Sculpture in 2D: Object as Artist

Sculpture in 2D: Object as Artist’ is an exhibition that begins by exploring the autonomy of form through the exhibition of sculpture and expands to experiment with the possibilities of using this form as a tool in the artist’s creative process. 

Michael Shaw has created a series of experimental works which investigate the possibilities of creating images directly from sculptural form.  By employing his sculpture as a key component in a number of processes including x-rays to reveal internal armatures, direct heat, the submergence of sculpture in acid baths, and experimentation with wind – remarkable ‘drawings’ and linear images are revealed which provide a deeper knowledge of the work of sculpture and a direct interpretation of the experience it has been through.

Challenging traditional notions, Michael is questioning whether sculpture can itself create, and seeks to demonstrate the consequences of such a dialogue through the exhibition of both his sculpture and ‘their drawings’. 

His sculpture is an investigation into the use of contour and line that simultaneously describes, and is, form, searching for the dialectic between surface and depth, between revealed and concealed form.   The work does not attempt to represent, to function as commentary, or rely on site or context. It is simply made to be seen.  Michael believes that, “art is manifested in universally beautiful forms that touch all humans irrespective of culture and context.”  He makes abstract work which seeks these timeless forms of beauty.  Vessels and cylinders are articulated by contour and explored in a variety of materials, from bronze, plaster and steel, to less traditional materials such as transparent and translucent resins, allowing us to witness, and to understand at the once, both their external shape and their internal structure.  The forms the vessels take are cylindrical and conical, offering profiles of ellipses, ovals and the ‘figure-eight’ as a result of being twisted through varying degrees along their axis.  These forms, and the movement of their planes, are emphasised by contour lines.

Michael’s investigation into sculptural form has always been supported by an engagement with drawing through his facility to produce strong sculptural images in 2D.  The recent extension of this practice to include drawings which are made directly from his sculpture, introduce a new cyclical connection between the artist, drawing and sculpture.  In turn this practice reflects the forms that he creates and the manner in which visual and structural energy flows around them, completing the relationship between practice, process and finished artwork.  

The sculptures are exhibited as finished, autonomous works, though the ‘drawings’ bear witness to their own creative capacity as a tool in the artist’s creative process.  This process is driven by Michael’s desire to manipulate traditional and contemporary materials in unseen ways through the use of existing technologies applied to new purpose. ‘Sculpture in 2D: Object as Artist’ highlights the experimental nature of Michael’s artistic practice and blurs the traditional boundaries between sculpture and drawing, presenting a new relationship and dynamic between the two disciplines. 

Colette Bailey,

September, 2002

Managing director, Metal.



Metal is an new arts organisation which provides artists and thinkers with the opportunity, time and space to further the philosophy and practice of their work.