Galleria Moderna
Bates ~ Muse Mask Bronze
Bates ~ Muse Mask Bronze
Bates ~ Muse Head Bronze
Bates ~ Muse Head Bronze
Bates ~ Headland Bronze
Bates ~ Headland Bronze
Galleria Primitiva ~ Galleria Moderna
Masks
Masks
Galleria Primitiva
Charles Pizer ~ Artist/Solar Art
Thomas W Bates ~ Artist/Sculptor
Stuart Hirst ~ Artist/Painter
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

A sculptor all his life, Thomas W. Bates served as Senior Lecturer in Fine Art  & as Head of School of Sculpture, Exeter College of Art & Design, Exeter (UK), until leaving in 1990 to concentrate full time on his own work. His work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy (London) & numerous commercial galleries & private forums in the UK & Australia. At the age of 72 & with his artwork housed in collections around the world, Bates continues to produce a steady & prolific stream of sculptures, drawings, & poetry from the rural seclusion of his studio in South Australia.
     "This is an artist you can trust."
      ~ Tony Smith, Arts Review UK, Volume XXXX No. 3

Bates ~ The Great Singer
The Great
Singer

life-size sculpture
A DETAILED EXPLANATION
of the
COMPLEX SCULPTING & CASTING PROCESS
~ in the artist's own words ~

In the sculptor's studio ~
A unique plaster cast is made by making a mould from an original clay model. This model is divided into parts by thin brass shims inserted into the clay to make a division between the caps. The mould is made by flicking a liquid plaster onto the clay, systematically cleaning the brass shim edge. The first coat is tinted to alert the sculptor when chipping out the cast that the surface of the cast is close. The next 2 coats are not tinted & added to thicken the mould, usually to about 1/2 inch thickness. The mould is strengthened by the addition of metal bars bent to follow the surface of mould, but not crossing the dividing seams. The mould is then sprayed with water, or immersed in water if size allows, until the clay original expands, thereby opening the mould along the dividing shim lines. Once the mould is open, the clay is removed, bit by bit, & the mould cleaned by gently washing off the clay residue. Then the mould is soaped with soft soap for about ten minutes to help form a release layer between the mould & its future filling and then sprayed clean. The mould is then oiled on the interior surface with a very fine coat of oil - this creates the main release layer of the mould. The parts, halves if a small simple mould, are wired together & joined over the seams with a plaster seal. A small mould can then be filled with liquid plaster, or piece by piece with plaster & reinforcing scrim if the mould is more complicated. A complex mould can take days to fill as each piece is filled separately & then internally joined. The resulting cast from a complex mould is hollow & about 1/2 inch thick. From a small, simple, 2-piece mould, the cast is solid & has been filled by swilling liquid plaster around inside it & then filling the whole piece with liquid plaster. Once thoroughly set - 3 hours - it can be chipped out using wooden mallets & wooden-handled blunt chisels. The clean white cast of the original is then handed over to a professional foundry for casting into bronze.

At the foundry ~
Casting the actual bronzes involves 2 more moulds being made. The first is a thin silicon piece mould, which is held stable by  secondary plaster shells. From this master mould the individual hollow waxes for each cast of the edition are taken by rolling molten wax inside the mould until a thin lining is built up. As the thickness of this lining eventually becomes the bronze, it needs to be about 1/3 of an inch think. As the silicon mould is flexible , once the plaster shell is removed, it can be gently eased off the wax. This process is repeated until the complete edition is made.  Each wax is then encased in its own heat resistant waste mould, both inside and out. This mould also has additional drains, funnels and risers, to allow for the wax to be melted out, the molten bronze to be poured in and for the gasses to escape. There are also pins which keep the two shells of inner and outer apart when the wax is melted out in a furnace. The wax drain from the emptied mould is capped off and  the mould is filled with molten bronze. This is the actual cast. Once the bronze has cooled, the grog waste mould is removed. The risers and funnels which have also been 'cast' as solid bronze but are definitely not required are skilfully cleaned away, often by bursting
bursting them off with a mallet and very sharp chisel and then by filing back to the sculptor's surface. The surface of the bronze requires skilled cleaning and patinating with acids and waxes. This patination creates the surface colour and is carefully achieved through consultation between the craftsman and the artist.

Further notes:
In this way, an edition of 6-10 bronzes is made. At any step, disaster may occur & the cast can fail or be damaged. To achieve casting of the quality of Thomas Bates' bronzes, only the most skillful of founders are used. Larger editions can be made, but in the case of the majority of Bates' work, the editions are kept purposely small to enhance the rarity of these sculptures. Each bronze is considered an original, & after the edition is made, the moulds are destroyed. Each piece is signed, & a certificate to confirm its number in the edition is issued. The number in the edition does not reflect on its value, as each piece is considered an original. This is the time-honoured process of making bronze sculptures & differs from the process of working directly in wax, as many sculptors do, when there is no 'plaster  unique' to judge the standard of the bronze cast against. It is time consuming & a highly skillful way of working.


A note on the disappearance of sculptors' casting skills...
        It appears that few sculptors these days have the knowledge & skill to work in this way, from clay through piece moulds into plaster uniques for bronzes. These skills disappeared in the 1970s & '80s when they ceased to be taught to sculpture students in most English Art schools. The loss of these casting skills has been regretted by many sculptors, as modelled clay work cannot be preserved indefinitely, whereas plaster uniques are fragile but permanent; there are still Roman plaster existing. Hence a great deal of good clay work is lost by many artists & rather a lot of wax work is cast instead. In tradition, wax was used to make a maquette only, this was then modelled, full size, in clay. By losing this clay modelled part of the process, the subtlety of form which can be achieved in clay, I feel, has been sacrificed to the Gods of time & expense.
        Thomas Bates was trained by sculptors who were expert mould makers, who had been young men when English Victorian sculptors trained them. So, Bates comes from a long line of English sculptural tradition which stretches right back, in essence to the Elizabethans & beyond. There are still very skilful founders around who continue to teach complex foundry techniques to apprentices, & though modern methods differ, yet have the same objective: reproduction in bronze.
        ~ Liz Forsyth, BA Hons.


Among Bates' instructors was sculptor & teacher of outstanding perceptions, Albert Pountney, ARCA, recipient of the Prix de Rome & Rome Scholar. The Prix de Rome is a very prestigious award, & only one person a year gets to go & study in Rome.

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