FUTURE PRIMITIVE – ESSAY BY PRUE GIBSON
The art of skateboarding relies on athletic capacity and spatial acumen.
Entrenched in street sub-culture, the skateboard is a reminder of balletic techniques and also functions as a symbolic tool of imaginative communication: a language of collective ‘underground’ understanding. For his new exhibition of skateboards, Jud Wimhurst draws on his memories as a young skater and his skills as an artisan sculptor. With these, he applies a tight conceptual framework to the sculptures.
Wimhurst creates his skateboards from scratch, cutting wood veneer, gluing seven layers and moulding the forms into shape, using his hand-made studio press. These sculptural forms must then endure the assault of flocking gun, spray paint or pyrography burner (an old folk-style technique). The pyrography entails scorching the wood or alternately an acrylic mirror material which creates reflective effects. This hand-made artisan-style approach runs counter to the thirty year-old postmodern methodology of out-sourcing to commercial manufacturers.
Wimhurst’s tactile and skilled craftsmanship is indicative of a theoretical and practical move away from this out-sourcing and towards a manifesto of personal skill and authorial independence. His subject matter is an elaboration, a literal illustration of the conceptual underpinning of the series. Chandeliers and lobsters are icons of high culture and the socially elite. Wimhurst absorbs this high brow imagery to contradict, whilst also honouring, the humble, inclusive and accessible tradition of skating: just a plank of wood on four wheels, used by children in the suburbs, inner cities and especially the beachside post-codes. Skateboard art stenciling has historically been an antiaesthetic, championed by skulls and other ‘dark matter’ images of anti-authority emblems. Wimhurst’s work is an ironic pun, delivered with an affectionate and sentimental salute.
- Prue Gibson (2012) Art Writer
…“Future Primitive” is a collection of sculptures of skateboards. The name is taken from the seminal “Bones Brigade” skateboard film from 1985 produced and released by skateboard company Powell Peralta.
I have chosen to pay homage to skateboarding and skateboard culture by creating a series of skateboard sculptures. The skateboards are faithfully recreated from scratch at one and a half times the size of a modern street style board using a purpose built DIY version of a commercial skateboard press. Themes of identity, consumerism and design are referenced in the visual elements (skateboard graphics), whilst the capabilities and properties of the all-important materials used to produce a skateboard - wood, resins and plastics are explored.
As the artworks are sculptures and not actual functioning skateboards and will never be ridden, techniques and materials that could not ordinarily be used in skateboard production such as cast acrylic sheet, fibre flocking, automotive paint finishes and mirror have been used to accentuate the three dimensional quality of the object.
Hopefully my sculptures serve as a respectful homage to the fantastically designed object that is a skateboard.”