Flying Fish in wax
About the artist
Christopher Bladen is widely recognized as one of the world's best wild fish sculptors. He virtually makes a science of studying each species prior to portraying it in bronze,.
Since early childhood Christopher has had an insatiable interest in fish. He grew up in an environment surrounded by art.and this early exposure to the appreciation of form and shape created in him the desire to express his love of fish in sculpture.
His father owned a stone carving business which offered him the opportunity to experiment carving various fish out of semi-precious stone and exotic wood.
Chris qualified as a dental technologist, teaching him in extreme detail, the fine art of the ancient 'lost wax' casting process, giving him the edge for fine detailed castings of high quality. He is one of very few sculptors who is involved in the complete process of creating a bronze sculpture.
Being a fly fishing fanatic allows Chris to interchange with his subject matter. He traverses the globe in pursuit of specific fish species, anything from permit- and bonefish on remote flats, to billfish roaming the open oceans The Seychelles, with its crystal clear waters and abundance of marine life is his favorite.. Once (the fish) is hooked, Chris uses the opportunity to study the subject and, very importantly, to capture the specimen on camera and finally releasing it back to its environment. Each sculpture is not only a trophy to the beauty of fish but a cry for conscience, respect and conservation of our beautiful, fragile marine life.
Back in the studio, photographs are studied and sketched in the finest detail. The fish is sculpted in clay and a mould is made to capture the form. From the mould he pulls a wax pattern. The wax is worked to resemble the exact clay sculpture and then cut up into various cast -able pieces. These pieces are then gated and covered with a ceramic shell. Once the ceramic shell is completely dry, it is baked at about 900 Degrees Celsius, at which stage the wax is burnt out - thus the "lost wax casting process". Molten bronze is then poured into the hollow ceramic shell and fills the area where the wax was. After having left the casting to cool down, the ceramic shell is carefully removed to expose the bronze castings. The various pieces are then welded together and the sculpture is meticulously fettled to its true form, free from any defects and welding marks, the piece is then signed and the limited edition number to the bronze added. Finally Chris patinates the metal surface using various chemicals that react to the copper in the bronze. Careful selection and layering of the patinas enables him to create the realistic colors. Periodically he opts for the classical patinas such as verdigris or antique bronze.
Christopher and his wife Rena live in Cape Town, South Africa. He works from a studio in the quaint little fishing village of Kalk Bay. His work is acquired by collectors across the globe.
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