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Zachary Eastwood-Bloom is a sculpture and multimedia artist whose works really captivates us. With some impressive awards, residencies and important commissions on his back, he is recognised by his flawless craftsmanship and the compelling dynamism of his sculptures, which capture the essence of the classics projecting them into the future with revived meaning. His awaited solo show at Pangolin gallery opens in October; in the meantime you can check his work at the Masterpiece Art Fair in London at the end of June, and at the London Design Festival in September. Or you could go see the Public Art project ‘Isometric Metropolis’ at 11 Hanover Square near Oxford Street.
Zachary Eastwood-Bloom graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2010, where he studied Ceramics and Glass. His uses diverse materials in his sculptures including ceramics, glass, metals, stones, but also explores other media such as sound and video. His interest lies in the intersection between the physical and the immaterial and the historical and the cutting-edge. Referencing classical imagery, Eastwood-Bloom adopts digital aesthetics using the latest technologies. Zachary is a also a founder member of Studio Manifold, a group of artists and designers brought together by a shared enjoyment of material and process based in East London.
There was a certain amount of inevitability growing up that Zachary would become an artist of some sort. His father was an art teacher and his mother was a fashion lecturer at Bretton Hall, the art school that was embedded in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Eastwood-Bloom was brought up immersed in the arts. He was always taken to galleries and exhibitions as a child, “I can’t say I always enjoyed it, until one day I began to see things I liked, I grew up and began to see things differently,” he tells us. When he left school, Zachary didn’t know what area of the visual arts he would pursue as a career so went to do a Foundation course at Batley School of Art and Design in Yorkshire. There he began to work with clay. Several years later at the Royal College of Art, after studying for a BA Hons at Edinburgh College of Art, he began to explore digital tools and as a result, a broader range of materials and processes.
Eastwood-Bloom always found making and using materials a natural process, and took to it very quickly. It became a way to think through ideas with his hands. “For me it is all about learning, I learn through doing stuff. That’s probably why I was distinctly average at school, it wasn’t my way of learning listening to some teacher while they wrote stuff on the black board”, Zachary explains.
“I have a strong sense of the object; sculpture feels real and tangible, occupying space. I think you have more of a relationship in terms of you and the object than you would for example with a painting.” – Zachary Eastwood-Bloom
Magnificent works like ‘partition’, made of hand extruded dyed clay, mark a return the physical, the making through craftsmanship. How important is this for your work and how appreciative you think people is of the final results?
I go through phases where I feel a need to make by hand. The relationship to materials and process is important to me. When that appetite is fulfilled I like to sit at my computer and develop new ideas and new sculptures. It is almost a 6-monthly cycle. After spending too long sat at the computer, which can happen when developing larger scale commissions like ‘Isometric Metropolis’ in Hanover Square, the need to make builds up.
‘Partition’ took a labour intensive 6 months to make by hand. If I had chosen another material to make the piece from, like lengths of steel, it would have been much quicker and easier to make but making it from extruded clay was important to the piece. Clay has a strong relationship to the earth which is such a polemic to the digital mesh the sculpture represented. Because of this material choice ‘Partition’ was a technical and durational challenge to make. In some ways, I turned myself into a machine, going through a repeating cycle day by day to make the 60 mesh cubes that build the final piece.
“With the development of digital software and tools you can in principle make anything your imagination can come up with, barring some inherent earthly restrictions like gravity. Maybe restrictions in time, space and money force one’s self to be more creative…” – Zachary Eastwood-Bloom
Sculptures like ‘The Assimilation’ or site specific work such as the facade of the Aviva building in Hanover Square, are thoughtful reinterpretations in dialogue with the classics whereas appropriation and profanation seem to be the current trends. How do you establish this relationship between past and future in your work?
I reference historical works quite frequently but it is with the eye of a 21st Century translator. I think that what I make referring to these works is just another stop on the journey for the original pieces. ‘The Assimilation’ which it based on ‘The Laocoön and His Sons’ has been reproduced and translated numerous times throughout history, my interpretation in one more stop along its journey through time. Working with ‘The Laocoön’ was a very personal choice for me as I have two sons. I often think I work in an analytical way but ‘The Laocoön’ was personal, it resonates deeply with me as a sculpture.
