Teresa Wells MRSS

Photography portrait artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

There is something elfish about Teresa’s life size bronze sculptures. Especially when you think about the material she uses. Solid and heavy and yet her artworks are a contradiction to the heavy metal. The compositions of her sculptures portray the effervescent joy of movement, the leaping and pouncing of a nymph like creature or the strength and power of human performance at its best. Yet, there is something magical about the survivor Viktorya, Teresa’s dancer with one leg, with the spiked prosthetic doing the splits whilst standing on her hands, the capriciousness of Narcissus, resting on his haunches as if about to dive into the water below as he gazes at his reflection, and the delicate Liberty leaping in the air with her back arched in a graceful motion like a trapeze artist flying through the air.  All emphasising the anthropology and beauty of the human form at its most ultimate.

Sculpture Bonze artwork
Narcissus, by Teresa Wells
Sculpture Bronze artist
Viktoryia, by Teresa Wells
sculpture bronze artwork
Liberty, by Teresa Wells

Her earlier works and smaller sculptures are just as fascinating, raise the narrative what it is to be human, with complex sets and story telling. Compelling and surreal artworks, involving sculpture within a miniature set. Her film director, directing a murder on the beach. The artist painting a family, the lonely couple dining at the tall and long table. Or the mother wearing artificial reality glasses as she breast-feeds.

sculpture artwork cake
Happy anniversary, by Teresa Wells
sculpture film set artwork
Hashtag Tragedy, by Teresa Wells
Sculpture art artworks
Madonna and child, by Teresa Wells
portrait photo artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

The psychology is evident, for as I get to know Teresa it all makes sense. All her work is based on the theme survival, a remarkable woman who understands this all too well. She raised her first child, her daughter practically by herself. The tiny infant born with congenital defects, had her first open heart surgery at just 12 days old, with a brave mother who continued to witness her daughter experience many operations before her 22 birthday. The girl, who has a zest for life and has earned heartfelt respect from her mother. Teresa gave birth to her second child, her son, nine years after her daughter was born, he was diagnosed quite late with Asperger syndrome. Before diagnoses, she tied to deal with a confused and awkward boy, who struggled at a mainstream school. She raised him with unique parenting methods and proudly tells me how he has achieved seven GCSEs and recently passed his driving license. She additionally took a break from full time work when her son was six to home school him. All this, whilst Teresa was working to pay the bills, finishing two degrees in Fine Art plus a masters in art and design.

photography artist portrait
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

“I encourage independence” she tells me whilst driving me around the countryside from Northampton to Rugby. “We are all dealt things in life and we all have to do things we don’t want to do, we just have to do it”. This petite lady is powerful and driven and very focused. Teresa loved drawing and making from a very early age, her foundation was in Art and Design in Colchester, this is where she discovered 3 dimensional work and started head modelling in clay and life drawing.  She received a First in BA Honours in Fine Art in Nottingham University, her focus was on sculpture, steel, stitching, riveting, plasma cutting and welding. Working with mixed media, the sensuousness of fabrics against the cold statement of metal. Her academic influence was derived from her interest in studying social anthropology, and the work of participant anthropologists like Mary Douglas.

sculpture artwork art
30 July, by Teresa Wells
sculpture artwork cake
The Last Judgement of Empathic Ability in a Technological Age, by Teresa Wells

She is currently working on commissions, as well as a BBC Television documentary featuring her work. We talk about working with Bronze and how it came about. Previously for five years between 2012 and 2017 Teresa worked on mixed media, having won an award from Richard Deacon CBE, with 3000 entries in 2015. 

bronze sculpture artworks
Desire and Denial by Teresa Wells

She met artist William Tucker who suggested she work in Bronze, with that she met up with a friend and fine artist Paul Kennedy who introduced her to bronze casting and she fell in love with the process. She began a residency at his foundry in Shropshire and learnt everything from him she tells me.  Teresa admits to me that she is super focused, passionate and driven to the exclusion of everything else, in one year she made nine bronzes including assisting in the completion of a 10 foot sculpture.

Sculpture art bronze
The Kiss that Freed a Thousand Dreams by Teresa Wells
sculpture artwork art
Division by Teresa Wells
clay sculpture art
Commissioned portrait: Clay sculpture before it goes through the process of becoming a bronze artwork, by Teresa Wells

To appreciate this you have to understand the complexity of the method that takes your breath away, never mind the cost.  The clay sculpture has to be made first, afterwards it is covered in liquid rubber, when that has solidified, it is covered in fibreglass resin. The original clay form is removed and then the rubber filled with melted wax, just a few millimetres in thickness.  It’s worth it to have a look at some of the videos on the internet, the lost wax process for Bronze sculpture. It will make anyone have a new called appreciation of the thousand year art form.  Teresa is showing me around her studio, explaining the methodology to me, I am imploding with curiosity. However the art world is tough and as we come to the end of our interview she talks about provenance, exclaiming it would be the key to the successes of artists like Damien Hirst.  With Teresa’s intention and purpose this clearly has already happened.

Interview; Antoinette Haselhorst

photography portrait artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Kimberley Gundle

Kimberley Gundle
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

I first saw an exhibition of Kimberley’s work exhibited at Art First in London in 2009 titled ‘A Slice of London’.  I remember looking at these paintings and thinking, these are views of a South African seeing London as some Londoners can’t; Londoners believe they are progressive thinkers, yet these paintings are an illustration of how London really is in a traditional sense and how a foreigner may view this city, juxtaposed with what is about to happen or what passes you by somewhat like the film Sliding doors with Gwyneth Paltrow.   Kimberley moved to London in 1988, she lives in a leafy suburb with her family, her studio overlooking the back of the garden. 

