“The word ‘forest’ inevitably denotes a romantic escape away from urbanity with its grime, fumes and noise. With these sculptures I am trying to make a clear connection between the tissue and structure of our bodies with that of trees. It’s really exciting for me to show these new works in Letchworth Garden City, with this town’s history so steeped in a human quest for civility in the countryside.
Last year I studied some anatomical books from 15th century Germany in the V&A which contained woodcut prints of the human body broken down into simple geometric shapes. I wanted to emulate these forms in English oak, playing with angles, facets, and gravity. When you look at a violin, it is essentially sections of wood that have been carved from a tree, shaped, and then constructed again in a different way. I have tried to make these sculptures in a similar mode, carved and then constructed, but rather than hollow, we have dense and blocky, playful yet sincere forms. The tools I use are old school - graph paper, pencil, ruler, bandsaw, sanding discs, and some adhesive. But the gentle use of a 3d rendering programme on my laptop helps me to visualise and assemble new structures. Everything we touch is either originally mined or grown, and so rather than scrolling all day on my iPhone, made from plastic that has come out of an oil rig, it is a joy to work with the smell, grain, weight and texture of a symbolic and sacred species such as oak in my workshop.”
Rory Menage (b.1988) is a British sculptor exploring new possibilities in portraying naturalism. Carving and casting in raw materials such as wood, limestone and iron, he examines the position of object-making in our digitally saturated era. Menage holds a BAin Modern Languages and Linguistics from Oxford University and an MA from Leeds College of Art. His work has been shown at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, the Saatchi Gallery, McNamara Art Projects in Hong Kong and Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer in Vienna. He has just been awarded the Daiwa Foundation Grant to start a residency in Nara, Japan this year. He lives and works in York, UK.