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My journey into sculpture

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

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.

I suppose my tipping point was when I became a Mum and started to be consumed with 'anxiety and waves of melancholy' after the birth of our daughter. It was a struggle bringing up our daughter in the UK with family over the other side of the world and having to go back to work within weeks of giving birth. I was told at six months check up for our daughter, they were concerned about me. I thought don't be silly, I am fine ~ just tired. All of a sudden it was like someone gave me permission to let the flood gates open - there is a desperate loneliness when the story does not play out as it is supposed to. I waited for my stress to give way to calm. It didn’t. In fact, year on year, I had been tipping into a long, slow black hole, struggling with my mind and weight.

The years passed by and I was still struggling. Out of this struggle, I started to try and understand my own brain. I started probing a little deeper into the why; getting to know my thoughts better, noticing the tiny daily changes that I used to overlook and finding many things that were worth pausing to observe. I started searching for creative experiences, searching for that something that would speak to me.

It wasn't until about 5 years later, I had an epiphany at a creative workshop in a wool shed in NZ, (nearly 20 years ago) after a family death and marriage separation. I discovered whilst learning to sculpt a figure, a wonderful excitement in my heart and soul. I have never had that before or since. I felt full of passion, meaning and connection. I was hooked. I spent the next 8 years learning, learning and more learning until I found my style and took a leap into starting my own creative business in 2011 in Australia before returning to the UK in 2016. I was at that stage of life 'midult' - when my only child had finished school and my Mother was deteriorating with Alzheimer's and going into a care home. I was looking at the 'circle of life' and looking forward and back - it was a really poignant time as I realised I was getting older and I wanted to hold on to the past and live life in the fullest in the future.

I had heard stories of other people's experiences with art before. I had no idea what they were talking about. Now, I understand why it's so powerful. The feeling of awe and admiration that washed over me was remarkable - as if my whole being knew something I hadn't before. Although it took me until later on in life to discover the love of sculpture, I'm so glad that I did. There's something special about having a creative outlet and connecting to your inner artist, no matter what your age is.

A new world has opened up before me and I feel that I am still at the foot of the stairs, always wanting to see more, learn more, and share my inspiration and spontaneity with others. Sculpture has given me a feeling of purpose, something that can be enjoyed by so many who will see and feel something for themselves.

Early memories & learning to embracing the imperfection

It was my humble childhood with its freedom of the outdoors that allowed my imagination to come alive. As a child, I would love to fossick around in the tool shed building things or sew and make creations. My childhood has had a great influence on my early decision to create mixed media pieces using primarily found and recycled materials. These treasures with their stories, history and details never cease to inspire me.

Sculpting and textiles have a special place in my heart - it's the link that ties me to my beloved mother. Every single mark made or touch of the textile’s weaves brings about a wave of nostalgia for those precious moments spent with her that will always remain close to my heart. I'm honoured to be able to pass on this passion through each one of my sculptures, as this is what keeps her memory alive.

By exploring a broad range of materials, techniques and processes, my works embrace the cycle of evolution in an imperfectly perfect way.

I love the ethos of 'beauty in imperfection'; this really captures my inspirations and the work, which I produce, I am influenced by tactile aged surfaces like aged timber, textiles and treasures, which are laden with memories and stories to tell. In a funny way the figures are both who I am are what I need. I like the fact that they are imperfect and permanent - bringing a kind of comfort and joy.

About the Artist:

Dawn Conn is a Sculpture Artist based in Oxfordshire who creates tactile art cast in bronze metal or bronze resin.

Dawn seeks to create meaningful sculptures in celebration of vulnerability and the imperfectly perfect, to inspire personal emotion.

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