Dawn Conn Sculpture
 
 

INFO

Merging curiosity, wonder and memory. 

Drawing on the simplicity and stories of our childhood.  

Inspired to create characters that embody love, life and energy.

Capturing a moment in a way that is both utterly enchanting and irresistibly infectious, whilst exhorting us to embrace all that life has to offer.

 
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Did you know…

I work in mixed media which includes: metal, resin, textiles and bronze metal.  Anything in mixed media can also be cast in bronze.

I gather stories. By sharing these stories, it allows the viewer to have their own interpretation, a personal connection, perhaps a story of their own, that communicates where we have been and where we are going in our journey of life.   

Each original, one-of-a-kind sculpture, takes at least a month or more to make, resulting in only about 12 – 15 pieces being made a year.

 


inspiration…

My Mum. It is only in recent years with the onset of her Alzheimer’s that she has found comfort and peace in the memories of her youth.  Memories we can all relate to governed by simplicity, joy and curiosity.  It has also been my Mother’s Alzheimer’s that has made me reflect on my own dreams. 

My latest swimming girls are the exceptions, all taking that first step into the unknown.  Lovingly hand created, I channel memories and emotions, into sculptural forms.  These girls capture the essence and epitome of woman.  Beautiful and strong. 

Happy client who wrote kind words:

…“I feel a little teary just looking at it. I absolutely love your work” ~ Emily


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It’s the little things…

I’ve always been curious about history, the quirky and those little fragments of memory from the small moments of life growing up. It’s a joy to hunt for things for my work…the lost, found and forgotten all have places in what I make. I try to use recycled materials, not only as an ethical statement, but I believe they add more authenticity and charm. I hope my sculptures develop into tactile memories, that celebrate the beauty of life - and our place within it. 

 Happy client who wrote kind words:

…”Dawn guided us through, collecting our thoughts and ideas and delivering the perfect gift – a beautiful, distinctive and meaningful piece collating our individual pasts, our present and our exciting future.  Thank you Dawn for such a wonderful experience and a fabulous end result!" ~ Sharon

 
 
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The Process

The process of creating a sculpture starts with a story.  

Working with vintage objects, is a grounding and physical relationship that provides a challenge for Dawn's imagination.   Dawn approaches each art work in two different ways: 'in one way, you have to be a curator to work with the heritage of the found treasure, but at the same time, I need to introduce my style and tell my story.' 

Reinforced steel armature

Reinforced steel armature

Her organic process is to think, dream, experiment and take risks without constraint. 'I am inspired by gesture, posture and expression; distortion, elongation and exaggeration.  I am inspired by the sculpture of Giacometti and Moore, the paintings of Modigliani and Degas, photography of Tim Walker and of course imagination of Tim Burton!'

First is a technical understanding of the medium. This consists of knowledge of the materials that Dawn is working with and knowledge of how it may be manipulated to fit the concept.  The design starts by recognising the properties and constraints & limitations of working with vintage treasures.  

'I choose to use antique textiles as much as possible, intrigued with their stories, history and details; they never cease to inspire me.' 

Finding these treasures can spark off new ideas and stories for Dawn. 'I can take weeks, months or years over design ideas, of which only a few every get turned into actual figurines.'  

Ultimately, for Dawn, it is not about simply reproducing, the sculptures have to recreate the sensations it provokes.  'Each piece has their own story, own personality, conveying emotion and expression. It’s bringing it into life in my mind, heart & soul.'  

After deciding what scale to use, Dawn starts building the armature, a structural framework made of welded steel or aluminium rods for reinforcement, stability & strength. It is then gradually built up with layers of aluminium, fibre glass mesh, wire and a waterproof plastic resin that is mixed in small batches and applied liberally. This dries to a hardened finish that can withstand the elements.

Each layer is manipulated and moulded and then bound by resin soaked textile for a tactile finish.  The ultimate goal is to create a robust sculpture, which will retain the integrity of its elegance & beauty but also allow the viewer to engage with the tactile sensation of the figure.  Dawn comments, 'I love using my hands to mould and build up each piece, feeling the curves and lines, as I go. I like to model in soft materials, which set hard, so that I can see the figures growing full of movement and expression before my eyes.'

