Bettina Seitz, Questions and Answers
Here is the second in our series of Question and Answer sessions with Belgravia Gallery artists. Irish/German sculpture Bettina Seitz gives us an insight into what makes her tick…
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR INTEREST IN ART? WHEN DID YOU BECOME AN ARTIST?
My interest in art was initially inspired by visits to museums and art collected by my family during my childhood. As a teenager I attended various art classes and also had an interest in architecture, interior design and film. After secondary school I spent 4 years training as a ceramicist in Ireland, where I got the opportunity to make sculptures in clay. I exhibited and sold some of this early work in an art gallery, which led to my decision to become an artist. The German sculptors Lothar and Martin Bühner introduced me to modeling from life and bronze casting during a work experience in their studio and I went on to study sculpture at the Freie Kunsthochschule Nürtingen in Germany in 1988 / 1989 and at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin, Italy from 1989 – 1993, where I received tuition in a wide range of sculpture techniques and a degree. In 1993 I returned to Ireland to set up my own studio in Sligo, where I have been working full time as an artist since.
WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM AND WHY?
I use a wide range of materials for my sculptures. Every material has his own advantages and challenges. My preferred mediums are white stone composite, bronze and aluminum. When working in stone composite I enjoy applying layer over layer of the material onto a stainless steel armature. I often work in silence and find it quite a meditative process. I especially enjoy the early stages, when the sculptures start coming to life, while I work on them rather quickly and unrestricted of any decisions on final surface textures and volumes. I also like the total emergence in this process while creating every stage of the work myself.
In contrast to this my aluminum and bronze sculptures are made in collaboration with a fine art foundry, which is also a process I enjoy very much. I create the original work in clay or plaster and the foundry casts it into bronze or aluminum. Done in a lost wax process it involves various stages, during which I visit the foundry to touch up waxes and supervise welding and patination. I enjoy seeing the gradual transformation of my sculptures into precious metal and the elegance it adds to my work.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE ARTIST, AND A FAVOURITE WORK OF ART (CAN BE A DIFFERENT ARTIST)?
The sculptures of Albert Giacometti, especially 'Walking Man', influenced my work at an early stage. Also Constantine Brancusi's work.
More recently I have admired sculptures and installations by artists like Anish Kapoor and Anthony Gormley and enjoyed Pawel Althamer's 'Venetians' at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
WHERE DO YOU GET MOST OF THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?
I draw inspiration for my work from emotions and human relationships, poetry and nature. Most of my work are highly stylized figures, often presented in pairs or groups. In art college I worked a lot from a life model, which gave me my initial interest in the human body. Looking for lines, forms, volumes in the models soon led to a stylization of the figure, often exaggerating length or roundness of the body. I am always interested in expressing a feeling and create a still presence in the work rather than a pose – to explore our experiences of being human, together and alone and our relationships with others. For some of my double figures the original inspiration came from a poem entitled 'Flying over Maugherow' by the Irish writer Dermot Healy, where he pictures two people who are deeply engaged in a conversation as flying over the landscape. I got inspired to create sculptures of walking or standing couples with their elongated legs almost detached from the ground to express this absorption and detachment from the surrounding world.
IF YOU WEREN’T AN ARTIST, HOW WOULD YOU SPEND YOUR TIME?
I would spend more time outdoors – walking and gardening with my six year old daughter- and get involved in work and activities, which are based on foreign travel, the natural world and filmmaking.