Spotlight on Student Sculptors Competition 2020 Winner
A couple of weeks ago we were able to announce Dani Rothmann as the winner of this year’s Student Sculptors Competition. Dani is currently a student at the University of Edinburgh, (ECA) where she has just completed her third year of a Fine Art degree.
Unfortunately, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is closed so all courses have been postponed until they are given the green light by the UK Government to reopen after Covid-19 situation is resolved. Fortunately, we have been able to assure Dani that she will get her opportunity to learn from the exceptionally talented metal artists, Brian Fell, his son George Fell, and Owen Cunningham as soon as possible.
Regrettably, we haven’t been able to meet up with Dani, but we managed to get an interview with her to find out more about the artist, her work, and her hopes for the future.
What inspired you to develop an interest in art and sculpture?
“Growing up I spent a lot of time in art galleries. We lived half an hour from London so had relatively easy access to all the large free galleries. My parents would take my sisters and I in for the day and watch us run around places like the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern or National Gallery. While I loved art at my school, sculpture was never really something my teachers promoted, they personally specialised in painting and photography. However, the idea of pursuing sculpture had always appealed to me. After taking a sculpture module in first year I fell in love and haven’t looked back since! From an art history perspective, I have always loved studying Renaissance Europe and Golden Age Spain, but I tend to look more at contemporary artists for inspiration in my studio practice, such as Thomas Schütte, William Kentridge and Anthony Gormley.”
As a student at Edinburgh College of Art / University of Edinburgh, what have been the highs and lows of studying?
“I struggled in my course slightly throughout first year. I found it very difficult to meet people in our studios and access to the workshops was somewhat limited. However, after integrating more with my course and finding mediums I liked working with I began thoroughly enjoying my course. The studio is an exciting, productive environment where there is always new work happening and people to talk to. As I am doing the Fine Art degree half my credits go to my chosen art history modules giving me a balance of producing, reading, and writing about art.”
What is your level of using metal to date? Do you know why and when you became interested in incorporating it within your work?
“I became interested in using metal in the second half of second year, wanting to try a material that felt more permanent and structurally solid (previously I had been using wire which always felt like a preparatory model and never a resolved work). I have mostly been learning how to use the forge in the metal workshop, basic welding, and trying out some of the different machines the workshops at ECA have to offer. However, I still feel like my experience in metal is fairly limited and there are so many more techniques that could be incorporated into my practice.”
Can you give us a synopsis of your work to date; what is your preferred medium, or style, or techniques etc?
My preferred medium is currently metal- specifically manipulating steel rods with a forge. Recently I have been investigating the body, anthropomorphising domestic objects (such as lamps or shelves) incorporating abstracted human forms. I have also been working on some printing (lino and wood cuts mostly) to explore more ideas. In the past month I have been trying to continue my practice, even if it’s just developing ideas from home, using whatever wire and other materials I have around my flat.”
What do you hope to achieve on Brian Fell’s Midsummer Metal Course at Yorkshire Sculpture Park? What ideas or skills do you hope to be introduced to?
“I would love to learn new methods for shaping and manipulating metal and expand my (limited) skill base. It would be great to see Brian’s process and how he uses metal to reach a resolved outcome. There are so many ways to work with metal that I haven’t even really considered before so it would be great to learn from someone with so much experience with this medium. I feel the course will also encourage my confidence to try new techniques on my own when uni reopens.”
Where to now? Where do you see your future route taking you- how do you hope your future will shape and develop?
“I have no idea! I have two years left until I graduate so I have time to decide which direction I want to go in. It would be wonderful to be able to continue working creatively in one way or another. However, I would also be interested in focusing on art history and working within a gallery or museum setting. Ideally anything that would keep me near the art and people working creatively.”
Dani is taught Sculpture by two specialist lecturers at the University of Edinburgh, Gordon Munro and Ewan Robertson, here is their insight into Dani Rothmann’s work.
“Dani Rothmann’s metal sculptures stem from her interest in the human figure which also includes a focus on life drawing and printmaking. Dani’s metal figures could be considered as three-dimensional drawings that have come alive and jumped from the page of her sketchbooks. Through painstaking care and attention in the metal workshop Dani is able to work with stock mild steel bending and welding it to give it life and vibrancy.
“Her approach gives character to each of the figures she creates. The lengths of metal become like a pencil line moving through space suggesting movement, dance, celebration. When these figures are presented as a group they immediately relate to one other as family or community at work or play, inviting us to join them.”
Gordon Munro (Lecturer)
School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
“Dani has been working with figurative ideas for a while with a lot of the sculptural configurations coming from life drawing, printmaking, and classical sculpture influences. The learning curve over the past year has been largely from her own graft in the metal workshop experimenting with the various hot and cold processes for shaping the steel. She has shown her work in at least three public exhibitions this year and makes use of spaces within the School of Art here to test out, expand, and experiment with new ideas and configurations that might help refine each sculptural idea. She has most recently been experimenting with including found objects into her compositions as well as using Project Space Crits1 to install a number of different sculptures together in the studio to test how space, orientation and placement can be best used.”
Ewan Robertson (Lecturer in Sculpture)
School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
Although Dani has two more years on her Fine Art course at Edinburgh College of Art, she already seems well on her way to having a promising future in the art world, and hopefully her love of metal as a material will stay with her throughout her journey.
We can’t wait to see what she creates at Yorkshire Sculpture Park with Brian Fell and his team!
To see more of Dani’s art, and to follow her on her creative journey, why not check out her Instagram profile @littlemetalmann
1 crits is a term used within art circles that is a shortened term for ‘critique’. Artists display and present their work to an audience of lecturers, fellow students, artists, and others interested in creative processes etc. The ‘crits’(critics) then provide feedback on the work in an open and constructive environment to help the artist with their practical skills as well as experience to hone their skills of presentation, critique, and discussion within a safe space.