Since graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in the early 80’s, David Begbie has garnered the reputation as a leading figure of the wire mesh sculpting movement.
Choosing to work primarily with the human form, Begbie’s meticulously crafted figures capture a level of detail that has been compared to the likes of Michelangelo and Rodin.
Having perfected his technique over the past three decades, Begbie is able to manipulate wire mesh, both bronze and steel, to his will; achieving an almost hyper real level of exactness, working the metal until it eventually appears as perfectly formed and tactile as the skin of the human body.
He is able to seamlessly match the complex contouring of the nude form, whilst at the same time play with scale. He often switches between a real life scale, to larger than life, as well as occasionally choosing to work on a much smaller scale without ever losing any of the complex detailing he has become so well known for; his playful and diverse approach to the human form showcases what a true master of his craft he has become.
His work exists at the interplay of sculpture and light; whilst wire mesh has become the physical medium through which the artist creates his sublime forms, light operates to give them enhanced energy, movement and depth.
With the majority of Begbie’s figures suspended around a foot from the wall, the use of spot lighting creates fascinating shadows behind them that operate to show off the intricate details of the manipulated wire mesh, whilst at the same time giving a sense of volume and depth that the artworks so powerfully command.
Recent years have seen David Begbie expand his practice beyond that of the human form and towards creating a diverse range of sculptures, from abstract to representational.
Working on a monumental scale, the artist has deconstructed an Arabic Dhow (a traditional sailing vessel used on the Red Sea) into its individual components, bow, mast, sail and so on, before carefully rearranging each section into a complex suspended artwork.
Through this work Begbie has sought to create something which is more than the mere sculptural rendering of a sailing ship, but instead some thingwhich captures the soul of the vessel, as much as the vessel itself. Fabricated entirely in white painted stainless steel mesh, the artist is quoted as saying, “rather than in water it floats in air.
Phantom-like, this sculpture seems mysteriously poised between the elements where horizon is blurred or lost, its ethos suggesting it exists not only where sea and sky optically merge but in a place where they physically merge, to and where there are neither one thing nor the other.”
This highlights the depth of thought behind Begbie’s work, he is seeking to produce art that not only exists as an interpretation of a real object, but which also references the world on an elemental and philosophical level.
With Begbie’s practice expanding and evolving at an ever-increasing pace, we are fascinated to see where the artist will take his wire mesh sculpting next.