A Question of Process #7: Almuth Tebbenhoff LG

“I can usually trace the process for a particular work back to a revelatory moment, to me becoming conscious of something important”

Sandra Crisp LG: ““Bronze, steel, stone, marble and clay are the main materials used within your sculpture practice. I have seen many great photos posted on social media of you wearing various protective clothing, goggles and ear protectors whilst working with sculpting tools. In your exhibition ‘Who Will Buy My Dark Dark World’, Pangolin London Gallery, five black windows contain small sculptures and are dramatically lit, also with a reflected backdrop of the city. I am struck by the scale of your steel sculpture ‘Horizon Splitting’, 2016, (300 x 45 x 6 cm) and the use of vibrant colour against the polished steel, and also the sheer physical work that must be needed to make these works.”

Almuth Tebbenhoff: “I can usually trace the process for a particular work back to a revelatory moment, to me becoming conscious of something important, such as everything being connected, alive and striving to know the next piece in the puzzle. The process of living and of making art are inextricably linked.

“Along the artist’s way, imagery gets picked up by the brain and certain aspects trigger off reactions. I then decide how excited I am and whether this excitement is strong enough to sustain me through the laborious process of making a piece.

“For instance: I was challenged by a rational person to explain my steel framed cubes. These cubes had their origins in my interest in geometry and space, but I couldn’t say why they obsessed me so. Only that I thought that there was beautiful meaning in the empty space that the steel outlines described very loosely. I generally feel that the deepest power and meaning lie in the immaterial not the material. Love has no shape or form and neither does yearning, longing, grief or joy. But such feelings make me aware that I am alive and there is this strange dichotomy: something that has no substance can have a powerful effect on me. Even wind has substance, air, but unrequited love with no substance whatsoever can create an excruciating pain that feels substantially physical.

‘RedHead Sunset Stack’

“So back to process: I started with a lump of clay and smacked it around until it had become a cube. With wire hooks and spoons I scooped out more and more of its interior, leaving the edges intact until they started to cave in. I then backed off and allowed the clay to harden a bit. I resumed the ‘mining’ the next day until I had a dramatic core with some fragile outside edges, barely holding it together. I felt that this process described in parallel what life was doing to me. All my fantasies of goodness and perfection were taken out of me with the ‘me’ being a lump that had surrendered its will to the clinical tools of wire and spoon. During that particular process I felt like a visceral mess, barely in control. However with my hands in the clay – I knew my material well – I could continue the hollowing out process right to the point of collapse. Then I would stop at the right moment. So this was a useful piece of the puzzle; Know Your Material!

Work in progress (Clay)

‘Indense Sarcophagus’ 2019
Medium: Fired clay

“The next stage was another transformation. I wanted to change the material from clay to marble. That would give me instant strength in the material but also more resistance. I bought a block of Portuguese marble which has translucency and would give me the almost see-through edges that would light up the whole interior of the block in controlled random patterns. In 2006, during my first lessons in marble carving, I was taught to be very careful and not get too close to the edge. Pushing through the material would destroy the block of marble. Translucency in marble carving circles is a sort of holy cow. All the old masters played with it, delighting the viewers with this almost religious ethereal beauty of the material. So this process, that made me deliberately break through the thin membranes of the marble, seemed an abuse of the material, but to me was an important psychological process. It ran parallel to a breakthrough in my personal life – yet another breakthrough of many.”

Almuth Tebbenhoff LG, 2021

Work in progress on ‘Indensity’ (marble) with the artist holding the original
small-scale fired clay sculpture

Upcoming exhibitions:
‘RedHead Sunset Stack’ will be installed for a year in Mitre Square, London as part of Sculpture In The City, opening 15th June

‘Coming up for Air’, The London Group and Friends exhibition, St John’s Church Garden, Waterloo SE1 8TY 9th June 2021 – 27th June 2021

‘In the Dark III: Being There’ The London Group exhibition, The Crypt at St John’s, Sat 19 June – Sun 27 Jun 2021

‘In Plain Sight’ The London Group exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Elmfield House, Dowell Street, Devon EX14 1LX, 14 August – 2 October 2021.

‘Off The Wall’ exhibition, Gallery Pangolin, Chalford, August 2021 (Also, a solo show there in 2022)

A Question of Process:
#6 Alexandra Harley LG
#8 Paul Tecklenberg LG