Research

Creating Conversation Through Sculpture

Creating Conversation Through Sculpture

Andrew Burton, Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University, has achieved critical acclaim and popular support around the world with his unique approach to sculpture - one that challenges us to look at humble everyday objects in a new way.

Whether it’s a chilli pepper, a ceramic brick or even a tower of cowdung, Burton’s choice of media is as diverse as it is unusual.

The temporary structures he creates from these materials reflect the crafts, techniques and people of the places he visits. He also explores ways to recycle, re-use and reclaim.

Burton’s research involves collaborations with local crafts people and finds new audiences for their practices. So far he has worked with groups as diverse as:

  • brick makers and bamboo breakers in India
  • beachcombers in China
  • graffiti artists in North America

Celebrating the extraordinary in the everyday

Professor Burton shines a new light on material objects and skills that otherwise are considered commonplace. His aim is to create new public conversations and practitioner debate about art, architecture, craft and the world around us.

Burton shares this practice-based research with tens of thousands of people around the world through:

  • international public exhibitions
  • commissions
  • lectures and presentations
  • publications

Finding beauty in cow dung

One of Burton’s more unusual recent projects involved a collaboration with female dung workers from the village of Ghitorni, about ten miles from the centre of New Delhi.

It resulted in an exhibition of Bithooras at the Craft Museum Delhi. Bithooras are structures made from dried cow-dung shaped into flat cakes and decorated with intricate designs.

For some of his recent work Burton formed thousands of tiny bricks from clay and constructed these into various sculptures. Each sculpture would be painted or glazed, but then broken up and its constituent parts used to form a new piece. In this way the sculptures are continually recycled.

International prizes

Burton’s significant body of work focusing on bricks has attracted a string of coveted prizes. Most recently, his sculpture 'Monument' secured both the judges’ Gold Prize and the People’s Choice award at the Korean Ceramic Foundation Awards in April 2015.

In Australia, his work 'Vessel' was the largest free public sculpture exhibition in the world. Seen by 260,000 people in just three weeks, it was exhibited in Perth as part of Sculpture by the Sea in 2015.  The work went on to win the event’s Andrea Stretton Memorial Award.

A further 500,000 visitors were expected to see a new work by Burton, when Sculpture by the Sea 2016 took place in Bondi Beach, Sydney.

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Contact Information

Professor Andrew Burton
Email: andrew.burton@ncl.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6074