ARCHIVED BULLETIN ARTICLES; Terrance Plowright

BULLETIN ARTICLES:  Terrance Plowright. 
By Katherine Harrington.

 

Terrance Plowright’s works are found all over Australia and overseas. His works are realistically figurative as well as abstractly modern and they can be huge in size. Large scale does not deter Terrance, his Westfield Paramatta mural is about 22 metres high (pic 2). Predominantly Terrance works in sculpture, but he also creates murals,  stained glass and ecclesiastical furniture including lecturns, fonts and altars. Terrance will also embrace different materials; he is currently working  with LED lights and water clear polyurethane.

 Terrance grew up in Blakehurst, south of Sydney in a home full of brothers and sisters, and a constant stream of visitors. He has a background in music having studied privately for a short period at the Sydney Conservatorium and was a lead singer and rhythm guitarist in a number of bands. His first job was in publishing as a copy boy; he was later a film editor with the ABC. When he was 18 he became interested in science, philosophy and the question, ‘what is consciousness?’ and in 1975  founded the Awareness Centre in Chatswood offering  workshops around the subject of human potential and the human spirit. The Awareness Centre was hugely successful for many years;  but closed around 2000.

 During all these years he had very little interest in art. In 1982 a friend asked him if he would make a stained glass window for his house. He told his friend he had mucked about with drawing and model aeroplanes in his youth, the sum total of his artistic experience and that he was mad to ask him. Terrance did in fact design and build his friend’s stained glass window; and this is where his art career began; word spread about his stained glass designs and very soon many commissions followed. Not long after that Terrance became interested in sculpture.

 His interest in science, philosophy and the human consciousness he maintains effects his thinking, how he communicates with people as well as his art. He is respectful of other people, and he is facinated by what we are all capable of. He is enamoured and inspired by the work of Albert Einstein, physicist, John Wheeler, biologist, Rupert Sheldrake as well as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, some work by  John Cage; Turner, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Moore, Rodin, Brancusi, Giacometti and many others

 When I last spoke to Terrance, he talked about the Super Hadron Collider.  His interest in science is not just in  its achievements but in the very essence of the universe - the Big Bang Theory and evolution from that point in time. In essence he said we are just atoms; everything is connected. He went on to say that “some scientists  within the field of mathematics/Chaos theory  and climate have gone as far as to say that the gravitational force of a single electron  at the end of the universe actually affects our weather.” Through his work he aims to convey this idea of interconnectiveness; hence the relationship themes in his work. The Meriton Fountain in Chatswood (pic 4) is a plant like stucture with two human figures, inspired by his idea that we are inseparable from nature.

 Terrance lives with his family in Wentworth Falls on 2 acres  in the lower Blue Mountains. He and his wife Shirley designed the home they are living in, although with considerable help from a local architect. The house was built by Terrance and Shirley with some help from builders. He also designed his studio (pic 5) with help from the same architect, situated about 50 metres from the family home; a magnificent structure of two storeys, 500 square metres with an undulating roof (his idea) and tonnes of glass. His home and studio comprise 26,000 mud bricks, all of which he and his family made.

 Our President Jenny Green was among those members who visited Terrance’s studio last month as part of our organised studio visits. This is her account of what she saw and of Terrance’s talk...

 Terrance Plowright’s studio  is full of projects – a combination of commissions and works for exhibition. He mainly works on commission though some works were earmarked for our Darling Park exhibition.  Terrance told us his ‘bread and butter’  is figurative work. His studio was awash with figures – a family group was being moulded in silicone, and Henry Parkes stood in the corner (pic 7).

 Typically his figurative sculptures are cast in bronze, they are modelled in oil based clay, then silicone moulds taken, followed by the creation of wax versions of the original clay.  An oversized figure such as Richie Benaud can’t be cast in one piece – it would be sent to the foundry as approximately 12 wax pieces.  Once cast they are then returned to Terrance for welding together and finishing; Terrance does his own detailing and patinations. Among his figures were fabulous abstract works in stainless steel.  He has the equipment to roll stainless tube and rod, numerous welders and probably every type of finishing equipment available.  He is currently working on a contemporary stainless steel sculpture for Waverley council.

 Terrance said he typically starts his sculptures with a drawing, in fact, many drawings. He will make a maquette to show clients but he can equally leap into large scale work immediately.

 How can one man do all this you ask? Well he does work 60-70 hours a week, and he has some assistants who work with him when needed – a welder, an apprentice, someone who works on the mouldings/waxes and a protégé. Asked what direction his work will take, he is currently looking into string theory.

 

    Pic 1: Terrance Plowright beside a tubular steel sculpture,
   

 

    Pic 2: Mural, Paramatta Westfield, craft wood and polymer paint; 24 m.
   

 

    Pic 3: Stained glass window in St Bernadette’s, Castle Hill, 11 x 3m (detail).
   

 

    Pic 4: Meriton Fountain, Chatswood, cast resin and fibreglass 5m;
   

 

    Pic 5: Terrance’s studio;
   

 

    Pic 6: Sculpture in progress with drawing behind as a guide;
   

 

    Pic 7: Clay works in progress including a family group some in silicone and some in clay; Sir Henry Parkes in background right and Terrance again beside a tubular steel sculpture.
    
   

 

Photographs by: Shirley Plowright, Eva Chant and Wolfgang Gowin