and the peacefulness of the natural environment, then the lovely sounds started and I was swept away to a peaceful place in my head.
This sculpture started as sketches in a sketch book, then went on to be designed as a marquette, modified and finalised before the final piece was started. It was done with cooperation from two helpers to put it together as well as musicians to create the unique sounds and electrical engineers for the wiring, computer and sensors. It has three main ultrasonic sensors, one infrared sensor, three main speakers and one small one at the top.
Terrance often works with up to twelve people when completing a piece, but initial idea and inspiration is totally his. He was an interesting speaker and I totally enjoyed hearing his journey into art. It proves that we all get there in different ways, the paths are as unique as we are as people and our styles are as artists. Another very enjoyable chat, even in the wind and cold weather, it was totally worth it.
Terrance Plowright’s work can be seen on his website at: www.plowright.com.au