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Guest article: Dawn Conn from the Art in the Garden exhibition talks about the inspiration behind Hugo the bear.
23 September 2020
I found a sea groyne from Woolwich ferry at a reclamation yard, removed due to rising water of the Thames river. Sometime later I saw an image of a polar bear balancing precariously on a melting iceberg, struggling. The story began.
The tip of the sea groyne became the iceberg, cast with the rivets of metal and chalk build up from the seabed. By positioning ‘Hugo’ the polar bear teetering on the edge of the tip, I exposed his fragility. I wanted to encapsulate the synergy of industrialisation and the impact on the natural world in a simple poignant manner. Hugo captures the vulnerability of our planet and our place within it.
I never dreamed of being a sculptor. Growing up on a farm in New Zealand, practical skills were valued more than creative pursuits. The years went on and I followed a traditional path of study, work, travel, marriage, motherhood. By the time I was nearing forty, with my father’s death, a work injury and marriage separation, I had reached a low point in my life. I began focusing on trying to find something that would make me happy. I sought many experiences and it was by chance I went on a sculpture retreat at the foothills of the Southern alps in New Zealand. In that time, I experienced an epiphany ... something magical happened. I felt an absolute joy, deep inside my heart. I knew it was a sign. For the next 7 years, I tried to learn all different sculpture mediums and styles. In 2010, I decided to start my sculpture business, focusing on my style which combines my passion for textiles fused with an industrialised edge of upcycling architectural salvage. With inspiration from stories of childhood, wonder and joy, somehow, it feels like I am a child, that gets to play every day.
Dawn Conn, sculptor from the Surrey Sculpture Society
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