Catherine Vitebsky: exploring themes of humanity

It's impressive how a single story can inspire such diversity through different mediums! Visual artists from around the world are taking part in WHISTLE project, in an attempt to present a transmedia experience never attempted before in the Greek visual art scene. And that's because we do not think of visual art as an experience that when viewed fades away, but as an excuse, a triggering event, a reason to produce an artistic conversation and a literal dialogue with everyone interested. This is the way we feel visual art should work.

In this short article we meet sculptor, Catherine Vitebsky, from the United Kingdom.



Why did you decide to participate in Whistle Project?
I was quite taken with the project and what it sets out to do on such an ambitious scale.

What intrigued you?
The initial subject matter and film stills from the movie, which are very striking and rich material for my sculptural endeavours. Also, I am already fascinated by mythology and folklore themes.

What was your workflow?
Working from film stills and referencing greek mythology and folklore of goats and ‘goat-men’.  On a sculptural level, exploring the anatomical structures and forms of the goat through 2D sketches and wax maquettes. Then finalising the design and material to be used. Note: I had no idea how specialised the goat breeds are in Greece before the project!!



What was your artistic style, any influences?
My work is loosely naturalist but also draws on mythological shapes and ideas as rich territory for artistic work.

Do you believe in superstitions?
I would have to say I am on the fence with superstitions. It very much depends on where I am. For instance, in a very superstitious culture it somehow seems to entrench itself in the very ground we walk on and as such filters into the psyche. Interesting point here is that the film is set in modern-day Greece, showing exactly how these superstitions and the supernatural can ‘simmer’ under the surface when we perhaps mistakenly feels as if we are far removed from this: “just around the corner” on your walk home…



What do you want people to see in your works?
There is undoubtedly a sinister edge to the work I have produced in response to the project. And I hope this will be readable in the work.

Can you make a comment on the idea of collective storytelling?
Whatsmore, perhaps through this process we find a common language.

Why should people support this project? Why go to the exhibition?
Collaboration of artists from a vast array of mediums and nationalities and therefore the ongoing dialogue this cultivates is really unique. Folklore transcends time as the audience will see – it is just as relevant in the modern day and the viewer may well see some aspect of themselves in the work as I believe it explores themes of humanity.

Tell us a few words about the work you submitted to Whistle. How it is related to the story?
This sculpture stands in transition: its form as yet unfixed: is this man or something more mysterious?! This is a moment of metamorphosis, what we are not clear of is whether this is literal or symbolic - the viewer can decide!



Catherine Vitebsky works mainly in bronze. After training in traditional bronze casting techniques in a Suffolk foundry and stone carving in a Portland quarry, she did Fine Arts at Chelsea, London, where she questioned the prevailing post-heroic rejection of the monumental human figure while studying the German Anti-Monument movement as well as Metzger’s Auto-Destructive ‘Happenings’. She continued exploring the human body while caring for dementia patients. Simultaneously, as a technician focusing on material and process, she felt that the knife-edge tension between bodily dignity and humiliation mirrors the alternation of destructive and creative processes, as a bronze sculpture is formed through mould-making and obliteration in the kiln. She followed up creative destruction through direct burning out of organic material, adapting the lost wax process for feathers, using fragile cast-offs from a bird’s body to express extraordinary powers of flight and exaltation – though also at times as a burden. Recently, inspired by her earlier travels among nomads and shamans in Siberia, she has started to explore ‘shape-shifting’ between humans and animals.

Find Catherine Vitebsky at WEBSITE, INSTAGRAM