A few years ago we went to the opening of “Alien Societies” at the Queensland College of Art’s Webb Centre Gallery (Brisbane, Australia). The show was comprised of these crazy-amazing molten-plastic portraits by local artist/illustrator Justin Garnsworthy. Justin is famous for transforming mundane objects such as Blu Tack or plastics into works of art. I wanted to share them with you since we’re concentrating on portraiture this month, and we’re chuffed that Justin agreed to an interview! We asked him how he created these original relief drawings.
Can you please describe your process of working with the polymer?
I’m very fortunate to have access to my uncle’s plastic master batch company, a supplier of colored plastic pellets that can be heated and fabricated into domestic and industrial products such as rain tanks, drinking bottles, golf tees, etc. The process I work through is dripping hot extruded molten plastic onto a large brush that I form from chicken wire and then begin to create intuitive high relief drawings onto the factory floor. Soon after the plastic solidifies to form three dimensional drawings. The action is like Jackson Pollock’s action painting using the effects of gravity to create imagery by dripping plastic. There is an element of chance to my practice where accidental blobs and varied line weights formed dependent on the speed of motion the molten plastic is drawn with large chicken wire brush.
What challenges did you encounter?
There are many risks that set boundaries while working within a factory environment in the creation of artwork:
- Minimal floor space – Due to lots of machinery and vehicles entering factory, I was confined to a small area to work within, so space was an issue.
- Restricted movement – For handling molten plastic material at 200 degrees celsius, wearing heavy industrial heat resistant gloves and clothing was necessary, but it restricted my movement.
Did you use reference when you “drew” these, or did you draw them freehand?
The artwork is intuitive—working from memory and allowing also the plastic organic lines to talk to me to configure portrait outcomes.
Please complete this sentence: I like to draw __.
I am drawn to caricature from my professional career in visual journalism that included illustration and art direction for major Australian newspapers such as The Age Newspaper, Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Newspaper. Many of the briefs called for drawing political figures and noted people in the community for feature stories. I am also inspired by everyday crowds of people and their varied personalities which influence my portrait artwork.
Thanks so much for sharing your work, Justin. See more of Justin’s work here. Hope his work inspires you to experiment drawing with unusual materials!
Images credit: Justin Garnsworthy