Lead Crystal

Having made work based on Manet’s ‘Dejeuner Sur l’Herbe’ in 2006, I wanted to revisit and explore the compositional elements of three paintings: two by Eduard Manet and one by the High Renaissance painter Georgioni where they portray three differing versions of the female nude.

The first is that of the ‘unaware’ female nude; the figure displaying no obvious conscious physical embarrassment of her nakedness. The second was isolated privacy and the third was the idea of the being alone within a group. (Of course all are the subject of the male voyeur and so the idea that you would depict this naivety now seems alien in our contemporary Western world).

All three of these paintings seem no longer scandalous or sexually assaulting to a Western culture, although the nude female is still considered private and exposed flesh in public shameful in many other cultures and religions of the world including Islamic cultures where a Burqa or Burkha is required to be worn. In Christian culture the exposed body is also not a subject of high morality and yet via the tradition of using the nude in religious subjects it has made portrayals of the body acceptable.

I wanted to understand through this piece this idea of being both naked and clothed, harmonous and disruptive, transitional and stationary. Using ‘Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe’, ‘La Nymphe Surprise’, and Georgioni’s ‘La Fete Champetre’ I wanted to explore the subtlety of the forms, the spontaneity of the composition and the calmness of the imagery. Using lead crystal glass to cast the pieces allows the figures to be back lit and gives the panel a translucency which adds depth and a light, ethereal quality to the form of the Alto Relievo panel. Rene Lalique used this techinque in the 1930s and I am continuing to work within a tradition of figurative glass Alto and Bas Relief panels. The forms are partly polished to allow more translucency to the forms and more detailed definition to the faces, which also partly mirrors that concept thought of concealed and exposed.