South African visual artist Michael Wedderburn

Michael Wedderburn

Port Elizabeth | 3 artworks for sale

  • Thokk The Jotunn - Sculpture by Michael Wedderburn Thokk The Jotunn
    Sculpture / 24 x 63 cm
    R9 000
  • Entity - Sculpture by Michael Wedderburn Entity
    Sculpture / 14 x 55 cm
    R9 000
  • Gunnar The Warrior - Sculpture by Michael Wedderburn Gunnar The Warrior
    Sculpture / 22 x 52 cm
    R9 300
My aspiration as an artist is to continuously evolve the style and character of my work. Exploring the materiality of wood and its related processes has proven to be my best resource in doing so.
I select certain types of wood for their particular and unique qualities before they become part of my work, whether purely abstract, or figurative abstraction. My instinctive and empathic choice of material and tooling is foundational to the expressive quality of my work. Directed by the aesthetic properties of wood, its colour, textures, shapes, and forms, I select my material. Drawn from raw logs, processed timber, off-cuts large and small, and even sawdust, I am captivated by the possibilities of what such raw material may bring to the creative process.
Exploring these possibilities for many years, I have become equally comfortable in a woodworker’s shop as I am in a steel forge, where I develop my own carving tools such as axes and adzes suited to my carving and splitting techniques. To guide myself in the exploration of such a vast field of material and technical options, I employ thematic markers such as Norse mythology, which sharply direct my focus in the construction of expressive art forms.

Michael Wedderburn (b.1986) is an expressionist sculptor and painter focused on the exploration and development of conventional and non-conventional methods within Abstraction. Wedderburn currently works as a lecturing assistant / studio technician in Sculpture at the Nelson Mandela University, under head of sculpture, David Jones. Here Michael teaches the basic techniques and methods of sculpture to undergraduate students, which include tool making, machine and tool usage, woodwork, carving and mould-making basics. Additionally, he has also interned at Department of Visual Arts’ Bird Street Gallery and supervised public sculpture projects.

Selected Exhibitions:

2022
Solo exhibition, Wood and Wind, NMU Business School, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth
Group exhibition, Down the Rabbit Hole, Rocking Rabbit café, Newton Park, Port Elizabeth
Group exhibition, Celebrating Eastern Cape Artists, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum, Port Elizabeth
Group exhibition, Same size/Same price/No signature, Art on Target, Port Elizabeth

2020
Solo exhibition Expressive Dimensions, Birdstreet Gallery, Port Elizabeth

2013
Masters Graduate Exhibition, February 2013, Athenaeum, Central, Port Elizabeth

Competition Exhibitions:

Sasol New Signatures Finalist 2014 - 2019, Sasol New Signatures Finalists Exhibition, Pretoria Art Museum

Which artists, books or music have inspired your work?
My interests in creativity did not come from historical books about great artists or inspiration to make beautiful things, but came from a realization that art is a productive means to escape life and circumstance. I am driven more by the act of making art. However, by researching Jackson Pollock and his method Action painting I became open to the importance of style and character in art making methods. Style and character can be identified and developed by feeding our interests. In my particular case, I immerse myself in stories and music with dark, powerful, and dramatic themes and these have great influence on the expressive nature of my work.  

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
The microphone stand designed by H.R. Giger for Jonathan Davis (lead singer of the band Korn)

How did you get started? Did you always want to be an artist?
I did not always want to be a visual artist. Art was just something that I did out of curiosity at first. It gradually and naturally became my primary focus the more experience, practice, and knowledge I acquired.  

What are some of the key themes you explore in your work?
Primarily my work is about expression/ self-expression. For this task I employ themes which serve as guides rather than rules, these include logical themes such as anatomy, and imaginative themes such as Norse mythology.

What should people know about your art that they can’t tell from looking at it?
That they should enjoy it on their own terms. What matters to me is that the work provokes thought as this is what making it does for me.

What are the most essential items in your studio and why?
My current practice involves a lot of woodwork and metal smithing, without my collection of tools and equipment associated to these trades I cannot achieve the individualistic methods and style I have developed over a lifetime of making.

Tell us more about your creative process.
I am fascinated with methods and exploring the possibilities of materials. I like to move freely between two and three-dimensional practices. Making use of approaches linked to the expression of the unconscious in drawing and painting, I developed a unique sculptural style and commensurate praxis. My aspiration as an artist is to continuously evolve the style and character of my work. Exploring the materiality of wood and its related processes has proven to be my best resource in doing so.

Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?
About five years ago I made Hela the Goddess death I, an abstracted figural sculpture assembled from sharp and violent looking pieces of wood. To me, the form and stature of this figure is powerful and dark, it is a direct reflection of the temperament I was experiencing at the time of making. This sculpture I keep with me and am very reluctant to part with it.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
I have never won any art competitions.
However, I was a top 100 finalist in Sasol new signatures art competition for six years in a row, 2013-2019. I have also been a viewer’s choice finalist on State of the Art competition.
I believe my greatest achievement in art was the development of my own methodology called anatomical Automatism as part of my master’s research. My current practice is based upon this strong foundation and it has opened me to a never-ending source of inspiration and practice.

What are your aspirations for the future?
An ambitious aspiration of mine is to build a business including myself and select artists to share a factory sized studio and work on both personal and group projects, such as public sculpture. Ultimately, I would like to integrate teaching apprentice style programs at this business for young artists.
An extremely close second to this is to continue my career in academics where I can one-day run a sculpture department and further my education and obtain a PHD.
A large fully equipped studio is essential for both of these aspirations.