Gosia is a Toronto-based artist who trained as an illustrator but is now transitioning from creating original paintings and small sculptural works to larger fine art sculpture.
I visited Gosia in her east end studio where she was putting the finishing touches on several new sculptures in preparation for an exhibition opening this week at Latitude 44 gallery.
How did the shift into sculpture come about for her after years of painting and illustration work?
“When I left school, you had to do a lot of cold-calling for illustration and I didn’t really have it in me.
“I had my website up, and I was getting a lot of requests to buy original illustrations, so I started doing more painting, and doing tiny local shows like the Gladstone – selling prints and some originals. And then the One of a Kind found me at one of those shows, and they asked me to apply, and I did and I got in. They wouldn’t let me sell prints, and I couldn’t just paint a million paintings, so I started making little Sculpey faces.”
Over the course of a couple of years, Gosia’s exploration of whimsical polymer clay faces, dolls, shadow boxes and elfish busts, eventually led her to attempt larger sculptural works:
“After a few years of that, I wanted to make big sculptures. I could feel it – I had this urge. Plus, I got skilled enough with my hands that I knew I could do it.”
Gosia exhibited her first three big pieces at The Artist Project last February:
“I had a really good response, so I’m trying to do more of that. Transitioning from craft into fine art – which is something that I always wanted to do. “
I ask her to tell me a little bit more about her process, which involves making a mold of the original sculpture and elaborating on some of the resulting casts with additional materials:
“I sculpt the original out of clay and I make a silicone mold. I can do whatever I want with it after I have the mold – I can use fabric or different types of clays and come up with new characters, different atmospheres.”
The original sculpture for Eva (pictured above) was bald, personalized with hair & headdress after the cast was made. Two other busts from the same mold – Luna and Pearl – were each made unique with their own additions.
Gosia is making a small number of editions of her latest sculpture, Shape of Her Eyes (also called the Penny bust, after the model who inspired it), without additional elaboration:
“The new stage is creating a sculpture that can stand on its own. [Penny] has hair, she is finished. But she’s still simple enough that I can add to it as well.
“And it’s fun – because I can have the edition and be proud of the piece I sculpted, but then I can also make new ones and explore, and have fun with it.”
Though her illustrations and smaller sculpted faces had a strong touch of the fantastic, the newer work is steering away from fairy tale motifs:
“I wanted to go a little bit more classic at this point. I was doing little elves and fairies and things like that for the last three years, and I feel like I explored that enough for now. I thought I’d go back and learn to do the human form without those elements. I find that more of a challenge right now.”
Why was the fantastic element so strong in her earlier work?
“I grew up in Poland, with a lot of stories about woodland creatures. There’s always something living in the woods – in cartoons and children’s books. So that stuff obviously influenced me and stuck in my head and whenever I was doing any kind of drawing – before I thought this would ever become a career – it was always those sorts of creatures and those sorts of ideas.”
Gosia is now focusing completely on sculpture and leaving the illustration work aside – and off her new website.
“It wasn’t because I didn’t like the old work that I was doing; I just had something else inside of me – this is going to sound cheesy – that had to come out. And without a clean break, I don’t feel that you get the chance to move on.
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