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Where Are You Now?

Michelle Castles

Michelle Castles

BA Fine Art 1998

Graduate Michelle Castles is a Lake District-based sculptor who has spent the last 20 years observing the human form and capturing its essence in wire mesh. Inspired by figures in motion, her work has a ‘living’ quality that embodies a moment in time. Delicate, beautiful and accessible, her sculptures delight, uplift and engage all who see them.

Originally from the North East, Michelle graduated from the University of Sunderland in 1998. It was during her studies there that she began experimenting with wire mesh to create the sculptures for which she has since become renowned. Michelle’s work has been widely exhibited around the UK and beyond and she regularly undertakes private and public commissions. 

Michelle first unveiled what would become here life's work at her 1998 Degree Show.  One of Michelle’s very first commissions was ‘Descent’ a series of wire sculptures based around the concept of Dante’s Inferno which was bought by the University and is still on display in the Industry Centre, now home for the School of Engineering's AMAP department.

Interviewed in 2011, Michelle said: “I was really fortunate that a scout from the London galleries was coming around universities in the north. He saw Descent, and approached me to take part in the Northern Contemporary Show in London. There was only myself and one other sculptor in the show, alongside about 15 painters, just off Oxford Street.

“It all developed from that show and from the work I did at Sunderland. I got an agent, a gallery in Chelsea, and spent the next two years just getting my work everywhere I could.”

Inspired by sport and dance, Michelle Castles captures the pose in suspended animation for the viewer to observe the anatomy of form, traditionally represented, albeit in a unique and contemporary way. Her sculptures have a spiritual, living quality; they capture a moment in time – a dive, a sprint, a pirouette. Her transformative use of lighting elevates the industrial substrate into  a human form with soul.

A self-confessed perfectionist, Michelle commented: “I just want to create art that uplifts and engages audiences. I want to leave my mark on the world of art; I’d like to think that 50 years from now, my sculpture will still be seen and enjoyed in public spaces, sporting arenas and cultural venues as well as cherished and appreciated in people’s homes and gardens.”

From her studio (The Wire Studio) behind the Royal Hotel at Dockray in Cumbria, Michelle produces all her wire mesh sculptures, including wire garden sculptures exhibited at RHS Chelsea and Wisley, and sculptures exhibited at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle.

Michelle embraces a challenge and is constantly honing and refining her approach. She actively seeks out and selects commissions that inspire her. From initial charcoal sketches and preliminary, scaled down maquettes through to the final, finished sculpture, Michelle chooses to work with briefs that genuinely inspire her.

The wire mesh sculptures are individually created through manipulating the wire by hand. The result is a strong and resilient piece of artwork, powder coated for durability, with either a metallic or/and coloured finish and suitable for both indoors and outdoors.

Whether the brief is for miniature figures or life size, wall reliefs, airborne installations or grounded, Michelle finds a way to occupy the space, subtly blending the sculpture within the environment, ultimately becoming part of it.

To find out more about Michelle’s work or how to commission her, visit www.michellecastles.co.uk

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