Ron Mueck is an Australian artist born in 1958 in Melbourne, Australia. After starting out his career as a modelmaker for children’s TV, he became internationally known in 1997 after he made his sculpture of Dead dad. His work focuses singularly on the human figure, which he presents to his viewers through uncanny and beautifully detailed fibreglass and silicon sculptures. These present his perspective on existential topics such as birth and death, touching heavily on vulnerable emotional states experienced during these experiences.
Researching Mueck has been a significant influence on my project, most predominantly in the scaling of my model of Edith Kramer. Originally debating between creating her head bust in full scale or an alternate size, Mueck’s Two Women model’s manipulation of scale pushed me towards undersizing my model.
‘I never made life-size figures because it never seemed to be interesting. We meet life-size people every day’S. Tanguy, ‘The progress of Big man: A conversation with Ron Mueck’, Sculpture, vol. 22, no. 6, 2003
Senior Curator of the National Gallery of Victoria, Alex Baker, explains how through manipulating the size of his models, it ‘intensifies the physical and emotional aura of his figures.’ Mueck expands that this is because it ‘makes you take notice in a way that you wouldn’t do with something that’s just normal.’ In the case of the Two Woman, Justin Paton instigates that their diminutive size inspires ‘a kind of protectiveness in viewers, as if we’ve become custodians looking down upon the inhabitants of a small world’ (2013, pg. 34). At the same time, we also feel strangely defensive of ourselves, as the women are positioned in a suspicious pose, as if they are silently judging someone in their presence.
Therefore, despite, or perhaps due to their small size, the Two Women inspire both careful attention and solitude from the viewer, building an emotional narrative. Combined with the realistically finished look, this ‘creates a tension between artifice and reality’ (Baker, A.) that overall, results in this model’s meaning and narrative.
As such, scale can be deemed as noteworthy to the narrative of a model. My representation of Edith Kramer centres around a narrative of quiet significance of a warm and caring woman who has helped many in her life, and afterwards. Thus, under-sizing her just as Mueck did with his figures in Two Women, will help me to frame her importance to the viewer. They will be invited, almost drawn, to a realistic representation of a woman half the size we would expect to find her in, promoting quiet introspection and respect. I almost want the viewer to want to step ever closer to inspect her from up close, letting their imagination participate in an object-subject interaction of curiosity, an imitation of the theories of artistic exploration that Kramer emphasised in her work.