Whenever i am at an exhibition i will always be drawn over to the area where there is a statue or some other sculpted piece, but am not usually as interested in the more surreal sculptures – until i came across Martin Shaws sculpture at Oldham Gallery in February of this year.

Martin Shaws shape shifting sculpture at Oldham Gallery


Martin explained that he wanted the sculpture to interact with the building, with its architecture, as if it was some sort of parasite. It did look like that to me,a nd also resembled a long stretch of giant sized intestines! It wasnt until i studied it that i realised that the sculpture (that was inflated with air) would change shape, as it either filed with more air, or emptied accordingly – it was as it if was breathing and writhing around the structure it was wound around. Shaw explained that the sculpture was connected to a fan and a timer, and its movement was all part of his design – to allow the audience to ‘experience’ the sculpture.

Six years ago Shaw was awarded a fellowship to a uni, where he learned how to use computer aided design, this has drastically changed his working practice as he now starts pff all of his designs on the computer, creating their ‘virtual form’, he then draws the sculpture around them. He explained that the type of software he uses is simular to what they use to design ships.

The size of the sculpture was huge! I asked him what he  intended to do with it when it was dismantled and he told me that believe it or not it would all fit into a back bin bag when deflated, and would go in a cupboard! The sculpture is made from the materials used to make parachutes, and he has a seamstress that does his sewing for him – it took her 45 hours to sew all the panels together!

Martin Shaw and his shape shifting sculpture


I asked Martin what other materials he had worked in, he told me he had used plaster and resin, but he would do ‘modelling’ rather than ‘carving’, he also uses stainless steel but only really for the structures. The thing he enjoys the most is to create sculptures that move and are interactive, where the audience feel involved  and can ‘experience’ the sculpture.

As part of the exhibition he had also created some vacuum formed wall sculptures that changed colour as you looked at them, and as you moved around them and looked from a different direction they would seem to change form and shape.

All very clever stuff, and very enjoyable to experience martin – thank you

Shape shifting wall sculptures by Martin Shaw