‘Isometric Metropolis’ wasn’t referencing any historical piece but a historical style. I developed the façade at 11 Hanover Square from a 3D digital model of that specific area of London and from that projected an isometric line drawing of the digital wire frame onto the building. I could extract the parts that made the standing guards and entrance that reference Georgian metal work that has such a historical precedent in that area.
We live in a time that appears to be accelerating technologically, because of this it is impossible not to reference the past in relation to such progress.
‘Elemental Sound’ is a fine example of experimentation and collaboration in your work. What other art disciplines do you think are best fit to combine with your work?
I find it fascinating how people think. I think though making sculpture; though three-dimensional form, material, shape and surface. Other people think though numbers, words, sounds, movement, digital code etcetera. I am interested in working with people who think via different mode to me. One thing that is interesting in the digital age is that a lot of people work using digital technology now. This means that their digital information can be changed into different mediums; words can become sound, sound can become form for example.
I would be keen to work with a fiction writer, using my work as illustration that a writer would tease a work of fiction from, a reverse illustrative process I guess.
“The artists I admire tend to work in different fields like music, film or literature. I can’t do what they do so it adds some magic for me.” – Zachary Eastwood-Bloom
What is the project still sitting in your head that you haven’t got round to do yet?
There are two pieces that come to mind. One is to make a vinyl record form the moon’s surface height data. I have a 3D digital model of the moon and I want to divide it into two hemispheres; the Earth facing side and the dark side, and compress each side down to the size and thickness of a 12-inch vinyl record, so very thin. From that I would use a CNC milling machine with a V cutter to cut that compressed height data out of a record, Earth side one side and dark on the other, and then play it to see what it sounds like. I have been thinking about this piece for a long time but I have yet to find the right person or people to work with to make it happen. I don’t quite have the computing power and the depth of a record groove is very small and I don’t know anyone who can cut that shallow. If anyone knows who might be able to do it then let me know!
Another unrealised piece is a sculpture I wanted to make of the Greek god Apollo (above), the god of the sun. I was shortlisted to propose a piece for an architectural project in London, my work wasn’t ultimately chosen but I was very pleased with the proposed sculpture. I had taken a 3D digital model of a classical sculpture of Apollo and digitally distorted it using a digital mask created from an image of the Sun, so the god of the sun is distorted by the actual sun. The piece would have been a 5-metre-high bronze and physically very impressive. I would love to see it in the flesh one day.
In 2010 you co-founded ‘Studio Manifold’ with likeminded artists and designers, for the share enjoyment of material and process. What is your evaluation of these 7 first years?
Manifold was born out of my class at the Royal College of Art. Over half of the class, 10 of 17, stayed together, rented a space and pooled our resources. Other than going to the RCA in the first place I think it had been one of the best decisions I have made to be a part of. Over the last 7 years we have shared so much; space, tools, contacts, materials, information, skills and there has been a constant informal critical dialogue in the studio during that period. I think Manifold has made us all better artist and designers. At the beginning, we all worked together on projects a lot more such as with the National Trust and Siobhan Davies dance but as time has gone on and our individual practices have taken off we tend to work as a likeminded group of individuals. Other things have evolved too like the ever-increasing number of children Manifold is slowly generating which brings different demands and in some cases, geographical changes. Some of us have moved on and new people have arrived but regardless of where any previous Manifolder is they will always be part of Manifold, we’re a bit of a gang.
How important has been for your practice residencies such as the Pangolin Bronze Foundry?
The project with the Pangolin bronze foundry has been one of those rare and brilliant opportunities. They paid me a modest amount of cash to develop a new body of work during the residency. I spent some time with their digital team at the foundry playing with software and experimenting. I also spent some time checking out what was being cast and made at the foundry and the processes they use. The possibilities of what I could make seemed limited only by my imagination, it was all quite daunting in the beginning thinking of developing a body of work. At the end of the residency they would choose whether they might want to cast the work at the foundry for a solo show at their gallery in Kings Cross. I wanted to take the chance to do something different to that which I had been making before the residency. I had the opportunity to work with some highly skilled people so I wanted to use them! During the residency, I began to look at the Greek gods that give their names to the planets of the solar system as well as ideas about particle physics. Thankfully the folks at Pangolin have chosen to make all the sculptures that I have proposed so I don’t want to give too much away about the sculptures before the show which opens in October 2017.
Residencies give you time and space for your work to develop, Pangolin have given me so much, their investment in me is beyond anything I thought I would ever receive.