Dancing Figures and Natural Elements Coalesce in Jonathan Hateley’s Elegant Bronze Sculptures
Immersed in nature, female figures dance, reflect, and rest in Jonathan Hateley’s limber bronze sculptures. The subjects commune with their surroundings, greeting the sun or leaning into the wind and merging with patterns of foliage or lichen. “I was drawn to create a sculpture reflecting nature on the surface of the figure, which could be better highlighted with the use of colour,” he tells Colossal. “This has evolved over time from the shapes of leaves to fingerprints and cherry blossoms to plant cells.”
Before he began an independent studio practice, Hateley worked for a commercial workshop that produced sculptures for television, theatre, and film, often with rapid turnaround. Over time, he was attracted to slowing down and emphasizing experimentation, finding inspiration in regular walks in nature. Although he’s focused on the human figure for more than a decade, he originally resisted that style. “I began with wildlife, and that began to evolve into organic forms with details illustrated onto the sculptures,” he tells Colossal. Between 2010 and 2011, he completed a remarkable 365-day project of tiny bas-reliefs that were eventually composed onto a kind of monolith.
Hateley initially began working with bronze using the cold-cast method—also known as bronze resin—a process that involves mixing bronze powder and resin together to create a kind of paint, then applying it to the inside of a mold made from the original clay form. This naturally led to foundry casting, or lost-wax, in which an original sculpture can be reproduced in metal. The initial design and sculpting process can take up to four months from start to finish, followed by casting and hand-finishing, which usually takes around three months to complete.
Right now, Hateley is working on a series based on a photo shoot with a West End dancer, a reference that helps him achieve the anatomical details of extended torsos and limbs. “The first of those sculptures has a figure reaching upwards, hopefully towards better times,” he says. “I saw her like a plant growing out of a seed and eventually flowering, (with) oblong, cell-like shapes gradually merging into circular reds and oranges.” And currently, he is modeling a ballet pose in clay, evoking “a person in a calm restful state, like she is floating in a calm sea, thus becoming the sea.”
Hateley will have work at Affordable Art Fair in Hong Kong with Linda Blackstone Gallery and will be included in Art & Soul at The Artful Gallery in Surrey and Summer Exhibition 2023 at Talos Art Gallery in Wiltshire from June 1 to 30. He will also have work with Pure at the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival from July 3 to 10. Find more on the artist’s website, and follow on Instagram for updates and peeks into his process.
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Gem-Encrusted Creatures Encounter Otherworldly Ecologies in Jon Ching’s Vibrant Oil Paintings
A seahorse nestles in amongst cherry blossoms, and a cone of violet flowers morph from a glistening amethyst in Jon Ching’s uncanny ecologies. In jewel-toned oil paintings, the Los Angeles-based artist’s hybrid creatures sport regal headdresses or merge their bodies with gems and crystals. He often focuses on a central character in a contradictory environment, such as an owl among gourds, a flamingo wading between cacti in a wetland, or a bird hatching from a Fabergé egg.
Recently, Ching started creating what he describes as “quieter” compositions, panning out from central portraits to unveil the enigmatic wonder of nature as a whole. Landscapes and the details of the animals’ surroundings take precedence and sometimes border on optical illusions, like the luna moths tucked in with ginkgo leaves in “Nagamorphose” or a dewy spider web made of diamonds in “Arachnitite.” Increasingly highlighting species that are misunderstood or get a bad rap, his new paintings “are less about the animal itself and more about the beauty that exists in the world,” he says in a recent article in American Art Collector, sharing that he wants to “push back against our cultural biases about certain animals.”
Many of these pieces are part of Ching’s solo exhibition Terra Brio at Haven Gallery on Long Island, which continues through June 4. He also just released a print edition of “In Plain Sight,” which you can find in his shop. Discover more of his work on his website, and follow him on Instagram for updates and insights into his process.
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Dozens of Photographers Gather For ‘100 For the Ocean’ to Support Marine Research and Advocacy
Bringing together 100 wildlife photographers from around the world, 100 For the Ocean is a month-long fundraiser “to empower those on the frontlines of ocean conservation and to create a powerful, collective voice to impact policy and drive change.” During May, prints featuring André Musgrove’s underwater dives, Dmitry Kokh’s atmospheric documentation of polar bears, and Caine Delacy’s encounters with curious whales are available for purchase, with all proceeds going to research charities.
