Art Practice and a Sense of Self

~ Michelle Saleeba

The most striking element of Ian Young's style is his sensual engagement with organic form. Traversing materials from clay and wax, to wood, bronze and photography, Ian is a versatile artist working skilfully across multiple mediums and techniques. Producing pieces that have strength and boldness in their gentle curves. Ian's affinity with natural forms, and his practiced ability to capture the essence of a subject, belies the complexity of knowledge and depth of skill he has with his tools and materials.

Ian Young

Army Art: Describe how you came to start making art.

Ian Young: My father gave me a set of chisels when I was a teenager and I began whittling pieces of wood. I sculpted in timber then other materials such as clay and stone throughout my military career as a hobby which I found to be relaxing and rewarding.

Many artists describe an apprehension with sharing their work. Did you feel anything like this when you first started to exhibit/share your art?

To a certain degree yes. I think we all fear criticism in any form but my sculpture became more serious over the years as I received more positive feedback and encouragement to exhibit my work. Like any skill, it takes time and patience to become good at it.

Who or what are the strongest influences on your art?

Organic forms inspired by the natural beauty and power of the wind, beachscapes, the ocean, and the human body. I admire the works of Henry Moore, Jean Arp and Barbara Hepworth.

Describe your art practice, what does a typical day of creative work look like for you?

Every day is different. Whenever I am looking for inspiration I browse my extensive collection of photographs of sand dunes, nudes and natural abstract shapes. Once inspired I often make a maquette in clay then scale it up, make a mould, produce a wax, then take it to a foundry to have a bronze cast. I spend up to 100 hours on each bronze, grinding, sanding, welding and polishing until I am happy enough to put my work in a gallery.

Army Art’s theme for the 2018 Exhibition is Transition. Would you share how creativity and making art has helped you with important life transitions?

I have always found art to be very cathartic and rewarding. There is very little in military life that can be creative and produce something tangible and lasting. I think it is very important to maintain a balance between physical, creative and intellectual pursuits. Most activities in the military are as part of a team and sometimes one can lose a sense of self ... and art can help to maintain a balance here as well. I have found that being creative is also a great way of preventing becoming bored or lost.

Do you see benefit in arts participation for people who may not regard themselves as an artist?

Yes of course. But I think it is important that expectations are realistic and advice from a professional art therapist is useful.

You can see many more examples of Ian's sculpture and photography work here and here.

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