In the Studio – January Update

It’s all been a bit quiet on here recently so I thought I’d update you all as to what I’ve been doing. My accidental phallic sculpture caught me quite by surprise and really influenced the next stage of this line of enquiry.

Whilst trying to find where my work fits in the world of sculpture I found similar work of abstracted bodies by Robert Gober. Gober’s work about sexuality and loss of artists and friends around him due to AIDS in what was, perhaps, the darkest point of the wide-spread epidemic in the 1980’s. The Guardian’s Jason Farago describes the work of Gober as “a collection of memento mori, of burning relics from an era when boys like me didn’t know if they’d live another year”(Farago, 2016), encouraging us to reflect on our own personal loss, our actions and how we can better ourselves. This reflection manifests itself through disembodiment, intricately replicated legs (Untitled Leg, 1989-1990) are no longer attached to a body, they float on alone as if the body they were once attached to has faded from memory. Reproductions of male lower torsos and unlit candles (Untitled 1991) offer the viewer a “sobering re-acquaintance with recent history and unfathomable loss…. and in the silence and vulnerability of so much that Mr. Gober has done, dwells the theme of redemptive love and the all too real effect of its absence, which is poisonous hate”(Farago, 2016), the abstracted body in Gober’s work seems to haunt the gallery space.

This had me thinking, perhaps I should make work along similar lines but update it to provide commentary on the modern age of social media and the forever quickening world in which everything is instantaneous has served to desensitise people from social taboos, resulting in an unrelenting barrage of messages with unsolicited requests to “send nudes” or to accept an invitation into a faceless stranger’s bed as the norm. I want my work to highlight the immense pressure put upon social media users to drop their morals, standards and their pants with little regard for their own sexual health.

As you can see, I have started to create malformed body abstracted bodies to bring about a sense of disgust and body horror. You’ll see as time has gone on I have included things in my work such as real hair and a glossy finish to really hit home and deliver a wake up call to social media-addicted society.


This piece (above) was created using a pizza tray!





Above: I did try to take this further with a clockwork mechanism to create spinning hair but unfortunately the hair kept getting caught in the mechanism and clogging.

Although I was determined that I wanted my work to be grotesque I also wanted it to reflect the commodity status that sex has degraded to, to make it so sickly-sweet, as if I were offering a high-end, high quality product. I wanted to have high-sheen finishes on my sculptural pieces, similar to that seen in the work of Jeff Koons, in which the self-merchandising and kitsch nature of the work is reflective of our consumerist culture.

The images below document the installation period of my latest co-curated show, ‘Constellations’.

The installation piece depicts two phone screens, both using an app like Grindr or Tinder. They are separated by a love heart, a message of irony considering the lewd circumstances and the direction of their conversation. The heart is shiny but almost in a thick and gelatinous way, there are craters on its surface too. The conversation continues onto the floor, one asks the other if he can see his “love stick” and so they exchange pictures, in doing so they expose their malformed manhood.

I have created this piece so that if you read the piece collectively it plays out much like a conversation on one of these apps but if you read each screen on its own it reflects the lonely nature of the realities that these lewd message senders face.


Farago, J. (2016) Robert Gober opens at MoMA: Sober, haunting and genuinely affecting. Available at: (Accessed: 14 January 2017).


One thought on “In the Studio – January Update

  1. Pingback: In The Studio – June Update | Larry Walker-Tonks

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