THE HORSLEY MILL SCULPTURE

and others

It has take me quite some time to launch myself into the process of the Horsley Mill Sculpture. As many people trying to work creatively - or should I say having a creative relationship to the world I walk a tightrope. There’s never enough commissioned work to commit myself entirely to it. I need to teach to support my family - but the income from part-time teaching is not enough. The teaching I do demands so much preparation, that when a large project arises I can hardly fit it in.

The difficulty with art work is, that despite the ongoing poverty, the constant clamour of unpaid bills, artists need leisure. The leisure to dream, potter about, doodle, but above all to be receptive to inspiration. You can’t just say - right I’ve got an hour, I am going to sit down with a pencil and just get on with it. Sometimes this approach may work, but more often than not, the hour passes and the white paper remains blank.

You have to be in the right ‘inner space’ for that moment, that time of inspiration. Then suddenly like a glimpse of something seen in the corner of the eye - it’s there. It happens. Eagerly you begin.

When Aonghus first approached me about the carving (just before it arrived)he was quite clear that he wanted something Michaelic. How to achieve this? Without falling into old representational forms of angels skewering worms? I don’t work figuratively in sculpture; my interest lies in the dynamic of form itself.

Hovering in the back of my mind somewhere was the so-called ‘Grupe’ carving of Rudolf Steiner. One of Rudolf Steiner’s central inspirations is the two-fold nature of the adversary powers. Humanity is achieved through balance of forces.

At the bottom in a cave of the wooden carving crouches Ahriman, surrounded by shredded and dismembered forms. Then there is Ahriman rising, Lucifer sitting majestically under a hooded canopy, Lucifer falling into the abyss.

Between the extremes stands the representative of man, upright holding the balance. Somehow I too wanted to show this struggle and balance, but perhaps in a more contemporary way.

Rudolf Steiner’s carving represents a great cosmic archetype; my effort is to show a moment in the struggle.

I made a whole series of small clay marquettes in which I tried to show a dynamic interplay of forces held in check, balanced by a steadfast core of peace.

Finally the centre disappeared leaving a spiralling skin of struggle. By creating a hollow, a hole or an emptiness, I am trying to challenge the viewer. I am saying “jump in”, you are in the centre of this struggle, you are the one holding the balance, transforming and redeeming the adversary powers.

Once we have jumped, entered the seething welter of contradictory powers, we will be helped in surprising and unexpected ways. The greatest human beings have been there before us and Christ Himself stretches out His hand to help.

Johannes Steuck © 2014