Artwork by Kimberley Gundle
Slice of London, Kimberley Gundle
Ceramics Sculpture artwork
Ceramics sculptures, Kimberley Gundle

I first met Kimberley in primary school in Johannesburg South Africa, as friends we played together, visiting each other’s homes after school.  At the age of 12 we both went our separate ways, completely lost touch and never saw each other again until we both turned 47 and bumped into each other at friend’s house in London. Hard to explain what that feels like to meet someone again that you remember only as a child.  Slowly getting to know each all over again as mature woman, whatever that means really.  

Artwork art contemporary art photo portrait
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Gundle’s home and studio invites an unparalleled feeling of escapism from grey city pavements and beige -washed walls, with an interior shaped by her artistic vision, swathed in intense colour and eclectic décor.  The perfect backdrop for our photo shoot.  We sit down at her kitchen table (which she designed and painted) sipping coffee and chatting before the shoot.  Then over lunch, I am updated about her work inspired by the Maasai tribes of Kenya and Tanzania.

Maasai drawing by Kimberley Gundle
Maasai artwork, Kimberley Gundle

 

It has been almost a decade since Kimberley Gundle first encountered the Maasai, semi-nomadic pastoralists of East Africa. She continues to be captivated by the physical adornment of these bold and dignified people living a fragile existence in a changing world.  Gundle’s  first experience of the Maasai was during a charity hike across the Great Rift Valley in 2009, where she witnessed their struggle for survival during a terrible drought. Yet the woman were magnificently adorned in their ornate beadwork and flowing cloth.  She has resided in many remote settlements, making drawings and taking photographs of Maasai communities in both Kenya and Tanzania,  absorbing their culture and tradition.  She explains how she feels like an anthropologist recording a culture and tradition, that is slowly being eroded by the changing world: some positive and some negative changes. 

Painting artwork artist Maasai
Maasai collection, Kimberley Gundle
Art sculpture artwork
Maasai series, Kimberley Gundle

Physical adornment is integral to Maasai culture and tradition.  Kimberley celebrates the beauty of the Maasai.  The Victorian Art critic John Ruskin states “cameos are miniature sculptures.’’  In the cameo series Kimberley depicts each member of the Maasai community within this oval shape to reference historical miniature paintings.  Traditional cameos often depicted royalty, and could be presented within a locket.  The oval shaped portrait makes each work feel small and loved, a keepsake.  She wanted each portrait to feel special and preserved within the cameo; likened to a loved one, worn close to the skin, kept warm, shielded and protected.  Portrait miniatures reflected the social history of the times. Whilst her portraits may not be in miniature form they encapsulate the essence of the miniature.  Like a loved one, the existence of the Maasai people, their culture and tradition needs to be preserved, protected and cherished.  In October 2018, Kimberley will  be exhibiting a series of detailed bronze sculptures set onto reclaimed wood, the reclaimed wood having had a former life works well with the pieces as both have a story.

a series of detailed bronze sculptures set onto reclaimed wood,
Sculpture  Kimberley Gundle
Artwork painting contemporary artist
Painting Maasai collection, Kimberley Gundle

A percentage generated from the sale of all her work returns to the communities.  She has recently completed funding a water project bringing fresh water to 5000 in the Ololosokwan community in Tanzania. Kimberley has been invited to exhibit installations inspired by the Maasai at Palazzo Bembo during the Venice Biennale 2013, 2015 and 2017.  This year Kimberley Gundle will be having an exhibition end of October in London at the A&D gallery 51 Chiltern Street, London W1 6LU.  The sales generated from this exhibition will go to Enkiteng Lepa School in Kenya which Kimberley Gundle visited in June 2018.  This school  provides education and a safe-haven for girls, rescuing them from FGM and protecting them from early marriage.  It was founded by Helen Nkuraiya.

minature sculpture contemporary art
Sculpture, Kimberley Gundle

Kimberley majored in Psychology and Fine Art. After completing her postgraduate in Fine Art at Michaelis in Cape Town she moved to London for her Postgraduate at The Slade School of Art completed in 1990.  Kimberley has lived and worked in London ever since. Her work is a combination of both her understanding of the psychology of people and being an artist.  Figurative as opposed to abstract, colour and line is what matters she tells me.  As demonstrated in her series of paintings ‘Below the knee’ she explains the thoughts behind this concept to me “You cannot choose your face, but you can choose the shoes you wear.” These portraits are about lifting the lid of the letterbox revealing an intimate part of who we are.  She often has commissions by families who want their portraits done this way. 

artwork painting Maasai cake
Maasai, Kimberley Gundle

Her artwork extends to scarves and clothing printed with her works of the Maasai, and silk rugs colourfully designed with each commission almost as a portrait of her clients character she once explained to me.  Kimberley reflects a strong work ethic and responsibility, extremely gracious and humble.  Mother of three girls and a marriage coming up to 30 years.  However when you meet her everything about her is progressive and colourful, she is constantly on the move, always creating, frequently traveling, open minded and stretching boundaries.

She exhibits internationally. Recent exhibitions include 2017 Venice Biennale , Palazzo Bembo, Head of Society German Ambassador’s Residence London, 2016  SCOPE Basel, Johannesburg FNB art Fair, Discerning Eye London, 2015  Venice Biennale , Palazzo Bembo2015,2013. 

Portrait photograph artist CAKE
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst