Sue bradbury talks to Cornish Sculptor Seamus Moran

PUBLISHED: 11:30 16 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:05 20 February 2013

Seamus looks for inspiration in nearby woods

Seamus looks for inspiration in nearby woods

When Seamus goes down to the woods...<br/>Sue Bradbury talks to a local sculptor whose work is as unsettling as it is compelling

When Seamus goes down to the woods...

Sue Bradbury talks to a local sculptor whose work is as unsettling as it is compelling

When Seamus goes down to the woods...

Sue Bradbury talks to a local sculptor whose work is as unsettling as it is compelling

Sculptor Seamus Moran is fascinated by woods and what he finds there. Where you and I just see trees and branches, he observes weird and wonderful shapes. Where we see dead leaves and branches, he discovers skeletal forms and a never-ending source of artistic possibilities.
I collected fossils as a boy on the Jurassic coast and became used to spotting them amongst the sand and rocks, says Seamus. The same principle applies when Im looking for material in Crenver Grove near my home in West Cornwall. In particular, the knots in trees intrigue me.
Seamus has been a sculptor since the mid 1980s when he graduated with a degree in ceramics with glass and then went on to work as a model and mould maker in Stoke-on-Trents pottery industry. That job stood him in very good stead for what he does now taking casts, making moulds and creating eye-catching works of art that really make you think.
His workshop is near Breage. Amidst all the paraphernalia associated with the sculpture and mould-making business is his latest project a large, intricate piece that has been assembled from the knots that he has found.
When you think of a knot in wood, its usually as a flat cross-section in a plank, he explains. Its only when a tree is allowed to decay that it becomes possible to see the astonishing beauty and variation of these structures.
The knots are where the wood in the tree is at its most dense and they remain intact long after the branches and trunk have disappeared much like the bones in a skeleton. I choose the most interesting and then use them to make moulds.
Each knot is unique and, by reproducing them, I can create a multiplicity of designs a bit like developing an alphabet where each shape becomes a new letter and, juxtaposed with others, builds a narrative. I cast them in a powdered iron/resin mix which I later treat with chemicals to produce a rusty patina.
Each cast is painstakingly positioned and joined to its neighbours as the piece grows from the centre outwards. Seamus also makes good use of mirrors to see the effect of reflecting the image hes creating, rejecting anything that doesnt work. There are many mock-ups along the way, held together with clay and rubber bands, most of which never end up in the finished product.
I rarely set out with an actual drawing just a vague picture in my head of what its going to look like, says Seamus. Once I start, it takes on a life of its own.
A new exhibition of Seamus work, entitled Random Precision after a Pink Floyd song, is being held at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro from 13 October to 26 January. The show will span the last ten years of his art and include several pieces never seen in public before.One of those is a skull, encased in what appears to be some sort of cage.
Ive been thinking about doing something like this for a long time, he says, affectionately stroking the somewhat sinister object as it sits on a workshop shelf, the empty eye sockets staring vacantly ahead.
I wanted to create something that would not look out of place elsewhere in the museum and have called it The Death of Me because its become a self-portrait, showing what my head feels like at the moment as I work towards the show so full of knots and ideas that it feels as if theyre bursting out of my skull.
Far from being a macabre image, though, I think its quite humorous. Its also a bit of a poke at Damien Hirst and his famous diamond skull. We both make things from the stuff we find around us.
Many of Seamus sculptures are imbued with a deep sense of spirituality and religious iconography. The leather binding on his latest project and the brambles he intends to weave in, for example, have a crown of thorns feel about them and it is surely not by chance that a piece hanging in his living room called Devotion and Violence No 2 has a clearly defined crucifix shape.
As humans we are geared towards pattern recognition and see spiritual significance in much that is around us, he says. I like creating objects that have a pseudo spirituality about them.
I want my work to provoke a reaction and make people think beyond perceived reality, blurring the line where organic and manmade begins. Thats what my art is about.
He concludes: I certainly feel that all of my works are already inside me - all I have to do is bring them out, he confides. Knowing that a piece is finished is as much a feeling of recognition as it is aesthetic.

To see Seamus' work -

Seamus Morans exhibition runs at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro from 13 October 2012 to 26 January 2013.
For more information visit and

Latest Articles

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most Read

A+ Education

It's Christmas

Great British Holidays

South West Attractions

Pure Weddings E-edition