Sculpture is essentially the creation of a three-dimensional object that aims to express an emotion, feeling or event related to the person creating it. Sculpture has been around in one form or another for thousands of years and today, due to the ever expanding products and technologies available to us all, the art form is now diverse and often controversial and sculpture has broken through the boundaries of just making an object.
Michaelangelo's David is probably the most famous sculpture in the world but the art form goes back many centuries before this. In what is now Pakistan religious sculptures and temple carvings are thought to date back to anywhere from 3,300-1,700BC. One of the best known ancient sculptures is the Terracotta Army which dates back to 210-209BC when it was buried with the Emperor of Qin and only discovered again in 1974. But like many other kinds of art, sculpture has gone through fashions and changes.
Classical sculpture is easily recognised, usually consisting of large-scale male and female nudes, and these have been reproduced on a massive scale over the years. From here came the Gothic and Renaissance era's which were often reminiscent of the classical period, through Baroque and into Modernism. The modernist movement brought the likes of Albert Giacometti and Henry Moore to our attention.
Today, in the 21st century some of the best known sculptors include Anthony Gormley whose credits include the Angel of the North amongst a great may other works, Andy Goldsworthy who makes sculptures made from natural products and places them in natural settings and Rachel Whiteread who famously made a concrete cast of the inside of a Victorian house.
Example areas of study
Sculpture is usually classed as a fine art and many of the degree courses are fine art courses where sculpture can be taken as the major subject. There are also two or three HNDs available in the subject. The courses tend focused strongly on studio practice and exhibitions but there is a theoretical element to all of the sculpture courses and you may be able to study some of the subjects listed below. It is best to check with the institutions themselves, as to what their courses include before you submit your application.
- Metal welding
- Foundry work
- Stone carving
- Life drawing and modelling
- Studio practice
- Digital imaging
- Contextual studies
- Steel working
- Materials practice
- Computer technology
- Animal drawing
- History of art
- Reproduction methods
- Visual communication
- Three-dimensional design
- Professional practice
- Visual thinking
- 20th century contemporary sculpture
- Research skills
- Sound and light
- Cultural studies
- Public exhibition
Some career possibilities
Many graduates do go on to have successful careers as artists, but it is hard to make a living and you have to be very fortunate indeed. You may wish to pursue your studies further at postgraduate level or opportunities may be available within community arts projects, arts administration, museum and exhibition curatorships or working within the ceramics or giftware markets. Teaching or lecturing is also a popular, and welcome option.
What do I need to get on a course?
The list below will give you an idea of the grades and qualifications that may be expected of you should you wish to undertake a course in sculpture. However it is a good idea to contact the institutions that you wish to apply to double check their requirements before you submit your application.
- UCAS Tariff: 100-200 points including art & design related subjects and English
- A-levels: DE-BB including art and design and preferably English
- SQA Highers: DDD-CCC including art and design related subjects
- SQA Advanced Highers: DE-BB including art and design related subjects and preferably English
- HND: relevant art and design subject
- Art Foundation Diploma: required for most sculpture courses
For your application or interview, the following may be useful:
- You will be required to present your portfolio as part of the application process for most sculpture courses. This should include designs and photographs of finished pieces that you have produced as part of previous study and in your own time. You should be able to discuss each piece with confidence at your interview
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
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