Bodycasting Olympians ~ an interview with Louise Giblin (part 2)

Next Louise headed to Brighton to study for a sculpture degree where one of the tutors was Antony Gormley, the artist who created the Angel of the North amongst other work.

“He interviewed me and wasn’t keen – challenging me on why I was doing what I was. He wanted me to think more,” she says. “And he was right, at the time I was flippant and light hearted about it. I knew I was lucky to have a skill in this form of language but I hadn’t said anything important with it yet.”

Over the years since Louise’s work as grown organically from smooth figures to abstract ones with a story to tell. The nature of Louise’s art means it is very personal, yet at the same time the armour-like quality creates an interesting distance between the original subject and finished object.

“I’ve created quite a few motor-heads,” explains Louise. “They have their face cast and want elements of their favourite cars or bikes mixed in. The end result is like an inner-terminator character and yet many of the people are the softest, kindest characters that you can imagine.”

Other pieces are far more revealing, which could be explained by the intimate nature of the casting process.

“People often ask me if it is awkward getting so close to a semi-naked stranger but to be honest I don’t think about it like that. I just get wrapped up in the technicalities of doing a cast – if I have enough plaster bandage cut, if the room is the right temperature,” she explains. “I don’t want them to feel exposed. I want it to be a fun process people are happy to tell friends about.”

The process consists of, depending on hairiness, wrapping the person in cling film, then plaster, which is opened at the sides to create a sort of pie-dish then Louise pushes clay into the mould. This ceramic version can then be cast in brass.

“Casting the Olympians cost thousands, it was the most expensive thing I have done but the most rewarding. The Olympics are a massive deal. For some athletes this is their one shot, what they have been working for their whole lives. I won’t be too old in four years time to make more art. We’ve bought the flags. Let’s go wave them.”

 Louise’s Olympic collection is on show at the Saffron Gallery in Battle from July 27 – August 11. For more information about Louise’s work please visit



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