Chickenwire, nature, dragonflies and recycling – wire sculptor Jaz Elwick invited us to take a look inside her world.
Jaz, who lives in Northwich, Cheshire, describes her artwork as ‘drawing with wire’.
“I’ve always been interested in the creative process,” said Jaz, who lives in Northwich, Cheshire. “That interest wasn’t really focused, though, until I went back to college as a mature student, and took A Levels then a foundation course followed by a BA in fine arts. Originally, I wanted to be a painter, but soon began to sculpt instead, loving the three dimensional feel and textures. ”
In 1996, Jaz moved to Cheshire with her partner and ‘stumbled into’ a relationship with a voluntary organisation who put her in touch with other community projects. She began to work as a community artist in schools, and won several awards for her work with children as young as five, producing short films in which the children’s plasticene models were voiced and animated.
“At that point, I needed a change in my life,” explained Jaz. “I was suffering with post-natal depression, and had to re-learn how to make the creative process flow. The depression seemed to have damaged my ability to sequence and spark off ideas, and stripped me of my creativity, so I had to teach myself once more how to relax and let the ideas come.
Taking up my craft again has really helped me tackle the depression, as my creative side has always been such a strong part of me that when that side of it was allowed free rein again, it really improved my confidence and helped me fight and refocus.”
A self-confessed “skip junkie” Jaz loves to work with refound and reclaimed objects, such as old chickenwire which has more texture and character than new.
Her work, consisting of either a two dimensional outline or a three dimensional model, is either displayed on a wooden stand or freestanding.
“I love to work with wire, as it looks so fragile but is actually very resilient and versatile – you can use it to create any shape. I’m inspired by nature and the outdoors, and much of my work features birds, insects and animals,” she said.
“I also use felting, a technique that works well with wire sculpture to produce a very textured three dimensional effect – I’m currently working on a range of felted birds on wire perches.”
“When I create a new work, it’s an organic process. As a sculptor, I need to ‘see’ the work through my fingers, stretching, bending and twisting the wire, and letting it grow under my hands. I don’t tend to use tools such as pliers, as I need to stay connected to the artwork.”
As well as selling her work through an artists’ co-operative, galleries and by commission, Jaz also runs workshops to teach her skill.
“Really anyone can learn how to wire sculpt,” she said. “Battling depression has made me realise that it’s all just a matter of confidence and getting stuck in, and students have produced some really astonishing work.”
Jaz’s courses are held in Northwich from 10am – 3pm, for 8 – 10 participants. Cost is £20 per person including materials. For more details, please contact Jaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more photos of Jaz’s work, or to contact her regarding a commission, please search ‘Handmade by Jaz’ on Facebook.
Interview by Sara Walker