Elise in her Studio
6 June 2017
Last night, Elise Muller led the second of our after supper artistic discussions. She told how her grandmother had been a sculptor, but had never talked to her directly about stone sculpting. Later, when at art school, Elise took a course on stone carving and knew immediately that it was what she wanted to do. Something appealed to her and she was hooked.
Elise then showed us a series of photographs that displayed her sculptures in chronological order. She talked about each one individually, the stone from which it was carved, the manner in which she carved, and the effects she was trying to achieve. Movement interested her and she was trying to sculpt a series of movements into her stonework. Her early sculptures featured different forms of movement, fathers and mothers carrying their children, a woman wading, and so on. At this early stage movement was present, but it was not conceived as an intentional thematic link between sculptures. Her later sculptures, some commissioned, some made for friends and family, were conscious attempts at carving movement into stone.
A statue called Ballerina was sculpted by Elise for her grandfather and shows her own daughter dancing. The slender figure moves elegantly, poised and posed in stone. A companion piece, Ballerino, shows a male figure dancing. Even a perched bird, a Whisky Jack or Grey Jay, carved in stone and perched on a stone pedestal, leans forward in a moment caught by the camera that photographed the stone. Movement, caught in still stone and photos, is everywhere in the later sculptures. Looking at them, time stands still and the stone flows.
Open discussion followed and we chatted about the healing qualities of crystals and how stones too held their magnetism and personalities. Elise talked about the different types of stone, the various marbles, soapstone, granite, and we discussed the fundamental cost of the actual stone, before it was even turned into the work of art. Elise told us how she was attracted to different types of stone and how the raw material would “call” her and attract her attention. Sometimes, she said, she drew her ideas from the stone, however, on other occasions, she would sketch what she wanted to carve and then find a stone that would be suitable. This latter method she associated more with her commissioned work. Elise also told us about the effect of weather upon stone and how some stones could be left outside in sun, rain, and snow, while others needed more protection.
Art lag, something similar to jet lag, but far more pleasant, was setting in and, a weary group, we adjourned early, leaving behind, with regret, some wonderful ideas and memories, but taking with us images Elise’s creative techniques and mind pictures of the creations that Elise had plucked from her stones.