Artist Penny de Corte is turning heads with her face sculptures

York Press: Penny De Corte, left, with Emma-Jane Whelan Penny De Corte, left, with Emma-Jane Whelan

Artist Penny de Corte has found a way of really turning visitor's heads at her local art gallery.

The sculptor who specialises in ceramics of birds and animals and shapes inspired by nature has taken up sculpting the human face.

Over the past few weeks she has been transforming a piece of clay into a bust of the owner of the Art and Rose Gallery in Pocklington, Emma-Jane Whelan.

In full view of visitors for a few hours at a time she has turned the gallery into her studio whilst she studies Emma-Jane's face to make the life-like three dimensional portrait.

Customers can see for themselves the remarkable likeness and character she injects into her sculpture which she hopes could bring in commissions for her new venture.

She found a willing model in Emma-Jane who already shows and sells her Touch Art Ceramics, sculptures of animals and birds, wall hangings and 'coiled vessels', inspired by patterns in nature and made using shells and fossils.

Her sculptures are made without a glaze using ancient techniques of coiling and burnishing, and unlike many other pieces in an art gallery, they are made to be touched.

"My work is very tactile and sensuous. It takes hours to make, and represents years of developing my own style.

"I call it "touch art" to describe the way it is so tactile - I encourage people to touch as well as see my work," she says.

"Lately I just wanted to have a go at something more exciting, with much more detail to it.

"The shape and diversity of the human face has really got my creative juices flowing.

"Emma-Jane has a very good face, when I walked in through the door one day I thought Yes that's the one, her bone structure excited me.

"I live nearby and she said she'd give me a couple of hours every now and again… I'm on the look out for much more intricate work, and I'm hoping this will give me the odd commission", she says.

Together the two have made something of an art show for visitors to the Gallery which specialises in work by local artists work from the nearby Wolds and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Emma-Jane says inviting Penny into her gallery has been very good for business; "All the time Penny has been here she has talked to people who come in, and she is so natural and enthusiastic people are very interested in what she is doing.

"When parents come into the gallery with children saying "don't touch" to them, I say "do you want want a stroke of these?" and I give them piggies by Penny, which they love.

"I want to encourage artists to come into the gallery so that people appreciate what goes into their art," she says.

"Watching the bust grow from scratch has been amazing, it is so clever how it took shape."

Penny will be opening her house and showing her work at 56 Garth's End, Pocklington, for the Pocklington Open Studios on May 3rd and 4th, part of the National Craft and Design month.

Anyone who is interested in having a bust of their head sculpted by Penny can contact her at penny.touchart@btinternet.com or see Touch Art Ceramics on Facebook.

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