100 For the Ocean was established by photographers and marine biologists Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier, founders of SeaLegacy, a visual storytelling and advocacy platform with a mission to restore ocean habitats and reduce pollution in response to the climate crisis. For this special project, the duo collaborated with Chase Teron and invited Kathy Moran, the former National Geographic Deputy Director of Photography, to curate the selection.
Prints start at $100 and are available on the project’s website through May 31. See more on Instagram.
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Fluorescent Photographs by Tom Leighton Highlight the Remarkable Complexities of Plants After Dark
“Plants are incredible stores of energy,” says photographer Tom Leighton, whose fluorescent-tinged images of foliage highlight the incredible night life of plants in his ongoing Variegation series. He explores the detailed colors and textures of leaves and stems, accentuating an important counterpart to the complex daytime process of photosynthesis, which creates chemical energy and oxygen from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. “After the sun fades, the process of photosynthesis stops and respiration begins,” he says. “Plants begin to burn their stored sugars and breathe back in some of the precious oxygen they have created.”
Leighton primarily focuses on species found around his native Cornwall—often in his own garden—and captures contrasting venation patterns, serrated edges, and multiple colors. He digitally removes the green tones we associate with vegetation to reveal glowing violet, pink, and blue hues. “It is very experimental… There are limitless options and techniques that I combine to get to each finished image,” he says, sharing that a minor color choice or a small crop can transform the outcome.
Explore more of Leighton’s work on Behance, his website, and Instagram.
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Ceramic ‘Curiosity Clouds’ by Manifesto Celebrate the Natural World in Functional Organic Forms
The practice of assembling cabinets of curiosities, or Wunderkammers, may date back to the 16th century, but the human impulse to collect, document, study, and learn from our surroundings goes back millennia. Scottish artist Katie Rose Johnston, who works as Manifesto, celebrates the timeless pastime of collecting in her series Curiosity Clouds. Exploring ceramics at the intersection of art and history, she draws inspiration from natural phenomena and blurring the line between form and function.
Johnston was inspired to create the organic forms after a visit to The Hunterian in Glasgow, where she was fascinated by a vitrine tucked away in the rear of the museum. Displaying bird and insect nests from around the world, it included a cross-section of a termite mound featuring an elaborate network of compartments that the insects use for ventilation. “It was a really compelling form that mimicked a set of printer’s drawers in my mother’s home, which were filled with bits and bobs, mudlarked treasures, and our childhood crafts,” she tells Colossal. “The form of the dissected termite mound was really appealing, like a Wunderkammer from an alternate universe.”
The Curiosity Clouds are made using terracotta crank, a type of textured, groggy clay that is often used to make large, durable pots. Johnston forms each piece intuitively rather than relying on sketches, and she enjoys the way the material mimics the earthy, organic, meandering texture of the termite mounds. Always experimenting with different methods, she recently began incorporating materials found in the wild, like a slip coating made from clay gathered from her favorite beach. “It’s unseived to retain the small pebbles and roots which are elemental to the place they were found, and the clay is mica-rich and has a deep, metallic shimmer to the surface,” she says. “It’s rather magical.”
Johnston announces updates to the Manifesto shop every few months, with the next restock scheduled for August. You can find more of her work on her website, and follow updates or learn more about her process on Instagram.
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Barbora Batokova’s Enthralling Photographs Vividly Capture the Gilled Underbellies of Fungi
Pittsburgh-based photographer and self-proclaimed nemophilist Barbora Batokova has cultivated a deep passion for fungi ever since her childhood in the Czech Republic. Growing up mushroom hunting and foraging for hearty meals, Batokova shares the cultural nuances linked to moving overseas as she explains that the “Czech Republic is a mycophilic country, which means people are not afraid of mushrooms, unlike people in mycophobic countries like the U.S.”
Yearning for her roots, Batokova created fungiwoman, an ongoing photography and cooking project that allows her to reconnect with nature. Venturing into the woods year-round, she explores new regions, hunts for mushrooms, captures images to learn about different species, and brings the fruitful yield home to cook. Her mesmerizing photographs show small orange caps springing up from mossy grounds and vibrantly fruiting polypores branching from trees. Devoted to protecting precious corners of the woods, she hopes to inspire others to look closely at the surrounding environment.
Batokova’s forthcoming book about mushrooms will be released in 2024, and she has prints and cards available in her shop. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram to tag along as she traverses new thickets and shares her findings.
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