Words Ellen Spooner Art photographs by Andrew Curtis

Untitled (no.3  ) 2017–2018-2298de.jpg Untitled (no.3 +) 2017–2018 Gouache and graphite on archival paper 48.3 x 33.5 cm

Brendan Huntley paints and sculpts with a physicality and emotional presence that radiates throughout his body of work. Whatever he’s depicting, his art is always markedly raw and uninhibited, rich, textual and full of life. The human touch is ever present, and this physical connection to the material is something he clearly embraces, leaving the impression that the work is more an innate expression of a primal urge – like the best kind of poetry – than the result of a strained process.

Untitled (no.6) 2018–2019-020840.jpg Untitled (no.6) 2018–2019 Glaze, porcelain and terracotta 20 x 12 x 12 cm

Knowing Brendan as I do (he’s my partner of almost seven years), I’ve often had the opportunity to observe the way he works. The creations seem to spill out of him – released from another plane of consciousness – as he works in an almost trance-like state. To interrupt him while he’s making art is akin to shaking someone out of a deep and pleasant dream. That being said, when questioned it’s always evident that the works stem from previously formed ideas – a way of seeing the world that is unique and surprising, even to someone who knows him as well as I do. He allows these ideas to filter through his thinking prior to beginning, then lets them settle under the surface so he can create with the raw force for which he’s known.

Untitled (no.7) 2018–2019 top-76195a.jpg Untitled (no.7) 2018–2019 Glaze, porcelain, raku and stoneware 15 x 13 x 13 cm

Brendan’s solo exhibition, Over the Moon, Under the Sun, is launching in Auckland, NZ on the 20th February at Bowerbank Ninow. He’s shared these thoughts with me on new directions, ideas and inspirations:

“After spending the last few years making large sculptures, I was itching to make some small clay works so I could get above, around and on top of them. I was craving the intimacy and immediacy of smaller works. I’m trying to conjure little glowing orbs. Something extra-terrestrial and other-worldly. The flickering of a candle flame. The shimmering of slime or moss. The dripping of water over rocks. Lakes, pools and ponds operating like a visual vortex, leading us to other worlds and trains of thought.”

Untitled (no.4  ) 2017–2018-9e6c41.jpg Untitled (no.4 +) 2017–2018 Gouache and graphite on archival paper 48.3 x 33.5 cm

“I wanted to capture the cartoonism of a drip, or a globule, the funkiness and chunkiness of boulders on a hill. The clunky fluidity of graffiti, a tag or a throw up.”

4. Untitled (bright sunshiny day), 2018–2019-1977ff.jpg Untitled (bright sunshiny day), 2018–2019 Patinated, polished bronze and oil paint Unique 7 x 70 x 61 cm

“I’ve been experimenting with glazes and clay. Pushing my knowledge of the material. Exploring cratering and volcanic glazes and deliciously colourful glazes and slips. I wanted to delve deeper into the richness and variety of the clays (porcelain, raku, stoneware and terracotta) – how they work together and how their opposing tactility bounces off each other. I’ve achieved this technique by slowly heating the kiln over a period of days, tricking the clays into shrinking at similar rates to each other.”

“The gouache works on paper were the first of a series I made while I was on a residency in San Francisco. I feel like they lead into the sculptures. They’re playing on the same themes as my most recent exhibition at Tolarno in November 2018, Sky Light Mind: eyes and visions; exercises in colour combinations.”

5. Untitled (in both directions – home), 2018–2019 (1)-673367.jpg Untitled (in both directions - home), 2018–2019 Patinated, polished bronze and oil paint Unique 5 x 41 x 40 cm

“The bronze wall works are a way for me to express line in a sculptural sense. Bronze as a medium allows for strength where a material like clay couldn’t physically do the job, or would be a lot more likely to warp or break. There’s a sense of security in the metal that opens up new pathways. Running coiled strokes form bronze rods like a drawn line. I like to imagine I’m drawing in 3D.”

Untitled (no.7) 2018–2019-1927a9.jpg Untitled (no.7) 2018–2019 Glaze, porcelain, raku and stoneware 15 x 13 x 13 cm

“The shapes are made from moulds of bowls or found objects from the past which are first cast in wax, then distorted, cut away, sculpted and added to, then taken to the foundry where through a series of processes they are cast in bronze. These distant memories of domestic vessels hint at the home, the safe house. A place of nostalgia that conjures up feelings of security. They’re also a nod to my early childhood life behind the stands at the craft markets where Mum and Dad would sell their functional pottery.”

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Portrait by Daniela Velickovic