During the recent Midlife Conversations conference hosted and organised by the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, I was invited to make an artistic intervention in the way the conference was held. I invited attendees to take identical balls of clay and shape them in ways that expressed their responses to conversations and ideas had at the conference. The idea was to explore how we might use non-verbal languages to articulate ideas in new ways, and stimulate further conversation.
Anthony Gormley says that “Sculpture is a way of allowing the mind to dwell in matter, it is a means of becoming aware of the connections between matter, space and time in a way that is complementary to (but completely different from) the connections that science has made.”
Taking Shape explores that complimentary relationship that can exist between the physical and verbal articulation of thought, and how ideas might swim between the two. In the same way that a sculptor might begin with a physical form, then discuss it with their friends, and rework the shape to produce the final product in their chosen medium, we might invert this, and use sculpture as a place between words, a kind of transistor in the process of thinking and creating.
Below are a handful of the sculptures made by attendees of the conference.