Wicklow artist Alan Clarke has been shortlisted for both the Sculpture Award and the People’s Choice Award in the 2022 Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize competition.
lan’s gargantuan sculpture, entitled ‘Clash Titan’, has been chosen as one of the 25 finalists in the competition’s sculpture category. His towering 2.5m tall work beat out thousands of submissions from all over the world and also secured him a spot in the coveted People’s Choice Award.
Alan found his inspiration for the hulking sculpture two years ago, while he was on lockdown in his home town Ballinaclash during the pandemic. The name ‘Clash Titan’ is his nod to the town, which is commonly referred to simply as ‘the Clash’.
After pondering the idea of a larger than life sculpture for years, Alan said he decided to use his excess spare time during the pandemic to begin the mammoth task of producing such an exceptionally large piece of work.
The lengthy process involved first making a life sized sculpture of a real person. Using that as a reference guide, Alan slowly scaled up to the enormously sized plaster and wood piece you see in the competition.
“I had been doing sculpted portraits for a year or two before the pandemic,” Alan said. “I had the idea in my head that I wanted to do a colossal-sized piece for ages.
“The scale presents a whole load of technical and aesthetic challenges that aren’t a consideration with a smaller, life-sized piece. I knew it would be a real labour of love. So, when the pandemic hit and I found myself with more free time, I just decided to have a go at it.”
Alan produces all of his sculpted works from his Ballinaclash studio, which he shares with his silversmith father Brian. Indeed, it seems the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. As Alan explained, art is “in the genetics of the family”.
“It was inevitable that I was going end up an artist,” Alan said. “I actually almost became an architect at one point. I was studying it for a couple of years, but found it wasn’t for me. I moved to England, studied art there and never looked back.”
For avid readers of Irish literature, you may be wondering why Alan’s name seems so familiar. That’s probably because he’s the same Alan Clarke who has illustrated the immensely popular Ross O’Carroll-Kelly series of books.
Alan explained that he made the transition from illustrator to sculptor back in March of 2018. Since then he has considered himself a full-time sculptor who dabbles in other mediums from time to time.
“I became a sculptor almost overnight,” Alan continued. “My work suddenly moved from 2d to 3d. Why it happened? I’m not really sure. In hindsight it was probably just the natural evolution of my work.
“The change came very abruptly, but I had been laying the foundations for a move to sculpting for over 20 years. I’d always be doing observational drawings and figuring out how to put together three dimensional shapes.
“I worked as an illustrator for a long time before I made the jump into sculpturing and into the third dimension,” Alan added. “I still keep a small studio in Dublin for my illustration work, but it doesn’t form a huge part of my output these days.”
“In a work sense, illustration is totally different to the work that I do these days. I’m still very proud of the work that I have done on Ross O’Caroll-Kelly though. It is is something that resonates with a lot of people – so it’s been a fantastic thing to be a part of.”
Despite exhibiting extensively throughout his career, both at home and abroad, the Bizarre Art Prize is the first art competition that Alan has entered into.
The competition is run by the Australian publication ‘Beautiful Bizarre’ magazine and is now in its fifth year. There are four main award categories, including the Traditional Art Award, the Photography Award, the Digital Art Award and the Sculpture Award.
A total of 125 finalists from all of the categories are entered into the People’s Choice Award, which is put to a public vote. People’s Choice voting will close on September 9, so if you’d like to show your support for Alan, go to beautifulbizarreartprize.art and cast your vote.
If you would like to find out more about Alan Clarke and his work go to www.mralanclarke.com