At first glance, the sculptures of Ellen Jewett might look like realistic renditions of animals. Upon closer inspection, you”ll see some startling details as the animals show themselves to be much more. Branches and flowers grow from their backs, and in some cases, the creatures” bodies meld into floral forms. Others have mechanical attributes, or carry house-like structures. Some are even blends of various animals. These combinations of elements make each creature seem like its own ecosystem, supporting life like a tiny planet. Jewett claims her pieces are inspired by “biological narratives, emotions, movement, balance and observations about life”s subtleties and overtures.”
Tortoise of Burden
The Butterfly Collector
The Ontario-based artist playfully calls her creations the “Creatures from El,” a play on her first name. The sculptures, formed from clay, are highly detailed and seem to be impossibly delicate. They appear as if they hover over their surface on wire-thin legs and appendages, all while supporting intricate crowns of branches, feathers, and even smaller (but no less detailed) animals. Besides the incredible designs, Jewett also enjoys pushing the physical properties of the sculptures, which is why so many of them seem so precariously balanced. According to Jewett, they can all balance on their own. Some of them are her own creations, while many are commissioned pieces for her fans.
Red Willow Wolf
Bison With Crows
Otter With Mechanical Wings
The Curious Starling
Jewett”s ability to create hyperrealistic figures, as well as her ability to subvert realism into something fantastical, come from her knowledge of anthrozoology. She also works as a professional animal trainer, so her interactions with animals and their movements also likely play a role in her sculptures” fluid forms. Her process involves a lot of dedicated work and attention to detail, the desire to push her medium to its furthest limits, and, according to her, “drinking heroic quantities of coffee.”
You can see more of Jewett”s work on her website, blog, and deviantArt page. Be sure to check out some of her available items through her Etsy shop. You can also see her latest creations on Facebook and Flickr.