CONNOR, Kevin, 1932
The man who drinks milk outside the Art Gallery, 2000
bronze, lead base
90.0 cm x 60.0 cm x 81.0 cm
Q: You are best known as a painter - when did you begin making sculpture?
A: I've made a lot of sculpture over the years but not as a serious exhibiting thing. Often when I painted a portrait I would make a clay head so I could look at it and get lights right and things like that. And I always let it destroy itself. When I was in New York in the sixties I studied all the various ways of making sculpture, and so I've always had this urge to make sculpture. I've just spent about eight months working on sculpture alone, but this seems to be a logical extension of the big paintings I've been doing which have got more and more three-dimensional.
Q. How do these sculptures relate to your drawings and recent paintings?
A: It all derives from work I have done from life in my sketchbooks around this area of East Sydney. I go out drawing, then I come back and do gouaches, and some of these develop into a likely thing for a big painting. And I've done twelve big paintings over the last few years. And then I just had this need to go into three dimensions.
I got enthusiastic when I found out about the foundry, and I felt that I could go through the whole process. It is an amazing thing that happens when you get a piece of plaster sculpture cast in bronze and suddenly you realise that all processes have stopped, and that nothing much can ever destroy this thing. It's extraordinary and it makes you frightened for a moment to lock something so deeply. So getting them cast into bronze is important because you can't unlock it.
Q. Who are the subjects of these works? Are they particular individuals?
A: When I came to this studio four or five years ago I just sat over at Bill and Toni's drawing. Then the paintings came and then the gouaches. So, yes they are people, but they are not in the end. I was making this one [The man who drinks milk outside the Art Gallery] and I didn't know who it was. Then I realised that it was the man in a photograph that hangs in my studio, and he's a guy who drinks milk early in the morning to fortify his stomach for his drinking habit. The one next to it is more a composite of a woman, the other one is an intense figure head leaning forward, and the stand is on a balance so that it literally had to be bolted down to get that eager look. It's nobody in particular again. But this drawing process that I have done all of my life burns those images into you. And when I say that this one is not of anyone in particular, it is meant to be very, very human.
Kevin Connor in conversation with Elena Taylor, September 2001
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