When I decided to produce a portrait of Virginia Woolf I was met with a set of particular creative challenges as to how to represent her. In the absence of the model, I would be necessarily reliant on the photographic record of the writer’s life, for example, portraits by Man Ray, Harlingué-Viollet and Beresford, which are themselves immediately recognisable and in the case of Beresford’s studio portrait of the very young Virginia, iconic representations. My solution has been to capture the writer at several different stages of her life – to create a composite Virginia as it were, who transcends time. As a writer who explored the simultaneous existence of time in her novels – one thinks immediately of Orlando - this seemed entirely appropriate. The marriage of time and nature, however, fuels the breathtaking second section of To The Lighthouse - Time Passes – where the often shocking realities of the events which befall the characters over a ten year period are briskly swept into a temporal vortex underscored by the inevitable and unstoppable laws of nature and the changing of the seasons. I knew I also needed to find the right materials to bring that force of nature which was so apparent in Virginia’s Woolf’s writing, into this portrait, materials that could combine the five classical elements of nature – earth, water, air, fire and aether. I chose, therefore, to create a lost wax hot cast bronze sculpture, with its long journey through all the natural elements from modelled clay to casting first in wax then forging in bronze. The finished sculpture continues to interact with the natural world – the fall of light during the changing moments of the day creates entirely different moods. This piece is intended to eventually reside in a garden dedicated to women writers in Rome, where this sculpture will quite literally, be at one with nature.
Making Virginia Woolf