Spirit: Barn Owl
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About the Artist
Matt Duke has a fluid, intuitive and imaginative response to the shapes and movements of the birds and animals that he models and which are predominantly his inspiration. Often pared down to enhance the simplicity of form, each sculpture has an aesthetic which depends heavily on line and colour and captures a moment in time – a cat about to spring, a bird about to take off or an otter diving. The skilfully carved, clean lines and curved bodies bring an elegance and dignity to the pieces and the melodious synergy between stillness and action gives a dynamic to the sculptures, each with a personality and life of its own.
Duke learnt much of his practice at a foundry which allowed him to establish his skills working in bronze and develop an innate understanding of the material. Over the twenty years of his practice he has evolved an adroit command of the difficult expertise of patination and, learning through experiment, has allowed for a highly-skilled implementation which enhances and adds life to his sculptures. Sometimes the patination is bold and vibrant and other times Duke implements a more subtle patina; the smooth finish of his sculptures allows for the success of such patination which would not work on bronzes crowded with texture. The hues and tones resonate with the material and enhance and become part of the distinctive beauty of the sculptures. The bases of Duke’s sculptures, also in bronze, provide a balanced companion to emphasise the narrative of the piece and often complement or mirror the piece itself, thereby becoming part of the sculpture.
Duke is currently exploring new relationships between force, movement and practical application all of which he brings to his personal rendition of the natural world. He combines the skill of the traditional and familiar with the style of the minimal and contemporary.