Corinne Chauvet

Corinne Chauvet featured in CAKE
Photo: Didier Beguin-Chauvet

It’s not often you see a contemporary version of Buddhist art in the style of Corinne, we are all familiar with Buddha crossed legged, the majestic symbolism of reincarnation, nirvana, yoga and liberating insight.  Corinne’s work is reminiscent of that spiritual quality, in as such that most of her art is of Buddhist monks, combined with an observation of the human face.  There is something droll about her artwork, they convey interaction, the variety of expression, different happy faces, along with the enjoyment we seek as humans in being together.  Sometimes it’s just the faces and then the whole person and the overall effect is this contemporary rugged refinement.  The theme of concentrating on these monks began with her choice to go travelling, focusing on Asian countries like Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, the Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, and this is where she discovered the face, she tells me.  Describing how she became attracted to the Asian face, she explains that she couldn’t read anything when she arrived.  Purely for the reason that the language and written word in this part of the world was so alien to her.  That the way you see the world is like a child, she emphasises.  This observation is very prevalent in her work.

sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Conversation by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture of Buddhist Monk by Corinne Chauvet
Hitsuko Shima -3-8 Bronze by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Ajima by Corinne Chauvet

What Corinne observed, is how these Monks in Myanmar who have taken a vow of poverty by choosing this lifestyle and when they weren’t meditating, they were happy and smiling, this made her think of her own country France. The French have everything a social security system, free healthcare and they are always complaining and unhappy, she tells me, this trip gave her a new insight and she fell in love with the Monks faces.  These sculptures one could say represent the best of ourselves, they have wisdom and an innocence running through them.  Then Corinne discusses her earlier sculptures; they were straight, simple and really long elongated figures, she saw herself as shy but really strong, and this body of work represented this, she titled it ‘La Femme Fille’ (The woman Child).  She believes this is when her real life began.  Corinne was born near Poitiers in the centre of France, her father an engineer and mother a teacher.  They moved to the South of France, when she was very young, her father had decided to become a goat farmer and produce Capri cheese.  Corinne grew up in the countryside, and spent plenty of time moulding the white clay from the lake, observing how her mother took the same clay from the lake and started to make things during the summer months.  Our mother opened my brothers and my mind, she explains, educating us in music, dance, theatre and art, she wanted us to be artists and now her brother is a photographer and graphic designer.  At the age of 12 her parents divorced and they moved to the city where Corinne attended the high school near Toulouse.

Buddhist Monk bronze sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
SOHIRE Bronze by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Migration by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet in CAKE
Classroom by Corinne Chauvet

Corinne studied Fine Art and History of Art, for five years, three in Montpellier, followed by one year in Bordeaux, she was primarily a painter, but didn’t really enjoy it,  her final year she spent in Leicester, in the United Kingdom.  She recalls visiting Chatsworth House where she encountered the sculptor Elizabeth Frink’s work, she was so impressed by her work, her bronze sculptures of figures appearing to be running through the woods,  this inspired Corinne, and she decided this is what she wanted to do, be a sculptor.  Today Corinne spends half her time in Paris with her husband and the other half in her larger studio, in the town of Albi.

Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet featured in CAKE
Hashima Gres Noir by Corinne Chauvet
Artwork by Corinne Chauvet
Conversion Bleue Izenajima et Bentojima Gres Noir by Corinne Chauvet

She is currently completing a Public commission, her first public sculpture in the town of Montauban near Toulouse, the artwork is a homage to the legendary artist Antoine Bourdelle.  The artwork stands 3.5 x 3.5 meters in size and is made primarily of resin, a modern form of sculpture, it’s a majestic piece of art, in brilliant white of Hercules, titled ‘Herakles’ as he comes out of the earth with his bow and arrow; 40 sculptors applied for this commission and only four were given the chance to showcase their artwork.  She used a new method of sculpture as she anticipated that Bourdelle would do the same, as he was one of the leaders of modern sculpture along with his friend and colleague Rodin.

Herakles by Corinne Chauvet
Herakles by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Herakles by Corinne Chauvet

Corinne, has dedicated herself fully to her life as a sculptor, I worked for a museum and didn’t work as a sculptor for 10 years, everyone was telling me being an artist wasn’t a job.  Then she tells me of how one rainy night she had a huge car accident, nearly loosing her life.  They had to do a skin graft from her leg to her arm, to prevent her from loosing it.  When something really hard happens in your life, it changes you, you begin to realise the price of life, Corinne explains.  You can choose to be happy or choose what is considered right all the time.  “The way of Buddhist philosophy is when you are doing something, it’s about what you are doing in the moment.  You don’t think about the past or future, you think about the now”.  As an artist she has exhibited around the world, with her work being shown in Monaco viewed by Monegasque Royalty Princess Caroline.  Clearly the enchantment of her clay and bronze sculptures resonate that kindred spirit of happiness and joy with a trendy ethereal quality.  For that’s what makes these sculptures so powerful, they represent the faces of wisdom with a modern edge.

Interview: Antoinette Haselhorst

Corinne Chauvet featured in CAKE
Photo: Didier Beguin-Chauvet

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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