Working on detail over wire/metal framework with e-poxy resin.

Working on detail over wire/metal framework with e-poxy resin.

The finishing features are created with an exterior grade e-poxy resin to get finer life-like details. This two part epoxy compound which chemically cures when combined. This can be manipulated during & after its curing time: textured, drilled, carved, sawed, sanded & painted. It is robust, freeze/thaw proof, water proof & heat/flame resistant. Sprayed with an undercoat and two top coats of plastic paint, the figurative sculpture comes alive ready for installation.

Dawn has spent the past 15 years working extensively in this medium, perfecting & developing her skills in itʼs manipulation. At every point in the process, she is constantly reviewing how it looks and perform in a 360° manner.  At the same time it is critical to step away for a while to let the eyes and mind rest and see the sculpture with ‘fresh eyes’ and be able to fine-tune the creation.  

The final stage is the painting of colour, taking many hours applying various tones, which reinforce the themes and humanly qualities.  Finally it is  fused it with the protective polyurethane, waterproof sealant or exterior varnish.  This is a very rewarding part of the process, that allows the figure to come to life.  

My sculpture concept is a fusion of sculpture techniques using longlasting raw materials to create something timeless and unique. Each piece is individually hand sculpted & the work process varies depending on shape, form & complexity of the piece.  It takes at least a month to 4 months to create from design story concept to finishing.  Dawn comments, 'this intense detailed process only allows me to create about 15 original, special pieces a year.'

… 'each time I finish a sculpture it feels like it includes a piece of me and it is very special to me. They become one of the family that occupies my world.'

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News


 
‘Diving into life’ on the river Thames (2018)

‘Diving into life’ on the river Thames (2018)

July 2019

Henley swim festival

Showcasing swimming girl sculptures at this festival of swimming celebration.

 

 

June 2019:

“Bloom in the park” festival, dublin

Bloom festival was launched in Ireland in 2007 primarily as a showcase for garden plants, garden design, construction, horticulture and gardening as a hobby.  Based on similar successful formats such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Shows and RHS Hampton Court Palace shows. Bloom has numerous highly creative gardens and plant displays which are used to inspire and excite the public about gardening and garden design. 

Thrilled to be part of the Kildare gallery sculpture garden again this year.

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May 2019

Henley arts trail:

Henley Arts Trail has developed into a showcase of the finest local artistic talent. A regular feature of the cultural and social calendar of Henley on Thames and the villages that surround it. New to the area, I joined the Twyford arts group display & on Sunday we welcomed the Prime minister, Teresa May to our venue.

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April 2019

UK House & Garden magazine feature:

I decided to collaborate with the House & Garden magazine. I am an avid believer of celebrating hand made art in the home. I love gardens. I think no garden is complete without a main focal point, but it can often be difficult to find the right idea. Many garden owners favour a beautiful sculpture for their garden, selected with both the context of plants and landscape and the tastes of those using the garden in mind.

Whether you live in a country house set upon acres of land, or a small suburban home with a shady garden, there will be a sculpture that will be able to completely change the way you look at your garden.

I think placing one of my sculptures on a rustic plinth creates a stylish, rough and ready effect that makes the perfect statement.

 

 

February 2019

Australian exhibition:

Returning to Australia for a short visit after three years in Europe, Dawn Conn teams up with local artist Fiona Chivers to present the “Halcyon Days” exhibition focusing on a time that was idyllically happy & peaceful.

I played tribute to my Mum in this exhibition.  A woman best described as hardworking, independent and proud.  It is only in recent years with the onset of her Alzheimer’s that her Mother has found comfort & peace in the memories of her youth.  Memories we can all relate to governed by simplicity, joy and curiosity.  It has also been my Mum’s Alzheimer’s that has made her reflect on her own dreams.  The dreams I have cast aside in the place of fear, which is all too common. 

My latest swimming girls are the exceptions all taking the first step into the unknown.  Lovingly handcrafted, these girls are the epitome of woman.  Beautiful and strong, and celebrating a woman’s natural curves.  Each has their own narrative and emotional connection, that touch the free spirit in us.  I invited you to take a trip down memory lane – perhaps, reminiscence in your childhood memories or find inspiration to take your own leap into the unknown.

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July 2018

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Henley festival, Oxfordshire, UK

Back to the festival for another year. Loved being part of this boutique black-tie 5 day event. Henley Festival’s is great supporter of independent artists. 

My collection focused on the theme of ‘wonderland’ - I created pieces with a hint of the unusual, a dose of the playful and a sprinkle of happiness to permeate my sculptures.

 

 

May/June 2018

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Bloom in the park festival, dublin, Ireland

New bronze swimmer is ready.

The 'liberty' swimmer embodies the sensation of freedom, of the feminine spirit taking flight in the direction that she has always meant to go in.

To be launched at the "Bloom festival", (31 May to 4 June) Phoenix park, Dublin.

Sunrise photos taken at the iconic 'forty foot' swimming spot in Dublin.

 

 

April 2018

Launched @ doorway gallery, dublin

Thrilled to have my sculptures now available @: 'The Doorway Gallery', 24 South Frederick Street, Dublin

"Waters edge" was reserved on the first day in the gallery.  Please feel very welcome to visit the gallery.

 
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December 2017

Christmas countdown

may you never be too old to search the skies on Christmas eve. 'Amélia' will be part of the Christmas exhibition @ the 'The Narrow Space' gallery, Clonmel, Tipperary.

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November 2017

Garden sculpture:

Remember when you were a child and that feeling of wonderment and excitement in simple pleasures.

As we get older, with decades of living under our belt, we can lose our energy, swagger & spirit along the way.

My wish is that my swimmer girl, who is ‘ready to dive into the ocean of life,’ will reconnect you with your ‘playful and happy self’ and inspire you, going forward, to live life to the fullest.

Playfulness.   Vitality.   Strength.   Joy.

As featured @ the Burtown house, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Photographed in situ on location.

 
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October 2017:

Commissions:

Latest commission finished, with such lovely feedback....

“Oh... she is beautiful – and I love the story!

This is just going to be amazing – so very very amazing! I’m am going to have a permanent memory of my girls  every day I come to work!

 This will truly be a beautiful legacy for the 2017 cohort to be proud of! ..... Meg “ (Deputy principal ~ St Aidan's girl school, Australia)

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July 2017

Henley festival, oxfordshire, UK:

Five days of celebrating art and music.

 
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June 2017

Publicity:

'The Irish Times' ~ 'new to the parish' article published.

It was a lovely opportunity to tell my story about being new to Ireland and settling in and ‘finding my tribe’.

I received an amazing reaching out of other women who wanted to connect with their own similar story:

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/new-to-the-parish/i-don-t-know-what-happens-between-your-mid-40s-and-50s-you-get-this-invisible-chapter-1.3125055

 

 

April 2017

in the studio:

Preparation, as a feature artist for the 'Henley Festival' (5 to 9 July) starts.  Henley Festival is a boutique event taking place over five days celebrating the best of UK & international music and arts at a quintessential British location. In 2017 Henley Festival and The Children’s Society continue to work in partnership to bring the inspiration of the arts and vital support to many of the hundreds of thousands of children who care for their parents and family members.

Publicity: http://henley-festival.co.uk/2017-programme/art/dawn-conn  

 

 

March 2017

Australian pop-up exhibition

Happiest of days, the smallest details ~ memories and emotions, feel eternally entwined.
Play is the word I come back to again and again. Spending my childhood poring over the pages of Alice in Wonderland, Lion, witch & wardrobe, Enid Blyton books, and playing outdoors. It’s the sculpture I create coloured in happiness.

"I think there are aspects of being a child that are too good to lose as you grow up.”

 
 

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